Sensor system proposal

Discussion in 'Suggestions' started by geostar1024, Feb 9, 2018.

  1. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2016
    Messages:
    5,165
    Likes Received:
    7,095
    I decided that the targeting/sensors discussion in the CU proposal thread was starting to take it over a bit, and I ended up with enough ideas on the subject to put together something approaching a coherent system. So, here it is (TL;DR first):

    EDIT:
    Here's a high-level system overview, inspired by @Hicks42 :
    • The sensor system has a sensitivity threshold below which it doesn't see a signal (which also determines FoW reveal).
    • Processing a raw signal can increase its level enough to be considered detected, but takes computational effort (CU hours)
    • An object's signal level increases with its effective area and the detector's power output, and decreases (quickly) with its distance from the detector
    • Ambient noise levels and jamming equipment constitute a background noise level that
      • can mask weak signals even with post-processing
      • contributes to a false positive/negative rate
    • Active IFF transponders make ships easier to detect since the IFF signal only has to travel one way and thus its level doesn't fall as rapidly with distance
    • Active stealth mode works to decrease a ship's effective area, and consumes power and CUs to do so.
    • The degree to which a signal is above the sensor threshold modifies the accuracy for AI/NPC-aimed weapons.
    Next, a little bit of background; there are 5 main aspects to detection/targeting:
    • Size of target vs distance to target: The closer you are to a target and the larger it is, the better you can see it, all things being equal (reflected power from a target goes as A/R^4, where A is the area of the target, and R is the distance to the target).
    • Emitted wavelength: The shorter the wavelength used, the longer your diffraction-limited range.
    • Emitted Power: The more power you can put into your active scanners, the better you can see your target (more reflected power).
    • Detector gain: The higher your gain, the smaller the signal you can see.
    • Signal processing ability: The more compute power you can direct to processing your sensor data, the better you can resolve your target from the surrounding noise.
    A substantial improvement in any one of these areas can, to some extent, compensate for deficiencies in the other areas.

    The overall goal here is a system that can provide an accuracy and/or damage multiplier for combat (including the effects of stealth), as well as provide a way to gather data from enemy ships and the environment for research purposes.

    In order to simplify things a bit, I will assume that wavelength and gain are subsumed into quantity that is related to the quality or tier of the sensor system and which gives the minimum signal threshold; let's call it T for now. Let's call the background noise level N, and the power level of enemy jammers be J. Finally, clever signal processing algorithms (S) can help raise a signal above the minimum signal threshold.

    Now, we know that the reflected power should be proportional to A/R^4, so we have Pr = Pt*A/R^4, where Pr is the reflected power, Pt is the transmitted power, and A and R are as above.

    Putting this all together, the signal (D) detected by the sensor system for a certain object at a certain distance in an environment with a particular noise/jamming level is the following:

    D = Pt*A/R^4*S - (N+J)

    Then the condition for detection is given by:

    D > T

    Next, we need to figure out the devices in this system. I propose 2 types:
    • Emitter/detector devices, which could be the existing radar and antenna deco devices; would consume large amounts of power
    • Sensor system devices, which process the signals received by sensor system; would consume large amounts of CUs
    The core has a compact sensor system built into it, so that a structure always has some sensing capabilities; adding one or more of each of these device types would expand its capabilities.

    Passive stealth would be accomplished by flying far from enemy structures in noisy environments (like a nebula); active stealth would be using the sensor system to reduce the effective area of the ship (which would consume considerable power and CUs).

    As far as combat is concerned, if a target can be detected, one straightforward option would be to take the quantity log(D/T) * 0.5, capped at 2, and multiply that to accuracy calculations for turrets and homing weapons. At the extreme edge of sensor range, there would be an accuracy penalty which would go away once the target was at about 60% of the max sensor range, and the maximum improvement would occur at about 35% of the max sensor range.

    I haven't fully worked out how data collection ought to work, so I'll leave that for the next post.
     
    #1
    Last edited: May 28, 2018
  2. Captain Jack II

    Captain Jack II Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2016
    Messages:
    2,508
    Likes Received:
    3,729
    I liked that because i was amazed at it. Not sold on the idea yet.
     
    #2
  3. Spirit_OK

    Spirit_OK Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2018
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    254
    From the engineer's point of view, even the greatest theory is often undermined by implementation. You may want to factor in the speed of data collection and signal analysis, the false positives/negatives ratio and IFF system.
     
    #3
  4. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2016
    Messages:
    5,165
    Likes Received:
    7,095
    All excellent points. I was thinking already that signal analysis should take some computation effort (CU hours or CUh), so one could get a faster target lock by devoting more CUs to the job. The false positives/negatives rate could be related to the ratio of (N+J)/(S*T), so higher noise levels (due to environmental or jamming sources) and higher sensitivity sensors would generate more false results; this could be mitigated by more analysis at the cost of time. I suppose the equation for IFF transmitters would be something like:

    F=Pf/R^2*S-(N+J)

    F > T for detection; if your IFF transponder is on, you're potentially a lot easier to find, even though the transmitter would be fairly low power (10 kW, perhaps).
     
