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MRog40

Radar Nerf

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I don't want XS Borg Cubes to be the meta. Here are my Problem/Solution suggestions.

 

Disclaimer: I don't fully understand the current state of PvP/RADAR. The problems listed here are primarily what I have heard from others and some points may not be accurate. I will edit the post to reflect any corrections or suggestions from commenters.

 

  1. Radars are isotropic (the range is the same in all directions)
    In reality a radar cannot be isotropic and an array is going to need to physically spin (even if it's a phased array). Radars staying isotropic wouldn't be a huge problem, but it'd be better if the range was longest in the forward direction so placement matters and having multiple is a strong benefit. Maybe have full range in 30 degrees, then half power beamwidth at 60 degrees, then -10 dB at 120 degrees and greater. Having discrete radar beam steps will combat desync problems with tracking someone at range.
  2. They are not obstructed by voxels surrounding them
    Radars should have to be either unobstructed or require a weak material as a radome to cover it. Each material could have a reflectivity factor that attenuates at a fixed loss/voxel thickness. This would have to be simplified as to make the calculations simple, but it shouldn't be anything much more complex than how wings are obstructed by voxels.
  3. Performance is not degraded as damage is taken
    An XS ship with a Large radar, unobstructed, is much more likely to have the radar take damage than the same ship with a small radar. If they degrade as they take damage, and since redundancy in radar systems is almost impossible with such a small ship, it wouldn't be risky to put such a large radar on an XS ship. Have redundant L radars on an M or L core battleship should be a necessity.
  4. Performance is not affected by the acceleration of the construct they're on
    Rocket boosted borg cubes should have their accuracy greatly affected by how quickly they are change velocity (doppler affect affecting signal strength). A railgun XS borg should need to maintain a constant velocity vector to be accurate at long ranges.
  5. Only core size affects detection range, not the radar cross section
    A cube of steel is going to have a massive normal surface that is highly reflective, and such would be identifiable from much farther ranges and be much easier to hit with radar targeting. Cross section calculations like for drag should be used here. More accurately, have the normality of the surface to the radar beam multiplied by some material reflectivity scalar define the radar cross section and thus targetable radar range of any vessel. Core size shouldn't matter in this regard. http://www.rfcafe.com/references/electrical/dielectric-constants-strengths.htm and https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radar_cross-section
    Computing the real RCS is not feasible, but even just a cross sectional area calculation for now would be a good nerf to full volume cubes.
    Also, having a larger radar should increase the radar cross section, as an antenna will reflect very large amounts of energy.
  6. There is no passive radar detector
    An ultra cheap radar detector for passive ships would be great. Something similar to the Gyro you slap on your ship, and an alarm sounds and warning pops up when someone is shining a radar at you. Ideally it would have more range than a radar, so you could be warned that there is someone with a radar nearby. This would simply alert you to the existence of radar, and would only be useful on ships without any radar (otherwise it would always be on because of your own radar)
  7. Radar doesn't work in the safe zone
    I should be able to detect ships outside the safe zone from inside the safe zone, and vice versa. Having a magical boundary where it instantly stops working doesn't make sense. Same thing with atmosphere, performance should be attenuated by atmosphere not instantly lost. 
  8. UI changes
    Disable advanced HUD while radar targeting and implement something else. The UI is ugly and breaks immersion, but you pretty much need it on to know where the ship you're targeting is. Maybe have a wireframe box so you know where to look, but less available info. Change the box color from red for enemy to blue or green for friends and allies.

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16 minutes ago, MRog40 said:

The UI is ugly and breaks immersion

Mostly agreed with everything except this. One could argue that the UI is an augmented reality display projected on the inside of your helmet.

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I need more pvp experience to form a valid opinion, but I will say with how important radar is, it should be heavily focused on continued balance. Even after release.  Even 10 years from now. And even further balanced. 

 

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There are two solutions that could fix most of the current meta.

 

1) Restrict weapon size by core. This is kind of arbitrary and doesn't make for fun gameplay. 

 

2) Actually implement power as a requirement. This means requiring weapons, engines, radars and future shields to have power. The power draw of large elements has to be high enough that it would be nearly impossible to have an XS core do everything without giving up something. 

 

 

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5 hours ago, Emptiness said:

One could argue that the UI is an augmented reality display projected on the inside of your helmet.

I’d be okay with an augmented display, but it should be different than the normal advanced hud. I’m thinking something like a red wireframe box around the target to be less obstructive, different colors for friends/allies.

 

2 hours ago, Noddles said:

Actually implement power as a requirement.

