SPEC drive changes

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pincushionman
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SPEC drive changes

Post by pincushionman »

I was playing with the CVS version as of a couple of weeks ago, and while in general, I thought SPEC was really cool, there were some aspects of it that I consider flaws. Here is what I found and how I suggest we deal with it (stuff in quotes is the fiction I pulled from the air to justify the change):

1) Turned on SPEC and BAM! I'm going 32x max speed. Turn it off and BAM! I'm going normal. Not very immersive.

2) I whipped my ship around and turned on SPEC, and all of a sudden I was flying really fast backwards! Also, in SPEC I whipped the ship around and the star streaks were going sideways, then backwards as I accelerated through zero speed, as if SPEC didn't care which direction I was actually flying. Quite disturbing.

Here are the suggestions I would add to the SPEC system:

1) Your speed doesn't just instantly go from one to the other. It will spool up into or down from the multiplier value; slow at first, then real darn quick, but visually noticeable. Also, some kind of visual effect when SPEC engages would be nice. If you could get the view of space ahead to ripple, that would be spectacular.

2) SPEC should only engage when it can help you get where you want to go faster. Not when I'm going backwards. So you could bring SPEC to "standby mode" and it would not fully engage until two conditions are met:

a) your throttle controls are set to FULL SPEED FORWARD.
b) your ACTUAL VELOCITY VECTOR is at least 75% of your ship's maximum speed, and is oriented within 5 degrees (or whatever) of your ship's absolute orientation (as indicated by your crosshair). If your thrusters are damaged, better hope you have an afterburner.

Once you're in full-blown SPEC, the following things happen:

3) Weapon systems are disabled. Let's just say this is to prevent "bad things of significant consequence" from happening.

4) All your energy shields drop to zero except those protecting your bow. C'mon, if you're traveling faster than everything else, nothing's gonna hit you in the butt.

5) your maximum turn rate is significantly reduced, and to some extent, your angular acceleration is as well. This is partly because your computer reduces these values to help maintain conditions a) and b) for SPEC flight, but it is "partially unavoidable since you are now turning not only your ship, but also a significant spatial distortion." The directional condition is significantly widened once SPEC is actually engaged, but if you still manage to turn your ship beyond the directional limitation, you drop out of SPEC into standby until the two conditions are reestablished.

6) Your forward acceleration increases somewhat (not a necessity, but it would make things a lot nicer when turning). "A positive by-product of the spatial compression effect." Also, your throttle setting shall remain at full (you will acclerate to full speed if were not there already), to prevent "bad things of significant consequence" from happening.

I believe these suggestions would make engaging SPEC a lot more believeable and immersive, would give SPEC flight a different "feel" than normal realpace flight, and the restrictions on weaponry, turn rates, and acceleration would hamper SPEC's tactical use, hopefully eliminating some of these so-called SPEC slides the AI apparently does.

The only suggestions I think you NEED to take are the visual effect for engaging SPEC, the conditions for full throttle and velocity/orientation constraints for engaging/maintaining SPEC. The rest are just effects that I think would be nice to have.

(D@$^, I wrote a lot there!)
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jackS
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Re: SPEC drive changes

Post by jackS »

pincushionman wrote:I
1) Turned on SPEC and BAM! I'm going 32x max speed. Turn it off and BAM! I'm going normal. Not very immersive.

there is a ramp up and ramp down time. It's currently set quite low it can be configured with the variable
warpramptime in the physics section of the config file. Give a definition in seconds. Initial complaints about overshooting caused the ramping to be set low. See if you can come up with a good value (perhaps asymmetric) for both rampup and rampdown in your own experimentations (they're currently both forced to be the same time)

2) I whipped my ship around and turned on SPEC, and all of a sudden I was flying really fast backwards! Also, in SPEC I whipped the ship around and the star streaks were going sideways, then backwards as I accelerated through zero speed, as if SPEC didn't care which direction I was actually flying. Quite disturbing.

