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Wavinator

Space Gadgets (Weapons)

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Here's the compliment to the other thread about defenses. It was getting long, so I decided to break them up. Space weapons come in four flavors: Guns, lasers, missiles, and traps / mines. Guns The downside of guns is that ammunition is finite and takes up mass. The upside is that the guns are cheap and shells do a great amount of damage to oncoming targets, and the energy cost for use is next to nil.
  • Hailgun - Fires light rounds in a patterned burst that don't do much damage per shot but wear away targets over time. Available only in small and medium versions.
  • Coilgun - Fires superheated shells at a long range. Slow and capable of overheating. Shots impart momentum to target. Power hungry.
  • RazorRail - Railgun that fires specialized flechettes with rapid fire capability without overheating. Ammo is expensive.
  • Slinger - Low damage poor man's rail launcher which flings asteroid debris at a target. Includes built in crusher for digesting captured asteroids.
  • Hazer - Fires superheated, hyperaccelerated powder in a cone which erodes the target. Debris clinging to target continues to erode it over time and has an increased chance of interfering with sensors and emitters. Uses ship's repair nano as ammo. Shields ignore.
Ammunition is standard shells, but guns can be loaded with EMP Sabots (penetrate shields but expensive), Fragmenting (increases accuracy, lowers damage), Armor Piercing, Nanite Slugs (dissolve hull where they hit, giving a chance to lower Durability), and Tracking (arc toward target at a slight angle once it is hit). Lasers Come in a few varieties:
  • Chem - Cheap, low power chemical laser requires both power and noble gases over time (but you can connect gas tanks to the weapon and get gas from planets and gas giants if you either have a skimmer or configure an emitter into a scoop)
  • Particle Beam - Does both energy and force damage, imparts momentum if large enough. Power hungry. Larger version must be connected directly to a fusion reactor.
  • Fusion - Powerful laser but must be connected via conduits directly to a fusion reactor on the ship. Active firing over time increases heat, reducing the ship's stealth abilities. Gun can overheat with extended use in red zone.
  • Plasmacaster - Mix of sabot and fusion shot, a ball of plasma contained by a decaying shield bubble. Power hungry and expensive.
  • Lance - Fast firing, reliable middle of the road laser. Comes in a single color (IR red, UV violet, green, yellow). May be weaker in atmosphere or nebulas.
  • Spectrum Laser - Changes colors to do extra damage to changing defenses like Spectrum Shields, and can stay operational despite nebulas or atmospheric interference.
Missiles Missiles and torps are the slowest weapons, but do the most damage. They come in a variety of premade, named types, but you can cannibalize and synthesize your own. Missiles come in three sizes
  • Rocket - Cheap, small, usually used for defense or light attack.
  • Missile - Mainstay, versatility depends on guidance, booster and warhead
  • Torpedo - Ranges from heavy shuttle to light frigate in size, usually powered by suicidal AI or kamikaze crew. Can be configured like a ship.
They have 8 warhead options:
  • Chem Explosive - Cheap, easy to obtain, reliable
  • Plasmaburst - Expensive, high damage, also does slight EMP
  • Fission - Restricted, very high damage, does EMP and thermal damage and leaves radiation clouds. Easy to build / obtain on black market. Unstable, may explode early when launched or not at all. Not available in rocket form.
  • Fusion - Like Fission but harder to build and more reliable
  • Neutron - Like fusion, but leaves no dirty radiation.
  • Antimatter - 2nd largest damage type, very advanced containment required, extremely expensive.
  • Singularity - Available only as mine or torpedo. Drags ships to a central point, causing collisions and anything small enough to be instantly destroyed. Hulls capital ships without regard to shields or armor. Can be dispelled by a stream of virtual particles. Eventually evaporates.
  • Special - The missile is not really a missile
    • Shield - A shield generator shields brother missiles
    • EECM - The missile will help cut through jamming
    • Cloaking - The missile will cloak brother missiles
