Author Topic: RE: C# Cloaking Device Re-Work, Suggestion Post  (Read 1460 times)

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Offline xenoscepter (OP)

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RE: C# Cloaking Device Re-Work, Suggestion Post
« on: May 21, 2019, 05:50:33 PM »

 --- Okay, with that out of the way, after much feedback which was much appreciated, I have come up with a more streamlined idea and a more streamline method of presenting it. [I hope...] So, here is the cleaned up version of the OP above, which will be linked in the main C# Suggestion thread alongside it. Now then, the way I see it the Cloaking Tech in VB6 Aurora is somewhat of a heavy investment tech-wise and not actually all that useful in the early stages of it. Also, it is bugged [I assume], which DOES greatly amplify it's utility at the moment of this writing. I, however, felt that in C# there was a great opportunity to perhaps broach the subject of making Cloaking Devices more granular. My observations and qualms are as follows:

 A) The usefulness of Cloaks w/o the bug is hamstrung by the fact that even at the maximum tech level the Device is hard capped at Cloaking ships that are 75,000 Tons or less.

 B) While I do think that Cloaks should be less-effective as the tonnage of the ship in question increases, I don't think there should be a hard cap on how much tonnage can be Cloaked, but rather that there should be a system of diminishing returns instead.

 C) I believe that Cloaking Device Components should have a more meaningful design process; with the techs for them being re-worked to be more granular, and diverse. As such, the current state of these two elements is to me not necessarily unacceptable,
      but rather lacking and in need of improvement. On that note, since I can't code, but have spare time, I thought I would offer the most in-depth suggestion as I could by way of my best contribution to improving that mechanic.

      So having said all of that, here is the proposition I would put forth to Steve, the community and last, but certainly not least, the reader; That the Cloaking Device be retained as a Component, that a new system of "Stealth Armor" be added over top of the current Armor system, that the Cloaking Technology Tree be redesigned and the system re-worked to these specifications. Sorry, if I'm sounding like a demanding, pompous, entitled @$$, btw. :-[

The Stealth Armor Proposal:

 --- Here is my proposition for the "Stealth Armor", that the Stealth Armor be one tech-line, independent of the normal armor tech-line found within the Defensive Systems drop down. It would require the "Cloaking Theory" technology as a prerequisite to access and research it and could have 7-10 levels of technology associated with it. Each level of this "Stealth Armor" tech could be labeled as "Stealth Armor - " 1-10 and would correspond to the amount of Cloak provide per Layer of "Stealth" Armor. The amount of Cloak provided by "Stealth Armor" is expressed as a fraction of the ships tonnage, where the number of layers constitutes the denominator and the tech level constitutes the numerator. Mechanically, each layer of "Stealth" Armor is twice as thick as a layer of normal armor, effectively making two layers the minimum amount that MUST be mounted on any ship that would make use of it. This double-sized armor provides the same protection as half the amount of normal armor, either rounded up or down (that's up to Steve if he decides to implement this), meaning that 2 layers of Stealth Armor would provide 1 layer of protection, with 3 layers providing either 1 or 2, 4 layers providing 2 and 5 layers providing 2 or 3 and so on.

 --- So as an example, a 5,000 Ton ship mounting 5 layers of Stealth Armor at the base tech level, that is to say "Stealth Armor - 1" would be able to Cloak 1,000 Tons worth of ship, or 1/5th of the vessel's total mass, while at etch level 2 it would be able to cloak 2,000 Tons of ship. This hypothetical 5,000 Ton ship would also need to mount 10 layers worth of standard armoring to achieve this at that tech level, reducing the early-game utility of this tech line. Numbers could be rounded for simplicities sake. The Stealth Armor would use the standard armor varieties for weight calculations, meaning that this form of Cloaking tech scales with the level of the player's Armor Tech. To take our hypothetical 5,000 Ton ship as an example of this, the ship would be lighter at Composite Armor than it would be at Duranium Armor Tech. The way one would apply the "Stealth" version of the armor would be via a checkbox in the Class Design window. Costs for the "Stealth" version of the armor would require half the resources per layer, allowing the costs to be equitable from a raw resources perspective, but with the differences that "Stealth" Armor requires at least 0.5 Mercassium and Corbomite per layer, with the Duranium and Neutronium costs being halved and the difference in Duranium and Neutronium being added up then applied to the cost in Mercassium and Corbomite.

