Mildly interesting test to create a Missile-based Point Defence weapon

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Pancakelord

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For a long long time, missiles have been relegated to being a supporting weapon type, after PD/missiles couldn't be adequately balanced back in 1.2 or whenever it was*. But, one thing that's always confused me is the lack of a Missile-based version of the PD weapon type. One of the first "point defence" systems was missile based, even. And the concept is still in use today, too.

So I asked myself, is there a technical limitation preventing missile PDs? The answer is No... sort of.

IT IS possible to create a Missile-PD, but its currently coded to only accept instant hit / ray-cast weapons (so PD-missiles cannot be shot down by other PDs). But it's easy enough to work with this.
In the gif below, the ship with smaller FP is the PD ship, the ship with larger FP, has a MK1 nuclear missile on it. The first hit shows that a PD-missile can down other missiles and it doesn't glitch out.
1621201415515.png
Testing values

OK. So why bother?
Well, two reasons.
1) If you decide to go missile-heavy (not that its efficient to, really) your PD systems, being kinetic or energy, wont be benefitting from missile ("explosive") repeatable techs.
2) I still like the original weapons philosophy of 3 fully-fleshed out weapon trees + strikecraft, and missing out on Missile PD always felt like an odd omission.
Doubly so when bombers were once a thing,​
missile PD could have been a good way to bring down slow, heavily armoured bomber craft, but it's slow fire rate/lower tracking would make it crap vs missiles and interceptors.​
where lasers would be good vs missiles, with a high fire rate, but with no shield damage it would be weak vs strike craft.​
and flack could be good vs shielded/un-armoured scouts/interceptors with an ability to bypass shields and shred hull directly (though a cloud of flack should probably slow down any SCs a bit too).​

I'm not sure if I'll take this further, but it was interesting to see a missile shoot down another missile, either way.

*either PD utterly dominated missile nations, or Missiles utterly overwhelmed PD screens, it was all about volume, with builds looking a bit like this:
AD6372B34FCAD2DC28142904F9D7E4F5719A24F0
39AB73C82425C748141017218D87F4652E481FE8

Some scalars I've thought about trying, to bring back full missile fleets.
  1. "PD fatigue" - every 5 days, PD gets 1% weaker down to -50% (Combat script)
  2. "missile saturation" - missile stats are reduced by the number of missiles fielded on your side [#missile weapons/#total slots scaled by fleet size or something], re-tested every time a ship in that battle dies.
.
 
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What if strike craft were your "missile PD" (somehow)?
 
What if strike craft were your "missile PD" (somehow)?
Strike craft are technically not missiles, they are their own thing. Although, they do function quite a bit like PD platforms with engines duct taped on.

I should have mentioned in the OP that the same limitation exists for strike craft, as PD.
  • They only support instant-hit weapons (you cant spawn a SC, then have it spawn a missile entity - you get a Russian nesting doll situation, probably).
  • By default all SCs [scouts,interceptors,bombers] used Laser GFX.
  • But you can re-brand an instant-hit weapon type to look like a missile (as I did in OP).
Mechanics-wise
Strike craft, even bombers, are (in vanilla) only coded to accept strike-craft modifiers. As of writing the current 3.0x version supports 3 strike craft modifiers:
Code:
weapon_type_strike_craft_weapon_damage_mult
weapon_type_strike_craft_weapon_fire_rate_mult
weapon_type_strike_craft_speed_mult
(energy, kinetic and missiles support the same 3, too but strike craft do have more properties one might wish to modify, but cannot, such as strike-wing-size or launch speed).

1621207032782.png

That said, a weapon type can take input from multiple classes (you can see this on the above screenshot). So, for example, I could bring back Bombers in 3 flavours taking modifiers from:
  • strikecraft + energy (with a disruptor GFX),
  • strikecraft + kinetic (with a kinetic artillery GFX) and
  • strikecraft + explosives (a torpedo GFX)
And then weight which one the AI uses by its highest current tech score in those branches.

One thing that might be interesting to test with strike craft, if I can get it in to Just the strikecraft scope not its parent ship scope Is a new modifier in 3.0
ship_damage_against_starbases_mult
This could make bombers devastating vs stations (and feed in to something else i've been testing).
 
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Something tells me you were inspired to make this thread by current events.

I also wish weapon balance would get an overhaul. It wouldn't take a ton of effort to add a few more weapons to fill niches that are missing (Give us back Bombers, add a kinetic Titan weapon and an X-class missile weapon for example), fix bugs like the strikecraft upgrade one, and shuffle repeatables around a little bit (plus maybe add a hull repeatable) so energy doesn't automatically end up being the best in the endgame.
 
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While we are at it, do you know if the old PD bug is still present (you can probably test it quicker than I can)?

Namely in the past all point defenses (both flak and pd) prioritised strike craft over missiles, even if missile is in range and strike craft isn't. Thus a fleet with 1-2 carriers and a lot of missiles becomes immune to PD. Is it still the case?
 
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I think one big problem of Stellaris missile designs is that... it sometimes takes both sides of very contrasting "philosophies" into 1 body.

By "missile philosophy", I'd say there are 2:
  1. Long-ranged missiles like Tomahawk, Cruising Missiles and Intercontinental Missiles. They are input the coordinates and launched with 1 or 2. Then your whole ship / station waits for a few hours before you get an update whether it has hit or missed.
  2. Combat missiles used by fighters and war ships in general. They are expected to just overwhelm your enemies by numbers, slightly longer than direct shooting weapons, have a homing system to track according to IFF and heat signature, but never really carry a warhead as strong as a nuke.
Stellaris missiles are... funny.
  1. Number: Each ship has like 1 Missile only fired one by one. (Long Property)
  2. Range: They are ranged just slightly longer than other weapons. (Short Property)
  3. Time: They take around a few in-game days to hit, but in reality, it takes around 10 seconds that you actually can see the reactions instead of being fired outside combat and wait for results. (Short Property)
  4. Power: Nuke is a basic warhead loaded. (Long Property)
So I don't know if they're trying to do a Tomahawk or a deck missile pod.