Here are the suggestions I would add to the SPEC system:

1) Your speed doesn't just instantly go from one to the other. It will spool up into or down from the multiplier value; slow at first, then real darn quick, but visually noticeable. Also, some kind of visual effect when SPEC engages would be nice. If you could get the view of space ahead to ripple, that would be spectacular.


as for the ramping, see above. As for visual effects - sounds like a good idea, but graphical additions aren't my forte.

2) SPEC should only engage when it can help you get where you want to go faster. Not when I'm going backwards. So you could bring SPEC to "standby mode" and it would not fully engage until two conditions are met:

a) your throttle controls are set to FULL SPEED FORWARD.
b) your ACTUAL VELOCITY VECTOR is at least 75% of your ship's maximum speed, and is oriented within 5 degrees (or whatever) of your ship's absolute orientation (as indicated by your crosshair). If your thrusters are damaged, better hope you have an afterburner.

not convinced on thefull speed forward issue. but doing a vector check of some sort should be doable

Once you're in full-blown SPEC, the following things happen:

3) Weapon systems are disabled. Let's just say this is to prevent "bad things of significant consequence" from happening.



Already implemented in CVS

4) All your energy shields drop to zero except those protecting your bow. C'mon, if you're traveling faster than everything else, nothing's gonna hit you in the butt.


All your shields should currently be dropping. If they aren't (in your experiences with the current CVS) please report this as a bug.

5) your maximum turn rate is significantly reduced, and to some extent, your angular acceleration is as well. This is partly because your computer reduces these values to help maintain conditions a) and b) for SPEC flight, but it is "partially unavoidable since you are now turning not only your ship, but also a significant spatial distortion." The directional condition is significantly widened once SPEC is actually engaged, but if you still manage to turn your ship beyond the directional limitation, you drop out of SPEC into standby until the two conditions are reestablished.


I'll play with it, but implementation details, if implemented, will likely vary.

6) Your forward acceleration increases somewhat (not a necessity, but it would make things a lot nicer when turning). "A positive by-product of the spatial compression effect." Also, your throttle setting shall remain at full (you will acclerate to full speed if were not there already), to prevent "bad things of significant consequence" from happening.

I believe these suggestions would make engaging SPEC a lot more believeable and immersive, would give SPEC flight a different "feel" than normal realpace flight, and the restrictions on weaponry, turn rates, and acceleration would hamper SPEC's tactical use, hopefully eliminating some of these so-called SPEC slides the AI apparently does.

The only suggestions I think you NEED to take are the visual effect for engaging SPEC, the conditions for full throttle and velocity/orientation constraints for engaging/maintaining SPEC. The rest are just effects that I think would be nice to have.

(D@$^, I wrote a lot there!)
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Post by pincushionman »

Thanks for the info. I must play around with it some more. I'll try to find an acceptable ramp value set -- but don't expect it anytime soon. And I can see where asymmetric would be quite desirable - near-instantaneous slowdown would be nice, and would call for violent shaking of the ship.

Thanks for the info on the weapons. When I was being chased by some Luddites (I think) I kept hearing gunfire, and I heard the same sound when I pulled the triggerI guess I'll have to upgrade to the current CVS.

The current shield decay works fine for me -- what I meant is since you're travelling really fast forward, nothing can hit you from the sides or behind, so all the energy used to maintain those shields could be redirected to fortify or augment your forward shields. But if we still have it so you can slide around in SPEC, ignore this 'cause it would be bad.

As for the full velocity check and velocity/orientation check, here's my thinking: SPEC is a device used to move long distances in a short amount of time. Usually a pilot points his ship in the direction he intends to go, and then acclelrates until he is heading in that direction. Thus we can usually assume that the ship's orientation is the "right way" and any other direction is the "wrong way." There's generally no reason for a pilot to want to increase his speed in any direction other than "the right way" -- increasing his speed backwards would only take him farther away from his intended destination, even if just a little.