 --- I have envisioned the "Stealth Armor" working in a similar way to the real-world RAM [Radar-Absorbent Material] used in modern 5th Generation Stealth Fighters, but with a few differences and twists. Instead of eliminating right-angles and using a RAM coating to defeat RADAR systems, the Trans-Newtonian Stealth Armor would make use of advanced construction techniques that would incorporate additional Mercassium along with Corbomite into an alloy that would both absorb and deflect the Electro-magnetic [EM] emissions of the enemy's Active Sensor Systems, thus reducing the Target Cross-Section of the ship by an amount proportional to the amount of layers added. Likewise, the advanced alloy would require twice as much mass, meaning that each layer of the "Stealth" armor was equivalent to twice that much of a standard armor.

The Cloaking Tech Re-Work Proposal:

 --- Here I will present my proposal for the reworking of the existing Cloaking Technology as well as the technologies I would suggest adding in, but before I begin, I would like to thank Xtrem532 for proposing a brilliant idea which smoothed out a lot of conceptual issues I was having and inspiring the solutions which I finally came to and am presenting here. I would also like to thank Father Tim for enriching my mechanical understanding of Cloaking with regards to how they apply in PvE and PvP situations, enabling me to consider the mechanical implications of these proposals in a more informed manner. Now then, with the "Thank You's" out of the way, let's get down to the actual proposal itself. The first element, and possibly the biggest one as well, is that I felt a re-work was needed in HOW the game calculated both the mass AND efficiency of a Cloaking Device. Namely with regard to the "hard cap" on tonnage that is currently present [if non-functional...] within VB6 Aurora. I believe that by changing the way that Aurora calculates the "Cloaking Sensor Reduction" from a percentage of HS to a ratio based on the mass of the Cloaking Device Component in question, while also changing the way Aurora calculates the mass of a Cloaking Device Component could produce both a more robust system as well as one which is more streamlined. The latter change could be accomplished by consolidating the "Cloaking Efficiency" Tech and the Size option within the Component Design window into a single Tech-Line / Design drop down which uses a percentage of the ship's HS to determine the mass of said component. This would add depth by making the material and technological cost-effectiveness of Cloaking ability scale independently of one another according to a Bell Curve model. Meanwhile the actual effectiveness of a component would also exhibit scaling according to two factors, namely technology and tonnage, and would do so according to respective Bell Curve models that were also independent of one another.

 --- This is what I would suggest for the re-work of each existing tech line according to my own thoughts and opinions on the matter. The ratios used for the techs in the "Cloaking Sensor Reduction"  line would scale up, starting from a 1 to 1 ratio at the entry-level tech and ending at either 99 to 1 or 100 to 1 at the highest level. If the 100 to 1 ratio is used as the end point for the line, the efficiency for any cloak should be hard capped at 99.5%, to match the effectiveness of the current highest tech level of the "Cloaking Sensor Reduction" line. For the "Cloaking Efficiency" line, the tech should scale down instead, with something between 90% and 70% serving as the starting point, with the line ending at either 10% or 1%. Likewise, the "Size" parameter for a Cloaking Device on the Component Design Screen can be removed, since it's intended use will have been functionally integrated with the "Cloaking Efficiency" tech's parameter. However, I would suggest the possibility of instead replacing the "Size" Field as well as it's associated parameter with the next tech line that I intend to propose, that being the "Cloaking Drain" tech. Under this re-worked system, I would like to propose adding a Power Requirement for mounting a Cloaking Device on a ship. Xtreme532 is to thank for the inspiration for this, as they suggested that a Cloaking Device consume fuel when used, just like shields. I liked that idea, but I think it would perhaps be better used in conjunction with some sort of superior Spoiler version of the re-worked Stealth Armor / Cloaking Technology Tree. The "Cloaking Drain" tech line would reduce the power required by a Cloaking Device when it is activated and the tech line itself would again use a ratio system, but unlike the "Cloaking Sensor Reduction" tech line, this one would scale down, starting as high as 100 to 1 [maybe more sensibly at 75 to 1 or so] and ending at 1 to 1. However, this tech line would be similar to the "Cloaking Sensor Reduction Line" in that the ratios would be based on the tonnage of the Cloaking Device, that is to say that the "Cloaking Drain" tech would NOT be tied to the tonnage of the ship which is mounting that particular design of Cloaking Device.

