Tractor Beam Targeting

There are some cases where multiple tractor beams will consistently target a single fighter, even though they’re not supposed to.

To make sure this wasn’t just me being crazy, I ran some quick tests.

In each test, a single squad of fighters engaged an otherwise unarmed cruiser with four standard tractor beams. Each test was run at 4x speed.

This first test was using a Rebel Icarus with a single Type III engine, since it was the only unarmed fighter I had designed at the time.

Rebel Icarus
One fighter engaged: 5 (41.6%)
Two: 5 (41.6%)
Three: 1 (8.3%)
Four: 1 (8.3%)

This looks pretty bad, but this fighter moves at an absolutely ridiculous speed of 6.46, so I tried again with a Rebel Achilles with a Type II engine and Basic Generator. This design moves at 3.08, the same speed as the standard Achilles laser fighter.

Rebel Achilles
One: 7 (28%)
Two: 3 (12%)
Three: 2 (8%)
Four: 13 (52%)

This seems to be working as intended, but 10 out of the 13 times all four targets were engaged occurred in a row during the last 10 trials. At this time, the fighters had gotten into a stable pattern of orbiting the stationary ship. During the first fifteen trials, however, the tractor beams only engaged one target almost half the time.

To check this I performed one more test where I kept the cruiser in motion (Specifically, it was told to escort a frigate at the other end of the map with the default escort distance of 100m). This time, the results looked like this. The cruiser was moving with a speed of 0.28

Rebel Achilles. Cruiser moving.
One: 17 (68%)
Two: 3 (12%)
Three: 2 (8%)
Four: 3 (12%)

These results are hardly conclusive. Tests should be done at different fighter speeds, cruiser speeds, and game speeds, and each test should be run multiple times. However, from my actual game experience with tractor beams, I’m fairly confident that these results will remain mostly unchanged. Standard tractor beams usually engage a single target except in special circumstances that rarely come up in regular gameplay.

Strange, those results are nothing like what I’ve experienced. Though I didn’t perform any thorough tests, any game I’ve run where a ship had multiple tractor beams they almost always grouped up on a single ship. In fact, all 4 tractors not focusing on the same ship was the rarity, with a single tractor sometimes targeting something different while the other 3 were on one ship.

It’s clear that it’s happening, so at this point we just need a case that cliffski can run so he can debug it. I’m sure that won’t be hard for me to whip up.