Coolant

Oh, the possibilities

Having done some extensive diving into how space works, I've learned that space is hot. Kinda.

I'll spare you all the really boring details, but it's really hard to bleed off heat in a near-total vacuum, and even modern spacecrafts' maneuvering thrusters produce enough heat to necessitate powerful heat sinks. When you extrapolate to FTL travel, powerful engines powered by fusion or better, and weapon fire (kinetic, ballistic, or energy), you'd need something hugely powerful to keep the crew from literally cooking.

This realization prompted me to add coolant system, called MCRS (microdroplet coolant recapture system) in planning out my hypothetical TC. In said hypothetical TC, large ships will take far more than 3 days to make one jump (using hyperspace speed modification outfits). I'm thinking of using a crön based off of these outfits to consume a certain amount of coolant per jump. Every mission that can be accepted from the main spaceport will run a crön disabling coolant consumption for a day (whether or not it's accepted), and a low-weight mission will do the same if the player is not offered a mission. Furthermore, every hyperspace-capable ship will have an outfit that makes the acceptable hyperspace radius larger than the system. Even one unit of coolant will reduce this radius to 0, and the "too near system center" error will be replaced with an "insufficient coolant" message.

Now, the complicated part is coming up. There are two reasons I'm bringing this up; first, I want to know if it's too complicated and I should just forget about it. Second, I'm looking for suggestions on implementation.

Since weapons generate huge amounts of heat, nearly every weapon that does not require ammunition will drain coolant. Some large, slow weapons may consume energy instead since their coolant consumption rate would be negligible. Using burst-fire, coolant-consuming weapons will be tooled to use up one unit per certain number of shots. You will be able to check how much coolant you have in your "extras" tab. I considered a turreted secondary weapon with 360°s of bind spots that would be set to have coolant as an ammo so you could check without bringing up extras, but decided that would get in the way when people were frantically trying to bring up the right secondary. Also, any coolant-consuming secondary would display the same information.

HOWEVER

A few of the most expensive, powerful, and technologically advanced ships will have large arrays of powerful radiators that bleed off the majority of their weapons' heat. These ships will have identical versions of all the weapons, which consume energy (to keep the radiators running) instead of coolant. Furthermore, they will not have the coolant-based hyperspace restrictions.

ALSO

Every military will have several coolant storage systems, with the more advanced militaries using more efficient storage modules. The coolant itself will be weightless and universal to all factions; the only difference will be in the price, mass, and capacity of the storage. To get greater possible range and avoid the problems inherent in the "ModMax" system, each would be an invisible, null weapon with a variable MaxAmmo.

FINALLY

Most weapons that consume coolant (especially the larger ones) will also drain energy in two ways. First, turrets will consume energy at a flat, low, constant rate to keep the tracking online. This will only happen during combat readiness, which will be simulated by a mission that, when aborted, starts a second mission and removes an outfit that links to the ResID 128 wëap, which is null with a reload of 0 and exclusive fire. It will also grant an outfit, dependent on the number of turrets the player owns, that drains energy. Finally, it will start a recurring mission that consumes coolant at a rate again proportional to the mass of the ship. The second mission will reverse all behaviors.

The second energy drain method is similar to a trick Qaanol recently explained. Nearly every primary weapon, when bought, will actually grant two weapons with identical stats EXCEPT that one consumes coolant and one consumes energy. The öutfs available to ships with advanced radiation systems will instead grant two of the energy-consuming weapons. Further, some weapons may only use one or the other (or maybe neither), and all secondary weapons will only use one as this trick does not work with them.

QUESTIONS

I have a few, in fact. First, how do you think it would be best to go about applying this to AI ships, especially in regards to ships the player captures and uses? For those of you that don't know, AI ships ignore the "uses another weapon's ammo" flag. If you have, for example, an AI ship with a raven turret and raven launcher, both need to be given ammunition fields; if you give the turret an ammo of 5 and the launcher an ammo of 500, it will fire the turret 5 times and then only be able to use the launcher. Because of this, I'm leaning towards simply giving them two instances of the energy-consuming version of the weapons, 0 energy recharge, and an inflated energy capacity that is brought back to normal levels for the player (if he/she captures the ship) with an invisible outfit. If captured, cröns will check if the player has a particular captured ship (again, invisible outfit or contribute bit) and replace half of the weapons with their coolant-consuming versions. This would, of course, also require that every purchasable ship have a shipyard version and an AI version.