Kinda along the lines of the gearshift in your car - You don't put it into 4th gear from a dead stop, and you slow down and downshift into a tight turn. In theory, you could do it, but it's not the best use of resources (in a car, it's also going to damage your drivetrain, but that's n/a here).
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Post by hurleybird »

Besides what pincussion-man wrote I think a few restrictions need to be placed on SPEC. IMO it would be cool to have SPEC drive upgrades which would limit these restrictions.

A. There is a huge balance issue with making lightning fast gettaways from bad situations, and there is no way to stop you. I suggest the followings restrictions

1. A charge-up time needed to engage the SPEC drive is vital. Maybe 10 secounds on low end drives.

2. You should not be able to engage SPEC unless your below a certain speed, say 100 VS speed units, If you try to engage spec at a higher speed, then you would have to wait while the computer lowers your speed.

3. Perhaps optionally (or only on lower end SPEC drives) Have your sheilds lowered during the charge-up time.

Other than that I think the following few ideas would be nice to implement:

1. An auto-orient button. It can be hard to get distant or small objects dead on in your sights, and trying to reach such an object using the SPEC drive is frustrating, an auto-orient button would kill that problem.

2. Automatically stop spec a certain distance from different objects. For example, I want to use spec to intercept a wing of fighters. I target a fighter, I press auto-orient, I engage SPEC, and then It automatically takes me out when Im within a certain distance from the fighter. You would stop different distances away from different objects (determined by mass?) so you would come out of spec further away from a mining base than if you were hunting down a fighter.

3. Some sort of Anti-spec device(s), which can be purchased as an upgrade.
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Post by dandandaman »

hmm.......I can't say I care for the vector limitation that pincushionman wants. If I turn on the spec drive, I *want* it to turn on ... and there is no way in the world I want my computer stopping me because it doesn't think I'm pointed in the right direction.

If I'm being chased by a gang of Aelons I *don't care* that my bow isn't pointed in the "Right Way", the only thing the restiction will do is get me killed ;-) Of course, this is assuming there is no charge time. If there was, the vector restriction would still be a bad thing.....

In a battle, I don't know exactly which direction my "absolute velocity" is. All I know is whether I'm getting closer or further from my attackers. In a battle I won't have time to care which way my "absolute velocity" is, and shouldn't. I'll be busy making sure my attackers don't have beam locks on me (in which case I would disengage the spec charge up and manouver).

In space, "absolute velocity" does't actually exist! The only reason a speed indicator exists is because most things move slowly compared to the suns in these systems, and so it's a good reference to give the game a classic space sim look. To have any actual restictions placed on your ability to get from a to b because of your "absolute velocity" though is I think a big mistake, and I will do my best to make sure that something like that *never* becomes the default behaviour.

That said I'm not opposed to different ramp up/ramp down times, and the idea of a charge time seems like a decent idea (would probably be proportional to the jump delay variable we already have?). As for the minimum throttle limitation? See above.

Anti spec beam? Sounds cool :-) Graphical display? Cool :-) Auto-orient and Auto-stop? Sounds like you want a high speed autopilot hurley ;-) I could live with that ;-)

Well, that's my spamming for the day ... I think I covered all the ideas :-) Just wanted to have my say :-)

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Post by jackS »

hurleybird wrote:A. There is a huge balance issue with making lightning fast gettaways from bad situations, and there is no way to stop you.


Actually, there is a way to stop you, or, at least to make your getaway truly miserable - if the enemy bothers to pursue you, you'll notice that your multiplier, due to interference from the other ship's SPEC drive, won't ever get that high. Admittedly, I haven't bothered to try running away for a few weeks, so I don't know to what extent various tweaks may have impeded the AI's interest and capability to pursue you.
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Post by hurleybird »

jackS wrote:
hurleybird wrote:A. There is a huge balance issue with making lightning fast gettaways from bad situations, and there is no way to stop you.


Actually, there is a way to stop you, or, at least to make your getaway truly miserable - if the enemy bothers to pursue you, you'll notice that your multiplier, due to interference from the other ship's SPEC drive, won't ever get that high. Admittedly, I haven't bothered to try running away for a few weeks, so I don't know to what extent various tweaks may have impeded the AI's interest and capability to pursue you.