 --- Now I would like to address Xtreme532's contribution at greater length as well as two more proposed tech lines within the Cloaking tech tree which could lend themselves well to a Spoiler-exclusive "Advanced Cloaking Device" with it's own tech line. Under Xtreme532's model, the Cloaking Device would function like a shield, consuming Fuel while active and thus sharing the same benefits as shield components from the "Fuel Consumption:" tech line found within the Power and Propulsion drop down. I believe that this model would result in statistically inferior cloaking devices when compared to a Power Requirement model, but there in lies the spark. Under this re-worked system, the use of shields could be beneficial when using a cloak for the purpose of TCS-Reduction rather than for the purpose of avoiding detection outright. Father Tim's explanation of how the A.I. in VB6 Aurora as well as the PvP applications of a TCS-Reduction design made me realize that such a strategy, especially when combined with ECM / ECCM could be very useful for Beam Warships, where kiting and the counteraction of it is a meaningful strategic consideration. Under Xtreme532's Fuel Consumption model, an already fuel-hungry Beam Warship would need to devote even more tonnage to fuel in order to mount a component-based Cloaking Device, while also needing to devote still more tonnage to Fuel if it wanted to mount a component-based Cloaking Device ON TOP of shields. So here we come to the crux of this idea, my re-work proposal would call for the Component-Based Cloaking Devices to be objectively superior to Stealth Armor in every respect, but only at the higher-end of it's tech tree. However, the Stealth Armor was designed to be objectively superior to the Component-Based Cloaking Device in terms of cost-effectiveness and weight-economy, except when the Component-Based Cloaking Devices were at the end of their tech. The need to provide power to a Component-Based Cloaking Device would provide this; however, the inclusion of an optional "Minimum Size" tech line and a "Maximum Size" tech line would allow for the Component-Based Cloaking Device to become completely superior to Stealth Armor if the player was willing to invest the RP into it. These optional tech lines would enable a player to finely tune the design of a Component-Based Cloaking Device to meet specific TCS and tonnage range requirements, while still making full use of the benefits of the reworked "Cloaking Sensor Reduction" and "Cloaking Efficiency" techs, all while simultaneously maximizing the benefits of the "Cloaking Drain" tech, since all of these are tied into tonnage.

 --- That probably sounds a bit superfluous, however, the idea is to allow a player to make a Cloaking Device that reduces the TCS of a ship by an amount equal to a certain Sensor Resolution, letting it serve the same function as "Stealth Armor" without any of the bulk on account of a capped out tonnage. The "Minimum Size" tech would allow the player to ensure that this reduction never fell below a certain TCS regardless of the size of the ship mounting it, letting such a Cloaking Device serve as a one size fits all component. That is why it would be optional, because it is a niche application that only exists to prevent a player from being penalized for specializing in Component-Based Cloaking and instead provide an incentive for it by offering total superiority over "Stealth Armor" IF the player wishes to invest the RP in it. I won't go to much further into details, as I'm sure those of you to whom such a thing would matter are able to work out for yourselves the benefits and drawbacks to this particular part of my proposal; however, I will broadly explain some of the important points before I make the 'Advanced Cloaking Device' proposal and conclude this post. Beam Warships depend on out-ranging, and / or out-maneuvering their foes. They do this with by combining speed and firepower. Some incorporate shields or ECM / ECCM, perhaps even a combination of them in an effort to gain an advantage over the enemy. Some Beam Warships instead take a "Boom and Zoom" approach, mounting fast, fuel-hungry engines upon well-armored frames to allow them to survive their brief contact with the enemy before they move to disengage. Under this system the former 'kiting' Beam Warships would get more use out of Component-Based Cloaking Devices, where as the 'Boom and Zoom' styled ship would be better off with "Stealth Armor". Under my Power Requirement model, this relation would be exaggerated, under Xtrem532's Fuel Model, this relationship would be more consolidated. Under a Fuel Consumption model, both varieties of ship would have more of a reason to consider one option or the other. So I propose the use of Xtrem532's model for the "base" version, while my "Power Requirement" model be used with a Spoiler-exclusive 'Advanced Cloaking Device' tech line. One which would require the player to salvage it. Likewise the 'optional" techs could be omitted along with proposed "Stealth Armor" for the sake of simplicity, although I strongly suspect that the 'Advanced Cloaking Device' line could effectively become a copy-paste version of the "base" tech tree that is simply given only to a Spoiler race. Alternatively, a Spoiler-exclusive 'Advanced Stealth Armor' could be implemented that had none of the drawbacks of the basic version, but cost twice as many Build Points and twice as many minerals.