And then the thing about Missile Countermeasures is that you really need to know what you're dealing with.
  1. Against long-ranged missiles:
    1. You shoot some rockets to intercept it.
    2. Probably if you have some sort of reaction jammer, this is a good place to put in.
  2. Against shorter-ranged missiles:
    1. You should rely on Flaks to shoot them down. But expect to still get 1 or 2 through.
    2. Or you may use your own counter-missiles and create a large explosion screen somewhere far from you so that you hope the explosions get into those missiles flying towards you so they explode prematurely.
In Stellaris... there isn't any explosion or any area effect. The short ranged missiles are shot individually (except for the Swarm Missiles which I don't know what they actually are and how they are actually hitting targets). So everything is so... mismatched.

I do hope you come up with a solution that is plausible to SF fans and Stellaris lore.
 
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Something tells me you were inspired to make this thread by current events.

I also wish weapon balance would get an overhaul. It wouldn't take a ton of effort to add a few more weapons to fill niches that are missing (Give us back Bombers, add a kinetic Titan weapon and an X-class missile weapon for example), fix bugs like the strikecraft upgrade one, and shuffle repeatables around a little bit (plus maybe add a hull repeatable) so energy doesn't automatically end up being the best in the endgame.

You should try ACOT mod, everything you asked for is into it! T kinetics, X missiles, different types of SC!
 
While we are at it, do you know if the old PD bug is still present (you can probably test it quicker than I can)?

Namely in the past all point defenses (both flak and pd) prioritised strike craft over missiles, even if missile is in range and strike craft isn't. Thus a fleet with 1-2 carriers and a lot of missiles becomes immune to PD. Is it still the case?
Yes, just tested it, it still exists. 3 Flack + 3 lasers vs 2 carriers with bombers + 4 with 1 torp, swarm and nuke missile, they ignore missiles totally if SC exist.

Even with my modded missile PD, it will go for sc above missiles even if out of range. Which means this is an issue with the code attached to the PD_slot itself rather than any specific weapon. I tried applying use_ship_kill_target = no, too, in case that did anything, as it's supposed to change component target scoring. No effect.

It wouldn't take a ton of effort to add a few more weapons to fill niches that are missing (Give us back Bombers, add a kinetic Titan weapon and an X-class missile weapon for example), fix bugs like the strikecraft upgrade one, and shuffle repeatables around a little bit (plus maybe add a hull repeatable) so energy doesn't automatically end up being the best in the endgame.
Yeah I'm unsure of why they seem so opposed to (mostly)symmetric trees, it is just a trap for the AI(if it happens to pick a non energy path, randomly)/new players, whilst railroading players that do know what to do.
1621242547123.png
1621242357514.png
Literally just copy-pasting, adding an energy / kinetic (or even explosive) tag & swapping the gfx is all you need to do in some cases.
 
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In Stellaris... there isn't any explosion or any area effect. The short ranged missiles are shot individually (except for the Swarm Missiles which I don't know what they actually are and how they are actually hitting targets). So everything is so... mismatched.
They're a single projectile, made to look like a cluster of missiles,
The game plots a curve from the firing ship to the target ship (or to deep space if its a miss) then the animation engine runs the entity [several missiles bunched up, in this case] along that curve.
1621248531365.png

I dont exactly know where it combines them in the files, yet, but it should be possible to make a... kinetic shotgun weapon that does something similar with kinetic artillery or railgun projectiles. It'd be one shot, but half a dozen would spawn.

It also looks like strike craft do not inherit your empire's tail colour because they arent actually owned by your empire. They are just 3d models that just spawn and know to attack the "other side". whereas your own ships have real properties that define ownership and tail colour (I think) - spent 20 mins trying to get SC tails to adopt my empire colour and, whilst I honestly have no clue how particle systems work, I have a feeling it's not possible without coding. It is possible to disable the tail, change it's length, or change it to another fixed colour (e.g. orange and make it short like an engine cone), at least.
 
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IMHO PD should NOT scale with any modifiers at all. The reason why is simple : there is nothing that scales missile or strikecraft hp.

it creates a balance problem. If you balance missile/strikecraft hp for low modifiers, then once you start stacking modifiers, they die too fast. The reverse is also true.

Right now PD is far too effective for the slots required. 1x PD easily negates multiple missile slots.
 
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It would be cool if strike craft did get a tiny amount of armor and a decent shield, and then those would both scale up with the relevant repeatable.

Space Torpedoes already do get an armored version -- that armor should likewise scale up with the armor repeatable.


Hmm, but thinking about window of PD attacks ... If there were a missile travel speed repeatable, would that be sufficient to compensate for increased PD speed and damage? Faster flying missiles would spend less time inside PD attack range. It might also help with alpha strike parity.


Regarding different SC weapons, here's my thought. Strike Craft should have 3 basic roles, which are researched separately from their current upgrade path. The 3 roles would be:

- Fighter (laser damage) - attacks everything (missiles -> strike craft -> ships starting with smaller ships); great damage vs. missiles. Does not bypass shields.

- Bomber (explosive damage) - attacks ships only (starting with larger ships); extra damage vs. armor; bypasses shields.

- Superiority (kinetic damage) - attacks strike craft and smaller ships; does not bypass shields, but does extra damage to shields.

These three types would all benefit from the relevant damage and attack speed repeatable.