The AI seems to be a lot better than me at using spec. It can like stop on a dime and attack you, and then jump away really well. Which is one reason I want auto-stop to balance it out... or just balance the AI I guess.

However, the ability to disrupt another fighters SPEC drive by using your SPEC drive to pursue them is uber-cool 8)
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Post by dandandaman »

jackS wrote:Admittedly, I haven't bothered to try running away for a few weeks, so I don't know to what extent various tweaks may have impeded the AI's interest and capability to pursue you.


They still pursue quite well :-) But they don't both reciprocating if you turn off your speed cap in addition to spec, they wait until you slow down and simply catch up with you ;-)

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Post by pincushionman »

dandandaman wrote:...In space, "absolute velocity" does't actually exist!...

True, true...But we have a speed cap, do we not? I didn't intend the speed/direction conditions to be "caused by the phisics of the compression," but to be similar limitations imposed by your flight computer to prevent "useless" SPEC use. So I suppose "absolute" really wasn't an accurate word to use. I meant the default system frame of reference (without calibrating speed to a targeted object).

As for SPECing in the situations you mentioned, I think it would be pretty reasonable to use the Shelton slide key to override your computer and force your drives to SPEC up.
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Post by FlyByWire »

C'mon, if you're traveling faster than everything else, nothing's gonna hit you in the butt.


That's not quite true. A long-range beam could nail you - beams are supposedly near infinite speed. But you'de easily outrun everything else shot at you, especially missiles.

As for the SPEC's instant acceleration, perhaps a good idea is a ramped acceleration/deceleration relating to the ship's mass + available thrust. Ergo, light fighters and fast interceptors SPEC accelerate and brake much quicker than heavy fighters, which SPEC much quicker than bombers, which SPEC much quicker than corvettes, which SPEC much quicker than cruisers... You get the idea.
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Post by zaydana »

Great ideas so far... my main problem is with the idea of only having front shields, tho. Partly because of the beam speeds mentioned above, and partly because there is nothing preventing really rich captains equipping really large missiles with really fast SPEC drives. It just wouldn't be a good idea.

Also, from the descriptions I have heard of a SPEC field, everything inside them moves faster. That would probably mean that if a missile was to get close enough to a SPEC field to feel it's effect, it would be moving so fast that it would basically negate any effect of an EMP? Or would this be explain-awayable? If it is the case, there is a way to save energy.
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Post by Silverain »

1. An auto-orient button. It can be hard to get distant or small objects dead on in your sights, and trying to reach such an object using the SPEC drive is frustrating, an auto-orient button would kill that problem.


<thought crime>

Currently, a and A both activate SPEC drive. How about a activates SPEC drive as it currently is, A (capitalised) activates SPEC and auto-control to arrive at target.

So, could use A to approach a planet/base/target without doing the manual work yourself, or, use a and retain full control.
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Post by pincushionman »

I see your points with the beams and fast fighters and such. But our ship's computer "knows" when we are in combat, right? Maybe the shields would drop to cover front only when you are simply flying form point A to B, but if you were taking fire when you activated the system, it would try to keep all your shields up to (literally) cover your @$$.

Also, (I suppose this is probably better in the Documenting... forum, but we're already talking about it here) as it is implemented now, does our SPEC system affect only the ship using the drive, or does it speed up nearby objects as well (I infer from the fiction that it does)? i.e. if I have a wingman really close to me, can I tow him along in my SPEC field without him even activating it?

Also, is the SPEC effect spherical, uniform in all directions, or is it a directional "tunnel" effect? This might make a difference as we get into nit-picking the very-specifics of how it affects gameplay.
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Post by eudial »

More then once have i disengaged spec drive too late only to smash straight into whatever i'm trying to dock, if i don't blow to smithereens whatever i docked with becomes really pissed off and starts to fire upon me. WIth 10% armor and 2% shields left (high-speed crashes really messes up your defence ;) that's kinda tough to survive - especially if it's a clydesdale or a starfortress or something like that.
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Post by FlyByWire »

eudial wrote:More then once have i disengaged spec drive too late only to smash straight into whatever i'm trying to dock, if i don't blow to smithereens whatever i docked with becomes really pissed off and starts to fire upon me. WIth 10% armor and 2% shields left (high-speed crashes really messes up your defence ;) that's kinda tough to survive - especially if it's a clydesdale or a starfortress or something like that.


