Orcon, A new module proposal


#1

I was mulling over a posting by Cliff (here) on why fighters can pass through shields, but missiles can’t. This naturally led me onto the need for the future re-implementation of Project Orcon.

Essentially, behaviourist B.F. Skinner trained pigeons to peck on the place on a screen which showed a ship. Then a screen, lens/projector system, and pigeon were placed in the nosecone of a missile, and the positions of the pecking used to guide the missile at the target.

en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Orcon
electronicdesign.com/Globals/Pla … /4964.html

Of course, they were never actually used. While the missiles would have worked, Skinner never managed to train the pigeons well enough to sign the release forms.

So, Organically Guided Missiles. Immune to ECM, pass through shields. What’s not to like?


#2

Its tricky to come up with a missile that passes through shields that doesnt become an uber weapon. Maybe there could be very slow or expensive missile launchers with this capability?


#3

Im no expert but it seems to me that missiles wouldn’t work too well in space ?

In the earth’s atmosphere missiles need tail fins to keep them aloft and stabilised, but those fins wouldnt do anything in the vacuum of space. Wouldn’t that make missiles very unreliable ?

Just a thought


#4

Big missile, no decoys.

Personally, I’d tend to make PD weapons far more capable, missiles more nasty, and sort of force everyone to take along PD.

The fire control solution for anti-missile PD is trivial since the PD system knows exactly where the missile is going—it’s trying to hit the PD system’s own ship.

It should not be a matter of IF a PD system can hit, but how many missiles per minute it can kill.

So I’d be for:

  1. Bumping up PD effectiveness.

  2. Making 2 tiers of missiles, small, light damage missiles that hit shields, and larger, nastier missiles that are far more expensive (they are in effect fighters without crew, etc) but since they share the fighters’ reactionless drive, they can move through a shield. Such large missiles should have a LONG delay between shots (ideally we’d have an ammo counter for some weapons, even if some are set to “-1” or something allowing infinite shots).

I think a balance can be achieved as long as the defender has PD weapons.


#5

I think a short-ranged, slow cruiser-fired missile that passes through shields would be a nice addition. I never seem to have enough disruptor bombs handy! :slight_smile:


#6

Missiles would work fine. Normal “reaction drives” would seriously limit their ability to turn, particularly at speed. Reactionless missiles would be no different than fighters or ships in game. All the GSB units as shown are reactionless (non-Newtonian).


#7

A serious answer; hmm.

Well, a pigeon-guide missile couldn’t be as manoeuvrable as an automatic one could be made, though the in-game missiles actually appear less vigorous than piloted fighters. They’d need to be moderately large, but many Soviet anti-ship missiles would be large enough.

Current in-game missiles are probably too small (in comparison with fighters).

There are possible drawbacks of the sort caused by Russian anti-tank dogs; the pigeon’s going to pick randomly at best if there’s more than one target on its screen, and probably won’t be able to distinguish between friends and foes.

Of course, friendly targeting can be avoided by having intelligent pilots, as with the (unused) German piloted V1-s and Japanese Kamikaze Rockets. I imagine a communal insect society would be willing to expend some of its surplus, mostly useless male members as missile pilots, so having missiles guided by drones…


#8

Trained pigeons for the missiles are expensive, and all those pigeons also have to be housed, so you’d need a “pigeon housing” metric for how many pigeons you’re carrying. Plus, you have to pay off those darned PETA lawsuits, and carry extra lawyers in your crew quarters…


#9

I’ve been experimenting with some devastating missiles, but better PD systems.

I made the “long lance” such that a single hit on a frigate is usually a kill. With better PD systems, very few of these ever hit, however. I also set the fire delay to 200,000.

Oddly, the missiles do not start the game loaded, which is a problem. Ideally you’d want such a system to fire a spread to maximize the chances of a hit. I suppose I could make it a multi-warhead, and so heavy/costly that you’d only put 1 per FF.


#10

Something that isn’t mentioned much is the idea of chaff. It’s pretty common in most war games, where ships can release a bunch of decoys when they detect incoming missiles. I’ve long considered sticking it in the game. It also looks pretty cool in real-life :smiley: It could be one of the first things in the game to be introduced with limited ammo perhaps…?


