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  1. Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread. #1

    Default "Give me a ping, Vasili." Updated Sensors and Targeting in Elite: Dangerous

    Here is the updated proposal. I've tried to streamline the whole thing and included some missing points. We're quite happy with this system however any mention of VFX are to be discussed and decided upon later (any ideas are welcome).

    SENSOR MECHANICS
    • Default Sensors for all ships
      • Upon arrival to a new location a picture of potential contacts around the player based on their distance and signature appears (see Signature and Sensors below)
      • More detailed sensors are located in a forward facing arc that have better range capabilities thus resolving contacts where the default all-around sensors cannot (usually a multiplier to the default sensor range)
      • In addition to the above false positives are put into the mix depending on the quality of the sensors and/or any environmental factors (see Signature and Sensors below)
      • To resolve a contact the distance between the ship and the contact needs to be reduced and/or the signature of the contact needs to increase (see Signature and Sensors below)
        • A low signature contact won’t resolve until it’s quite close where as a high signature contact can be resolved from quite a long way away
      • Signature can be based on several factors including heat and engine emissions
      • Only contacts that have been validated can be targeted by the targeting computer so that weapons can provide assistance/gimballing/lock-on etc.
    • Advanced Passive Sensors
      • These are deployable sensors that dramatically improve the ship’s forward facing detection abilities by significantly increasing the range at which a specific signature value can resolve a contact
      • As they are deployable they take up a valuable hard point on the ship
      • Passive sensors like these don’t affect the ship’s current signature to other ships sensors other than the potential heat increase through power used
    • Advanced Active Sensors
      • These are deployable sensors that actively search for contacts using strong EM pulses and other forms of detection that dramatically increase the ship’s own signature as a result
      • They are extremely powerful in that potential contacts within their sensor range can be validated instantly at the cost of also lighting the ship up to everyone else
      • They come in both forward facing only and in fully spherical configurations
        • Forward facing typically operate to much larger ranges and are quicker than the all around types
      • Activating an active sensor will “ping” the area and instantly reveal any potential contacts that the sensor is able to detect
        • The further away a contact is the less likely it will be able to be detected
      • After activating a contact will be told they have been “pinged” and can then look out for possible new sensor contacts that have just resolved to find the likely suspect

    SIGNATURE AND SENSORS
    • Sensors are tuned to be able to fully resolve a contact at a specific distance providing the signature is equal to 1
      • For example a sensor with range 8000m will be able to fully resolve a contact at 8000m with a signature of 1
      • If the contact was instead at 4000m away then it would only require a signature of 0.25 to be resolved
      • Likewise a contact at 16000m away would require a signature of 4 to get resolved
    • The environment can affect the stats of the sensors such that ranges are reduced, default signature values increase or lowered, arcs widened etc.
    • Additionally special equipment could be used to affect other players scanners such that effective ranges or signatures are reduced when they being scanned
    • If the contact is unresolved because their signature isn’t high enough for the range they’re at to be detected instead a scalable VFX is applied on the sensor UI to indicate the possibility of a contact
      • The close the contact is to being resolved the more focussed and consistent the VFX is so the player can try to get closer or turn to point their more powerful frontal sensors at them to finally resolve the contact
      • Distant and low signature contacts might have zero VFX applied or barely show up as a sensor glitch at all
      • False positives are mixed into this to add a layer of uncertainty to the above


    TARGETING MECHANICS
    • Once a ship has been resolved on the sensors the player can target them to provide a more detailed readout on the type and status of the ship
      • Targeted ships are highlighted on the sensors as well as on the HUD
    • Detailed readouts of the ship are displayed in a dedicated panel on the cockpit whilst the ship is targeted
    • By having a ship targeted several other mechanics can come into play based on the equipment installed and/or deployed on the player’s ship:
      • Missile lock (described below)
      • Subsystem scanning (described below)
      • Cargo Scanning (Mechanically identical to subsystem scanning)
      • Bounty Scanning (Mechanically identical to subsystem scanning)
      • Weapon gimballing (ability for gimballed weapons to provide aiming assistance on targeted ships)


    MISSILE LOCK
    • To begin the missile lock sequence the player must...
      • ...have a ship targeted
      • ...have a seeking missile weapon deployed
    • Once the above conditions are met the HUD will indicate an acquiring lock symbol which will, over time, move from the centre of the HUD to the onscreen position of the targeted enemy
    • When the acquiring lock symbol is maintained on top of the targeted ship icon for a short time the missile system will acquire a lock and the symbol will change
    • Whilst a lock is acquired the symbol will overlay the target providing the enemy is within the FOV of the player’s ship
    • If the enemy ship ever moves outside the FOV of the player’s ship any missile locks will be lost and will need to be reacquired
    • Players can speed up missile lock by aiming their ship such to bring the acquiring lock symbol on their HUD on top of the intended target faster than if just leaving it to do it automatically
    • Firing a seeking missile with a lock acquired will result in the missile being able to either:
      • Independently track the target and no further action by the player is required (they can break lock without affecting the launched missile)
      • Track the target providing the player maintains a lock throughout the missiles flight path (losing lock will result in the missile maintain its last heading until the lock is reacquired or the missile runs out of fuel)