 --- I believe the Cloaking Device and "Stealth Armor" options should be mutually exclusive to each other, although I'm not against being able to use them together. The concept being that the "Stealth Armor" as I have imagined it works by absorbing and deflecting the EM of enemy while the Component-Based Cloaking Device works by projecting a field of "Anti-EM" space magic, which the "Stealth Armor" would absorb if used in conjunction. However, my imagination isn't the only one that matters, so it's fine if they work together. Also, it would be cool if the Spoiler-exclusive 'Advanced Stealth Armor' found a way around that problem, too. :)

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Offline Father Tim

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Re: RE: C# Cloaking Device Re-Work, Suggestion Post
« Reply #1 on: May 21, 2019, 06:37:12 PM »
I would rather see Cloaking Tech be two tech lines.  The first would reduce cross-section exponentially, rather than proportionally, so that large (and very large) units would appear much smaller but small ships would not benfit hugely.  A quarter-million ton orbital habitat might appear to be a 20,000 ton battleship, but a 20,000 ton battleship would only appear to be a 10,000 ton large cruiser.  Thousand-ton Fast Attack Craft would appear to be 900 ton Fast Attack Craft.

The second line would be for percentage of total hull needed to perform the cloak.  Starting at 50% and going down to 10 or maybe even 5%.

- - -

I quite like the idea of Cloaking Devices requiring fuel to operate.  This gives me interesting decisions about whether or not I want to operate my cloak, and how much it costs.

Requiring simply power, on the other hand, does not.  While I understand the appeal (and fictional precedent) of a ship needing to choose between powering its cloak or its weapons, I'm not sure anyone would actually build ships that way (instead they'd include enough power plants to do both).  Steve has also been adamant about avoiding any sort of player-based 'power allocation' step in combat, so Aurora would need to handle it automatically.  Also, would a partially-powered cloak work partially, or simply not work at all?  Does my 70% reduction become 35% or 0% if I only have half power available?

Offline xenoscepter (OP)

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Re: RE: C# Cloaking Device Re-Work, Suggestion Post
« Reply #2 on: May 21, 2019, 07:48:37 PM »
@Father Tim

I don't know about the half power issue, I'll leave that up to someone else to decide, these are merely the humble suggestions of some dude after all. My humble suggestion however would be an "all or nothing" approach. The Cloak is either powered or not. If it isn't powered enough, it enters a "low-power" mode with a static penalty, maybe functioning at only a 1 to 1 ratio. That would make the entry level of that tech slightly more valuable as you could abuse the mechanic of a "Power Free" cloak to some extent, but only with 1 to 1. You could also add the needed power anyway for Role-Play reasons, but in the "low-power" mode it would only function as a 1 to 1 tech Cloak. The Class Design screen could display something like, "Cloak will only function in 'Low-Power' Mode." alongside the "Insufficient Power For Weapons." warning.

However, the idea of requiring Power Plants was intended to force player's to allocate tonnage to powering everything at the same. I don't think power allocation is a good idea either, too much micro for too little gain. This is because Missile Ships tend to be able to allocate more tonnage towards fuel which is subsequently divvied up among less thirsty engines as a rule of thumb. So the idea to have Power Requirements instead of Fuel was to maintain balance between Missile Ships and Beam ships. Missile ships would need to add reactors if they wanted a Cloak, while Beam ships would already HAVE reactors more likely than not and thus would need to allocate less tonnage overall. Beam ship designs already walk a thin line with regards to effective allocation of tonnage, I don't think they need that extra bloat. Ideally we could have both, with one being secret alien space magic tech and the other... well not.

What do you think?

