ECM Field [New Module]

This is “Space Terrain” suggestion #2.

Just as ECM beams and missiles prevent the operation of enemy weapon systems, an ECM field hinders the effectiveness of enemy weapons. This hinders the accuracy of enemy weapons fired from within the radius of the field. The closer to the center of the field, the more severe the hindrance. The optimum range is 0, so the effectiveness goes down as you get further away, and operates at half (50%) efficiency at the furthest range.

ECM Fields can not be kept active all the time. They periodically shut down and must be recharged, similar to the cloaking field. The typical ECM Field has a radius of 400. The ECM Field II has a slower reload time, but stays active longer. It also has a range of 700.

Multiple ECM fields do not have a cumulative effect.
In game terms the reduced weapons effectiveness due to ECM is calculated as an increase to the target’s effective speed. This means that higher tracking speed and targeting boost can help compensate for ECM effects.

Note: Cliffski once spoke of an idea to include “shielded” weapons in the game that would be immune to ECM shock weapons. Those weapons would also be immune to this ECM Field as well.

At last! A new terrain type that’s interesting, affects gameplay in an entertaining & challenging way, and looks like it’s not too baroque or radical to be added to the game’s codebase. You’ve got my attention, dude.

The spin-off of shipboard modules to simulate the effect is quite appealing to me. The recharge mechanic prevents it from being way too powerful. The effect is hugely useful to the owner of the device, so I would expect this to be an expensive module. From a tactical standpoint, it’s somewhat like a Camouflage Field that’s been twisted inside-out. :wink:

Oh, and its use on frigate hulls is going to make quantity deployment of area-defense escorts feasible for screening your hard-hitting cruisers. I really like that potential tactical dynamic.

In summary:

Let me get this straight: you’re proposing an AOE weapon that only effects enemies?

Don’t think so.

Now, make it affect everybody, friends and enemies alike. . .


Sure. So long as it drains module space, speed, and cost from my enemies, too.
And come to think of it, what’s with those funky shields that only protect YOUR ships?!?

I’m just as strongly in favor of keeping it as proposed. Would you care to share your reasoning? “Don’t think so” is rather less than compelling. :wink:

Easy. Allow me to demonstrate the philosophy at work with a little counter-proposal.

Lets have a new module that sends out an AOE pulse that zaps enemy missiles. It radiates out from cruisers to range X, takes Y time to recharge, and eliminates 100% of enemy missiles in flight when it radiates. We’ll give this new module to a faction called the Swarm. Oh, wait, that would allow me to build missile-spamming cruisers that are largely immune to missiles. Bwahahahaa! My fleets will be INVINCIBLE!!!

I didn’t spend a lot of time detailing the obvious objection to an AOE effect that only affects enemies because I thought it was pretty obvious that it was a really bad idea, balance-wise. As someone who has done game design work (in the tabletop world) for a living, that kind of imbalance in a game mechanic stands out like a red flag. What makes the otherwise overwhelming effect of the Swarm anti-missile dingus palatable is that using it–even on some ships in a Swarm fleet, not even all of them–makes using missile weaponry a bad idea. Even using clever formations can’t prevent friendly ships from neutralizing some friendly missile fire. So Swarm fleet designers that use the anti-missile dingus generally give up on a whole class of weapons. The end result seems to be adequately balanced.

I also see lower-order concerns with such an effect. For example, an effect that reduces weapon effectiveness even a little would make a huge difference in weapon effectiveness, given how the weapons/shields equation is balanced. Assuming class-to-class fire, even a small reduction would make almost all fire bounce against shields, more or less re-creating the effect the EMP gun has on a ship to ship basis, but on an area of effect basis. Another example that comes to mind involves fighters. If this AOE effect reduces weapons effect for 20 out of every 100 seconds, it becomes a potent anti-fighter weapon that can’t be countered, because defensive fire continues unabated, at full strength. One more: in essence, such a module reproduces the effect of the single-target module against many enemies. I say “in essence” because I argue that reducing weapon effectiveness by any notable percent will make nearly all the weapon fire ineffective, on a class vs. class basis (of course, half-strength cruiser weapons will still blitz a FRG).