The second question is this: can anyone see any ways of modifying this system a bit to make it more useful/fun/intuitive or less resource intensive (or a pain in the ass) without sacrificing its unique nature? While I'd take a complicated, tough system that's interesting over a simple but bland one, any suggestions for improvement would be appreciated. In the same vein, are there any holes in my implementation that would keep it from working as intended (or at all)?

Finally, as I asked before, is that WAY too complicated? It's a lot to keep track of and a huge amount of programming, but Nova and the Escape Velocity equation are old. Wonderful, but old. Adding things like extra resource management, budget allocation missions, damage-over-time weapons, a planet that acts as a pay-per-view database etc. are my way of trying to reinvigorate the formula a bit. So the bottom line: will it result in a better experience for the player?

Thanks for taking the time to read all that. I hope I made it clear and at least marginally interesting.

~Archon
:hector_bird:

Edit: Just realized one obvious oversight: if a ship runs out of coolant, its weapons that consume half-coolant half-energy will still be able to fire at half the rate since the energy component would still work. If cröns evaluated constantly, I could solve this, but as it is nothing comes to mind. Of course, it would still be incapable of entering hyperspace.

Actually I just thought of a solution; allow me to bounce it off you if I may.

All coolant-consuming weapons are submunitions. The supermunition has count 0, is invisible flak, and has 0 damage but some ionization depending on the amount of heat produced. Coolant-consuming weapons and their energy-consuming counterparts will be marked as unusable if the ship is ionized. Ships will have minuscule ionization tolerance, increased by their coolant system (this will be a buffer for ionization-inducing weapons they are hit by) and further by the amount of coolant they have on-board. Once the coolant count drops to 0, they will have very low ionization tolerance, and the ionization they built up from their own weapon fire will cause them to ionize and be incapable of firing back. This has the further benefit of making ships that have run out of coolant suffer penalties to maneuverability.

This post has been edited by Archon : 09 January 2010 - 12:41 AM

That's quite an interesting and complex system you've thought up, Archon.

Would it suffice for your purposes to simply refer to "energy" as "coolant"? Then you don't have to explain how your hyperdrives work, just that they generate heat. And all weapons (almost all) can drain fuel, hence produce heat. Now any sort of heat dissipator would function as a fuel scoop.

I know you're trying to introduce a complementary mechanism besides ammo and fuel by which to limit the player, but perhaps the implementation need not be as convoluted as you describe. It might be enough to simply combine energy and coolant together in your narrative, and have them operate through the fuel bar. After all, what is energy but cooling that hasn't happen yet?

True, this doesn't account for extra heat generated by multi-day jumps, but perhaps the point of taking longer in hyperspace is to minimize the area within the PV-loop, thus releasing the same total heat energy per jump. A more-efficient drive could lower the jump time.

Qaanol beat me to it; simply using replacing "energy" with "coolant" would solve all the questions and problems you've outlined while at the same time accomplishing all the ideas you have for coolant; everything generates heat, which requires coolant to dissipate.

I thought for a time of using energy as the coolant resource, but other than adding flavor and a minor degree of function, that doesn't really add much to the gameplay in my opinion. Still though, it's a pretty nifty idea.

While I was typing up the postscript, I actually thought that I may skip having a coolant outfit and simply use ionization as heat. It would eliminate the need for the multiple outfits/weapons and the various behind-the-scenes resource hogs that the coolant system uses, but by subbing each shot from a 0-count ionization-inducing blast, you could simulate overheating. You could even keep things like EMP Torps, and just make the flavor text say that they overheat the target's systems instead of shorting their equipment.

That would allow for the extra resource management, since heat sinks would play a huge role in outfitting your ship, but it would be easier to make and easier to grasp. I would miss the "jumping takes coolant" aspect, but I suppose I can write that away with lore. Too bad there's no "can't jump while ionized" flag I could check.

