Mission Modules - Actual Variety in Ships

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by Aetrion, Jul 14, 2022.

  1. Aetrion

    Aetrion Lieutenant

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    One of the biggest problems I have with this game is that there is no real variety in spaceships. Of course you can create ships in an infinite number of different shapes, but when it comes to their capabilities they have a tendency to all be pretty much the same.

    The issue is that it's possible to build something that can do it all in Empyrion . There is never a reason to build a spaceship that is slow, because you can simply add more engines to make it go fast. There is no reason to ever build a spaceship that is poorly armed, because you can simply add more weapons. There is no reason to ever build a spaceship that doesn't have every single system you find useful. By the time you hit Tier 3 or 4 you simply have so much CPU that you never have to make any hard choices about what you should or shouldn't add to the ship. A game full of perfect spaceships is unfortunately kind of boring.

    So here is an idea to shake things up a bit. Rather than reducing the capabilities of ships that currently exist in the game add a number of new modules that can be added to ships, however, ships can only support a small number of these, so you can never have them all.

    These would be called Mission Modules. They are fairly large blocks that provide a spaceship with a unique capability. Mission Modules can have active abilities that need to be activated by pushing a button. They don't have a CPU cost, instead you are simply restricted to your ship's tier in mission modules.

    Some ideas for mission modules:

    Major Caliber Turret - A full blown battleship turret with three guns in it. Offers significant firepower over other turrets.

    Coaxial Railgun - A massive railgun that is laid into the ship's hull. Huge firepower and range, very long reload.

    Drone Hangar - A hangar that can automatically construct drones from spare components on board, and launches them on command. Drones will attack nearby enemies.

    Promethium Torpedo - A slow moving torpedo that can be detonated with a second activation of the ability. Blows up in a large radius dealing damage to any nearby object.

    Bomb Bay - Drops bombs from the ship. Works inside of atmosphere.

    Siege Module - Anchors the ship, increases the range of all weapons.

    Repair Field - Slowly repairs the ship and nearby friendly ships using materials from an attached storage container while active.

    Shield Transfer Module - Drains the ship's shield while filling the shields of nearby friendly ships while active. Can not affect ships with an active Shield Transfer Module. (no groups of ships cross healing each other)

    Hard Shield - Erects an indestructible shield for a few seconds, has a long cooldown afterward.

    Cloaking Device - Turns the ship invisible for a short time, has a cooldown afterward.

    ECM Array - Confuses enemy AI turrets within range, making them attack random blocks on random targets or not shoot at all, has a cooldown afterward.

    Micro Warpdrive - Lets the ship teleport 10km ahead, has a cooldown afterward.

    Sprint Engine - A massive thruster that can up the ship's speed significantly for a short time, has a cooldown afterward.

    Furnace - It's the same furnace you can put into a base, but on a spaceship, and it costs a mission module slot.

    Mass Cancelling Cargo Bay - Attaches to a modular cargo bay, reduces the weight of items inside to zero.

    Stellar Collector - Can be deployed while directly over a star. Anchors the ship. Slowly harvests fuel and oxygen.

    Long Range Teleporter - A teleporter that functions at interstellar distances, like a base teleporter.

    Survey Array - Generates a cash payment for every new POI discovered while piloting the ship.


    These are just a few ideas. Basically for every Tier of your CPU you can install one of these modules on your ship. You can install multiple versions of the same module. The thing is, no ship can ever have all of them, and depending on which four you pick the ship will have a very different mission profile. Everything from industrial vessels to exploration ships to long range snipers, support tenders and drone carriers is possible with mission modules.

    A similar system could be applied to bases, allowing them to have functions like deep core mines to generate minerals, luxury guest accommodations to earn an income, dome shields for fortified outposts, etc.

    The game needs more variety in ships. Building should not always just boil down to putting everything possible on a single vessel because you can. Giving people hard choices and allowing them to explore combinations of different mission modules to create ships that work together as a team and actually reward you for having a whole fleet would make the game a lot more interesting.
     
