Suggestion: Weapon Systems skill overhaul, special abilities, & new mechanics

This is an idea I had over a year ago, but never formally wrote up. I think it is time to start writing these down. Even if they are not used, creativity can spawn creativity in strange and fun way.

This is to address the weapon issue in Project Terran. I understand time was an issue, but all weapons are currently categorized under the Energy Weapons skill. Trying to re-sort the weapons could be very problematic.

So, I propose a new solution. This will require some re-working of the mechanics of current weapons, but I think it would allow for specialization in combat in a new and unique way.

A quick nomenclature note, but I will use an asterisk * to denote size when size doesn’t matter. So, “* Energy Weapon Systems” can mean Small or Medium. While these are the only two in the game so far, it leave open other size categories (point defense, strafing, large, heavy, spinal mount, etc.).

Also, “Civilian Defense Weapon Systems” does not change. Weapons at that grade are basic and nothing below this point applies to them.

For more advanced weapons, there are two change.

First, if possible, change “* Energy Weapon Systems” to “* Weapon Systems Energy” or “~ Power”. Energy Weapons Systems is the base skill needed to actually mount and fire a weapon. All weapons require this. For a pilot who is not heavily into combat, this is all you need. If you have this skill, any weapon you have or find will work as it currently does. The name change is to clarify its purpose, but does not change anything as things currently stand.

Second is the major change that will require the overhaul. All weapons have a secondary weapon specialization skill, and all weapons have a specialization boost. In the weapon’s description, the description reads as it does now up to a new section that will be added to the bottom. In addition to the current Energy Weapon / Weapon Energy, each weapon above Civillian grade will be placed into one of the six weapon categories. (This should be in line with the weapon’s current name when possible.) The required secondary skill usually parallels the Energy Weapon skill, but can be +/- 2 levels. (It should not cross into a new higher or lower size category.) The description then lists the weapon specialization bonus effect.

If the Energy Weapon skill is read, the weapon cannot be equipped because the Pilot is not skilled enough to mount and power the weapon. If the secondary skill is red, the weapon can be equipped, but it will function as in the base description. If the secondary skill is white when the weapon is equipped (unless it can auto-update, this means a CE style “re-equip it to see the change), the weapon gets one bonus added to its base stats, and functions with the boosted stat.

There are five basic stat boosts:

+MinDm : Bonus that increases minimum weapon damage for the random damage range.

+MaxDm : Bonus that increases the maximum weapon damage for the random damage range.

-Cool : Reduce the cool-down time by 1-3 seconds, allowing the weapon to fire faster.

+Range : Increases the weapon range, usually by one unit per size category.

-Energy : Reduces the energy required to mount the weapon.

(Of course, some new ideas will be discussed further below.)

Each weapon will have only one secondary skill, and provide only one secondary skill bonus. (There may be very rare excepions.)

Each weapon category will only cause one of two bonus, and each weapon category will have a common and uncommon bonus. Because of this, pilots can pick secondary weapon specialization skills based on their personal preferences and combat style. A pilot who prefers a fast assault would start with Autocannon weapons, while a pilot who prefers distance would pick Railgun weapons.

If more bonuses are added, weapon categories could potentially have three possible bonuses, with one common and two rare boosts.

Autocannon Weapon: These weapons are based on self contained cartridges that contain the projectile and propellant or energy. For starship weaponry, the cartridges cycle in a chain between the weapon itself and a matter replicator that recreates contents. A skilled pilot can make most Autocannon weapons fire rapidly (-Cool), while some reduce energy consumption by relying on the cartridge firing mechanism (-Energy).

Beam Weapon: Lasers and phasers, these are stock weapons of any fleet. Advanced skill improves weapon attenuation over distance, improving minimum damage (+MinDm). Some Beam weapons use attenuation and phasing improvements to increase effective range (+Range).

Blaster Weapon: Energy blasters and disruptors, these weapons rely on projections of super-heated ionized plasma or energy. Advanced skill allows most weapons to improve maximum damage (+MaxDm), while some improve minimum damage (+MinDam).

Hybrid Weapon: These unusual weapons combine elements of other basic weapon systems, synergising effects for a greater compounded result. Advanced skill allows most of these weapon systems to function at a much lower energy requirement (-Energy), while some improve energy firing speed (-Cool).

Projectile Weapon: These weapon systems involve firing discrete projectiles of matter or encapsulated energy, generally being self propelling. This can include anything from heavy matter shard launchers to micro missile systems to shield-encapsulated plasma throwers. Advanced skill in most of these weapon systems increases the attack range (+Range), while some are designed to reduce energy consumption (-Energy).

Railgun Weapon: These weapons are a specific category of electromagnetically projected ferromagnetic spheres or bolts that are heated to near-melting by the process. Advanced skill with most of these weapon systems increases the range of the projectile (+Range), while some increase minimum damage (+MinDm).

