Deck & Conn, Log 13 – Firing Point Procedures

The last week has been work on the weapon systems – and the damage systems. So we’ll start with the weapons…

Weapons & Defences

Just to recap – there are four weapon or defence systems aboard ship in Deck & Conn. In short, they are:

  • Anti-Shipping Railgun Turrets – not very high damage, short range, but you can tweak the damage VS accuracy settings, and fire every damn turn if you have the power to do so – once you’ve locked in the turret on your target, at any rate.
  • Torpedo Launcher – your long range bois. Hit almost as easily at the other side of the sector as they do right next to you, and do a worrying amount of damage. The down side? Limited ammunition. Whether or not to use one of your valuable torpedoes is an important strategic decision as you won’t be able to get more until you complete your patrol and return to base.
  • Close-In Warfare Turrets – the CIWTs (see-wits) are your last defence against torpedoes. If your CIWTs are turned on and have ammo, there’s a chance they’ll cause a torpedo to detonate prematurely, reducing the damage it does, or even entirely negate it harming your ship.
  • Magnetic Plates – the mags are your ship’s “shields”, to use a Star Trek term, or… close to. They help deflect rounds fired from railguns, increasing the chance that any incoming railgun fire will miss you, or at least hit at the wrong angle and do damage solely to your armour plating.

All of these systems now work in the game, though I may add a few more additional features a bit later on.

I will admit, I was considering, as I began writing this, going into detail about the core mechanics of each weapon. But the thing is, they’re not that interesting. You can read the itemised list above, and know almost enough to code the core of the logic that’d handle all these weapons. They’re that simple.

So rather than do that, I thought I would do something which is (to me at least) a bit more interesting – list some ‘what if’ features. Some ideas I have to add or tweak functionality to the weapons and defence systems, which may or may not come to fruition over the course of alpha testing.

  • Starting simple – should Mags reduce the damage taken from torpedoes? I’m leaning towards no, as right now the choice to turn on mags when you close within railgun range is an interesting one, especially as ‘railgun range’ is subjective. Some captains may take pot shots at range; others wait until they can see the dead of your eyes.
  • Why not allow CIW turrets to shoot ships? There’s no UI way to do this yet, but what if adjacent ships would take some damage from your CIWTs if the system was on and you came up along side? The down side to this would be you could potentially destroy a ship you were trying to disable and board. But then, maybe that’s a good thing – a reminder not to get close to other ships with your CIWTs turned on.
  • Right now, detection is affected by being adjacent and planets and stars… but not damage. Perhaps that’d be a neat thing to add? That is, railguns are less effective if you’re in even the upper atmosphere of a planet.
  • And finally, a stray idea kinda related to weapons but not really: heat damage. Right now, there’s no reason not to just stay adjacent to stars or planets. They let you stay more hidden than usual, but they don’t stop you firing out from them or detecting other ships just fine. The planets it’s a minimal effect – but stars do a lot. In Objects in Space we had you take damage as you got close to stars. This is more zero sum than that due to the turn based / tile based maps, so I’m thinking… after X number of turns close to the sun, you begin to take damage on your hull?

Of those ideas, I’m leaning towards the last one for sure, and quite possibly the second one. But I won’t make a call on any of them until I’ve got some alpha testing in.

Damage & Repair

Taking damage is now implemented, too. Depicted below here is the damage control screen showing a heavily damaged ship, and what some damage reports look like on the action queue / event log terminal on the bottom right.

A ship that is in very big trouble.

In a very broad sense, your ship has systems that can individually take damage (things such as your reactor, one for each torpedo launcher or ASR turret, or your sensor suite – depicted above being knocked out), and so can your hull.

Damage goes to a random system (or, two if it’s a direct hit from a torpedo). About 1/6th of the damage, give or take, goes to the ship’s hull, and the rest gets split amongst whatever systems it hits. The amount of damage done varies too – a direct hit from a torp does a lot of damage, split over two systems.

Once you’ve taken damage, your repair parties will get to work.

By default, your XO will order the repair parties, prioritising your hull if it’s very badly damaged, then your critical systems (power, sensors, etc) and finally your weapon systems.

Each turn, a certain amount of damage will be repaired, and you’ll get a damage control party update amidst your usual end of turn reports. The amount of damage repaired has a random element, but it will be increased if whoever is your engineering officer of the watch is an experienced senior.

And how do you make sure that your crew watches are run to your most experienced officers?

Well, by default the crew cycles in and out. They’re on shift for a certain number of turns, then someone else takes over. But regardless of your tiredness levels, if the ship comes under attack, you’re going to want your best people at their stations.

Calling for General Quarters does this – the big red lever on the bottom-right of the helm & engines panel at the bottom middle of the screen. Just don’t stay on GQ too long – while senior crew get a bonus doing many things aboard the ship, being extremely tired will certainly negate that advantage.

Which brings to me what I’m doing next: more crew features.

You can already cycle crew, check their status, call for general quarters, but next up I’m letting them get hurt (or even killed) when weapons hit, and recuperate slowly in the infirmary.