Sorry to have gone the minimalist route. While I obviously think it would be crazy to add the module as described to the game, I see potential for a more balanced version–one that, like the Swarm’s anti-missile thing, adds a cost to use above and beyond the money, power, and crew cost of the module itself.


And what about shields that are unaffected by plasma bolts going right through them!!! Only if the plasma would hit the ship does it affect the shield, even though it goes through the shield bubble!! Now that’s weird.

You’re thinking too much in 2D.

No, I’m talking about the scores of near misses! If I miss the cruiser I am shooting by 10 meters, any axis/direction/z-order you want, I still put a plasma ball through his shield. There is no accounting for that in the game. What about all those close missile shots (or better yet), missiles fired at other targets that pass through shields (allied shields too :{). There is a lot of abstraction here.

Tell me, if a cruiser has a shield bubble and an allied fighter is inside it. Does my fighter (enemy) shooting at the protected fighter from outside the shield bubble have to worry about the shield bubble? No, I don’t think he does in the current game, but were that same fighter to switch targets and shoot at the cruiser, the shield would stop the shot!

I’m just saying that an EMP field that only affects the enemy is not outside the other abstractions of shields and targeting that we already swallow in the current game.

Are you suggesting that shields are a ring, like a giant space hoola-hoop, and that the plasma bolts leapfrog around it?

OK for one your veiw is flawed. . . .
Second this device is strongest at 0 that means 100% effective at point blank range, At 400 its 100% effective, so thuse it will only effect frigates and fighters since most cruiser weapons have much much longer range than this device.

Now to put it into terms that you use.
I have a shockwave pluse generator that knocks out missles, 100% of the missles are dystroyed just before they hit my hull, and only 50% at range 400. That is what He is saying, you are saying its 100% thoughout its range. and is always on. He is saying it will be on for x and recharged for 4x.

Just to clarify: He is saying it will be on for x and probably recharge for x. The rest is right though.

Problems with the analogy:

  1. The ECM field would not negate 100% of incoming missile fire. It would negate some small percentage of them, but not 100% of them. Already the “invincible fleet” argument wears thin.
  2. The enemy has no counter against the Smart Bomb other than to not use missiles. With the ECM module, there’s the possibility that some missiles will be more effective than others due to their tracking speed and targeting boosters equipped on enemy ships. Thus, the enemy has a counter available to the ECM, if they wish to use it.
  3. The ECM only protects against short range weaponry. I see only two methods of using it: either to use it to protect against short range weapons or else to equip it on fast frigates that get close to the enemy but are fairly vulnerable. In both cases, the counter is obvious.

For these three reasons, your argument above does not apply.

True, but what made it harder to digest in the first place was that it was a protective weapon designed to provide 100% missile immunity from all attackers anywhere on the map. That’s not the case with the ECM field.

Exactly the niche this module was meant to provide. The module was designed to make maneuverability more important in regards to engagement tactics. I think of the ECM Field as employable terrain. Keeping track of where the terrain is and how it could help you and how you can negate the enemy’s terrain advantage adds new elements to the game.

And it was necessary to balance that out because it was an awesome defense. Not just because it was an area-of-effect, but because the effect itself was awesome and could potentially have an effect on the weapons fire of the entire enemy fleet at once.

Well… can’t really argue with that one. :stuck_out_tongue:

I really don’t see much effective difference in a short range low-ROF area-effect “field” and a long range average-ROF beam weapon. It’s just another way of re-creating and deploying the same effect… that was sort of the point. Yes, you can hit multiple ships with one hit, but only if your own ship is deployed very properly, can’t do it as often, and take risks in getting up close to your enemy. I think the ECM Gun has to be dramatically NERFed as is*, but that’s another issue. The fact that the ECM Field would be similar to the effect of an ECM Gun should not be an argument against it.