So, as an example, two weapons with stats based on a Terran Combat Laser Series 2:

Terran Grivoc Systems Railgun

Energy Usage: 650

Minimum Damage: 17

Maximum Damage: 21

Range: 5

Cooldown 6s

Skill Requirements: Medium Energy Weapon Systems Level 8

Secondary Skill Requirements: Railgun Weapon Systems Level 8

Range: 8 (+2)

Terran Dragonroar Disruptor

Energy Usage: 650

Minimum Damage: 17

Maximum Damage: 21

Range: 5

Cooldown 6s

Skill Requirements: Medium Energy Weapon Systems Level 8

Maximum Damage: 27 (+6)

Having specialization in different weapon systems gives two very different tactical advantages to the same weapon.

Using weapon skills in this way would allow for basic weapon use by those who occasionally enter combat, completely consistent with current game play. Those who focus on combat could develop advanced skills in weapon categories that match their style of play, be it rapid punches, long range sniping, consistent damage, devastating blows, or conserving energy for shields or cargo space.

Which leads to even more versatility, and new mechanics.

There are possibilities for new mechanics. The most obvious would be +Accuracy, if accuracy is ever implemented. Some weapons could allow specialization to grant a greater chance to hit.

Then, there is a potential new combat mechanic that would allow for a dramatic diversification of weapons: two-pass attacks with conditionals.

The idea behind this is that one weapon can essentially fire twice. The two shots would have different damage ranges. One of the two shots would also have a logic conditional. The conditionals would be:

IfShield : If the weapon strike inflicts damage to the shields.

IfArmor : If the weapon strike inflicts damage to the armor.

IfHull : if the weapon strike inflicts damage to the hull.

IfChance : A percentage conditional. (IfChance25 would be a 25% chance of happening.)

The first special ability that could be added is Critical Shot (or Overdrive or Overpower). The weapon has a flat percentage chance of doing a critical shot, which is resolved by a successful IfChance conditional allowing the second damage pass to occur. The second damage pass is the “critical damage”. This could be unique per weapon, or for ease of programming a flat 20% or 25% chance of extra damage. The critical damage could again be unique per weapon, with some having a small chance of being devastating, or critical shot damage range could be a standard multiple of base damage. So, if all values are flat, a weapon that does 10-20 damage could have a 25% chance of doing 5-10 damage with each shot, resolved by the game engine as a second damage roll. Alternately, one weapon doing 10-20 damage could have a 50% chance of doing an extra 4-8 damage, while another weapon doing the same damage could have a 5% chance of doing an extra 25-50 damage. Critical Shot damage would be available to certain Weapon System categories, and unlocked as the special effect if the pilot had the appropriate Weapon System skill level.

Another immediate possibility is the addition of a staple category of weapons, crackers and piercers.

Crackers are weapons that, if they strike the ship on a specific layer of defense, automatically do extra damage. With this mechanic, the conditional is on the first pass, which is the “bonus damage” pass. For shield popper weapons, the first damage pass would have the IfShield conditional. If the weapon was striking the target ship’s shields, it would be true, and the first pass would do damage. The second pass would be the standard weapon attack.

Similarly, for an armor cracker weapon, the first damage pass would have the IfArmor conditional, and if true, would do a small damage attack, followed by the standard attack. This represents the weapon’s ability to pierce or neutralize armor. A hull render weapon would work the same way with the IfHull conditional, doing extra damage once the hull is exposed and quickly disposing of enemy ships.

Again, these three abilities would individually be available to specific Weapon Systems categories, and unlocked if the pilot had the appropriate Weapon Systems skill level.

Finally, a staple of weapon categories, though this would require the most work, would be shield piercing and armor piercing weapons.

With these weapons, the first pass would be the standard weapon pass. The second pass would be a much smaller amount of damage. The second pass would have an IfShield conditional if a shield piercer, or IfArmor if an armor piercer. The next part would require some programming finesse, but the second, small damage pass would then bypass shield and affect armor if a shield piercer, or bypass armor and effect hull if armor piercer.

In conclusion on this point, these fundamental changes would make the currently unused weapon skill have value. The changes would add complexity to weapon choice and use, making each weapon much more unique, and combat specialization much more unique to the player. A player could focus on long range shield popping weapons. A player could focus on energy reduction and fly under a giant shield. A player could rely on raw damage, or trust fortune for rare but devastating blows.

This diversification would also easily allow for new weapon categories. These could be level restricted, such as antimatter or dark energy weapons. They could be faction based, with purchase at the certificate stores being locked out until a faction level is acquired. They could also be Unsanctioned skills, only found through Skill Encapsulations in combat loot or through ship hacking.

Yes, there will be more.