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allnamestaken

Spaceship weapon ideas?

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So I'm I've been thinking of doing a type of space-sim (lite on the sim part) for awhile and have been toying various ideas of weapons used on my spaceships. I'd like quite a variety with hopefully different types of weapons having unique properties to each other. Most of the ideas have a loose base on science, more leaning towards the art of Space Opera (e.g. Star Wars) for inspiration, so flashy projectiles, sounds, etc. I was wondering how these following weapon ideas sound and if anyone can think of any tweaks or additions.

 

Ballistic/Kinetic Weapons: Basically equivalent to modern day guns, using a chemical propellant to launch a solid projectile. So far these come under 3 categories on ships: Gatling Guns, Autocannons and Battle Cannons. Their main advantage is being able to operate without energy and being fairly cheap and low tech. Their main disadvantage in this universe is that they do about 50% damage to energy shields (on top of being on the low damage range), limited range and slow projectile speed. (Also not sure there is a better name to differentiate them from say Mass Driver or Missile weapons). May visibly have a 'tracer' round look to them.

Pulse Laser Weapons: Working a bit like Star Wars blasters, shooting a short partial beam of laser energy. Where ballistic weapons are more the cheap everyman weapon, lasers are the standard of military forces. They are mostly even across the board, with damage better than ballistics, average rate of fire, low energy consumption with excellent projectile speed and range.

Beam Laser Weapons: Rather than a short 'blaster bolt' these lasers fire a constant linear beam. Compared to the pulse laser they have a greater damage output over time, but less range, possibly needing recharging time between beam shots.

Ion Weapons: A specialty weapon related to particle weaponry. They fit almost an opposite niche to ballistic weapons, having significant effect on energy shields but minimal impact directly against ship armour. Though possibly if they do penetrate armour they can temporarily 'disable' systems. They may come in pulse and beam versions, firing a white'ish bolt or writhing white (almost lightning-like) beam respectively.

Mass Driver Weapons (Rail Guns/Gauss Guns): Using magnetic or gravitational energy to accelerate a projectile to extreme speed. A kinetic weapon that fires with a similar speed and range to the more advanced lasers and such above. They shoot a fast traveling yellow/white (hot/superheated looking) shot. Although like the prior kinetic weapons they are less effective against shields, they are also quite powerful in themselves, their main trait is the ability to penetrate ship armour effectively and may have a sort of 'penetrate' through multiple systems sort of damage, rather than just damaging one system. Their disadvantage is very slow rate of fire and some energy consumption.

Plasma Weapons: The main heavy energy weapons of the universe. Of course shooting super-heated plasma at targets over a distance. They have great damage (below Mass Drivers vs armour), good rate of fire but poor range and also big energy consumption. Their unique trait is a sort of 'splash' damage effect. Possibly come in pulse and beam form, pulses being green globule like bolts and beams being green almost liquid like energy streams.

 

Those are the main ones I've thought out so far, but there are others I'm toying with and not sure what traits they should have.

 

Rockets/Missiles: Basically very high damage weapons but with a limited resource and adverse to countermeasures.

Particle Weapons: Visibly similar to the ion weaponry (more blue tint) but with preferably a different effect.

Fusion Weapons: Plasma weapons plus basically (colour switched from green to violet).

Others in the back of my mind: Meson weapons, Neutron weapons, Tachyon weapons, Disruptor weapons, Shard launcher weapons, EMP weapons? Not sure how these would fit amongst the others and what unique traits they could have.

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How about CK and EK - Chemical Kinetic, and Electrical Kinetic. While chemically propelled weapons don't have nearly the per shot damage potential, and the lower velocities mean they're easier to dodge at range, they do not put a strain on a ships/bases power supply, and the volume of round you can put down range is limited only by your ships thrust/inertial dampener systems. 

 

Chemical weapons become a brawler's weapon. Effectively capital shotguns almost. May even make sense to give a penalty to ammo capacity because you need to lug around the projectile and propellant. And probably they would be more likely to cause critical secondary damage as your ship gets attacked. 

