I posted this list a while ago, but when I went to link to it from my signature, I noticed that the old forum archives seem to have been purged an my post along with them. Fortunately, they lived on in my Stickies. ^_^
Anyways, this is a list of the Nova engine's interesting, potentially useful or fun eccentricities. Unfortunately, many aren't fun; they're just things to keep in mind when doing fun things. I haven't done thorough testing on all of them, so feel free to post corrections or addenda.
Weapons with count of 0 won't produce a submunition
This goes in that last category of "not actually fun." But it's good to keep in mind, and I suppose maybe it could have a use. It means that if you want a short-lived blast that produces some effect in addition to a weapon firing, it has to stick around for at least 1 frame. (I found this bug when I was trying to get weapons in Shadows of Terra to produce heat by having a small blast radius invisible shot that would produce ionization for each weapon, after which it would sub into the actual weapon blast.)
Another "not actually fun" one. Nova's AI ships handle untargetable ships... differently that you'd expect. While the AI will never fire any sort of turret at such ships (beam, front/rear quad, full, or anything in between), it can still fire guided weapons, and these weapons will lock on normally. For that reason, any ship that's supposed to be untargetable should be given its own government alignment, and that government should have a high enough inherent jamming to jam all missiles. Although then you run into the problem of AI ships wasting their missiles. Alternately, you could make all missiles submunition from a turret, but that may or may not be worthwhile just to address this issue.
- The AI does get limited use out of cloak scanners, but a scanner that allows the ship to target otherwise-untargetable ships will not change which weapons the AI will fire (so it still won't fire turrets, but will fire guided weapons).
If a ship is marked as planet-type will usually do nothing. They'll just drift wherever they're launched. This kind of sucks, because if it weren't the case, you could make fighters (or squadrons) that could only be hit by PD weapons, which makes sense in a way. A capital ship's static mounts aren't going to be able to do anything against something agile.
If you launch fighters that have <100 max energy and then jump before calling them back, those fighters will be left behind. While this is an impediment, it can actually be quite a fun one. Just make sure you say something in the outfit description.
Escorts (and presumably fighters) with the AI behavior "cloaks while flying" and a cloaking device will stay under cloak while in formation, assuming they have energy and shields. Interestingly, if a cloaking device drains shields, AI will not engage the cloak until their shields are online, even though a human player can engage them even without shields so long as they have energy.
- You cannot tab-target your own cloaked escorts. However, you can click-target them.
"Immune to PD"
I don't know what other editors call this flag, but Mission Computer has a flag for guided projectiles called "Immune to PD." This title isn't really accurate. What the flag means is that point defense weapons won't fire at the projectile. It doesn't mean that point defense weapons won't harm the projectile. This means any such weapon can be shot down if other missiles/fighters are nearby and the "immune" weapon gets hit by the crossfire. Therefore, any weapon marked as immune to PD should be given enough durability that it won't be shot down by accident.
Human Player and Cloaking
If a ship has the behavior "cloak while entering hyperspace," it will also allow the player to cloak while entering hyperspace. While that seems obvious, I bring this up because that is flagged as an AI behavior, and is one of the few (only?) that also affects the way the ship behaves if under the player's control.
- However, you must still decloak to use hypergates.
AI and Turrets
The AI will never fire a turrets that have front blind spots.
Planet-type Weapons and Ships
Not only will planet-type weapons not hit non-planet-type ships (and vice versa), the AI won't even fire a weapon of the wrong type at another ship.
- However, the AI will fire planet-type beams at planet-type ships, but it won't hit. As far as I can tell, a beam that's set to planet-type has no collision objects.
If Nova runs the bit hXXX (change ship type), and the ship it's changed to has more than the max number of any outfit, the number of that outfit will be reduced to the max number. So if you run hXXX and switch to a Heraan Abomination, which has 4 (or is it 5?) Radar Missile Launchers, the player will have 2 removed immediately.
- Also, hXXX will give fighter bays, but it will not give fighters. To get around this, just run gXXX to give the right number and type of fighters.
- Draws Ammunition from X and the Ship Information Screen
If a ship comes with a weapon that is marked to draw ammunition from another weapon, and the ammunition for that weapon is not mass 0, the shipyard's ship information will display the available mass for that ship too high by an amount equal to the mass that amount of ammunition would take up. So if a ship comes with a weapon that takes up 50 tons, and it's marked to draw ammunition from another weapon, and the ammunition that comes on the ship takes up 10 tons, the shipyard screen will tell you that the ship has 10 more tons available than it really has.
- I hope this helps someone. Took me bloody forever to figure it out.
- Draws Ammunition from X and Max Ammunition
If you make a weapon that has a max ammunition field (like fighter bays – you can have X number of ammunition per every Y launchers you have), you run into problems if you have a weapon that draws ammunition from another weapon. You can get around this by giving outfit for the weapon that draws ammunition from another weapon a "modify max" field as well.
- I'm not 100% on this one, but I believe I've gotten it to work.
AI Weapon Range Calculations and Submunitions
ATMOS did a wonderful job of getting the Nova AI to accurately judge the range of weapons, even taking submunitions into account. Unfortunately, it seems one thing was overlooked. If a weapon is given the attribute "submunitions fail when shot expires," the AI will calculate weapon range as if the shot will submunition. This means that they will start firing the weapon from too far away, since the shot duds before they expect it to by a distance equal to the range of whatever the submunition is. Be careful when giving this attribute to weapons the AI will use; if you make it take a lot of energy or ammunition, they may deplete themselves when they're still too far away to do anything.
Prox Safety and Asteroids
Prox Safety means that a weapon won't be able to collide with anything until X frames have passed. However, a weapon that hasn't hit the end of its prox safety will still collide with asteroids.
Display Weight <0
Stock Nova uses display weight of 0-100 (I think), but you can go outside this range. However, if an outfit has a display weight less than zero, it will show up in the "Extras" panel as "and ."
Count/Reload/Burst on Exclusive-Fire Beams
Exclusive Fire doesn't really mean "when this weapon is firing, no other weapons can fire." What it means is "when this weapon is firing, or when its reload is cycling , no other weapons can fire." This can be used to great effect with exclusive-fire beams. If you give such a weapon, say, reload 60, count 120, on frame 61 since firing the beam, you can start using other weapons again. But you still have 59 more frames of the beam that's supposedly keeping your other weapons from firing. Using burst fire can let you further disintegrate the length and reload time of the beam from how long it turns off your other weapons.