This is a solution but is equally arbitrary. Better and more natural solutions exist. Making radar limitations closer to reality would be plenty of nerfing for now, and adjustments can be made to them even more in the future to steer ship designs towards reality.

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Sigh, I called the cubes of death in alpha.  These solutions make sense, but to encourage plurality of design you have to make voxels themselves practically useless for defence and put all the durability in elements.

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This is a really thoughtful post with lots of interesting ideas! I'm not sure how feasible some of them are from a game design standpoint, but most of them make sense to me. Ultimately, I think the overhauling of PvP is going to go hand-in-hand with the implementation of energy management for elements on ships, but that's probably really far off.

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1 hour ago, Anopheles said:

Sigh, I called the cubes of death in alpha.  These solutions make sense, but to encourage plurality of design you have to make voxels themselves practically useless for defence and put all the durability in elements.

One way to curb it a little is do like eve with a sig radius sort of thing. Game recognizes huge cross section, you guns do "crippling blow" and can do up to dbl their intended damage, because they land such perfect hits, that's its actually easy to chew through armor that isnt spaced out. 

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9 hours ago, MRog40 said:

I don't want XS Borg Cubes to be the meta. Here are my Problem/Solution suggestions.

 

Disclaimer: I don't fully understand the current state of PvP/RADAR. The problems listed here are primarily what I have heard from others and some points may not be accurate. I will edit the post to reflect any corrections or suggestions from commenters.

You understand enough to propose some sane and, I would think, practical solutions.

 

9 hours ago, MRog40 said:

Radars are isotropic (the range is the same in all directions)

A frequent solution to this in RW is to have the radar actually rotate... since we don't have animated elements, it could be charitably assumed that current radars do actually rotate, and any appearance of unidirectionality is a limitation of graphics not in-game technology. Combat radars (target acquisition in fighters, for example) are often unidirectional for both volume and functional considerations, and I think that there should be options of having rotating arrays as well as fixed ones, with relevant advantages and disadvantages wrt size and weight.

9 hours ago, MRog40 said:

Performance is not degraded as damage is taken
An XS ship with a Large radar, unobstructed, is much more likely to have the radar take damage than the same ship with a small radar. If they degrade as they take damage, and since redundancy in radar systems is almost impossible with such a small ship, it [would] be risky to put such a large radar on an XS ship. Have redundant L radars on an M or L core battleship should be a necessity.

I think the current HP model is poor. Things carry on working at 100% efficiency until they are completely destroyed. Then they take trivial amounts of work to get working again. It would be better if the 'working' cutoff was variable, so a radar with 1000 HP stops working when it's taken 100, but isn't destroyed until it's taken a thousand, whereas a command seat, say, stops working when it's taken 50%, and a wing stops working at 90% damage... Sadly, I think sliding scales of "reduced" efficiency as damage was taken would impose too much compute burden for real time combat, though having a performance curve for each element would be ideal.

9 hours ago, MRog40 said:

 

Performance is not affected by the acceleration of the construct they're on
Rocket boosted borg cubes should have their accuracy greatly affected by how quickly they are change velocity (doppler affect affecting signal strength). A railgun XS borg should need to maintain a constant velocity vector to be accurate at long ranges.

I disagree with this point, since the sensor-bearing vessel knows what its accelerations are and can compensate with its pointing, especially using agile phased-array emitters. The shooter's motion should have no effect on their accuracy given the weapons are pointed by computer, not by the operator. The potential motion of the target should have large effects though, increasing as distance increases. Some measure of the quantity of G used by or known to be available to the type of target, once it's identified (criteria should be affected by what has been observed and what the target actually has available to use - if the predictor algorithm only assumes a 6G position envelope, and the target actually has 9G available, the predictor may be very wrong)  should affect the chances of a successful hit. Using current radial velocity is a quick and dirty placeholder, which ought to have no place in the release combat model: hitting a thing moving in a straight line is a trivial lead calculation in space combat where it's computers doing the aiming.

9 hours ago, MRog40 said:
  1. Only core size affects detection range, not the radar cross section

100% agree. Sensor cross section should matter. Core size will have an indirect effect, of course, since a smaller vessel designed along the same principles of sig reduction would have a smaller sig, and why would you build a vessel on an S that you could fit on an XS? But the signature of the hull shouldn't actually include the core size in its calculations. Even if it was as crude as having 6 values (one for each axis direction), it would be effective. The maths is well known and could readily be calculated at ship build time. It'd be nice if combat damage changed the sig, but again, that's probably a step to far for the hamsters.