My last thought on the subject for now, which I had just before I fell asleep (I love theta-delta brainwaves) was this: you could make some incredibly cool weapon glow graphics this way. Ships that can use the microdroplet recapture coolant systems would have a fine mist around their heat sinks, and radiation strips would glow. Further, you could give the weapon glows a long count, simulating a long cooldown time. If you REALLY wanted to go overboard, and simultaneously solve the "why doesn't jumping generate heat?" question, you could put some Babylon-5-esque radiation panels (the big dark solar-panel-looking things) that would be too vulnerable to use in a fire-fight, but would unfold to bleed heat when jumping.

I think I've come up with a possible solution: all ships have really low amounts of energy/coolant. Say, one jump only. However, the fewer days a ship takes in hyperspace, the more energy/coolant the ship can have because the ship isn't in hyperspace for as long, meaning it won't generate as much heat. Also, most (indeed if not all) ships would have energy/coolant regeneration abilities representing heat dissipation. So for ships with no coolant system or really old/low tech systems, could only jump once before having to wait while their engines cool off. This would work for weapons, too.

The more coolant a ship has, or the more advanced the ship's coolant system is, the more heat the ship can take before their systems overheat and need to cool down first. To explain why ammo-using weapons like rockets and missiles don't generate heat, you could simply say that the missile or rocket itself has a heat sink inside its hull, pulling in heat so it doesn't harm the parent ship. Wouldn't that work?

I've added a kind of similar system in HOTS where standard weapons like Laser Cannons and Turbolasers cannot fire while the parent ship is ionized, simply because the ion radiation across the ship's hull prevents safe firing of those weapons. This is because the projectile exiting the weapon is built of energy and would react with the ion radiation causing an explosion. However, ion weapons themselves have ion shielding which not only protects the ship from being ionized by the ion weapons, but also prevents the weapons from being ionized by other ion weapons. Also, I've had any weapon using ammo like rockets, missiles, and chainguns continue to fire while the parent ship is ionized simply because the projectile exiting those weapons is not energy. Does this make sense?

This post has been edited by darthkev : 14 January 2010 - 03:17 PM

That's an interesting idea, but I thought of another solution while I was reading it. It won't work if the player doesn't have a mission slot open, but it doesn't take up a slot either, if that makes any sense.

Make X crons, where X is the range of coolant consumed per jump for all ships minus 1 (so if the quickest take 1 and the longest take 10, range = 9 so X = 8). Make each crön fire if the player has the outfit for the appropriate hypersace time modifier. In essence, you just pair each crön to the corresponding outfit. Then, make each crön, dependent on how much coolant each size of ship should consume, start and abort a mission that takes away 100 units of energy on abort. So a ship that should lose 5 jumps of coolant should run sxxx axxx sxxx axxx sxxx axxx sxxx axxx (1 jump's worth from the actual jump, 4 jump's worth from the mission aborting).

I've never made a mission that drained energy before, so it may be that this method doesn't work from some arcane reason, but it seems reasonable and should probably be worth a shot.

This post has been edited by Archon : 15 January 2010 - 01:24 AM

That should work. And if, for some arcane reason, you decide you only want to have 2 cröns, you can do that too. It'll just require a dummy counter outfit. So the crön fires recursively, and only if you have OutfitThatIncreasesJumpTimeByOneDay. OnStart it Dxxx's that outfit and Gxxx's a counter. So if you have +7 jump days it'll fire 7 times per day, removing all the JumpTime outfits and granting an equal number of counters. Of course it'll also Sxxx Axxx a mission that takes away 100 fuel. Then make a second, nearly-identical crön that just swaps back the outfits, turning N counters into N JumpTime outfits.

Of course you still have to not remove fuel when days pass on a planet. That's easy though. Just have an invisible mission that autostarts when you land anywhere, Gxxx's some other dummy outfit, and the cröns can only fire if that outfit is not present. The mission has a 1-day deadline and Dxxx's that dummy outfit OnAbort/OnFail. Well, that'll work provided you don't DatePostInc when the player's on a planet. If you do, then you'll have to work around that.