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    Last edited: Aug 10, 2022
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  2. The Big Brzezinski

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    Homogeneity between ship designs has very much not been my experience. While it's possible to make a CV that can perform most jobs adequately, such a ship will not be optimized for anything. Just in tier three, I've got a freighter with about a dozen cargo systems and heavy lift capacity, a planetary assault ship with over fifty cannon turrets, and a heavy cruiser that caps out at 80 m/s fully loaded due to all its armor and plasma guns. None of these ships can do each other's jobs. Even my tier four battleship is basically only good for killing stuff in space, though it is very good at it.

    I can see these modules being useful, but I doubt they would change much for me. They would amount to free upgrades on top of their existing mission capabilities.

    Can you give a specific use case? A particular or hypothetical ship you could see these modules helping?
     
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  3. ravien_ff

    ravien_ff Rear Admiral

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    A T4 CV can do everything. The difference between T3 and T4 is staggering. T4 has 6.6 times more CPU than T3 and can fit every possible weapon and device for every role with CPU to spare.
    And that's not even counting the easily obtained advanced core.
     
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  4. The Big Brzezinski

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    "Can do" and "is optimized for" are very different things. Even simple hull morphology makes a big difference. There's no way to make a CV that is both large enough to outfit as a main line combatant and small enough to easily land on broken terrain within wireless distance of traders or mineral deposits. You're going to have to compromise on something.

    So I say pick the one thing you're not going to compromise on, and build the ship around it. That's how you get specialized ships. No external kludge needed.

    That's my advice based on my experience. OP and others, however, have had different experiences. I'd like to see an example of the sort of design that's causing their consternation.



    Advanced cores are their own brand of madness.
     
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  5. Insopor

    Insopor Lieutenant

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    While this is largely true, I tend to agree with The Big Brzezinski on the finer details.

    What it really boils down to is you'll either need literally all 10m CPU for an extremely specialized ship, or like mentioned above, you'll just need a different hull design for a different task.

    Personally, I have what is essentially a luxury class destroyer that has everything you could need for... pretty much anything.
    However, and especially when you get into PvP combat where everything must be pushed to the max, it's easy to find you've gone over the limit and still are missing some parts.

    But on topic, yes I can definitely see where OP is coming from. The base game does not challenge players enough to even require a fully kitted ship. Even a ship considered poor by PvP standards is likely to dominate the entire game with little trouble. Without a challenge, there's no drive to stretch a ship's capabilities. For that you'll either want custom scenarios or PvP.

    But the above suggestions seem nice. Some of them anyway. I'd certainly be interested to see them realized as an option. But a lot of those can bring in huge balance issues. Basically anything giving the player even more firepower is completely unnecessary for the game's current challenge.

    If you find you actually need any more firepower, then you've clearly not pushed your ship's capabilities enough.
     
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  6. Aetrion

    Aetrion Lieutenant

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    My experience with the game is that ships almost always end up exceeding their mission specs by a huge amount.

    I built a giant carrier for fighters. I had no problem slapping all the weapons of a battleship on it, adding twenty full sized cargo holds, enough engines to make it move like it's a fighter itself, as well as some mining lasers, whatever.

    Sure, hull shape matters. This thing is obviously too big to conveniently land anywhere and mining is awkward in it, but building more specialized ships is a minor convenience at that point.

    With mission modules if I wanted a pure carrier I could slap 3x drone hangars and a repair field on it and would definitely play like a carrier, at the cost of all those other capabilities. If I wanted it to be a battleship I might go for two main calibers, a hard shield and a siege module for long range bombardment. Building an optimized hull for these kinds of different ships would still be a thing, it just wouldn't be a relatively minor improvement. A coaxial railgun, promethium torpedo, cloak and micro warpdrive would make for a powerful strike ship that can sneak up, hit hard, and then make a quick escape.
     
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  7. The Big Brzezinski

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    Here's my counterexample.

    https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd....70/611D61075EA1D95757A47CB01533167E2139BE15/?
    [​IMG]

    Over a hundred artillery and laser turrets, twenty forward rocket launchers. Made to fight head on, so the leading quarter or so of the hull is sathium armor with small generator decoys. Fast and agile as a boulder rolling down a mountain. Interior is fully RP compliant. To make this flying sledgehammer, I had to give up on agility, fuel efficiency, and planetary flight. She could probably carry fighters in her rear hangar, but those pilots would be better off flying destroyers as escorts.

