[Feedback Needed:] Area-Of-Effect Weapons

I am keen on the idea of making some weapons or explosions Area-of-Effect in terms of doing damage. Not on a huge scale, but in tight bunches, so maybe a cruiser going bam will do damage to everything within its actual physical radius, but no further, and the damage scaling down to zero at the outskirts of that radius.

The intention is twofold:

  1. A disincentive for ugly ‘stacking’ of ships in challenges and player fleets
  2. Some cool effects when your ship just happens to be limping back behind the lines to repair itself, but unluckily gets hit by a nearby ships detonation…blam!
  3. Added realism. Lets be honest. space missiles would be nueks, and they would impact stuff over a vast area.


This could unbalance the game in favour of whatever weapons get AOE damage
This could nerf the whole idea of escorting fighters.
This could introduce perhaps a bit too much randomness into things?

My gut instinct is that introducing AOE for ship detonations (just cruisers and frigates), but on a relatively low level, with it being maybe equivalent to a single large hit from a mid-power weapon, scaling down to zero at the limit of the effect. The explosive force would be proportional to the strength of the powerplants on the ship in question, and I could introduce shielded powerplants that are ‘safer’.
It will be a simple balancing act later on to adjust the strength of the variables.

I am not especially minded to introduce AOE for normal weapon impacts that are not destructive. I’m on the fence about whether this effect should apply to fighters or not, and as to whether it should bypass shields and do direct armor or even internal damage. I can see all sorts of arguments in different directions.
What do people think?

I’d have fighters just get tossed around by it; maybe they take some token damage for the ones right on top of the explosion. It’d be cool to see them tumble away from the exploding ship, and then turn around and attack the ship that delivered the killing blow.

My initial gut reaction is that AOE from ship death will demolish both attacking and escorting fighters. So I heartily approve of making fighters immune or nearly immune to its effect. I think I’d also want to make it a bit random, when a ship is destroyed the reactors may or may not overload and detonate like a super nova. Obviously you could make different reactor models more or less likely to detonate.

As for adding weapon AOE damage I wouldn’t retrofit it to any current weapons. I think adding new AOE weapons like a flak cannon, nuclear missile, plasma implosion cannon, what have you will be easier to balance since they’ll have been designed from the ground up to be AOE and wouldn’t directly alter existing fleets.

Make an AoE weapon with low armour penetration for killing swarms of fighters. Give it very low accuracy so that it’s only ever going to hit large swarms. For ship detonations I think it shouldn’t destroy fighters out right, maybe have some kind of limited effect or have the fighters fly away just before the blast effect when the ship starts breaking up.

AOE effects (ship explosions):

  1. strong push effect on fighters, no damage;
  2. less strong push effect on frigates, no damage;
  3. no push effect on cruisers, but AOE explosion would knock off shields or use other ECM effect.

Large ships exploding could be fun if: you extend the breakup/explode time by about 5 seconds and at the start of the sequence give all ships a top level priority order to move a safe distance away (if in the danger zone).

This will allow some element of tension - “she’s gonna blow!!”, give at least faster ships and fighters a sporting chance to get out of range. I can see the my frigates now desperately turning to gain distance while I shout at them to “move faster!”

Without the above additions I think it would ruin non-formation line-ups and many escorts - as the AI does not avoid some level of stacking itself. That means anny non-formation or close escort order was potential suicide button for the escorts - and if it were not (i.e. did little damage) what would be the point?

For AOE weaons perhaps one-shot modules might work. I am worried with the limitations of the AI - again bunching up smaller craft for which the only alternative is formations or ranged escorts - but then you lose the “keep moving” order (see my other thread) which is suicide for speedy frigates.

Other than awesome big effects - I would not gennerally like to see AOE in this game and as I say above if they are awesome (i.e. big) then I would like the consequences carefully thought about.
I would prefer to see the issue of stacking solved by tweaking the new Grid system and with some improved AI.

I’d suggest damage reduction scaled by speed, so fighters and faster frigates take token damage.

Damage dealt could be a function of ship mass or some combination of energy produced and thrust.

Now, if you wanted a -really- cool effect, there would be a small chance that, when a module is destroyed, the associated part of the ship will break off in a ruined state and drift off in to space. It becomes a hostile target to all ships and is given a low targeting priority of ‘Debris’. If the part hits a another ship, it will cause damage to it based on the speed and direction of the debris.

Destruction of a ship already generates a single chunk or two of space debris, but currently it has no effect on the gameplay. If it presented a space hazard, then it deters swarming and stacking ships, as it presents a penalty. But it does not disallow this style of play or require players to build their fleets to counteract this style of play.

If you implemented this suggestion, it could be taken further by adding ‘Cutting Beams’ that increase the chance of causing parts of a ship to be broken off on module destruction. If a module is destroyed and is broken off the ship, then it cannot be repaired anymore and helps to counteract excessive use of repair modules.

Yes, I can see it now… Escort Frigates decked out with short range weapons, specifically designed for protecting their escorts from debris. Slash beams, slicing across their targets, parts being sheared off in to space with accompanying explosions. Armour repair systems failing, as the armour they meant to repair is now shattered and drifting off in to space. A new ‘Cautious’ order, whereupon ships try to avoid getting too close to other ships, and indeed - debris. And the existing cautious order can become ‘Retreat’ or ‘Fall Back’, since that it what it really represents. Fighters can ignore debris since they are too maneuverable to be hit by it. This way, a ship being destroyed is creating something that will not harm fighters but can still harm larger ships.

What do you think? Realistically implementable? You do want Hollywood movie space battles, don’t you?

