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Cordane

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I’ve talked about this topic before, but right now I’m working on a sizeable suggestion regarding ship and weapon sizes that is bringing to my earlier thoughts a greater level of precision. Please note that for the most part, I’ll be talking about general concepts and not the specific Stellaris rules, until I specifically call for them:

Tracking can be viewed as the ability of a turreted weapon system to keep up with the angular velocity of a target. The closer the target is and the higher its relative speed to the attacker, the higher its angular velocity will more likely be relative to the turret and the harder it will be to track by the turret. This is different from the evasion of a target, which is much more about the ability of the target to deviate from its previous predicted course dependent on the length of time between when the attacker’s shot is fired and when it would otherwise impact the target, plus any time involved in sensor lag for the attacker.

For example: a targeted ship (of any size) is crossing in front of an attacker. The target is travelling at around 1,700 km/sec (a little bit over half a percent of the speed of light, 0.57% c), which is pretty easily reached by a starship capable of sustained 1-gravity acceleration for two whole 24-hour days (I had also in previous threads indicated it as an approximate early-game travel speed for a ship in Stellaris). It crosses the vector of the attacker at a range of around 10,000 km (1/30th of a light-second). At that range and that speed, the attacker’s turrets will have to turn fast enough to cover 90 degrees in about 9 seconds – that’s approximately the capability of the turret on a WWII Sherman tank. With advancements in materials and motors, a significantly larger turret could probably make the same sort of movement, but there would still be a limit on the size of turret that could do it. As the target’s speed increases, it could maintain a greater range and still be as hard to track

Note that at this point it does not matter what size the target is. This is because the components of the target’s movements are over 99.9% in its original travel vector and at most 0.1% in its ability to accelerate in some way different from that initial vector, especially in the limited amount of time between entering the firing zone and the shot being fired. As indicated above, a given turret is only going to keep up with a maximum angular velocity (between speed and range) – assuming proportional subsystems and equal technology, a smaller turret will typically reach a higher angular velocity and a larger turret will only reach a lower angular velocity. Square-Cube Law would put that ratio at about the cube-root of the difference in size: another turret twice as large (in volume and mass) as the first would turn about 79.4% as fast as the first, and one 8 times as large would turn about half the speed of the first. (But also note that an 8x larger ship, with comparable materials and tech, would probably accelerate at about half the rate of the original ship.)

If the turret cannot exceed a given angular velocity, then it becomes a binary situation: either the target stays below the angular velocity capacity of the turret and the turret is able to take a shot with any chance to hit, or the target moves faster than the turret’s max angular velocity and the turret cannot line up any legitimate shot. Now a targeted ship is unlikely to maintain a consistent angular velocity to the turret, with either the target moving away or slowing down (and becoming easier to hit), or moving closer or speeding up (and becoming harder to hit). Targeted ships at a given speed and range from the turret could be at any number of different angular velocities to the turret, with most not at the highest possible value.

Within the context of a game like Stellaris, you would determine a rough average angular velocity for a given product of the range and speed values (accounting for shorter range = higher value) and then penalize the attacker when trying to attack a target right around that turret’s maximum angular velocity. The penalty would be a percentile chance that the intended attack on the target ends up simply being wasted, either as a wild shot with no chance of hitting anything or a shot not fired when it would have used the opportunity to do so (i.e., not able to instead fire on a different easier target). The percentage chance would probably be 25% at the “maximum” value and then an increasing chance to miss, probably 50% at 5% past, 75% at 10% past, until completely guaranteed to miss at 15% past “maximum”.

As technology improves within the game, turrets can handle higher angular velocities, alongside those techs that allow for improved thruster performance having more ships reach those higher angular velocities. Auxiliary modules might allow for a slight shift in the “maximum” value of all turrets on the ship. A specific issue for Stellaris is that the game does not do a good job of trying or being able to maintain range for ships that would prefer to keep it, but ships that are actually moving at even “just” 1,700 km/sec would be moving into and out of preferred ranges quite often.

All of this is based on turreted weapons: it doesn’t make allowances for forward-fire-only cannons (which I would look to transition away from) and isn’t intended for guided weapons (which I would probably look to integrate parts of some of my earlier suggestions). I also haven’t yet resolved the aspect of the attacker’s movement, in order to understand relative velocities – two fleets heading in basically the same direction would be dealing with quite small angular velocities, while those with perpendicular paths would face the largest angular velocities (and very short engagement periods). As I said earlier, I’m working on a more encompassing suggestion and this is just one part of it. I wanted to get your opinion on this portion, to try to integrate your comments into it before I drop a book-sized suggestion on the site. I can touch on some of those other elements briefly in the comments.
 

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To put it bluntly, you're too caught up in realism.
Stellaris is a video game that makes no attempt at simulating realistic scenarios, and so the actual real-life considerations necessary for effective gunnery are, for all intents and purposes, completely irrelevant. Nonsense, even.
Your suggestion is solely justified on this realism, I see no considerations regarding how it would actually affect the game, and that to me is a serious red flag.

I am honestly not quite sure what the purpose of your post is [what is the reader to gain from it?], but I *think* it is a suggestion which intends to modify how tracking works.
Instead of tracking being a constant value that is mostly fixed for each individual gun, it would instead be calculated at the instant the gun fires, and would be based on the target's velocity and distance, possibly also including other modifiers. Distant targets would be easier to hit than nearby targets (counterintuitive to a lot of people, I suspect), and slow targets would be easier to hit than fast targets.

Exactly what does this change? Are the targets that would be considered evasive in your model significantly different from those targets that would be considered evasive in the current model?
It would seem to me that the current ships with high evasion also tend to be moving faster and engaging at closer ranges, so the actual impact of your suggested change does not seem very significant.
What exactly is the intended consequence of your suggestion?