Although I disagree with your reasoning, I agree that this would be unreasonably potent against fighters – although they have such high tracking speeds anyway, I don’t know if it will really matter. Still, I overlooked fighters completely. I’d have to say we would need to continue the tradition that fighters are immune to area-effects, a precedent Cliffski started when he designed the ship explosions. As it is, I think they are immune to ECM weapons anyway (as in, ECM Guns and the like don’t target them).

I can’t agree with this. If this was true, there would be no “target booster” in the game. The target booster was made with the consideration that it would apply to the accuracy of all weapons in the game. And if you doubt the effectiveness of reduced-accuracy weapons in the game – try firing on a cloaked ship sometime. I don’t think the ECM effect would be as extreme but the general idea would still hold – that it would take longer to kill a ship because you’d have fewer hits in each volley. That being said, as I’ve mentioned before, there are already methods in the game that boost your accuracy that would make a suitable counter for ECM. It would also make some higher tracking-speed weapons more desirable, even when used against ships that are normally pretty slow.

Not sure what you mean by this. I found your post to be engaging, well thought out, and hardly minimalist.

While I don’t particularly mind the Swarm’s anti-missile thing, particularly because there’s a way to bypass its drawback, I am vehemently opposed to “defenses” that apply equally, or that actually help the opponent more than you, such as the Camouflage Module. When the attacker is paying in terms of modules, speed, cost, and opportunity costs, he should have the net benefit of any module. You wouldn’t expect weapons to damage your own ships equally every time they fired, there’s no reason to expect defenses to defend the enemy. That being said, I will sometimes introduce “neutral” or “equal” boons/penalties as terrain ideas, but then I wouldn’t expect either party to pay for them. (Or I would expect both parties to pay for them.)

Thanks for the favor of your expanded reply; I appreciate it. Sorry that my reply to you was delayed.

Interesting but largely off-topic tangent. I’m strongly of the viewpoint that anyone who spams anything leaves themselves badly vulnerable in other areas. I won’t shed tears for someone willingly relying upon a one-dimensional attack (missile spam) falling victim to the most watertight countermeasure against it - and a countermeasure that’s widely known as a key ability used often by that race. Let the Swarm’s foes be foolish if they want to.

But the Swarm is hardly the point here. Let’s now examine the main issue at hand: the ECM Field proposal.

I’ll readily say that the Swarm smart bomb is very strong, but I don’t think it’s overwhelming in its present implementation. I will agree that the extent to which it strong-arms Swarm players into leaving their own missiles at home struck me as fair. Still waiting for your expanded opinion on the ECM Field.

Huh? I don’t follow your contradictory argument here. It’s either a little effectiveness reduction or a huge effectiveness reduction; please pick one.

What is this weapons/shields equation you alluded to above? If you have some data from Cliffski about that, I’m intrigued enough to learn more. (Thanks!)

Considering the brawling and disordered mob that most battles devolve into (in my experience), I’d strongly question that. For the moment, let it stand. :slight_smile:

It’s not as if the ECM Fields are adding negative values to the Shield Penetration stat of enemy weaponry passing through them. That could create the binary decision set you describe. Adding positive value to the friendly ship’s speed for enemy to-hit chances is what was proposed in the original post, and I am not convinced that would create the same black-or-white scenario you’re asserting.

Just to disclose my own bias: I admit I dislike fighters. However, I am not the only one. Fighters appear to be complained about sufficiently (hearsay, true) due to their formidable potency within enemy shields that I believe such an effect upon them would be welcomed instead of reviled. I again admit I would be one of those who was pleased by such an effect.

Would you be able to tolerate ECM Fields as currently proposed if fighters were immune to them? Alternatively, would you be content with them if they only affected fighters, with frigates and cruisers having full immunity? The latter, while intriguing, runs against the grain of Cliffski allowing the little scorpions to be immune to area-effect damage.

Again, that baffling claim that some small reduction in chances to-hit will somehow suddenly plunge all weapons into the category of impotent pea-shooters and water-pistols. I don’t understand or agree with that. I haven’t seen anything to support that belief. I’m certainly open to such, but pending that I have to reply firmly in the negative.

