Ship Combat for tying everything in Starbound together

Discussion in 'Mechanics' started by scaper12123, Sep 7, 2017.

  1. scaper12123

    scaper12123 Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    This idea stems not from a lack of a mechanic that could be fun but from the fact that many of the mechanics of Starbound are disconnected, supplementary, and ultimately ignorable. Mechs make this idea awkward since we kind of already have "space combat" now, but spaceship combat can address many issues the game has while adding depth to the game.

    The Ruin questline is the focus of the game, and idc what rebuttals you give me; it's the first thing a new player will see, and therefore it's very likely the first thing they'll do in the game. In some cases, it may be the only thing they do in the game. The main quest line is the best opportunity to introduce an oblivious player to the many amazing mechanics and systems in this game, yet it never really gets around to that. Moreover, a player focused on "winning the game" might completely ignore other mechanics like mechs and upgrading the spaceship, since they don't directly assist with the quest.

    If the other major mechanics were at least tangentially necessary to complete the main quest (particularly mechs, crewmembers, and traveling via the ship), then a player would be exposed to a lot more mechanics in the game and bring those other awesome mechanics into focus. Without this being the case, a player could fail to realize things like mechs even exist. I know I had a hard time figuring out how to start using them.

    At any rate, the ship needs to have a more direct use in space travel. The idea behind this suggestion is to tie the ship, crew, and mechs into a central mechanic and to make them significant to the main questline. Effectively, a lot of effort hunting for clues would be put into space rather than desperately searching planets, effectively splitting gameplay between planetary exploration and, ya know, starbounding.

    The basic premise of this idea is, when the player sits down in the captain’s chair to pilot the ship, they would switch to a zoomed out view of their ship in space, similar to piloting a mech. From this view, the player could move around, communicate with other ships, fire their weapons, and choose a system or location to move to.

    Upon jumping into most systems, there is a chance a ship would generate which would open communications with the player. If it is passive, the player could potentially get information about the system, get an event, make a trade, give help, even be invited onto the ship. If it is hostile, they will attack the player's ship. The player can either fight and destroy the ship or they can try to escape. The enemy would despawn if the player leaves for too long. Upon destroying a ship, it would drop salvage components which would be used for building systems and equipment both for the ship (and for mechs). Occasionally, the ship would be intact enough that further components could be salvaged using a mech.

    I feel it would be appropriate to make the Ocassus the most common type of enemy encounter since they are one of the main antagonists of the game. Other hostile encounters could include pirates, USCM fighters, hostile races like Floran, Glitch, and Apex, malfunctioning hostile satellites, and possibly bits of the Ruin detached to fly around through space and attack any living thing. Passive encounters could include traders, scientists, or lost civilians.

    If we want to be really creative, we could add huge battleships with specific weak points on its body which the player needs to destroy. Such things could work well as minibosses.

    The environment for ship combat would be like what we have for mechs, except the enemies would be ships instead of mobs. The ship should be slightly more cumbersome than mechs to control by default meaning the player would have to rely on their ship's equipment to survive. The ship would have a certain amount of health and could be repaired while in safety by using salvaged parts, or by paying somebody at a repair station. Running out of health would leave the player stranded and having to go outside in a Mech to fix the damage or, in the case of hardcore, completely kill the player. The player would have equipment which they can put onto a hotbar specific to their ship. This equipment would either be offensive, defensive, or would modify the ship in some way. The ship's weapons and defenses would use a ship-specific energy pool. Careful consideration would have to be taken into when to fire and when to defend so the player doesn't run out of energy rendering them unable to do either.

    Offensive equipment would have three variants: kinetic, energy, and explosive. Weapons should take some time to charge, ideally a few seconds depending on weapon strength so that accuracy means a lot, and multiple weapons could charge at the same time allowing for big onslaughts provided the ship has the energy to support it. Without much maneuverability, weapons would be defended against using shields, point-defense, and artful dodging. Kinetic weapons would fire lots of bullets at low energy costs which would eat through shields but do little damage to the ship itself. Energy weapons would deal consistent damage to shields and hull. Explosives would ignore most shields completely and deal heavy damage to the enemy ship but would be slow, could be avoided, and could easily be destroyed by point defense.