    • Dummy - A cheap, fake missile to absorb point defense attacks
    • Holographic - Throws dummy images and confuses visual targeters
    • Turret - Missile doesn't try to hit! Instead it hangs around target firing
There are 6 guidance types
  • Dumbfire - Travels in a straight line where you point it. Impossible to spoof.
  • Lidar - Cheap but easy to spoof.
  • Energy Seeking - Locks on to a source, but if shaken will lock onto any other source. Hard to jam, but easy to spoof near stars, reactors or solar mirrors
  • Mass Lock - Targets a particular mass. Very hard to shake unless target dumps cargo or components, docks with another target or hides close to gravititational bodies
  • Image Recognition - Smartest guidance, uses high speed pattern recognition and image processing. Can only spoof with holograms or cloaking. Expensive.
  • Psionic - Locks onto unique fingerprint of a particular ship. Impossible to evade without psionic cloaks or changing attitude of crew onboard. There are 3 booster types
    • Fueled - Cheap. Limited range. Will eventually runs out of fuel. Chance that missile is recoverable.
    • Reactor - Longest range, expensive, contains small fusion reactor. Not available for rockets.
    • Hyperkenetic - Travels FTL. Extremely expensive, hard to find, used by militaries.
    Finally, there are 6 casing types
    • Standard - Nothing special
    • Stealth - Missile is harder to detect than normal, depending on the tech level
    • Armored - Missile is resistant to counter-attack
    • Jetted - Extra manuevering thrusters make the missile more agile, increasing it's turn rate and evasion
    • Blackjacket - Expensive shield penetrating missile fires an EMP burst just before impact against the shield
    • Phasing - Missile phases in and out of normal space at random times, making it difficult to hit but raising the chance that it misses. Attracts Siegers (space monsters).
    Mounting Options What, more options?!?!?!?!?!!
    • External Hardpoint - All weapon types can be externally mounted on a hardpoint, which allows ships to be reconfigured during supply in combat-- but are more likely to be disabled. Ship must have available hardpoints of the right class (small, medium, large)
    • Hull Cut - Weapon is embedded in a space cut into the hull. Creates a vulnerability in the facing direction of the weapon. Weapons are fixed (allows smaller cut), or wavering (turns up to 15' each way, but needs bigger hole)
    • External Housing - Weapon and ammo is contained in its own housing. Heaviest option, occupies one of the component snap on slots of the ship.
    • Retracting - Improved version of hull cut. More expensive. Hides weapons.
    • Turret - Flexible, but requires a turret slot. Turrets rotate from 90 to 360 degrees
    • Hardpoint Turret - Customizable turret
    • Missile Pod - Holds many missiles which can be all fired at once, but if hit while firing may explode in high damage
    • Tube - Weakens hull but allows for firing as many missiles as there is cargo space. Loader mechanisms take up space inside ship.
    Traps / Mines Mines are essentially missile warheads and casings that are cheaper, lighter but don't move Traps are shield / missile or shield / mine combos.
    • Crunchshield - Traps ship inside shield, then begins countdown to implode, doing more damage the closer it is. Can be destroyed before countdown
    • Fieldcaster - Casts field in an area, causing status like sensor disruption, engine speed reduction, laser range caps, etc.
    • Trapshield - Traps ship in shield but generator is outside. Missile fire detonates inside shield, damaging the target ship. Vessels must carve their way out or have an ally destroy the generator.
    • Dropshield - Allows a fleeing or attacking ship to block oncoming damage. If a mine, creates a wall. If a missile, pilot can fly behind it.
    Alien Variants Alien weapons simply are exotic variants of the above: Lasers that mysteriously curve and do status effects, laser equivalent damage in a single spot, antimatter bullets, psionic warheads, etc. If you can find a mutations on the above, I'll toss it in. My hope is to vary stats more than graphics so that this is more feasible than going the heavy graphics route. EDIT: Few clarifications -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership... [edited by - Wavinator on June 9, 2004 11:10:05 PM]