 

They could be something that you bolt onto your ship as part of an initial alpha-strike package, bring along a handful of rounds for each gun, but a lot of them, then fall back on fewer more modern weapons if the battle drags on. 

 

 

Also consider situational conditions. Are there different in-game environments?

Do all weapons work effectively in all locations?

How realistic do you want your space to be?

Maybe some weapons can function at FTL, allowing you to knock a ship out of transit and force them into a fight? 

Are there conditions or weapons that could limit opponents targeting abilities or sensor range? (And possible counters to them?) Do you want players to be able to do something like jam a long range opponent's sensors and charge to close ranges with chemical kinetics? Or maybe a base in some 'environmental field' that makes a given weapon type less effective. Maybe 'dust clouds' will make missile/sensor locks less reliable. Plasma fields will disrupt accuracy of magnetically propelled weapons?

 

Work through gameplay scenarios - I'm a player, I start the game, and what kind of choices to I have? What conditions can I get into, and what kind of player options can I draw on to have a successful outcome. 

Are things going to rely on skill and timing like a modern shooter? Can I back off to take cover somewhere and try to ambush someone I know is using a 'shotgun' if I'm forced into close quarters fighting with them, using skill and positioning to defeat their damage advantage, or will it be "You either had the correct weapon or you didn't", and the shotgun will win 9 times out of 10 regardless of what I try to do if I don't have my own shotgun?

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Issues for each category:

  • In deep space, the range of kinetic weapons isn't limited. At worst they are slow and concentrated enough to allow dodging.
  • Pulsed and continuous beams are going to have the same range. Continuous beams are less likely to damage the weapon (at the same average power), pulsed beams could be easier to produce (including some pulsed-only designs)
  • Beams include a third category: single blasts (e.g. the well known theoretical design for a self-destroying x-ray laser made with a nuke and metal rods;https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Project_Excalibur)
  • Ion weapons, plasma weapons, particle weapons, fusion weapons are actually divided into particle accelerators using electromagnetic fields to spit out plasma, indirect methods (lasers, impacts from accelerated particles etc.) to produce reasonably focused photon beams, and fantastic methods to accelerate non-charged particles.
  • "Mass drivers" are just kinetic weapons with very large projectiles, e.g. rocks, not superheated ones; typical designs include a sled powered by a linear electric motor.
    Gravitational energy-based designs, such as a trebuchet or a ski jump trampoline, obviously work only on a large planet.
    You might be confusing big mass drivers with relatively small railgun experiments that depend on grinding a conductive metal slug against conductive rails to circulate an intense electrical current; these feature very high muzzle velocity (limited by rail length and power, not by chemical properties of explosives) and serious wear with use.

I'd suggest naming by functional or abstract categories and invented proper names, without serious attempts to be realistic. Invent physically implausible fun weapons instead.

  • Ballistic/kinetic weapons that throw an inert projectile
  • Guided self-propelled missiles, often called torpedoes.
  • Particle rays.
  • Bombs.

Outstanding examples of opaque weapon naming from fiction:

  • The "non-nuclear" warheads and Spear of Longinus from Evangelion
  • The "Little Doc" from Ender's Game
  • The nameless beams of three generations of Death Stars in the Star Wars saga
  • The "SDF main gun" from Macross.
Edited by LorenzoGatti

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I think there are two ways of brainstorming:

  1. take inspiration from science -> game mechanic (weapon)
  2. take desired game mechanic quality -> find scientific concepts for decoration

Starcraft II did a great job with the levels of variations in their weaponry across the three races. You can look at them as points in some multidimension space. The dimensions are: speed of projectile, damage per shot, # of shots, rate of fire, tracking yes/no, area of attack, bonus against (armor, bio, ...), secondary damage (mutalisk deflects). Now that I think about it, Overwach has great weapon variations as well. Each gun feels very unique with its own character. I think in a sim or any game really you want to be able to distinguish each weapon and give each a persona of sorts. Identifying the dimensions you want and finding the absolute distance between the weapons (use Pythagorean's thm) will help you ensure they aren't too similar to each other.