    #4
    Ephoie and Tyrax Lightning like this.
  5. Hicks42

    Hicks42 Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2016
    Messages:
    1,327
    Likes Received:
    3,371

    Sigh.. cart horse every time you Lead with equations you make my brain Hurt. Field an initial Idea without math and work from there. The fomula underlying the mechanism is inconsequential at This phase. Sell your Idea like a story, not a text-book brother. :)

    Now my initial Beef aired, once again, I will digest this after I am comfortable that I understand what you mean.

    Egghead. ;)
     
    #5
  6. geostar1024

    geostar1024 Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2016
    Messages:
    5,165
    Likes Received:
    7,095
    Sorry. Here are the main points so far:
    • The sensor system has a sensitivity threshold below which it doesn't see a signal
    • Processing a raw signal can increase its level enough to be considered detected, but takes computational effort (CU hours)
    • An object's signal level increases with its effective area and the detector's power output, and decreases (quickly) with its distance from the detector
    • Ambient noise levels and jamming equipment constitute a background noise level that
      • can mask weak signals even with post-processing
      • contributes to a false positive/negative rate
    • Active IFF transponders make ships easier to detect since the IFF signal only has to travel one way and thus its level doesn't fall as rapidly with distance
    • Active stealth mode works to decrease a ship's effective area, and consumes power and CUs to do so.
    • The degree to which a signal is above the sensor threshold modifies the accuracy for AI/NPC-aimed weapons.
     
    #6
    Bollen, Theurgist, Ephoie and 3 others like this.
  7. Hicks42

    Hicks42 Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2016
    Messages:
    1,327
    Likes Received:
    3,371
    I gathered that after I read it 3 or four times. I have Zero issues with what you have put forward and have, currently, nothing to add. Looks to be a good thumbnail sketch for combat sensor systems and effects.

    How about for navigational concerns, does surplus CU/h assigned to them make your ship faster? Jumps take less fuel? Are there stationary or mobile astronomical Hazards? What are the consequences of not having Internal sensors adequately powered? Navigational sensors the same?

    *Boink!* Brain ran out of questions will digest longer.
     
    #7
  8. Jᴧgᴧ

    Jᴧgᴧ Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2017
    Messages:
    1,115
    Likes Received:
    2,111
    Lots of math on the back-end. No problems digesting it from a functional point of view. How does it apply to on-foot sensors, or base sensors with on-foot targets? Going to need the same or similar system for ground-based battles involving non-ship entities.
     
    #8
  9. Brimstone

    Brimstone Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 11, 2017
    Messages:
    1,294
    Likes Received:
    2,762
    Another question would be passive sensors. Sending a signal out isn't the only way to gather data, although active should certainly be more detailed

    Heh... too bad playfields aren't big enough for lightspeed lag to be a factor...
     
    #9
  10. Tyrax Lightning

    Tyrax Lightning Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2016
    Messages:
    7,027
    Likes Received:
    6,663
    I hope we get more Sci-Fi lookin & workin equivalents of the Radar Dish & Antennas in the future... or our efforts to find Prey & Contest Enemy Stealth is gonna look SO 20th Century. :p

    With that said, lookin like a good start for such Systems. Might take a bit of work to try to figure out how to stick our Detection Systems onto our Hulls without them getting in the way of our own Weapons's Firing LoS.
     
    #10
    Neal likes this.
  11. Neal

    Neal Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,206
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    I like that concept a lot, especially if it takes away WWI/II high speed dogfights in favour of something like submarine vs Destroyer fight. (not all combat needs to be like that of course, but it would be a nice alternative imo)
    There should be non combat related uses too imo, something like scanning of asteroid fields, planets and even star systems to get data about the composition, atmosphere, gravity and other relevant things.

    One idea:
    To avoid being detected there could be some special (stealth) building block material of which ships could be made of. Of course that material should be a lot weaker and much less resistant to damage than Combat Steel or even hardened Steel imo.
     
    #11
  12. Hicks42

    Hicks42 Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2016
    Messages:
    1,327
    Likes Received:
    3,371
    As long as when the outer layer of it gets blown off it loses effectiveness I think that would be delightful. Exactly like the RAM material on stealth aircraft or anti-acoustic tiles on subs. Quite delightful.
     