    Defensive equipment would include a variety of shields and point-defenses. Shields would slowly drain defensive energy and block most incoming damage. Blocking damage would drain additional energy for each hit received. Additionally, shields would be directional and the player would have to aim the shield carefully to block incoming damage, especially if fighting multiple ships or if their shield is small. Different shields would have variations on shield width and how much energy they drain. Certain shield types would be able to block explosives at a huge cost. Point defense would automatically attack incoming explosives by themselves but automatically drain energy when firing.

    The ship's equipment would be fully customizable. Every player would start out with a simple weapon and shield as well as basic engines and a medbay. New ship equipment could either be manufactured or purchased and could be slotted in and out using the ship AI. The ship would have limited power and can only support a certain amount of equipment, and all of them require varying levels of power. Upgrading the ship or its reactor would add more power and expand its system capacity. Weapons and defenses would have their own capacity.

    Many systems would simply boost the ship, such as increasing its maneuverability or jump distance. Certain systems would have unique offensive or defensive capabilities, like launching crew-piloted mechs or cloaking, and would need to be activated via the hotbar. Certain equipment, such as hacking devices and teleporters, would require crew members to be functional.

    Here's where we get to the part why this can tie in other mechanics into the main quest line

    The ship's travel range would be limited, although it would be upgradable. Traveling between star systems would require less fuel to make up for this since you’re jumping all the time. Spaces between stars would be filled with "jump beacons," systems void of anything significant except for a single station near some Echrius-filled asteroids. This would normally be unmanned but could occasionally be something like a store or a fueling station. Travel to the nearest jump beacon would always be possible regardless of distance and at least four stars in the four cardinal directions could always be reached from this station regardless of distance. For traveling extreme distances, the ancient gateways could be repurposed to be their own system and double as a long-range wormhole travel mechanism at minimum fuel cost.

    While exploring a system, the player would get notifications of what is down on a planet. As an example, if a planet will spawn a Floran village, the computer would say "Floran life signs detected." This would mean we wouldn't have to waste so much time exploring a planet for no reason if we need to find something (‘cause we'd be doing that in space). Structures like dungeons would be noted similarly i.e. if that one glitch dungeon with the declaration is present, the computer would say "Glitch structures detected." Special biomes would be identified as well.

    To arrange for difficulty in a predictable way, there should also be “sectors” of varying difficulty which are themed around different races and groups. Examples could include Hylotl sectors and Occassus-controlled sectors. Sectors would be isolated from each other, leaving plenty of “wild” space between them. This unclaimed space should scale with the player’s own equipment while sector difficulty remains static. Stars would generate randomly, but sectors should cause stars of their own tier to spawn more frequently, perhaps even changing some systems within the sector to match that sector’s tier effectively making them excellent locations to find members of a particular race.

    The crew (including yourself) would be responsible for running and/or boosting the effectiveness of ship systems, similar to FTL: Faster Than Light. Certain crewmembers would give extra bonuses to certain systems depending on their job. When the ship takes damage, there is a chance that a system could become damaged and run less efficiently or even shut down, whereupon the crew must also repair the ship systems. Using the ship AI, the crew could be assigned to different systems specifically or tasked with maintenance, leaving them to run any unmanned system when not fixing the ship.

    Certain methods would allow enemies to board your ship, and vice versa. Boarding crew-members can attack and disable systems and harm/distract crewmembers. Crew can be damaged and/or killed, but they can heal or be cloned in the medbay. In an emergency (i.e. the whole crew including yourself is dead), the Medbay should begin to repair automatically.

    In the case of hardcore characters, the player dying would not be a game over since they're close enough to the cloning machine to be saved. Their actual death would happen if their ship was defeated (thus they can’t really be cloned).

    The use of mechs should not change. However, the usefulness of mechs should be extended to salvage missions. If an enemy ship is destroyed, it would leave behind salvage that the player can pick up by flying past it with their ship like any normal item. However, there would be a chance it generates an instance where you can fly over in your mech and salvage rare and valuable components. Doing so puts the player in danger of being attacked by the usual space mobs and any hostiles who survived the ship explosion, but this would be the best (perhaps only) source of certain components needed to build or purchase certain ship systems.

