A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

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A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby Pandora » Tue Mar 25, 2014 3:46 pm

Any missile doctrine will have to at some point deal with the enemy point defense. Be it counter missiles, or protective projectiles/lasers in one way or another enemy vessels will be attempting to stop you from hitting them with missiles. I suspect NA will be no different. If you fire a volley of missiles at an enemy, they will engage the missiles with their defenses as well as return fire at you. HOW this is done, however, is where things can get a bit sticky. To put it simply there is a fine balancing act between too good of missiles, and too good of point defense. And the biggest reason this is an issue is not, in fact, how it harms missiles but instead how it harms PROJECTILE weapons. Cannons, in many ways, are similar to a missile launcher. Both fire a physical projectile, which is intended to hit a target. A bullet is fired at its maximum speed, flies until it hits its target and stops or misses and keeps going. A missile, however, has an engine. Depending on how realistic things are, this gives it ENORMOUS range (surprising, the more realism the more range. I can write a bit on that if anyone cares.) If the engine runs out of fuel it becomes a big, potentially explosive bullet. Thus the chief difference comes down to that period when the missile can accelerate and turn.
That phase will generally, in an even slightly realistic scenario, have it using active sensors to detect the location and vector of its target. This gives point defenses a potential way to engage, by using that active sensor trace to track incoming missiles and in turn engage them with counter missiles or antimissile turrets. Unfortunately, there are several reasons this is not the best way to do it. I can think of multiple ways, even in the Novus universe, that a fire control loop can be shortened enough that a ship can use its on board active sensors to track and update missile targeting, denying antimissile defenses valuable time to engage. The second, more reliable and honestly most realistic, is that ships maintain a lidar envelope around them. Multiple redundant lidar systems constantly sweep near space, out to a range of up to tens of light seconds or even a light minute, detecting incoming projectiles and engaging them.
This is the significant issue. The latter system, which would be built into civilian ships as well as military, is merely an enhanced asteroid/space hazard detection system. This is not unrealistic even by contemporary standards! (The range is, but there's a god damn faster then light engine. Something we could figure out how to do now is not unrealistic. I can go into more on this topic, as well, if anyone's interested.) These same enhancements to a system that is unreasonable NOT to include on a space ship, not only catch missiles but also projectiles like bullets. Thus a laser defense or autocannon/flak cannon missile defense system will also, effectively, be a anti-BULLET defense as well. This as you can imagine could cause significant balance issues.

So why does this matter? Aren't I just QQing before missiles or missile defenses are implemented, about something that might not even be a problem? To put it simply, because there is a very easy fix to this. As much as I would personally love Novus to see battles ranging across multiple planetary orbits, with huge shoals of missiles flying into the enemy fleets as you deal with the similarly massive salve fired at you, I suspect the devs don't want that to become what this game is (as fun as I think it could be! Give it a chance devs, ok? Maybe a special event server for that?) Because they seem to want all weapons to be able to fill similar roles equally well, they have to come up with some way to reign in what could be the de-balancing force of the missile. The easiest way is to make point defense built into every hull, for the simple reason it IS an expansion of a reasonable system. The problem is that makes missiles almost literally useless, unless they are so strong that if one gets through it trashes anything smaller then a battleship. Of course if this is the route taken there has to be a justification as to why it doesn't stop bullets, too. It would be more them minor disappointing if the reason it ignored bullets was simply "because."

The simplest solution is to make antimissile defenses something that has to be built for. If you think that there will be missile fleets you will fight soon, build ships that can stop a fleet's salvo alone, and close into its teeth! If there won't be missile fleets you will fight, ignore missile defenses! This gives us the players the greatest flexibility, as well as allows the devs to not need a reason for ships to be just straight up immune to projectiles. Please devs, you seem to genuinely want a balanced game. Don't continue your trend of making defenders advantage terrifyingly strong. Give fleets some teeth. Make people build missile defense, not give it to them for free.
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby Sypheria » Tue Mar 25, 2014 7:11 pm

Missles are already in the game, they already do 1 shot anything smaller than a cruiser and have stupid range.
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby Pandora » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:29 pm

Sypheria wrote:Missles are already in the game, they already do 1 shot anything smaller than a cruiser and have stupid range.

They've been implimented, and are no longer crashing the server? Crap, musta missed the patch notes :/

Seriously: what are the plans on point defense? All hulls have it, or it's got to be built in. Will say I love hearing the range/damage bit, though!
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby Azsendi » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:32 pm

Which weapon is the missile again?
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby Pandora » Tue Mar 25, 2014 10:36 pm

Azsendi wrote:Which weapon is the missile again?

You can build it in factories right now, but can't put them on ships.

This is a bit of a digression, but I've always felt a missiles best balancing point was the limited ammo. Sure we have "supplies" we have to keep up for FTL/fighting, but missiles have a build in ammo limit.
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby Sypheria » Wed Mar 26, 2014 2:34 am

Secondary weapons include point defence, they are not yet implemented so missile type weapons are disabled on the dev server.
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby Pandora » Wed Mar 26, 2014 9:51 am

Sypheria wrote:Secondary weapons include point defence

You have no idea how happy I am to hear this.
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby CollinDow » Mon Apr 21, 2014 10:03 pm

In a way, I feel rather like this game is a spiritual successor to Sins of A Solar Empire. The general lack of point defense on the capital ships always drove me mad. The fact that there will be PD in this game makes me amazingly happy. The whole concept of putting a km long hunk of steel into orbit, filling with with reaction mass and explosives, and then forgetting to add on some futuristic Phalanx like system is just silly.
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby Pandora » Tue Apr 29, 2014 2:30 pm

CollinDow wrote:In a way, I feel rather like this game is a spiritual successor to Sins of A Solar Empire. The general lack of point defense on the capital ships always drove me mad. The fact that there will be PD in this game makes me amazingly happy. The whole concept of putting a km long hunk of steel into orbit, filling with with reaction mass and explosives, and then forgetting to add on some futuristic Phalanx like system is just silly.

As a former hardcore SoaSE player, I'm not disagreeing. There SHOULD be point defense. However if you're building point defense against a missile, why can't it work against any other physical projectile? My point rather was that there needs to be a tradeoff for point defense. You should have to choose to build it, not that everything has impenetrable defenses! That's potentially even LESS reasonable.
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Re: A Brief Meditation on Point Defense

Postby CollinDow » Wed Apr 30, 2014 4:05 pm

Pandora wrote:As a former hardcore SoaSE player, I'm not disagreeing. There SHOULD be point defense. However if you're building point defense against a missile, why can't it work against any other physical projectile? My point rather was that there needs to be a tradeoff for point defense. You should have to choose to build it, not that everything has impenetrable defenses! That's potentially even LESS reasonable.

PD do work against all projectiles. But a missile is a lot easier to track, what with active emissions and (possibly) a seeker head, than a 50-100kg ball of depleted uranium coming in at relativistic speeds. Sure, computers can calculate where the projectile should be, based upon time of fire and orbital tracks, but stopping a KEW like that would be quite difficult.
Plus, you can play with things like coating your KEW with anti-radar coatings/shapes etc, jamming making locating small projectiles difficult, etc.
And then, there's always the old standard of "Holy shit, that's a lot of fucking bullets."
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