As personal advice, try to be concise; I suspect you've lost a lot of your audience in technical jargon before you're even halfways towards making your point.
 

Cordane

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To put it bluntly, you're too caught up in realism.
Stellaris is a video game that makes no attempt at simulating realistic scenarios, and so the actual real-life considerations necessary for effective gunnery are, for all intents and purposes, completely irrelevant. Nonsense, even.
Your suggestion is solely justified on this realism, I see no considerations regarding how it would actually affect the game, and that to me is a serious red flag.

I am honestly not quite sure what the purpose of your post is [what is the reader to gain from it?], but I *think* it is a suggestion which intends to modify how tracking works.
Instead of tracking being a constant value that is mostly fixed for each individual gun, it would instead be calculated at the instant the gun fires, and would be based on the target's velocity and distance, possibly also including other modifiers. Distant targets would be easier to hit than nearby targets (counterintuitive to a lot of people, I suspect), and slow targets would be easier to hit than fast targets.

Exactly what does this change? Are the targets that would be considered evasive in your model significantly different from those targets that would be considered evasive in the current model?
It would seem to me that the current ships with high evasion also tend to be moving faster and engaging at closer ranges, so the actual impact of your suggested change does not seem very significant.
What exactly is the intended consequence of your suggestion?


As personal advice, try to be concise; I suspect you've lost a lot of your audience in technical jargon before you're even halfways towards making your point.
Thanks for the constructive criticism! The point of the post is to express a position that (in general) weapon tracking is about getting the turret pointed in the right direction, nothing more. With regards to Stellaris, what we call Tracking covers a lot of other aspects, mostly in an attempt to consolidate and simplify both the complex internal calculations and the typical player's understanding of the general gist of those calculations. But it also makes no attempt at considering range to target, whether for ease of Evasion or difficulty in Tracking. Accurate fire is only easier with a more distant target from the aspect of the angular velocity - the target is still able to have unpredicted changes in expected position, limited by its acceleration and size.

I've previously talked about Evasion and Range as being factors of time - time from emissions/reflections coming from the target reaching the attacker, being used in the firing solution, and then the shot traveling from the weapon to the target. If the target is aware and making effectively random defensive movements, it will make it harder to hit versus just a flat movement. But the time won't be much if any of these three are true: the range is short, the sensor data is extraordinarily fresh (e.g., tachyons, precognitive), the shot is fast (i.e., mostly lightspeed weapons). If the sensor data has significant lag, that helps the target; same with slower shots (e.g., lower-tier kinetics).

Under the larger suggestion I'm working on, I'm trying to deal with two things in Stellaris: there really isn't much difference in the physical sizes of the four main classes (and there probably should be), and bigger ships don't have any reason to have screening vessels (leading to, for example, the Battleship mono-fleet). By looking at the effects of increasing or decreasing weapon sizes, I'll be able to put the numbers together for weapons on Corvettes starting at 100 meters long and moving out to Battleships 800 meters long (instead of only 200m). Again, I can provide links to specific posts/comments that would explain more or recreate them whole-cloth as necessary. I'm hoping to be able to condense the gory details down to readily-understandable and -manageable terms, numbers, and ranges, but until then, I'll leave them out for full dissection.

Lastly, expressing a suggestion without giving detail as to why you would go in that direction leads IMO more often to readers supplying their own contradictory supporting details, and then pointing out how the OP is wrong for not being in agreement with the reader's details. A full page of text, however well organized, is intimidating and a chore to read through, possibly causing other readers to become glassy-eyed and skip over the provided details anyway. Damned if I do, damned if I don't - I'd rather provide detail and be able to point back to it in the OP, than have to explain myself in comments (which are even more likely to be skipped by late-comers). There's also a camp of commenters that wouldn't care about any level of specificity in a suggestion, just "lol, space dragons" and call it a day.
 

Cordane

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One thing that shines a harsh light on what I presented above is that high speeds without high accelerations mean that ships will spend very little time inside of the "tracking failure" zone for a given weapon. My initial example talked about a ship traveling at 1,700 kilometers per second but with a delta-V of only a few 10's of meters per second. As I talked about in this other thread:
Realistic ships facing off against each other would have difficulty maintaining a useful range for very long, assuming they were traveling along non-parallel vectors at any low relativistic velocity. For example, two ships traveling at 0.5% c (1,500 km per second) and at even a 5° angle away from each other after crossing vectors, would see the range between them increase by around 131 km/s. If both ships want to re-engage and immediately perform a 1G burn to kill the outbound vector, they’d need approximately 6,700 seconds (an hour and 51 minutes) to counteract the rate of range increase, and would be over 430,000 km away before they would start moving back toward each other. Increasing the thrust cuts the time and distance covered by the multiple (e.g., 2G burn by both cuts the time to about 55 minutes and separation to 215K km).

Right angles (90°) make it over 2,100 km/s outbound, 15 hours to kill the vector, and over 57 million kilometers away before accelerating back toward each other. They’d also only have about 45 seconds before crossing their vectors and 45 seconds after to shoot at each other, if they can only do so inside of 100,000 km – probably only one shot per mount (maybe a second, but more likely recharging capacitors). Full-on jousting (180°) would be 3,000 km/s, over 21 hours, almost 115M km, and just 70 seconds total, respectively.
The targeted ship in the example in the OP will spend very little time inside of the zone, and won't be in a position to make that length of time noticeably longer, by trying to turn or slow down. Of course, they also won't spend much time in range of any weapon before having to spend a considerable amount of time flipping over and burning to cancel their outbound vector and head back. About the only time you would have ships staying close to each other for continuous stretches is in a same-velocity chase, but then there wouldn't be much "tracking failure".