    This is the kind of ship you can make when you commit to mission statements like "this ship is going to trade headbutts until the other guy is dead", or "every single crumb of ore in this sector is coming with me", or "it takes a village [of industrial BAs] to raise a war fleet". Adding four more large guns would be nice, I guess, but kind of blue-on-black in effect. She's already well equipped for her primary mission.

    Maybe try pulling off some of those thrusters and RCS to free up some CPU. I bet you can fit a lot more fun stuff in their place.
     
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  8. Aetrion

    Aetrion Lieutenant

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    That ship is pretty much everything that's wrong with ship building in this game. Not because it's particularly ugly or because you did a bad job or anything, but because every single high end design converges on a similar point. Mass forward firepower, huge amounts of armor with decoys, season to taste.

    The whole point here is that there is one single best way to fight in space in this game and every single well built ship ends up optimized for the exact same boring face tanking duel instead of having some actual interesting play style to it.
     
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  9. ravien_ff

    ravien_ff Rear Admiral

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    That exactly proves the point though.
    BTW I bet that ship can haul plenty of cargo and if you stick a single drill turret on it you're now also the best mining platform in space.
    There is no specialization because that ship can do it all.
     
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  10. The Big Brzezinski

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    Forward doesn't always have to be the engagement direction.

    https://steamuserimages-a.akamaihd....61/02D9D328CEFC586381DB7628FCE6D562A5D62D6D/?
    [​IMG]
    This heavy cruiser carries her plasma turrets along the center line, top and bottom, with her armor concentrated on the sides like the warships of old. This means she can similarly use her forward propulsion to circle enemy ships and attack them with broadside volleys. Because her evasion and distance management relies on rotation and forward movement instead of lateral thrust, she needs a less complex (i.e. expensive) propulsion system to maneuver in combat. If one side does become heavily damaged, she can just flip over. And if the situation does turn sour, she's already poised to turn away and break off.



    Say we did refit the above battleship with a mining turret. It wouldn't be that hard. She's got 20k spare CPU, plenty for a 3k mining turret. A ship this large would be quite difficult to maneuver in confined space. Getting around an asteroid to reach all its ore would be agony. The high aft position of the bridge superstructure would make sighting asteroids more difficult as well. Most problematic of all is that this ship isn't planetary capable. I can't keep its own mass flying, even in lunar gravity. That means no landing and deploying mining HVs. All of this is moot, anyway. To even build this monster, one already must have extensive resource gathering and processing infrastructure. A hundred thousand sathium ingots is not something you hand mine.

    For a good mining CV, I don't just want a ship that digs space rocks. I need it to be the focal point of a whole roving mining operation. I'd want a low forward bridge with a directly adjacent mining turret for easy sighting of asteroids and landing on planets. I'd also want a small craft bay low to the ground, so mining HVs can board and disembark quickly. The landing footprint would have to to be as small as possible to land more easily in broken terrain, like around the canyons of barren metal worlds. I'd probably also want landing pads for flatbed cargo and scout SVs to carry miner HVs around and to reconnoiter for ore deposits and danger. Weapons would be sentry guns and maybe a 15mm turret or two for drones. I imagine a shield would be too bulky. I'd probably use a standard ammo box for the ship's supplies. A fridge, med chamber, oxygen station, armor locker, and medicine closet would be good enough for crew comforts. I'd try to have enough lifting thrust to fly well loaded with sathium ore in 4G gravity. Cargo storage would depend on whether the required propulsion system pushes the ship to T3 or not. I'd have to do some math for that first.

    Now that's a pretty specific design document there. You can't just slap some drill and a harvest controller on any old hull and say it's just as good. Even a converted cargo ferry won't be as good.
     
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  11. ravien_ff

    ravien_ff Rear Admiral

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    But that's the problem with the current CPU tiers, you can do exactly that. There's no need to maneuver with a drill turret, because it simply eats through the entire asteroid in seconds. There's no need for large amounts of cargo space, when you can simply stuff it all into your factory and ships are so cheap anyway. There's no need for mining HVs for planets, when your drone using an epic drill is the single best mining in the game on planets (outclassing even mining SVs with lasers due to the ease the drone can mine).