You're more or less in luck if you accidently ram a Kahan, as it doesn't have any gun placements in the rear where it's docking clamp is. Of course it can turn about pretty darn quick for a cruiser, and by then you better be out of the neiborhood before it lets it's side turret banks have a crack at you.

On that note, DO NOT underestimate the Kahan's firepower! I was in Cephid 17A during an Aera blocade of the system. The Aera had set up a couple of mining bases, a research center, and a factory. Fortunately I was flying a well loaded and cloaked Pacifier, and was just passing through on my way to kill a few pirates. Well the klik wanted 17A back, and had sent in a couple of kahans to clean up the neiborhood, which they did with frightening effectiveness - even managing to beat the cr@p out of a vitik. I stuck around and watched from a safe distance. Man, that was one awesome fight...
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Re: SPEC drive changes

Post by Ari Rahikkala »

I don't think SPEC should really be made completely useless in dogfights. Maybe it should just be made a bit more disadvantageous, say, so that it drains a lot of energy or uses up some shields immediately. The AI should, of course, be tuned accordingly. It would make a great tactical tool for those situations when you'd really appreciate going pi^3 times faster to dodge a barrage of missiles, to get behind an enemy ship (preferably so that your weapons would be facing that ship - this, of course, means that the difference between the direction of your motion vector and the orientation of your ship should have no effect on SPEC) or something else devious. Add a spiffy visual effect, and using the SPEC drive in battles would be the coolest thing ever.
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Post by dandandaman »

pincushionman wrote:but to be similar limitations imposed by your flight computer to prevent "useless" SPEC use.


but what is useless? I use that technique in battles all the time .... it's actually really effective and you can use it as good as the ai if you practice a bit :-)

Why is it not practical just to wait until you are going in the direction you want to go? Is this not how you drive a car (wait until you are going fast in third before changing to fourth?) Why can't you do this with spec? (I can, but maybe I'm picking up on some queue that you're not?)

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Post by pincushionman »

I can. But I also prefer to drive cars with automatic transmissions, which shift into high gear by themselves. Truth be told, I'm also not a big fan of sliding around at all, which is why I thought up these proposed changes.
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Post by dandandaman »

pincushionman wrote:I can. But I also prefer to drive cars with automatic transmissions, which shift into high gear by themselves. Truth be told, I'm also not a big fan of sliding around at all, which is why I thought up these proposed changes.


There's our difference then :-) I like the control to be able to do tricky manouvers, you just want a basic arcady type experience :-)

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Post by pincushionman »

In general, yes. But I can appreciate the usefulness of sliding around in battle for tactical advantage, as well.

The other main difference between you and me (in terms of this thread) is that you are discussing SPEC for tactical purposes. I'll admit I didn't do a very good job of explaining, but while I did mention changing battle effects to some extent, the main intent of my suggestions was meant to be directed at casual point-a-to-point-b flying. Y'all can do whatever you want with SPEC in battle -- All's fair in love and war, right?
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Post by dandandaman »

pincushionman wrote:the main intent of my suggestions was meant to be directed at casual point-a-to-point-b flying. Y'all can do whatever you want with SPEC in battle -- All's fair in love and war, right?


yeah :-) My point was that changing it for casual point to point would negatively affect stategic use :-) You need quicker access for tactical use, so maybe have a toggle for the casual use as a different combination? SHIFT-A ? Anywya, doesn't really matter now that I know you're not advocating getting rid of the current mode completely :-)

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Post by peteyg »

You know, the only reason that the SPEC drive doesn't always take you where you're pointed is because your ship isn't traveling in that direction.