#11

Really it would be a mix of chaff and flares since the IR sig of a ship that make megawatts (or more) is huge—every bit of energy generated must be radiated somehow.

Still, a cool idea.

You could borrow sandcasters from traveller, too.

I really think missiles with limited ammo is important, though.

BTW, with respect to PD, they don’t have a damage amount per shot listed, are they simply a % chance of killing what they hit?


#12

yup its a set percentage. I thought about sandcasters but clouds of sand might not look very gratuitous :smiley:


#13

Flares would look good, but they’re for IR homing missiles, and those in-game aren’t.

That is, from observation, the in-game missiles (which actually includes the rockets) seem to most likely be some sort of Beam-Riding missile, which follows a targeting laser, radio, or radar signal from the launching ship to the target. This type of guidance only allows one missile per launcher (strictly, guidance system) in flight at once, with targeting lost if the launching ship is destroyed. The game’s laser targeters actually allow the ship to target the enemy, not the missile. This is all post-hoc rationalising of things that are probably just programming simplifications; I’ve no idea if Cliff thinks this, and there’s no reason he has to, and he’s in a position to do stuff which breaks it.

For extra geekiness, the game could include a player missile-building option. With Hull Size different for Frigates and Cruisers (or launcher type), choose a missile engine, warhead, and guidance system (say, IR, Beam Riding, Radar Guided, Pigeon), possibly add armour and/or decoys, and the game determines missile speed and damage. The defensive Flares, Chaff and Peregrine Falcons being variously effective verses different types.


#14

I think the idea of missile customization - if possible to implement - is a good one. With multiple launchers and PD options (and having to take a stance with regards to PD for an efficient fleet), missiles are a game within the game itself already. Having a smaller amount of launchers, but customizable missiles would be fantastic; It doesn’t even have to be too complex.

Each missile could contain three slots, one of which for a weapon. Demand it has propulsion to be able to be saved, the propulsion needs power (or fuel, in this case), and different engine and fuel combinations can result in different speeds, costs, and most importantly, leftover fuel allotment for the payload hardpoint. Weight of the “weapon” also changes speed, so you get faster, weaker missiles and slower, stronger missiles, or perhaps weak, cheap missiles (make the strongest missiles truly expensive, perhaps combined with limited ammo in the future? Should lead to cost being a very, very relevant axis.) and hey, if it’s possible codingwise, the balance of shield-ignoring missiles could be handled easier through this?

Okay, I got carried away. My sincere apologies. Bought the game recently, first post, very happy with the game, and when you make a forum like this and let fan input matter, this is what you get. :frowning:


#15

It would certainly be gratuitous to design missiles like little fighters (which is absolutely what they in fact are).

Missiles really need to be consumable, though (fixed number aboard).


#16

Vector thrust.


#17

Or they could simply rotate to thrust—there is no requirement that a missile point in the direction it is thrusting.

In GSB, they could be reactionless, too—in fact as represented, they ARE reactionless.

As an aside, it would be cool to see a vector-movement version of the game, it would make for totally different strategies.


#18

Since fighters can pass through shields because it’s cool and interesting and missiles can’t because it wouldn’t be, I’m not sure how pigeons are relevant. Although, shields being permeable to a certain density of pigeons would be pretty interesting.

Frankly, if there was a toggle that switched the behaviour it’d please everyone. I’d never use it because missiles passing through shields is dumb, but if people want it and it’s easy just make it optional and define tournament rules for challenges. Case closed.

It’s a ‘setting’ thing, and the competitive play can’t allow variations in setting. The idea of slow missiles that do so is crazy because even fast missiles are pretty damn slow and useless against prepared opponents. If missiles had hitpoints and could be missed instead of ‘ECM = 1 missile destroyed every x time’ it might be interesting, but it’s not.


#19

And in other news, the next release of the game will include the Pnakotis, a race who defend their vessels from missile-riding pigeons by sheer force of will, their psychokinesis activated via a hideous operation which removes their humour glands through their enlarged rear nasal passages.


#20

Only if you turn off missile-contrails in the options pane! My missiles have smoke and flame coming out the back. A reactionless drive with smoke coming out of it is a trip back to the factory to get my money back.