    #12
  13. Jᴧgᴧ

    Jᴧgᴧ Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2017
    Messages:
    1,115
    Likes Received:
    2,111
    Scanning for lost cargo in space, or in orbit around a planet. Scanning gaseous anomalies, perhaps for refueling or collecting gas/samples. Scanning for derelict space craft, or dead/abandoned stations. Scanning for radio beacons or broadcasts (like SoS signals).

    Long-range narrow-beam scanners. Medium range arc scanners. Short-range 360 degree scanners. Using scanners as jammers to prevent enemy reinforcements.

    We've barely begun to tap the possibilities on scanners.
     
    #13
  14. Hicks42

    Hicks42 Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Dec 4, 2016
    Messages:
    1,327
    Likes Received:
    3,371
    Scanning for your Backpack :|

    F-ing Spiders.
     
    #14
  15. Arrclyde

    Arrclyde Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2015
    Messages:
    1,459
    Likes Received:
    1,989
    I am amazed about the dedication and detail you put in those systems. But i am not sold yet either. You are explaining in detail how everything works, but i fail to see where the surplus in terms of gameplay there is conpared to, lets say "build a radar block, have a radius that detects other ships/bases on the map/ on hud."

    Since it is a game i still try to find out how this will make playing the game more fun.

    Again, i am not saying your idea is bad. I just try to see how it enhances gameplay for to make things more fun.
     
    #15
    Tyrax Lightning, Sofianinho and Neal like this.
  16. MidasGunhazard

    MidasGunhazard Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    Messages:
    772
    Likes Received:
    820
    I feel that sensors (especially in space) wouldn't pick up the physical object itself, but rather the energy it gives off. Literally everything that moves in empyrion uses thrusters to do so. That would give off tremendous amounts of light, and heat, and possibly other detectable particles and waveforms. Even if a ship was physically difficult to detect, I imagine these things would give it away very quickly. Heck, it would be interesting if you could 'track' a ship based on the energy it left behind. Figure out where it went, or where it jumped to based on the pentaxid patterns left behind by the warp drive.

    Anyways, whatever it takes to make the satellite dishes actually do something.
     
    #16
    Tyrax Lightning and Hicks42 like this.
  17. Spirit_OK

    Spirit_OK Captain

    Joined:
    Jan 10, 2018
    Messages:
    226
    Likes Received:
    254
    There are several ways to detect objects in space: basic radar, magnetometer, gravity anomaly detector, even direct optical observations - either it reflects light and could be triangulated due to parallax, or it darkens the light of distant stars as it passes by. It all could be tied to active/passive sensors with different CU cost for the exact detection threshold.
     
    #17
    Tyrax Lightning likes this.
  18. Neal

    Neal Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 23, 2016
    Messages:
    1,206
    Likes Received:
    3,135
    Good idea!
    Maybe basic sensors could detect that a unknown ship dropped out of FTL somewhere in sensor range.
    More advanced Seonsors could additionally determine which direction and if it is a friend/foe.
    High end Sensors could also determine the mass and the ships energy emission (how much MW it produces).

    Maybe with the indtroduction of crew a dedicated Sensor specialist could enhance the range or effectiveness (more information) of the sensors.

    In a non combat context sensors could determine what kinds of minerals a planets has and its gravity while in orbit.
    And let's not forget Nebulas that could limit the ships sensors and player view range, while flying through it.

    But i must say, i'm with @Arrclyde when he says that there needs to be some easy accessible game mechanic regarding ship bound sensors. Keep it easy to understand, not every new player has a degree in physics.
    Expand the possibilities (without making it too powerful, of course), while keeping the basic mechanic on a easy to understand level.
     
    #18
  19. Arrclyde

    Arrclyde Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Mar 6, 2015
    Messages:
    1,459
    Likes Received:
    1,989
    @Neal it is not the only about undersranding. It is also about the need for such a mechanic and the ease of use. I admit that fideling ariund with sensor waves and frequences can be fun to some i doubt if you make in mandatory that most of player will like the way more conplicate version of a one button mechanic.

    There are a couple of questions i have. What gameplay purpose do sensors serve. And how do you implement such a mechanic that it is unique enough and fun for the majority of players.

    I see use of it in exploration and a few combat situations. But if it is to extended for most to use it people will not use it. If you tie essential parts to it so that you have a huge advantage when using it, people don't want to bother with it because it takes to much time qill leave/stay away from the game.

    There are more questions that need to be answered first. Most important is probably game identity. Should it be more a simulation or a game. That is a huge difference.
     
    #19
    Tyrax Lightning and Neal like this.
  20. MidasGunhazard

    MidasGunhazard Captain

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2017
    Messages:
    772
    Likes Received:
    820
    As far as I understand, it's next to impossible to visually detect an object in space unless it's virtually right beside you. You're potentially looking at something that might have no direct light shining on it against a black backdrop in a huge pocket of emptiness.
     
    #20
    Tyrax Lightning likes this.

Share This Page