The Camouflage Module


#1

Here’s my suggested fix for the camouflage module. The ship would no longer phase in and out of cloaking, unless you set it to do so with an order. Instead, the cloak is only used to get into firing position at the start of the battle, or to run away when using the Cautious order.

What Cloaking Does

  • Ships with a camouflage module should start the mission cloaked.
  • A ship that is cloaked has no shields or weapons and can not be fired upon or selected as a navigation target by the enemy.
  • A ship that is brought out of cloak by a “Decloak” order may immediately fire weapons as soon as it starts decloaking.
  • Once a ship is fully decloaked, it will regain shield stability.
  • The enemy may fire weapons and select it as a navigation target once the ship has fully decloaked.

How It Works

  • Cloaking devices have a certain amount of Cloak Power.
  • Each second (or interval or 500 intervals or whatever), there is a tiny chance that one camouflage module will suffer a small reduction in cloak power. When its brought down to 0, the cloak will ‘fail’ and the ship will decloak (unless it has another working camouflage module).
  • A ship that is brought down to 0 total Cloak Power decloaks, suffers a minor ECM effect based on its class, can not re-cloak for the remainder of the battle.
  • Nearby enemy ships may be equipped with Cloaking Scanners. These will also have a small chance of inflicting a reduction in cloak points on one of your camouflage modules each second (or interval or 500 intervals or whatever). A tiny sparkle on the ship sprite indicates when an enemy Cloaking Scanner has been effective.

The Camoflauge Module

  • Let’s bring the hull points of the camouflage module down to normal levels.
  • There can different types of camouflage module, which will determine how much “Cloak Power” it has, the shock duration of cloak failure, and how long it takes to decloak.
  • We can also have Cloaking Scanners with variables such as max range and scanner effectiveness.

More Control

  • A “Decloak” order can be issued to any ship with a camouflage module. (I suppose you can put it on other ships, too, but what’s the point?)
  • This order will consist of two sliders and a checkbox.
  • The first slider is the Maximum Cloak Duration, and will set the time at which the camouflage module will automatically decloak, even if you have Cloak Points left. If set to 0, the ship will immediately decloak at the start of the battle. (A ship that decloaks as the result of your order will still have Cloak Power left and so will not suffer the ECM effect for cloak ‘failure’.)
  • There is a second slider that will indicate how long the ship will wait before it cloaks again. The ship will only cloak if it still has Cloak Power left. If set to 0 (or “never”), then the ship will remain decloaked for the remainder of the battle.
  • Finally, in addition to the two sliders, there is a checkmark that will postpone decloaking the ship until it is near the selected priority range of its navigation target.

Cloaking

  • A ship can only re-cloak if it has any Cloak Power remaining, and only if it has the “Decloak” or “Cautious” orders.
  • When the “Cautious” order is triggered, the ship will re-cloak.
  • A ship with the “Decloak” order can be set to re-cloak after a certain duration by adjusting the second slider.
  • A ship that re-cloaks will lose its shield stability as soon as it starts to cloak, but can still fire weapons until it is fully cloaked.
  • Once a ship has fully cloaked, the enemy can not fire on it or select it as a navigation target. If it is already a navigation target, the enemy ship must choose a new target once your ship finished cloaking.

An element of surprise

  • If a ship decloaks by your “Decloak” order and still has Cloak Power left, you may fire weapons as soon as your ship starts the process of decloaking.
  • If a ship decloaks because it is brought down to 0 Cloak Power, your camouflage module has ‘failed’. As a result, you suffer an ECM Shock effect that temporarily disables your weapons.
  • The duration of the shock is determined by your class. Cruisers suffer a longer shock duration than Frigates, and Frigates longer than Fighters.

#2

I like it. Actual cloaking power, not fake and mostly useless cloaking power, as we have now.

However, I offer this slight amendment:

CLOAKED SHIPS COUNT AS DEAD FOR PURPOSES OF DETERMINING VICTORY. Or some variant of counting as totally dead.

Sounds harsh. But is mainly a huge disincentive to cloak an entire fleet, and to add a bit of spice to the calculation about if or when to re-cloak during a battle. Last thing I want to see with improved cloaking is CLOAKING SPAM. As the Imperial Shield Boosting Dingus debacle showed, any tweaks need to be thoroughly checked for mini-max madness before actual implementation.

Also, there is a big danger in disallowing them as navigation targets. There would be no defense against traps built using them, ie “hey there’s a cruiser over there let’s go!” and halfway there the main enemy body decloaks at an awfully inconvenient range. That is to say, on a ship to ship basis cloaks and their consequences seem OK, but without a commensurate ability to navigate to some degree, making them un-navigable in addition to un-targetable makes cloaking too too too powerful, IMHO.

Maybe instead, navigation is “fuzzy,” adding a potentially sizable error–ships set to close to 800 vs. cruisers will close to what they think is 800, but which may actually be +/- 10, 20, 30 percent?

RC


#3

The problem with placing cloaks on all your ships if that they may all drop out of cloak at different times due to cloak failure. If this happens, not only will each ship in your entire fleet draw enemy fire while suffering ECM shock, but you will give the enemy an opportunity to concentrate fire on each individual ship as they decloak.

It can be a good idea to have some ships without a cloak, or that drop out of cloak earlier, to distract the enemy and defend the other ships if they suffer cloak failure earlier than expected.