    My biggest hope is that if a mechanic to tie in the major game mechanics like this is added, it will be tied into the quests as well. There is a lot of opportunity for expanding upon the lore of the game or otherwise presenting interesting stories or perhaps having character development for the main cast.

    For the story missions, I propose that each mission takes place in an isolated sector of space, those systems being the home worlds of that particular race. These would be reached (and therefore missions would be initiated) from gateway systems. The player would be shown where to go to find the artifact, but circumstances will conspire to prevent them from getting near enough to teleport down to the surface. They must explore the star systems nearby to find help or they'll have to fight through whatever is stopping them.

    As an example, the Florans might attack the player with heavy bombardment to keep them away from the hunting grounds, forcing them to go away and find someone to vouch for them. They might find a floran hunter, perhaps even Nuru herself, who they rescue from some Ocassus soldiers and deliver to the hunting grounds, whereupon they vouch for them and allow them to teleport down and complete the ground mission. Along the way, they could meet other Florans or discover other things in their system which paint a better picture of what things are like for Florans or get special Floran equipment, ship systems, and mech parts

    As long as the topic of involving ships in missions is up, it would be interesting if it was also involved in the Ruin mission. I've always felt that the act of getting into the Ruin after finding all the artifacts was a bit nonchalant. Imagine something like the Occassus possessing a massive fleet within the Ruin's prison, so the player's friends at the outpost help scrape together a fleet to jump into the Ruin's system and fight them. A bit ridiculous, maybe, but something exciting would be a fitting end for such an epic journey (and it would explain how Astra Nox got into the Ruin first).

    It would be interesting if the player would occasionally have to deal with distant fleets firing mega-weapons at them, to force them to retreat unless they have the means to deal with the problem. Would be most useful as a setpiece during missions, but could potentially serve as tier 6 encounters as well.

    Having more variants of star systems would also be cool. I suggested nebulas in another thread and they could provide some interesting mechanics, reducing visibility and the like.

    In essence, the more the player works on their ship, the better they’ll get at getting to new planets to explore. I tried to structure this suggestion to where the extra work put on moving about on a ship would both be rewarding and reduce the effort of exploring planets, which gets very tedious after a while when you’re looking for something specific. I hope this idea is appreciated. I thought long and hard about it.
  2. Rainbow Fresh

    Rainbow Fresh Intergalactic Tourist

    The funny thing is, I just thought about what a cool idea that would be a few days ago, and then I found this. (Only I didn't think that deep about it.)
    I'd really like to see this in the game.

    Though I think the energy system could be designed slightly different, as I've seen in another suggestion: All is based on the ships generator - which can be upgraded of course - and consumes the ships fuel over time (maybe the possibility to park your ship somewhere so it doesn't consume all the fuel while you are out on epic adventures?) Shields have a capacity, bound to their Tier, which slowly regenerates from the ships main energy flow (when the shields break it needs to recharge completely to be active again). Weapons have that too, which is used to reload explosive weapons and fire energy weapons, so when you just shoot all the time you'll run out very fast and can't attack anymore, until the energy is restored. Something like that.
  3. scaper12123

    scaper12123 Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    When I originally wrote this, I thought I would suggest having separate energy pools for both offensive and defensive equipment, but I thought that would have been a silly idea. I agree though, the ship would need a pretty unique energy system. At the same time however, it would have to be similar enough to the player's energy system that it doesn't get confusing. UI that you have to explain is bad UI, after all :p
  4. jonbotone

    jonbotone Intergalactic Tourist

    would the different race and tier ships have different mechanics.
  5. ProfMoebius

    ProfMoebius Space Penguin Leader

    It could function like in the game "Faster Than Light".
  6. scaper12123

    scaper12123 Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    I mean that's sort of the inspiration I had writing up this idea, but I can only imagine races having different mechanics extending only as far as npcs and enemies. It would be slightly annoying to have your own ships start in accordance with your own race; that way whatever your preferences are would define the race you always start with.
  7. jonbotone

    jonbotone Intergalactic Tourist

    the reason I ask is that the nova kid ship has a very unique shape compared to the other ships.
  8. scaper12123

    scaper12123 Scruffy Nerf-Herder

    Well, I'm sure it wouldn't be too big of a problem if the ship entities are designed a certain way.

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