EDIT: The second line already works like that. The first line was suggested to be proportional to the mass of the Cloak, rather than the ship itself. So a Cloaking Device component that is designed to take up ten percent of the mass of the hull it's mounted on with a 90 to 1 ratio would weight 1,000 tons if mounted on a 10,000 ton ship. Under Fuel Consumption rules, and assuming it worked ton for ton on an hourly basis, this would take up 1 litre of fuel per ton of cloak per hour meaning that this would guzzle 10,000 litres of fuel per hour, unless it was done via the same fuel rules as shields. That would 10,000 litres PER SECOND.  :o

I didn't suggest the exact rates of consumption in the OP as I'm not sure what balance would be best, but since were on the subject I was thinking that 1 litre per hour per 1 HS of fuel would be consumed by a cloak, whereas for the amount of power drawn under the power model would be 1 power per 10 HS. That gives the aforementioned cloak, with a HS of 20 a drain of 200 litres per hour under the fuel model and 20 power units of drain under the power model. That would require roughly 3HS worth of reactor at the Gas-Cooled Fast Reactor[?] tech. Such a cloak mounted on a 10,000 ton ship would hide 90,000 tons worth of ship, with 80,000 tons wasted if we assume Steve let's ships have a minimum TCS of 0, otherwise the TCS would just bottom out at the equivalent of a Size 1 missile or something like that. I honestly didn't try too hard to flesh every little bit out, it's not my game, and I'm quite sure Steve could balance it better than I could.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2019, 08:04:19 PM by xenoscepter »

Offline xenoscepter (OP)

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Re: RE: C# Cloaking Device Re-Work, Suggestion Post
« Reply #3 on: May 21, 2019, 08:19:20 PM »
Quick Equations for Clarity and Fun:

How much ship does my Cloaking Device Cloak?

It cloaks x Tons worth of ship, where x is equal to the tonnage of your cloaking device multiplied by the ratio-based "Cloaking Sensor Reduction" tech.

How much tonnage does my Cloaking Device have?

It weighs y tons, where y is equal to a percentage of the tonnage of the ship you are mounting on, which is determined by your "Cloaking Efficiency" tech.

How much TCS reduction does my Cloaking Device produce?

It produces a reduction according to the equation: z - (y * x) = r

Where z is equal to the tonnage of the ship, y is equal to how much your Cloaking Device weighs, and x is equal to the level of your "Cloaking Sensor Reduction" Tech

So if you have researched Cloaking Theory, Cloaking Sensor Reduction 1 to 1, Cloaking Efficiency 80% and Cloaking Drain 1 you could build the most basic Cloaking Device which, if mounted on a 100,000 Ton ship would weigh 80,000 tons and reduce that ships Target Cross Section to 20,000 tons and require 16 units of available power to run, which would equate to an 8 HS Pressurized Water Reactor.

So how in the hairy heck does the Stealth Armor work then!?

I'm glad you asked, because it works as a fraction, and I suck at fractions! :D However, the number of layers you have is your denominator while your Stealth Armor Tech is your numerator. So Five Layers of Stealth Armor at Stealth Armor Tech - 1 will give you a 1/5 reduction on whatever you mount it on. So you're 5,000 Ton ship, assuming it was already using 10 layers of normal armor, can have Stealth Armor fitted to render it as a 4,000 Ton ship. That's because for every 1 layer of regular armor Stealth Armor requires two layers, making it twice as heavy. However, since it uses your regular armor as a base, you can upgrade your regular armor tech to make it lighter.

Hi I'm Billy Mayes here and I'm here to tell you about Stealth Armor! Is your boring old 5,000 Tonner slabbed in ten tons of last years Duranium Armor? Tired of enemy sensors spotting your dinky old 30,000 Ton Battleship from a billion miles away? Slap some of tomorrow's Compressed Carbon Armor on there and make it Stealth Armor! Now with just a single Stealth Armor - 2 tech your old 5,000 Ton ship doesn't weigh 5,000 Ton anymore! Plus, even if it did, it would still only look like a 3,000 Ton ship to fool those pesky enemy sensors! You can upgrade your frigates, you can upgrade your whole fleet, that's the power of Stealth Armor! But wait there's more! If you act now we'll even throw in this bag of adorable Tribbles! And if you call in the next five minutes we'll double your order! That's two orders of Stealth Armor and two bags of adorable Tribbles for just 19.99! Buy it now!
« Last Edit: May 22, 2019, 11:42:21 AM by xenoscepter »


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