So boosting ship thurst/acceleration would alleviate this problem, no? Perhaps this isn't a problem with the SPEC drive, but a problem with how much thrust ships have to correct their course?
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Post by dandandaman »

peteyg wrote:So boosting ship thurst/acceleration would alleviate this problem, no?


yes :-) but only if the extreme arcade-ists get their way .... any other outcome will still leave a bit of sliding occuring (personally I like the original feel the fighters in VS have got...but that's an argument for the other thread ;-) )

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Post by pincushionman »

Perhaps we don't even have to make it a user toggle -- when you enter battle, your ship's systems drop all efficiency-related SPEC activation limits. How does your computer know? I don't know. How does it know to start blasting combat music through the cockpit speakers?
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Post by novalogic »

I love the arguments spawned by the SPEC drive system, just LOVE EM.

Okay, now that I've got that out of my system, on the issues... in no order...

Sliding:
SPEC Compresses space. It doesn’t care what direction your going, the SPEC generator simply applies whatever physics needed to do it's job, and dose it. Thus if your ship is heading 180 degrees, and you are bearing 90, you'll have the effect of sliding.

Turning in SPEC:
At current, almost worthless except for minor changes to get you back on track. You aren’t going to pull an effective 180 while in SPEC, as your ships inertia will continue you carry you in compressed space along your course, and your ships thrusters just aren’t going to be powerful enough, in any ship, to get you around before your almost a whole lightsecond away from the location where you first started the turn in the fastest turning fighter.

Auto Shutdown of SPEC around fighters:
Silly. There is no reason for a SPEC Generator, and even LESS of a reason for a programmer of a military fighter craft to program a computer to shut down a SPEC Generator around another craft, in perhaps a hostile situation. Last time I checked, the Afterburners works on F16's in Dogfights (Yes, I know, I know, the "afterburners" work just fine). The argument could be made that perhaps the SPEC generator could "carry" another craft into a wake of some sort as a craft in compressed space passes by... However I wouldn't go so far as to say that the drive should automatically shut down near another craft...UNLESS that craft is equipped with an Interdictor Generator which forces craft in Compressed Space back into normal space, then, spec should disengage, and be forced off line for the said range of that Interdictor Generator. Something like that would have to be housed in a larger craft, I'd vote mainly Capital ships, or something along the size of the Ox.

Full Speed Forward to turn on SPEC:
Nahhhhhhhhhhhhh
SPEC compresses space. If you want to sit there, totally still, in a huge ship, which would likely be structurally weak due to being stretched over a larger area of space then it should be, then that's your choice.

You can even control how fast you go to planets in SPEC by only setting your main thrusters to 50, or 100, or go full speed "1800 for me".

People whine and complain about shooting lightminutes past planets they want to stop at...

Hey! Set your speed to 50, and don't go so damn fast, my 350HP Thunderbird doesn’t just have an On/Off switch thank god, otherwise I'd miss the Taco Bell by miles every time!

Weapons getting you in SPEC:
That’s the breaks. If someone happens to have a beam weapon that CAN hit you, IMHO, it should toast your happy butt...

Why?

Simple.

Your ship, while in spec, is in compressed space, Right? That would stand to reason that to normal space, your ship should be expanded, no? Otherwise, you aren’t really in normal compressed space, you would be in another level of space, which you could bend around you, and keep your normal size.

Now, If for example, you are indeed in normal compressed space, and your ship would be expanded pi^3, your physical structure shouldn't be able to withstand much, since it's already been pulled across a large chunk of space, thus a beam hitting you should bust your hull like a hammer hitting an egg shell...

Unless, you are in a sub form of compressed space, and maintain your normal size and structure, then, of course, a beam weapon breaking the compressed space field that SPEC forms would cause a catastrophic breakdown of the space-time continuum, and form a singularity at that point with the compressed material of your ship and suck the whole system in upon it's self causing a reverse of the big bang, thus ending the whole VS universe.... Man, that would suck....

--thomas
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