    Unless you nerf your capabilities on purpose for roleplaying, a T4 CV can quite literally do everything in the entire game and for cheap as well.
     
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  12. Aetrion

    Aetrion Lieutenant

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    I don't even mind that ships can do everything in the game, because that lets you live the fantasy of having your own Enterprise or Galactica and just living on the ship.

    What I find most egregious is how shallow and dumb combat is. Any game that just designs a couple ship classes with different strengths and weaknesses without any ability to build anything yourself winds up with a combat system where what you need to do to win changes dramatically depending on who you're fighting and what you're fighting them with. In this game it's always the exact same. There is no way to do anything clever or unexpected, despite the fact that every single ship is in theory entirely unique.

    You never go "Oh, that's an artillery cruiser, I need to close the distance so I can hit his weak armor while outmaneuvering his long range guns", or "That's a battleship, I need to wear it down with missiles and fighters while staying away from its huge broadsides" or "That's a torpedo corvette, I need to destroy it at range before it can close in and release its payload".

    You never get anything like that in this game. Because it always just devolves into smashing decoy armor and gun beds together until someone blows up.
     
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  13. The Big Brzezinski

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    Many people including myself have made threads proposing replacements and supplements to the factory. It's really big problem with a lot of negative knock-on effects, and it really has to be address at some point. In the meantime, I draw up constructor quotas for making most of the blocks for my longest-baking ships so I can have them in minimal time.

    I rarely ever use even an epic drill for mining. It's not that they're not good. It's just that I already make miners that surpass them. Those large HV drills really schlorp the ore down, and wireless logistics means you can offload to a mothership almost instantly.

    But if a player chooses to mine everything by hand and exploit their F2 factory for resource transportation, I doubt they're interested in using ships anyway. They probably just want to get to POI raiding, and a ship is just away of getting there. Fair enough. Empyrion is a sandbox game, and playing it that way is their prerogative. I wouldn't install five dozen to a cannon turrets on a CV and attack drone bases if I didn't enjoy doing so immensely, and it's my problem if I get bored of it. One can't very well complain to others if their decision to indulge in cheese techniques ruins their experience.



    I figure the rudimentary nature of ship combat is just a limitation we've got to live with. Empyrion lives by its mix of gameplay systems rather than the strength of any one of them. Also doesn't help that balancing a game for both single and multiplayer is a headache for any developer to tackle. So I guess the weak CV AI and lack of response from allied assets is just something we have to deal with for now. Besides, I can get my fleet management and combat fix from X4.

    Funny enough, I saw an interesting video about the Galaxy class exploration cruisers from Star Trek by a naval historian. He suggests the very large hulls and robust power and propulsion systems needed to patrol and explore the frontiers were also intended to be easily converted into pure combat ships in wartime, which is exactly what happened after the Borg conflict and into the Dominion War. Goes to show you can, in fact, design a ship with diverse missions capabilities if you're willing to plan ahead for refitting for them.
     
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  14. Aetrion

    Aetrion Lieutenant

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    Nothing would be stopping you from changing the mission modules on a ship, and if you designed the hull in such a way that it can readily accept mission modules of all shapes then I'd say you've successfully designed a ship that can be retrofitted for a large number of missions.

    I don't think that we should accept the crappy combat as the best it will ever be. This game is at a point where the variety of gameplay is great, but the quality of gameplay in each individual activity is lacking. The biggest thing where that hurts the game IMO is space combat, because building spaceships is where the "endgame" lies for Empyrion, but actually using those spaceships is one of the least fun parts of the game.

    You have dedicated space games where you can't build anything that base their entire core gameplay loop on just being really good at simulating space combat. Maybe Empyrion will never match those games 100%, but the closer you get to that, the more excited people will be about actually creating spaceships.
     