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    Since I haven''t read your other thread, I have no idea if this is supposed to be for a specific implementation or just as a general exploration of sci-fi space weaponry. However, bearing that in mind, I felt like contributing a few things to your definitions:

    Guns are weapons making use of launched projectiles that rely on their own mass and shape to do damage.

    Beams are weapons relying on specific frequencies or combinations of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. Lasers would be a subset of this, rather than the whole category. Other, more exotic options would be X-Ray beams or Fusion beams.

    Missiles are launched or self-launching projectiles that rely on an explosion upon impact to do damage. They may have self-guiding propulsion and targeting systems.

    Mines (or Traps, if you like) are launched (or released) to a stationary or nearly stationary position, and rely on something coming to them before exploding and causing damage. They may, like missiles, have a targeting system, but only in a limited range such that they guard a specific area.


    Just felt like contributing something. Hope it helps.

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    One more downside to guns that many people forget when imagining space combat: guns have recoil. This is as true in space as it is anywhere else, but in space the only way to deal with it is to fire thrusters in the opposite direction. I only mention this because your description of the coilgun notes that momentum will be imparted to the target. This is true, but that momentum must first be imparted to the shell by the firing ship, and that means massive recoil. Whatever impact force you hope to apply to the target is exactly the same as the recoil force you youself must deal with, only you''ve got to deal with it whether you hit the target or not.
    Of course the same applies to any type of gun, but the recoil becomes particularly significant when hypervelocities are involved.

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    quote:
    Original post by Plasmadog
    One more downside to guns that many people forget when imagining space combat: guns have recoil. This is as true in space as it is anywhere else, but in space the only way to deal with it is to fire thrusters in the opposite direction. I only mention this because your description of the coilgun notes that momentum will be imparted to the target. This is true, but that momentum must first be imparted to the shell by the firing ship, and that means massive recoil.



    Ah, Newton!

    But I thought that magnetic acceleration obviated recoil? Coil and railguns are supposed to magnetically accelerate objects to the target. Apart from some self contained explosive in the shell, that''s the only way I''d see any guns being in use.

    What I''m assuming is that enough of the mass of the shell survives in order to do damage. Technically, it should be near superheated metal AFAIK, but it''s a nice way to vary weapons (I''ll take it as my Larry Niven Baloneyium fudge )

    Hey, maybe low quality guns move you around when you fire?


    --------------------
    Just waiting for the mothership...

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    quote:
    Original post by Wavinator
    But I thought that magnetic acceleration obviated recoil? Coil and railguns are supposed to magnetically accelerate objects to the target. Apart from some self contained explosive in the shell, that''s the only way I''d see any guns being in use.

    Not as far as I know. You push something one way, you get pushed the other way, and that''s true no matter how you accellerate the object.

    Another point would be that projectiles travel sloooowly. Beam weapons would be at lightspeed, but a projectile? You''d need some huuuuge guns to reach 10% of lightspeed, and then you''d have some massive recoil to deal with. Hopefully you''re using some really tiny projectiles then.

    Hell, I haven''t looked at the math, but even accelerating a few particles to that speed in an instant would probably create enough recoil to give the entire ship a bounce...

    Finally, I''d suggest you pick up Alistair Reynold''s Revelation Space, or any of the sequels. (I think Redemption Ark has by far the most space battles, so maybe that would be the best choice)

    Great books, and some nice (and scientific) descriptions of space battles. If you''re flying a ship at a decent fraction of light speed in space, you''re not going to fight at a range of a few kilometers. Most battles in those books take place with the opponents several lightseconds or even light minutes away from each others.

    In other words, you have to be lucky to hit with a slow-moving projectile...

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    Well im not sure how your implementation works but here are some ideas about that pesky self recoil. Have guns with equal recoil in configurations to cancel themselves (not sure if you are putting in backwards shooting or double side shots). Another thing is that your ship can predict and auto-correct the recoil from its own guns opponents can''t do this automatically (although that could be an add-on).

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    Yes even a rail gun would have recoil, but not from the heated gases of a powdered weapons.

    Instead the recoil would result from the bullets inertia trying to remain where it is and the ship and cannons pushing away from it.

    The amount of force would continue as the mass relative to the ship grew. If the bullets mass exceeds the ships mass, then the ship would actually push itself away from the bullet. So the larger the bullet the more the ship would push away from the bullet. However the net income of the force would shoot the bullet away if its mass was much less than the ships.

    Most rail guns shoot extremely small projectiles so they can be accelarated by the relativiy weak magnetic forces, but in the future who knows lol.

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    quote:
    Original post by Tube
    Since I haven''t read your other thread, I have no idea if this is supposed to be for a specific implementation or just as a general exploration of sci-fi space weaponry.


    It is for a specific idea, but your time is appreciated nonetheless.

    quote:

    Beams are weapons relying on specific frequencies or combinations of frequencies of electromagnetic radiation. Lasers would be a subset of this, rather than the whole category. Other, more exotic options would be X-Ray beams or Fusion beams.