Other dimensions from Overwatch: 

  • continuous stream vs discrete fire
  • damage amplified by x (boosts, bonus, crits, power absorbing shields, etc)
  • anti-projectile
  • projectiles that affect pos/vel of yourself or target or nearby ships
  • omni-directional/no need to target/always tracking
  • speed of projectile vs spread

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How about CK and EK - Chemical Kinetic, and Electrical Kinetic. While chemically propelled weapons don't have nearly the per shot damage potential, and the lower velocities mean they're easier to dodge at range, they do not put a strain on a ships/bases power supply, and the volume of round you can put down range is limited only by your ships thrust/inertial dampener systems. 

 

Chemical weapons become a brawler's weapon. Effectively capital shotguns almost. May even make sense to give a penalty to ammo capacity because you need to lug around the projectile and propellant. And probably they would be more likely to cause critical secondary damage as your ship gets attacked.

What about chemical weapons (or nanobot goo) designed to eat the hull of a ship or disable an engine?  They would probably fall under missiles.

A small computer probe intended to hack into the computer systems of an enemy ship might also be a thing; maybe hacking is only effective from close range because they can use the ship's wireless or physically cut into a light-transmitting data cable.

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Rapid exothermic chemical reactions used to propel kinetic weapons (read: guns) are a bad idea in a closed environment like a space ship, because the fire hazard is too great.  At the very least, fire hazard and explosion or uncontrolled firing should be aspects of those weapons.

Lasers take a lot of energy.  Like, a lot.

Pulsed lasers are reasonable since they give time to recharge the accumulators and to cool down both the energy distribution network and the laser itself.  The limiting factors for a pulse laser would be (a) your power generation capacity, (b) your power distribution capacity (mega-ton cables from your Gigawatt fusion generator to your laser turret have enough mass that your ship acceleration and maneuverability will be compromised), and (3) the heat dissipation ability of all the components involved.

Beam lasers that would have enough energy to make holes in a ship's hull are also going to make holes in yours as they and their wiring connections melt themselves trying to dissipate heat.  Beam lasers are better for aiming the other weapons  rather than as a weapon themselves. Firing a Gigawatt laser for 10 seconds means 22 Terawatt-hours of energy -- as much energy as is produced in the entire USA in a six-month period.

You also missed the programmable nanoparticle weapon.  Toss a basketball-sized blob of grey goo at an enemy ship, watch it get dismantled before your eyes.  The nanomachines would consume the energy of their target but you'd be immune because of their programming.  Until they hack the goo, that is.

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A small computer probe intended to hack into the computer systems of an enemy ship might also be a thing; maybe hacking is only effective from close range because they can use the ship's wireless or physically cut into a light-transmitting data cable.
 

I like this idea. It can be generalized into more of a temporary damage to specific ship systems: engine, radar, optical sensors, comm, life support, steering/RCS/vector thrust. Continuing with this idea, damage could be a function of time, upgrades, ship type, fuel level, etc. This function does not have to be linear. It can be exponential or polynomial, with different factors as coefficients: distance, relative speed, direction (more damage or shutdown lasts longer if they're running away). A weapon can slowly sap the power out of their engine or drain their fuel tank or inhibit their maneuvering system. It can reverse the polarity of their shield so it amplifies damage received. Ultimately they're just equations in the form of :

target.stat -= f(weapon.damage)

Make the function into whatever!