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    Last edited: Jul 28, 2022
  15. vinurd

    vinurd Commander

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    The idea is interesting. I will make my small suggestions. There is a game Aurora 4X C # I recommend developers to get acquainted with this masterpiece. Although the graphics are primitive, but the mechanics there are unique, I would say. There is a balance when building a ship. It's like tuning a guitar, every note (detail) should sound. The distortions will make the ship heavy, rotting (I have already written about the maintenance staff proposal), energy-efficient and as a result, the volleys from the guns will not be so powerful. What pushes a person to the correct design of the main components of the ship, Energy, Control, Shields, Load capacity, Strength, mass and speed. Now there is something similar to this. But the player, with the proper details, will be able to create mixed monsters. Ie, it makes no sense to narrowly focus ships. And universal ships spoil the very meaning of the game and we get 8 bit battle City where it doesn't matter what you drive at all. The main thing is how.
     
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  16. The Big Brzezinski

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    "Accept" is a strong word. "Resigned to" would be closer to the truth.
     
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  17. Aetrion

    Aetrion Lieutenant

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    Fair enough, but I do hope that the devs are actually reading these forums from time to time.
     
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  18. vinurd

    vinurd Commander

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    If you refer to the same Aurora 4C#, then you can make prefabricated important parts such as engines, shields, guns, so that they consist of modules. And each module had its own characteristics, plus additional upgrades, and at the beginning the player must simulate an engine, a gun with parameters where there is both a buff and a debuff, something will outweigh. And when assembled with other parts, he will receive either more buff for something, and more debuff for another. For example, for a mining module, there are parts that increase the length, the amount of collection, and the discharge of the system, plus the CPU load. Some parts can be created, some can only be bought, and the rarest ones can be stolen or found. The mining module is assembled in parts like a Kalashnikov assault rifle, as well as engines, shields and so etc
     
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  19. The Big Brzezinski

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    I think there's a big problem with tying devices directly to CPU tier. You would have every incentive to jam every ship you have full of optronics for more super-devices instead of designing efficient ships. It would almost be like going from designing ship sections in three dimensional space to placing equipment in gear slots in the paper doll of a character screen. It's RPG mechanics, not engineering.

    I would look to the existing high end stuff for guidance, particularly tier two RCS. These things cost like one and a quarter million CPU. No other block matches this footprint. Perhaps it's time for that to change.

    Have devices of similar capability to those described thus far, but instead of rote limits based on CPU tier, simply give them very high CPU footprints. Asking players to learn only this one balancing system is a mercy when CV design is so inherently complicated already. CPU costs also allow high end devices to scale across a spectrum instead of all being on the same power plateau. The devices should probably take optronics to construct.


    Some balance changes would have to be made. The meat ax must be swung. Advanced core free lunches must end. Instead of unlimited CPU, cap them at a high number. Perhaps twenty million. Perhaps twenty five. Perhaps more. Let players design and build the super-capital ship they've earned. The whole point of playing with CPU is to provide governance to ship design, to encourage diversity and efficiency. Advanced cores should enrich CPU, not negate it. Tiers one through three might also need expanding, especially for BAs. Most of all, block limits must go. I blame block limits more than anything for the ship homogenization a lot of players suffer from. The training wheels must come off. People must learn to balance the capabilities and devices in their ship designs themselves.

    For new tools to matter, they must come with new problems to solve. Existing OPVs, freighters, and POIs would need to be retrofitted with the new devices. Even more hostile environments would probably need to be devised, perhaps even capable of damaging ships just with weather. Entities such as drones and mechs would need proper anti-CV weapons. Base attack and planetary responder CVs might need to become a thing. Most importantly, map descriptions must be updated to inform players of the dangers awaiting them. This will tell some players to stay away. Others, exactly where they want to be.
     
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  20. Aetrion

    Aetrion Lieutenant

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    The issue with giving them a CPU cost is that the CPU system is crap. It starts out with way too little CPU to build anything more than just the barest means of conveyance, and ends up with such obscene amounts of it that it's hard to even use it all.

    The CPU literally goes from 1,500,000 at Tier 3 to 10,000,000 at Tier 4, so if mission modules were CPU bound you'd either not be able to use them at all on Tier 3 or lower ships, or Tier 4 ships would end up with a dozen of them.

    I guess they could rebalance that a bit, but I think having about one mission module per tier of the ship is where the system should be. If you can have too many of them it just winds up right back with ships that do it all.
     
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