I like the idea of AOE ship explosions, but you would have to make sure that they didn’t kill fighters (I agree with the idea of throwing them around – which already happens to some extent in the game already) and don’t hurt the bigger ships too much. I played a giant mech game for a while where a reactor explosion did massive damage over several hexes, often enough to one-shot the victor. Close range weapons were pretty dangerous to use because of that “feature”.

Make it big enough to notice, but not enough that you feel bad when you kill an enemy ship. Also, you can give the shock wave high shield penetration, but not much for armour, so that it will weaken ships, but rarely kill them. That would kind of suck for the Empire, though, while the Alliance would laugh it off.

As for AOE weapons, give them no shield penetration and less than eight armour penetration, so that they will only kill fighters and severely under-defended ships. I like the idea of AOE anti-fighter weapons because targeting sixteen or thirty-two fighters one at a time is not working out so well for anything less than massive AA escort groups currently.

Another thought to encourage spreading the big guys out:

When a cruiser’s powerplant gives up the ghost, inflict damage on anyone in kissing distance, and temporarily stun/shock/play the electrocution effect on any ship out to, oh, 1.75x shield radius from the exploding ship. This would represent radiation from the destroyed power plant sleeting through the ships’ electronics, shorting out systems all over blah blah blah… but its main value would be in encouraging people to spread their cruisers during deployment so they aren’t leaving a bunch of sitting ducks in their cruiser stack.

Let me come out against area of effect weapons/ship explosions.

If your the only purpose of AOE weapons is to discourage bunching than I am against it. There’s only so much we can tell the AI as it is. I can’t imagine anything more annoying than losing a handful of ships because the AI decided to converge on one big cruiser all at once.

Plus, dear god imagine the damage output of a fleet of frigates spamming area of effect weapons?

I’d focus more on making existing anti-fighter weapons more effective. I just played a battle in 1.08 where I had escort frigates with tractor beams and anti-fighter missiles. The tractor beams grabbed the ships, and the missiles STILL missed!

add target painters.

I like the knock-back idea for fighters that people have mentioned.

That’s never worked for me when I’ve tried to use it for anti-fighter missiles, you’re better off using fast tracking turrets, and best off using a cruiser to do the job… :slight_smile:

  1. A disincentive for ugly ‘stacking’ of ships in challenges and player fleets

I would MUCH rather this get solved using the grid system and collision detection. Having said that, AOE weapons could still add strategy in terms of loose vs. tight formations, assuming no stacking.

  1. Some cool effects when your ship just happens to be limping back behind the lines to repair itself, but unluckily gets hit by a nearby ships detonation…blam!

Seems like a rare occurrence, the ship would have to have repair modules and cautious orders. Not enough reason to mess with the balance IMO.

  1. Added realism. Lets be honest. space missiles would be nueks, and they would impact stuff over a vast area.

This, I can see. Plus, it gives another option to the player in terms of weapons, that’s always fun.

So my vote is, if it’s a kludge to prevent stacking, I don’t like it, but if added to expand the gameplay, I’m for it. I’m sure that makes sense… :slight_smile:

Although thinking about that one, the effect is constrained by a couple of factors - the energy is dispersed over the surface of a sphere, and so falls off dramatically with distance; also the only shrapnel comes from the weapon casing itself, and it is also dispersed over a sphere. So AoE weapons in space “should” be somewhat limited in general kill-everything 'splodiness. If realism is a goal and if it was 3d! :slight_smile:

IIRC there’s a practical upper limit to the size of a nuclear weapon on Earth (both from the above effect and from engineering practicalities), and while they kept developing bigger bombs as superpower penis-substitutes, there wasn’t any practical benefit in destructiveness terms for doing so, after a certain point.

I’ve been thinking about this a bit. I’m torn if there should be AOE or not in the game. I think most people have covered it pretty well in that it should be more of a flavor thing than a balancing thing. The only weapons that I think should have AOE function would be anti-fighter weapons. Many people have mentioned flack, which I like. Also a rocket system that fires off a salvo of rockets every shot would be cool like in Robotech or Gundam.

But for actual frigate/cruiser weapons I think AOE damage weapons would be to hard to balance giving you can’t control your units at all.

For some kind of AOE with ship explosions, that’s been covered pretty well by others. Besides doing a small amount of damage to frigates/cruisers it could knock them offline for a few seconds like ECM. Or even move them around a bit like fighters when explosions go off.

The other concern I have with AOE weapons is that they don’t need to be accurate. Low accuracy is the balance against plasma weapons. Yeah they do hellacious damage, but they miss half the time. An AOE detonating weapon can miss and still damage SEVERAL ships. Wasn’t that supposed to be one of the biggest balance problems in the Star Fleet battles boardgame? Large formations of Federation ships firing huge waves of inaccurate but area effect photon torpedos?

Also RE: Anti-Fighter Missiles: Frigates don’t get target painters! Even though it would make a hell of a lot more sense than mounting them in fighters.

There is one way to test AOE weapons: make this feature into GSB see what happens.

so make them very expensive. there could be a balance - high cost AoE or lots of low cost targetted stuff.
and blast damage will be less than hit damage, so those nice shields everything is mounting could well just shrug it off.

one thing that i just thought of - even with anti-stack provisions, the way to win still seems to be to pack your fleet into the smallest possible area. especially against the pre-set scenarios… sit down one end of the field, and engage the enemy in stages. AoE could have the potential to make multiple battlegroups a good thing… and that would be very good.

The destruction of ships should have an AOE effect, think of all that radiation an energy as anti-matter containment fails in the reactors. For missiles and the like I’m not sure ship to ship missiles should be, as the energy would be spent on armour penatration, and internal dammage. (Unless you could damage several componenets at once, in which case it would make sense).
Against fighters there could be a case for AOE missiles, as many modern SAM work on proximity fuses, the largest ones being able to take out several closely packed ships at once.