    SUBSYSTEM TARGETING
    • To begin the subsystem targeting sequence the player must...
      • ...have a ship targeted
      • ...have a subsystem scanning module installed and/or deployed if necessary
    • The scanning sequence will take time based on the quality of the module and also requires that the target ship to be in the FOV of the player’s ship the entire time (like with missile lock)
      • The target ship will know they’re being scanned unless the player is using specifically stealthy scanning modules
    • If the target ship moves off screen or the lock on is disengaged for whatever reason the scanning will be cancelled
    • Only when a full scan for the required time is made will the enemy subsystems be available to target through the cockpit interface and other appropriate input
    • Once a full scan is completed the player doesn’t need another scan to reacquire the subsystem list if they change targets in the mean time (i.e. the ship remembers the results of the scan on a per target basis)


    CARGO SCANNING
    • Mechanically identical to subsystem targeting, cargo scanning just requires the specific scanning module to be installed to enable it
    • Subsystem scanners, cargo scanners and bounty scanners can both be installed at the same time and will also run at the same time provided they are both powered and/or deployed if necessary


    BOUNTY SCANNING
    • Mechanically identical to subsystem targeting, bounty scanning just requires the specific scanning module to be installed to enable it
    • Subsystem scanners, cargo scanners and bounty scanners can both be installed at the same time and will also run at the same time provided they are both powered and/or deployed if necessary


    DISCUSS!

  2. #2
    Its a pretty sound premise and I like it... great potentials in there too.

    I would expect cargo scanners to have a much lower range than ident systems..

    Like it

  3. #3
    All the bases I was interested in seemed to be covered here

    Good proposal

  4. #4
    Looks good to me too
    Polaris Penguin

  5. #5
    Looks good, but is there any change that Andrew Sayers' long-range sensor proof-of-concept will be considered.
    Last edited by Associat0r; 27/09/2013 at 7:13 PM.

  6. #6
    Very nice indeed. Thanks

    Can we assume that these rules apply to both NPC and player vessels? Particularly pertaining to the "beyond sensor range" VFX indicators. Not asking for specifics (I did read your first line ), just a yes or no?
    "Space is disease and danger wrapped in darkness and silence. " - Leonard McCoy



    ED Reference list - Everything you wanted to know about Elite: Dangerous but were afraid to ask.

  7. #7
    Very happy with this proposal.. looking forward to trying it out.

  8. #8
    It sounds as though you're intending to provide devices which will help to keep the ship cloaked. What about active countermeasures? Will there be some equivalent of chaff or flares which can confuse targeting systems?

    Another possibility is a device which can be operated all the time, and helps to conceal the ship. Instead of just reducing the signature, though, it causes sensors to show incorrect data. Perhaps the ship shows up in the wrong place, or there are ghost images representing ships that are not actually there.

    Obviously with a continuously operated system, you would have to be careful not to unbalance the game. If the sensors showed a ship a very long way from its true location, it could be difficult to find it at all, and that would be unfair. However, a small error in location—that gets smaller as you get closer—could be interesting I think.
    There are a lot of posts in these forums, and I'm sorry but I don't have time to follow them in detail. I tend to explain my thoughts by replying once to the opening Frontier post. If there is something you want to discuss with me, I'm very happy to, but I probably won't see your question unless you nudge me with a private message. Thanks.

  9. #9
    All looks good to me, other than the relatively small ranges we are talking about but if that is for gameplay or performance reasons I can live with that.

    I'm really loving the idea of stealthy tactics. Being able to nose around in an asteroid field for instance, sitting dead and waiting for something large to pass by and either slip quietly by or attack from the rear sounds like a lot of fun. I'm sure some interesting gameplay and tactics will evolve from this.

    I'm assuming that you could also use an active ping then scoot away quietly fully stealthy could lure potential enemies into traps.