It’s cool; I thank you for your willingness to expand upon your original post. Thanks for being a good sport with this discussion. While I would be pleased to consider the notion of a less-potent version of the ECM Field modules, I don’t disagree with the current proposal for the reasons that you do.

PS: Tweaked my wording due to poor grammar, owing to a lack of dinner. Time to fix that lack. :stuck_out_tongue:

Basically another anti rush device. Do missile spams really need another device to counter rush?

If you are wondering why cruiser ECM Beam and ECM Field is more “pro missile spam” than it is “pro rush”, it is because rush actually need speed. If ECM field is good enough as a rush device, it is good enough as an anti rush device, except the missile spammer don’t have to worry about the weight increase/speed reduction. Also, long range weapon gets to fire with full efficiency until the rush with ECM Field gets close, after which both side suffers from the penalty.

Funny thing is this probably won’t have any effect on frigate spams since Ion Cannon’s 2 tracking will hit stationary cruisers even with the tracking reduction.

I just waded through a bunch of responses to my detailed objection to an AOE weapon that only targets enemies. I’ve requoted the original post for clarity. I do see I thought “weapon power” when what was mentioned here is “weapon accuracy,” although “effectiveness” is also mentioned, which is probably why I was thinking of penetration/damage values going down.

My original objection remains, however. I think, and I hope this is simple enough to understand, that if we really want to add an area of effect weapon to the game–and this IS a weapon, not a defense we’re talking about–it should behave like the Swarm’s missile disruptor and affect everything in it’s range, not just enemies. Excluding fighters from its effect would remove one of the minor problems I have with the idea, but the larger philosophical issue remains. If your toy can mess up everything I’m shooting within a notable radius without affecting everything you’re shooting, we open the door to balance-damaging spam.

The easiest way to balance that concept is to take out the idea that the toy only harms enemy weapons and make it universal, like the Swarm’s anti-missile thing, which zaps ALL missiles, forcing Swarm designers to generally avoid using it and missiles at the same time. Doing so to this toy would result in a weapon that doesn’t play well with cruisers armed with short range weapons; nice defensive weapon for use by missile cruisers but not a great add-on for the knife-fighting guys equipped with the cruiser lasers.

Other balancing techniques would include the “shielded weapons” mentioned in the OP, resistance–preferably stronger–from those EMP shield thingamabobs that I at least rarely use (they don’t seem to do much vs. EMP beams), and/or tweaking the radius of effect/power/recharge time.

Likewise, back in the D&D days, a tactic I never found engaging on a “reality” basis (strange, I know, to use “reality” and “D&D” in the same sentence) was the old “Make self immune to fire, then ground-zero fireballs, rinse and repeat as necessary” trick. Philosophy aside, that never seemed right. The Swarm anti-missile thing killing friendly and enemy missiles seems right; AOE EMP that somehow only targets the other guy’s stuff seems wrong.


To clarify:

“Effectiveness” in my original post is a product of accuracy, penetration, and damage. Its used in the original post almost interchangeable with accuracy because whatever diminishes accuracy also diminishes effectiveness in proportion. I suppose I could have used the term “average damage per second” instead of effectiveness.

“Accuracy” refers to your likelihood of hitting a target and includes (among other things) a ratio between a weapon’s tracking speed and the target’s current speed. The effect of the ECM Field diminishes that ratio (and thus reduces accuracy) by adding to the effective speed of the target for hit calculation. The effect is applied to any weapon that fires within the ECM Field radius while the ECM Field is active, regardless of where the target is on the map.

The very fact that you want it classified as a WEAPON makes for a good argument why it should effect only enemies. Who builds weapons designed to take out their own ships?

That being said, let’s look at the function of the device.
Does it inflict damage? No. Does it disable the enemy ships? No. Does it damage their armor and shields? No. Could it be used to reduce the percentage counter to help you win? No.