The emissions characteristics of a vessel should also affect its detection range and how hard it is to target. A ship with its radars off, engines off and a well-designed low sig hull should be a "hole in space", relying on passive sensors, at which point their targets can start to evade detection themselves, by going dark, and not burning their drives.

9 hours ago, MRog40 said:
  1. There is no passive radar detector

A passive threat detector, and a non-targeting (therefore smaller, lighter and cheaper) radar would both help civilian ships evade interception. Or (in the case of the hazard radar) make them have a high enough sig to be locked onto... But civilians need passive sensors too, so they can see those attack ships lighting up their drives, and start evasive maneuvers.

9 hours ago, MRog40 said:
  1. Radar doesn't work in the safe zone
    I should be able to detect ships outside the safe zone from inside the safe zone, and vice versa. Having a magical boundary where it instantly stops working doesn't make sense. Same thing with atmosphere, performance should be attenuated by atmosphere not instantly lost. 

This is, indeed, an insanity. I could forgive a space/notspace boundary if you were allowed to connect both an atmo radar and a space radar to your chair, but you can't.

I can see the reasoning behind not allowing radars to work in safe zones: it stops people loitering there with impunity, then bursting out, and it stops people in High Guard tracking potential targets deeper in the gravity well, but I think the reasoning is deeply flawed, and it, as you say, makes no physical sense. If you can't see where the ambushers are waiting outside the safe zone, you can't actively avoid them. Denying lockon should be enough. And let a seat have both kinds of radar.

9 hours ago, MRog40 said:
  1. UI changes
    Disable advanced HUD while radar targeting and implement something else. The UI is ugly and breaks immersion, but you pretty much need it on to know where the ship you're targeting is.

Yeah, the whole UI sucks. Our shipwright was trying to make improvements in LUA the other day, but the hooks seem to have been disabled in order to prevent automated weapons stations. It'd be nice if people could sell better HUDs.

 

All this is widely known, even to the layperson. I am sure the current combat systems are placeholders, and hope that they will be seen to be very crude ones by the time they get back to working on combat. The whole thing needs a good going over and complete retooling. But sensors would be a good place to start.

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Thanks for the excellent reply Kezzle, adding some thoughts onto that: 
 

On 9/17/2020 at 4:13 AM, Kezzle said:

Combat radars (target acquisition in fighters, for example) are often unidirectional for both volume and functional considerations, and I think that there should be options of having rotating arrays as well as fixed ones, with relevant advantages and disadvantages wrt size and weight.

AFAIK almost all aviation radars are phased arrays as they are lighter, scan faster (almost instantaneously), and have no mechanical components to wear and fail over time compared to rotating arrays.
 scalable_beam_radar_f-16.jpg

couple this with:

On 9/17/2020 at 4:13 AM, Kezzle said:

I disagree with this point, since the sensor-bearing vessel knows what its accelerations are and can compensate with its pointing, especially using agile phased-array emitters. The shooter's motion should have no effect on their accuracy given the weapons are pointed by computer, not by the operator. The potential motion of the target should have large effects though, increasing as distance increases. Some measure of the quantity of G used by or known to be available to the type of target, once it's identified (criteria should be affected by what has been observed and what the target actually has available to use - if the predictor algorithm only assumes a 6G position envelope, and the target actually has 9G available, the predictor may be very wrong)  should affect the chances of a successful hit.

and I think there is another even better solution to the problem: have a vast array of radar systems that are for different things. Phased arrays can lockon faster and account for high G acceleration in both the attacker and defender, but have less range and no ability to rotate (can't see sides and back at all). Have rotating arrays (don't need to be animated) that acquire much more slowly, have much higher range, and cannot account for high G acceleration, but can see in all directions. This way a railgun sniper would have to act like an actual sniper to be accurate, and fighters could be agile but with less range and no omnidirectional awareness.

 

Building a specialized vessel with weapons and radar to fill a specific role will help turn the game into rock paper scissors for two cores of the same size instead of having a meta. More radar options and radar parameters opens up a lot more numbers for tuning. Larger ships will have advantages with the ability to have multiple weapon types and multiple radars for redundancy and to be able to withstand multiple types of attackers.

 

On 9/17/2020 at 4:13 AM, Kezzle said:

Even if it was as crude as having 6 values (one for each axis direction), it would be effective. The maths is well known and could readily be calculated at ship build time. It'd be nice if combat damage changed the sig, but again, that's probably a step to far for the hamsters.

The emissions characteristics of a vessel should also affect its detection range and how hard it is to target. A ship with its radars off, engines off and a well-designed low sig hull should be a "hole in space", relying on passive sensors, at which point their targets can start to evade detection themselves, by going dark, and not burning their drives.