    Sub-system targeting too sounds a great idea, once you get through the shields of course!
    Commander Howard A. Jameson
    System Spec: Windows 7 Pro x64, Intel i7 975, 12GB Corsair Dominator, VGA Nvidia 3GB 780 Ti, 2x 240GB Intel 520 SSD

  10. #10
    CARGO SCANNING
    Mechanically identical to subsystem targeting, cargo scanning just requires the specific scanning module to be installed to enable it
    Subsystem scanners, cargo scanners and bounty scanners can both be installed at the same time and will also run at the same time provided they are both powered and/or deployed if necessary
    One thing I would like to point out. The cargo scanning should take a long time. Because the user Could be using one Item let say a mix or Lead and other Scanning absorbing ores. To block scanning. To hide something that might be worth taking. Like Gold, Drugs and Slaves.

    My suggestion. For Cargo Scanning. Time might give you better Results. Like the first 15 to 25 seconds you might find Scanning absorbing ores like lead or other ores or other cargo. If you scan 35 to 45 seconds you might see the gold, drugs and slaves. Stuff pirates want. Hidden between the Other cargo.

    Add Distance as a factor. Closer to you might get ship will give your scanning results faster. But could get you killed.

    By watching Cops. I see how drug traffickers hide their goods. The user who has the cargo. Should be able to setup their own cargo hold. Hopefully hide there goods. Of course smaller ships this could not be done.

    1 Random
    2 Front
    3 Rear
    4 Middle
    5 Manual

    Also Add a factor the size of the ship cargo hold be a factor in scanning and how good the scanner is.

    A Cobra Mk3 might take 25 35 seconds for a full scan. That all the goods.

    Larger ships like the Anaconda. Might take longer to scan due to the size of the ship cargo hold.


    A side note will the person being scanned have a chance detecting be able to detect the person scanning them?

    Let say I a Cobra Mk3 hiding behind a asteroid or Large destroy ship scanning a anaconda. Hidden from view. Will the anaconda detected if they are being scanned?
    Last edited by Lestat; 27/09/2013 at 9:29 PM.

  11. #11

  12. #12
    Looks great.. I like the updated sensor and signatures section. I'm rather excited about the possibilities.

    Am I understanding it correctly, that a very observant player might notice a faint signature that could otherwise be dismissed as interference or some spacial anomaly?

    Also, are we going to need a specific scanning module to check if there is a bounty on a ship or player?

    Im quite interested in the on-going struggle between stealth systems and measures to circumvent it , be it deflective ship design (like oddly shaped aircraft), materials use, installed counter-measures. in a technological arms race. Could be a great area for itemisation of our ships and systems.
    Last edited by Cosmos; 27/09/2013 at 9:38 PM.

  13. #13

    Default False Positives

    What strikes me about this is the false positives. My immediate reaction is that these need to be more than just irritating unpredictably capricious and arbitrary red herrings. For example in an asteroid field they could be smaller asteroids, in open space some could be micrometeorites and in any location could be small pieces of debris like a chunk of armor plate blown off another ship or even a stray mass driver round hurtling on an unending flight!

    Location should make a difference to the likelihood of false positives. Certain types of asteroids, dust clouds and nebulae could cause reflections which generate sensor ghosts. Also some planetary rings and planets with high magnetic fields and aurorae might throw up shifting sensor anomalies. These should be consistent phenomena so they can be used in gameplay as places to camouflage a ship signature either to runaway and hide or to launch an ambush. They might also be the locations for science missions and might be bad places form which to do survey scans.

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by bullfrog View Post
    What strikes me about this is the false positives. My immediate reaction is that these need to be more than just irritating unpredictably capricious and arbitrary red herrings. For example in an asteroid field they could be smaller asteroids, in open space some could be micrometeorites and in any location could be small pieces of debris like a chunk of armor plate blown off another ship or even a stray mass driver round hurtling on an unending flight!

    Location should make a difference to the likelihood of false positives. Certain types of asteroids, dust clouds and nebulae could cause reflections which generate sensor ghosts. Also some planetary rings and planets with high magnetic fields and aurorae might throw up shifting sensor anomalies. These should be consistent phenomena so they can be used in gameplay as places to camouflage a ship signature either to runaway and hide or to launch an ambush. They might also be the locations for science missions and might be bad places form which to do survey scans.
    Great points, definitely how I would like to see it. I agree it could be a bit irritating if we are constantly chasing red herrings. Far better a system that rewarded the observant and offering the player a way of developing some system of judgement about what is likely to be real or not.

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Evans View Post
    [*]Sensors are tuned to be able to fully resolve a contact at a specific distance providing the signature is equal to 1
    I was about to suggest that this should probably follow some sort of inverse square law, and then I looked again and saw that it already does!

    I notice that talk of audio signals is gone. I wonder whether this has idea has been rejected or simply separated to a separate UI design discussion.

    +1 what Bullfrog said about false positives.
    http://i.imgur.com/odNDOUj.png
    Quad i7 920 @ 2.67GHz / 12GB RAM / NVidia GeForce GTX 660 4GB / X52 Pro / TrackIR

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