Like all DEFENSES, however, it can do these things indirectly – by adding to the survivability of your own ships, keeping them alive longer. Just like armor and shields reduce the effectiveness of enemy weapons and keep your ship alive longer, so does the ECM Field. But it can’t defeat the enemy or win the battle – you’ll still need weapons for that.

The larger philosophical issue is that area of effect should ALWAYS apply to EVERYONE in the area, regardless of what type they are or what their intended function is?

That’s like saying we have too much Shield SPAM.

I agree that it would be the easiest method. That doesn’t mean its the best.
Defenses that hinder you more than the opponent are completely absurd. (And equal treatment does hinder you since you’re the one paying for the module and equipping it on your ship. If the opponent wants to equip ECM Fields too then we have the equal situation you are describing.)

That’s not the point of the suggestion, however. The point is to add more maneuverability to the game, not less. This module would ENCOURAGE more close up action, at least by part of your fleet and would require you to pay a bit more attention to how ships will maneuver during the battle and where they will be at any given time.

The “shielded weapons” seems like a good idea. One thing that we do in real life to protect against EMP is to “shield” them in protective metals. For this reason, I believe all armor should have inherent ECM resistance. The more you have, the more resistant your ship is to ECM. But that’s just a side note and doesn’t have anything to do with this suggestion really.

That’s different. In that example, you are bypassing the normal drawback or cost of a weapon, and thus not paying for its awesome effect. That’s why its a cheap tactic, literally and figuratively.
Actually, your “I won’t use missiles to get around my Swarm Bomb’s anti-missile drawback” seems more like an exercise of this cheap trick, bypassing the restriction by choosing weapons that will never be effected by it.
The ECM FIeld, on the other hand, is more like a Protection From Evil spell or an Armor spell. Do you really think these should have been replaced with a “Protection For Everybody” spell instead?

Its easy to balance stuff out by saying it applies equally to all, but there are other ways of balance that are already suggested in the original post. Having effects that apply equally to both parties are an easy way of balancing, assuming its completely free to begin with or paid for by both parties. One has to wonder, though, why this same philosophy shouldn’t apply to other stuff… why just area-effect stuff? Why not have shields that prevent your weapons fire, too? Why not have weapons that do equal to damage to your own ship? Perhaps because this balancing method is not always the most appropriate to be using?

The question of game balance ultimately comes down to this:

Would you rather have an ECM Field or an ECM Gun on your ship?
Would you rather have an ECM Field or a Scrambler to protect you from most incoming missiles?
Would you rather have an ECM Field or another Cruiser Beam Laser to hurt your enemies with?
Would you rather have an ECM Field or some additional protection like armor or shields?
Would you rather have an ECM FIeld or another engine to increase your speed?

If we can imagine saying yes or no roughly 50% of the time, or that roughly 50% would desire this all of the time, we have achieved an ideal balance. The closer we get to that, the better. I don’t believe a weapon that would hinder the accuracy of all nearby ships, starting with your own, would be desired by anybody.

Okay, time for a dummy question:

You’ve described the ECM Field as affecting “nearby” ships. This to me says it’s something I want on my front-line ships (fast frigates especially), to put it right up in the enemy’s face. Is that right?

Because it seems at a lot of points in this discussion describe it as a defense for long-range missile cruisers. But if the ECM Field has to be near the actual enemy turret to affect the weapon, then it would be, well, kinda useless on your long-range ships, which ideally don’t ever get close to the enemy.

So based on the original concept, does the ECM Field need to be on the defending ship to be effective, or does it need to be near the attacking ship?

Just trying to get it clear in my head.

I think this is for your frount line ships, that are in the face of the enemy, and also can be used for anti-fighter defence as they are most likly going to be inside that 400 unit circle and closest to the ships deploying the ecm field. I for onw WANT this module, but I have no clue as to how to make it work. the only think i can se is a VERY VERY fast ecm gun that is basicly overpowered but only has a range of 400.