6 values that are interpolated between would be perfectly effective, and I'm sure NQ already has the code base or at least knowledge for doing this because of their atmospheric drag systems. It is important that the 6 values are not purely cross sectional area though, they need to account for the normality of a surface and the material used to really push designs to be realistic and not wireframe cubes. Actual RCS computation is way beyond feasible for DU.

 

I absolutely love the idea of the emissions/active elements of a vessel affecting the detection range and targeting difficulty, but this might be too computational difficult. Rolling through a dangerous area with a stealth designed hauler full of precious ore, being careful not to use an adjustor or an engine to try and go undetected by pirates sounds like a great DU only experience, and it sure as hell beats the stealth mechanics talked about by Entropy in a previous Q&A livestream. 

 

Fun fact about the "hole in space" note: There is such a thing as too stealthy, as a stealth ship will block out the background noise and this ultra quiet point can actually be identified for it's stealthiness. There was a navy ship design that had this problem. The first designs were invisible to radar, but it was way too quiet relative to the ocean waves around the vessel so was easily identifiable.

 800px-Future_USS_Zumwalt's_first_underwa

 

Novaquark - the best solutions to problems are natural, physical solutions, not arbitrary ones.

 

Arbitrary (classic game design) solutions, while they can be effective, leave a bad taste in the mouths of people who know they are arbitrary. There are a few decisions like this in game, but core size targeting range, core size docking limitations, really anything that is core size specific seems like an arbitrary cop-out that I hope is temporary to simplify the computational load.

 

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Why do people keep saying radar doesn't work in safe zone? I can detect ships just fine inside safe zone.

 

Also the small radar acts as a passive detection radar. It has the same detection range (2 SU) as larger radars.

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41 minutes ago, Haunty said:

Also the small radar acts as a passive detection radar. It has the same detection range (2 SU) as larger radars.

I want something even simpler/cheaper. Something that everyone will have that doesn't show you where or who is out there, just that somebody has you on their radar so you know there is a chance you are being hunted. It doesn't even really need to be an element, it could be built into the seat or core, but adding a gyro like element would be good too.

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1 hour ago, MRog40 said:

Thanks for the excellent reply Kezzle, adding some thoughts onto that: 

Thanks for provoking it in the first place :)

Quote

have a vast array of radar systems that are for different things. 

More variety means more chances of fun interactions. NQ should definitely do that. Would give everyone choices to make between the limitations they accept on their ships. It can be big and slow (and easy to hit) and do most things passably well, or medium and select one thing from a long list to do very well, or small and fast and hard to hit, but can only be really good at one or two fields. Or something like that. Simplicity breeds stupid metas, as we are seeing.

Quote

 

Building a specialized vessel with weapons and radar to fill a specific role will help turn the game into rock paper scissors for two cores of the same size instead of having a meta. More radar options and radar parameters opens up a lot more numbers for tuning. Larger ships will have advantages with the ability to have multiple weapon types and multiple radars for redundancy and to be able to withstand multiple types of attackers.

It would be great if one of those roles was "fleet coordination", a ship which (aside from anything else) carries lots of sensors and can act as the eyes for their mates.

Quote

6 values that are interpolated between would be perfectly effective...

I'd be happy if they weren't even interpolated, just picking the 'nearest to normal face' of the build box as presented at the moment the signal is assessed. Trying to get tooo analogue will make sums hard for the hamsters.

 

Quote

not purely cross sectional area though, they need to account for the normality of a surface and the material used to really push designs to be realistic and not wireframe cubes. Actual RCS computation is way beyond feasible for DU.

Aye, sloped sides and no acute angles... the "rules" they use could be "tweaked" a little away from pure realism to permit other cool shapes. Where rounded surfaces are dreadful for stealth IRL, in DU, they could specify "planes parallel with the faces of the build box" as being the "worst". I think calculating a "simplified" set of RCS values at the point you leave Build Mode on the thing would be doable.

Quote

 

I absolutely love the idea of the emissions/active elements of a vessel affecting the detection range and targeting difficulty, but this might be too computational difficult.Rolling through a dangerous area with a stealth designed hauler full of precious ore, being careful not to use an adjustor or an engine to try and go undetected by pirates sounds like a great DU only experience...

Wouldn't it just? I hope the team have the programming chops to pull something like this off. It means a second set of signatures to keep track of for every ship-to-ship interaction, but the frequency of changes to the values being calculated could be managed using "cooldowns" and "warmups" so people weren't strobing about with their emitters on-off-on-off as fast as they can toggle 'em...