    You''re right, lasers should be classified under beams. But I have heard of X-Ray lasers and Fusion lasers. One thing I was considering was the X-Ray laser idea via a nuclear explosion and free floating lenses (Scientific American), or X-Ray lasers as a result of Orion Rockets powered by fission explosives (Larry Niven''s Footfall).

    You wouldn''t happen to have a handy website I could check out to get this straight, would you?

    quote:

    Missiles are launched or self-launching projectiles that rely on an explosion upon impact to do damage. They may have self-guiding propulsion and targeting systems.



    Although, there''s no reason why they have to have a warhead.

    quote:

    Mines (or Traps, if you like) are launched (or released) to a stationary or nearly stationary position, and rely on something coming to them before exploding and causing damage. They may, like missiles, have a targeting system, but only in a limited range such that they guard a specific area.



    Yes, I see mines as a more stealthy, cheaper form of missiles that can''t move.

    Traps, on the other hand, I envision as very different, in that their goal isn''t to destroy directly but to delay before something bad happens.


    --------------------
    Just waiting for the mothership...

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    quote:
    Most rail guns shoot extremely small projectiles so they can be accelarated by the relativiy weak magnetic forces, but in the future who knows lol.


    Yeah, basically a gun, any gun, works by trying to push the projectile and gun away from each others. That's true for railguns as well. They just use a different technique to achieve this.

    The only reason it usually works is that 1) The gun tends to be heavier than the projectile, and thus have a lot more inertia, so even though the same amount of energy is applied on both (in opposite directions), the projectile will shoot out, and the gun will only jerk back a bit, and 2) the gun is usually mounted, or held by someone standing on something solid, so it doesnt really move much.

    But on a ship floating freely, there's nothing to stop the recoil, and, well, if you want fast-movign projectiles, you'll get huge recoil. :D

    [edited by - Spoonster on June 10, 2004 2:01:19 AM]

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    quote:
    Original post by Spoonster
    You push something one way, you get pushed the other way, and that''s true no matter how you accellerate the object.



    D''oh, right! I was thinking something very weird here, but this is the same as any other type of propulsion.

    quote:

    Another point would be that projectiles travel sloooowly. Beam weapons would be at lightspeed, but a projectile? You''d need some huuuuge guns to reach 10% of lightspeed, and then you''d have some massive recoil to deal with. Hopefully you''re using some really tiny projectiles then.



    And there''s the energy cost with the acceleration, and the question of whether or not you''re better off energy-wise with a beam. In a gameplay nod to that, guns are short range, and slow, so point defenses alway scores hits. So the tactic would be to overwhelm defenses or fool sensors.

    quote:

    Hell, I haven''t looked at the math, but even accelerating a few particles to that speed in an instant would probably create enough recoil to give the entire ship a bounce...



    Right.

    quote:

    Finally, I''d suggest you pick up Alistair Reynold''s Revelation Space, or any of the sequels. (I think Redemption Ark has by far the most space battles, so maybe that would be the best choice)

    Great books, and some nice (and scientific) descriptions of space battles. If you''re flying a ship at a decent fraction of light speed in space, you''re not going to fight at a range of a few kilometers. Most battles in those books take place with the opponents several lightseconds or even light minutes away from each others.



    You see, that''s the major problem I have with designing this. It''s like the flight sims today which must be faithful to BVR combat because advanced missiles kill before you can even see your target. Real space battles you''d expect to be the same way. But how dramatic is that? Only a very small handful of egghead grognards will even understand this.

    I remember a Dan Simmons book where all the military had hyperkenetic weapons and the main goodguys spent most of their time fleeing. While it''s as realistic as going up against today''s navy with a speedboat, there''s no drama.

    Nevermind the fact that a battle might take months or even years at sublight velocities!

    quote:

    In other words, you have to be lucky to hit with a slow-moving projectile...



    Ah, yes, but under strict Newtonian motion (which I WILL NOT BE INFLICTING ON MY POOR PLAYERS ) the faster moving a target is, the harder time it''ll have changing it''s course. Firing bullets in a pattern in the predicted area could be bad for such a ship.

    The more I get into this the more I develop sympathy for Hollywood.



    --------------------
    Just waiting for the mothership...

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