And, if you're going to have super-important scenario-required missions foisted on the player, try this: OnStart the chär, Sxxx some dummy mission that'll never succeed, fail, or abort. (If the player ejects it should be restarted. Maybe it's available invisibly everywhere from the main spaceport with 100% odds, so if it ever isn't active, it becomes active right away.) The only point of this mission is that when you want to force-start some other mission, you Axxx Syyy to make sure the player doesn't impinge on the limit of 16 concurrent active missions. Then when you Ayyy just Sxxx again so the placeholder mission works.

This post has been edited by Qaanol : 15 January 2010 - 01:57 AM

QUOTE (Qaanol @ Jan 15 2010, 12:55 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

And, if you're going to have super-important scenario-required missions foisted on the player, try this: OnStart the chär, Sxxx some dummy mission that'll never succeed, fail, or abort. (If the player ejects it should be restarted. Maybe it's available invisibly everywhere from the main spaceport with 100% odds, so if it ever isn't active, it becomes active right away.) The only point of this mission is that when you want to force-start some other mission, you Axxx Syyy to make sure the player doesn't impinge on the limit of 16 concurrent active missions. Then when you Ayyy just Sxxx again so the placeholder mission works.

❤

So my parenthetical idea isn't very good. The placeholder mission shouldn't start on its own, it should only start when the character is started or the player ejects (I think OnPurchase shïp 128 is evaluated then. Don't quote me on that though.)

You two are geniuses, sheer geniuses. How do you come up with this stuff?! It's absolutely amazing.

Still, it's a little too complicated for me to try and code into my own TC myself, so I'll go with my simplified version of limited jumps. That is, of course, assuming it's ok with Archon I use his idea and also assuming I decide to put it together. As it stands, I'm not sure I'll have enough outfits left. I've got so many weapons and other outfits, I may have to nix that part altogether.

I have no problem with you using the idea, but if you're low on outfit resources, I suggest you look at alternatives. Depending on how much you want to implement, you could easily be looking at 20+ outfits tacked on there. My advice would be add a less resource intensive part of the structure, then play around with it, decide if you like it and its worth it, then move on to the next aspect.

Also, in my experience with Anathema, there are a few times when you'll find another cool effect that you want to add with outfits. Not having enough room, or needing to cut out what you already have (I ended up cutting probably ~20 outfits that Nova doesn't use, like the Solar Lance öutf), is incredibly frustrating when you have everything fine-tuned to perfection.

Thanks Archon, I'll keep a few brain cells on the lookout for an alternate method. I've already got multi-ammo-using ordnance launchers, weapons that come with different settings, i.e. multiple weapons in one outfit (yes, I figured out a way to do that), launch bays that can launch any number of different craft (I figured that out, too), and finally around 170 weapons as is with more maybe on the way. I've already got more ship classes than stock EVN. All said and done, I've got a tough slog ahead of me.

About this hypothetical TC, Archon, is it really hypothetical or is it something you might be working on after Anathema? Speaking of Anathema, how is that going?

Multiple wëaps linked to the same öutf? And it works?

Would you mind divulging? I'm sure plenty of folks would be interested in hearing how you did that, since the only way I know of is by linking multiple öutfs together.

Anathema's beta work has really slowed down; I'll be sending out a few more beta invites this weekend to see if we can move things along a bit.

As for the hypothetical TC, there's a framework: one government's systems (most don't have much space, maybe 8-12 inhabited systems max), most military ships, and most of the more basic outfits and weapons, and one incomplete ship graphic (my first in Lighwave). And then hours worth of work storyboarding that I lost when my old computer bit the dust. 😞 I've just been calling it that because it didn't have a name until three days ago, but now it's officially entitled Sins of the Brothers.

Ok, I made multi-weapon outfits by linking them, as you said. One outfit has one weapon, the rest of the weapons have invisible outfits that are mounted when the player buys the visible outfit.

But what of the ships mounting these weapons but only using one of them? Simple. They only mount one of the weapons and give the player the rest of them when the player buys one or captures on for their own. I haven't tested it yet, but I will be testing it once I've built more ships to test it on.

It's the same thing with the multi-bays.

Oh, sorry I must have misunderstood you; I thought you meant that you had made one outfit link to multiple weapons, instead of linking multiple outfits together each with one wëap.

Ah. That would require hacking EVN's code, something that is beyond my skill set and illegal regardless.

Hence the incredible excitement. 😄

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