Quote

...sure as hell beats the stealth mechanics talked about by Entropy in a previous Q&A livestream. 

I either missed that or erased it from memory. Was it typical MMO "invisibility cloak" nonsense?

Quote

 

Fun fact about the "hole in space" note: There is such a thing as too stealthy, as a stealth ship will block out the background noise and this ultra quiet point can actually be identified for it's stealthiness. There was a navy ship design that had this problem. The first designs were invisible to radar, but it was way too quiet relative to the ocean waves around the vessel so was easily identifiable.

Yeah. I'd read about signal processing being applied similarly to the radar/microwave background for the detection of aircraft, too, though IIRC, it was much more hypothetical. That would be another great feature if they could fit it in: different kinds of sensors: no point being radio-silent if your reactor neutrino emissions give you away, and no point neutrino shielding your reactor if your mass signature gives you away. But radio sensors are cheap and plentiful, neutrino detectors expensive, finicky and rare, and gravitometers good enough to pick up a spaceship in a timely fashion really only happen on the largest most stable space stations, say.

Quote

Novaquark - the best solutions to problems are natural, physical solutions, not arbitrary ones. (and the reason me and my friends love this game so much is because we can feel JC's science and physics background at the core of the gameplay)

This, a thousand, a million times. Of course there are computational limits, but push them, don't get lazy, you crazy programming dudes.

 

And fix your materials.

 

Quote

 

Arbitrary (classic game design) solutions, while they can be effective, leave a bad taste in the mouths of people who know they are arbitrary. There are a few decisions like this in game, but core size targeting range, core size docking limitations, really anything that is core size specific seems like an arbitrary cop-out that I hope is temporary to simplify the computational load.

 

This too. We can understand some of the arbitrary limitations while the game grows and settles, but please don't use them as a crutch when you've the talent to solve actually hard problems.

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1 hour ago, Haunty said:

Why do people keep saying radar doesn't work in safe zone? I can detect ships just fine inside safe zone.

 

Also the small radar acts as a passive detection radar. It has the same detection range (2 SU) as larger radars.

It doesn't work, looking out of the safe zone, so you're launching into danger completely blind to what may be waiting for you.

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9 hours ago, Kezzle said:

I either missed that or erased it from memory. Was it typical MMO "invisibility cloak" nonsense?

Yeah, classic game design level solution instead of the readily available and simple real world solutions.

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Original aim of this topic is to lower the viability of death cubes? Cross section needs to be added to the hit chance calculation. Max core build box size minus cross section to give a percentage.

 

Add that percentage to the end of the hit chance calculator with a cap of 50 or 60% so we don’t get L core, small ship meta.

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From what I've seen of XS-scale railgun sleds, including g-ratings in all axes of movement as a factor in how hard the thing is to hit would help too; there's only so much engine you can pack into a 16m cube with a radar L, railguns and the gunner positions, and if you split that over 6 directions rather than one, they'll not have the delta-vee to plot an intercept course. Or they can stick with the one torch and be sitting ducks to anything that's got any evasive capacity and closes fast.

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19 hours ago, Kezzle said:

It doesn't work, looking out of the safe zone, so you're launching into danger completely blind to what may be waiting for you.

OK then that should be changed. Shouldn't be able to lock/identify/fire but should be able to detect.

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54 minutes ago, Haunty said:

OK then that should be changed. Shouldn't be able to lock/identify/fire but should be able to detect.

Yeah. That would be where I'd go with it, too. Same as when you're looking down into it.

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Quick and dirty temporary radar adjustment to change the PvP meta - remove the core size radar ranges and replace them to be dependent on ship tonnage. Easier than radar cross section and other solutions here, but is a quick nerf to XS steel cubes.

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18 minutes ago, MRog40 said:

Quick and dirty temporary radar adjustment to change the PvP meta - remove the core size radar ranges and replace them to be dependent on ship tonnage. Easier than radar cross section and other solutions here, but is a quick nerf to XS steel cubes.

I dont want quick fixes, but that being said, having radar tied to core mass is definitely an interesting idea. Since that is exactly what eve does ;) I find it how some people bash eve here, but when it comes to talks about balance you often see mechanics straight lifted from eve, or at the very least similar.  In eve if you are a battleship, without enhancement mods, it takes forever to lock a frigate. Conversely a frig can lock a battleship in 1-2 seconds depending.

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Core mass is a sufficiently fluid and manipulable beast that it would perhaps make for a better basis than core size for detection ranges. Not sure it'll make enough difference to change anything on its own though.

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