Some other ideas:

  • A gravity bomb that pulls them around.
  • EMP that shuts down some of their HUD s othey can't see where you are or if you have a missile lock on them.
  • A missile that, when it hits, accelerates them/teleports them some distance forward so if they're heading close to an asteroid they'll smash right through.
  • A tracking missile with pulsed detonation as propulsion that essentially becomes faster and faster unless the enemy can turn tight enough to avoid it.
  • A missile that teleports 200ft at a time every second that can evade walls/asteroids.
  • Anime-style missile barrage that 1. takes time to lock 2. launches 50 mini missiles at a time and detonates when close to the enemy :D

Firing a Gigawatt laser for 10 seconds means 22 Terawatt-hours of energ

I think you got your math wrong there.

power * time = energy

1GW * 10s/3600(s/Hour) = .002 GWH or 2MWh

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Yes, hard science is definitely taking a backseat to rule of cool and game play mechanics here. I guess growing up on a plethora of games that have used these scientific terms pretty liberally I've gone that angle. This is why I'm abit hesitant to come up with fictional names to, because well a player sort of knows what to expect with a laser gun or plasma cannon, but why should they buy a fafdsfa thrower for their ship?

So I know kinetics would travel indefinitely, I suppose the range was an excuse to also produce a feeling of projectile speed (As in ... well most games, all these effects have been slowed down to be visible to the human player). Also so I don't have to worry about keeping track of a 9mm bullet after its traveled half way across a solar system.

I've toyed with a few 'pseodoscience' excuses here and there. 'MacGuffinium' crystals are used to efficiently focus lasers to a worthwhile potency without expending to much energy for example.

I had forgotten about nano-weapons and gravity bombs, maybe even bio-weapon loaded missiles that kill a crew but leave a ship relatively unscathed.

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How about a huge ball connected to the ship via a chain? What about a massive drill in front of the ship? Perhaps a ship should be able to deploy a minefield, or even completely turn itself into a minefield leaving only a tiny shuttle behind? Wouldn't it be fun to drop a mini black hole that affects gravity in the battlefield and messes with projectiles? Or perhaps you should go super loose with science and make things like "Mirror Matter Annihilator" which fires a massive beam that seriously messes with gravity around the path of the beam, which would cause enemy ships to randomly spin around making their weapons hit friendly targets.

Anyway, it makes gameplay fun when weapon variations enable players to play entirely differently rather than just doing damage in different looking way. Damage over time + kiting, single target vs area of effect, crowd control, defensive/mitigative weapons, all sort of concepts can be included. Even if you want to stick with just simple projectiles+lasers, you should probably still deal with drones, carriers and fighters etc, because it really makes no sense economically to put an expensive ship in range of enemy weapons when you can just launch shitloads of cheap mobile weapon platforms to do the job.

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Some random thoughts:

I'm a fan of micro-singularity weapons that theoretically bore through targets. Launched in a cluster they could orbit one another in a deadly swarm.

 

Cryolasers could be reasoned to seize up turrets and even ship movement if you're going more science fantasy. 

 

More interesting weapons might come from combined systems or tactics, such as pushing an asteroid at an enemy and having more fragile but destructive weapons fly behind it.

 

Nanotech makes for many indirect possibilities as well. Imagine seeding an asteroid field with a cloud that causes turrets to grow on them? Or what about infecting an enemy's hull with systems that attack their allies, forcing the enemy to evaluate whether to attack their own ships or break formation?

 
I think once you outline stats weapon creation becomes easier. If, for instance, you know there will be heat management as a factor you potentially get cost / benefit trade-offs to weapons & systems that do or don't generate heat and weapons that CAUSE heat to accumulate in a target.
 
 

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I had a rethink on the suggestion on naming above, taking away the real world science elements, a few came up like this.

Blaster: Pulsing 'laser'. I'm a bit hesitant to call them blasters though.

Pulse (Gun): Energy needle rapid firing weapon.

Beamer: A 'laser' beam/phaser type weapon.

Accelerator: A powerful kinetic weapon.

Lance/Lancer: A powerful beam/stream type weapon.

Arc (Gun): A sort of lightning generator.

Devastator: Fires big globs of energy (Plasma?).

Given it doesn't take place in the 'same' universe as modern earth (Although there is a bit of a story of humanity leaving the 'homeworld' several millennia ago, but its name has long been forgotten), some newer more ambiguous naming might work ok.

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