In short this would be on a ship that would be toe to toe with the enemy…

I think calling this thing an ECM field is misleading. This list:

Would you rather have an ECM Field or an ECM Gun on your ship?
Would you rather have an ECM Field or a Scrambler to protect you from most incoming missiles?
Would you rather have an ECM Field or another Cruiser Beam Laser to hurt your enemies with?
Would you rather have an ECM Field or some additional protection like armor or shields?
Would you rather have an ECM FIeld or another engine to increase your speed?

Changes how this thing operates, at least in my mind.

Would you rather have an ECM Field or an ECM Gun on your ship?
–Field. One of the versions shoots as far as the gun. And if as proposed it has no negative effect on friendly ships (as I’ve suggested, a bad idea), even the short range version is better than the gun.

Would you rather have an ECM Field or a Scrambler to protect you from most incoming missiles?
–Field, IF as seems suggested, this thing affects the accuracy of missiles fired from beyond the field’s range. For the 400 m range field, most missiles would be coming in from outside the field’s range, so that’s less handy than a scrambler. For the 700m range field? No comparison. If missiles from outside range are supposed to be affected, why are we talking about the field having a range to start with?

Would you rather have an ECM Field or another Cruiser Beam Laser to hurt your enemies with?
–Apples and oranges. Both very possible. See Field or Gun question for more pertinent question.

Would you rather have an ECM Field or some additional protection like armor or shields?
–Field–as written, this thing prevents some percentage of fire from hitting shields in the first place. I wouldn’t take it in place of armor and shields. . .

So, yeah, Field seems a bit better than the average module.

Because EMP guns have a 100% canceling effect on targets, I find this EMP Field device not as accurate as it could be. When I first read about it, I missed the “accuracy reduction only” part entirely. Since we’re talking about reducing the accuracy of enemy fire within a certain radius of the ship firing the weapon under discussion, I suggest instead we call this dingus a Stealth Field Generator. It reduces the accuracy of weapons fired at the owning ship while in operation. It runs for X seconds with a Y second recharge (20/100? 50/100? Maybe on all the time, if the effect is weaker? Balance as necessary). An easy mechanic, game-wise, would be for the SFG to double or triple the speed of the ship (seems like a cruiser module to me) when it comes time to aim at it. This means stationary ships gain no bonus. Yes, I’m in the “all ships should always have engines” camp. If we want starbases, the game should have actual bases. Whole 'nother topic. I know.

This shift in emphasis makes it a purely defensive module that doesn’t, by imaginary gratuitous effect, have any impact on friendly ships, presuming your friendly ships don’t ever shoot at other friendly ships. EMP guns, according to Cliffski, are offensive weapons despite being square, standard modules, and the “Field” would be the same way no matter what type of module it is–it attacks weapon accuracy, pure and simple. Even fighters need not be excluded from the effect, because the effect is no longer an area of effect attack.

This seems like a much cleaner execution of the “area of effect reduce accuracy” concept, because it doesn’t require an imaginary effect that somehow, automagically, ignores friendly weapons while targeting only enemy weapon, while at the same time producing the same effect, at least as far as the ship using an SFG is concerned.

I could see this priced high enough to make it noticeably costly for someone to use it on every cruiser–say, about as much as a cloak. It offers a way for players to design a cruiser that gets a defensive benefit from speed it can’t get from engines alone. A good counter for plasma spam, it also serves as a way to make a dancing cruiser more possible than is currently true. It isn’t easy to get a cruiser up to .3 or faster, and while that helps, being able to stick on another non-engine module and get the targeting effect of moving .6 would be interesting. Since moving even .3 requires a lot of modules devoted to engines and required power and crew, we wouldn’t be creating a too-powerful cruiser that is impossible to hit…at least not if being .3 speed means such a cruiser can’t also be super-tanked up and/or super weaponed up. That is my personal ship design experience: really fast cruisers are great in small numbers, but if I try to build a whole deployed fleet using the speedsters, they fold pretty fast–too much goes into the engines to leave enough to be competitive.

How’s that?