Proposed Improvements to the Limpet Mechanic

Limpets as currently implemented are a vital mechanic for effective completion of game missions. As currently implemented, only a few limpet types are necessary on a regular basis. Other limpet types are not as critical and are widely ignored because of the disproportionate load they put on ship builds. The following recommendations are intended to give rarely used limpets into more uses, and to reduce the relative load that an individual limpet controller has on a loadout.

First Change – Limpet Control Computer
This has been widely discussed on the forums and recent news indicates the concept of limpet racks are being actively investigated as a possible future update. The implementation of limpet racks would be critical in compensating for the sheer number of limpet controllers. Under this recommendation ships would have the option to equip a Limpet Control Computer. This computer would have specific slots or “blades” available which allow a single control computer to execute multiple functions. The larger the dedicated control computer module, the more blades which can be fitted up to four total blades. The blades outfitting interface would function in a similar fashion to SLF’s or SRV’s. The Limpet Control Computer’s class designation will define the base module weight, limpet range, and limpet life of the module as it does now. Limpets would self-destruct once their task is completed, just as they do now. Weather the control computer could possess its own dedicated limpet storage or not is a matter of debate and will be tabled for now.

Second Change – Limpet Engineering
The limpet controllers as implemented feature no engineering blueprint which modifies limpet performance. This would remain the same, and commanders who possess a legacy limpet controller would have it converted to an appropriately sized limpet control computer with a single blade already installed matching the function of their original. The engineering blueprint applied will remain unaffected and carry over to the limpet control computer. Engineering would not apply to individual blades, allowing commanders to interchange blades as needed without messing up their ship stats.
Limpet controller experimental effects are controversial, but in general these suggestions are meant to directly benefit a single type of limpet blade at the cost of making the control computer less effective at other functions. This forces control computers to specialize at specific functions, though an engineering effect will benefit multiple types of limpets. The experimental effects are as follows.

  • Enhanced Engines: Increased limpet travel speed as the cost of durability and interaction time. This means that all limpets will take longer once attached to accomplish their tasks but will fly to the target much faster, possibly making it harder for point defense to deal with.
  • Enhanced Interaction: Limpets have their interaction time reduced, this makes limpets faster at breaking cargo hatches, hacking into data points, extracting samples from Thargoid ships, and conducting hull repair, although total repair potential is unaffected. This effect will reduce limpet travel speed, making the limpet easier to hit.
  • Enhanced Signal: Increases the effective range that a limpet can be controlled from, but at the cost of limpet lifespan. All other stats are unaffected.
  • Enhanced Lifespan: Increases the service life of a given limpet, but at the cost of effective control range.
Dividing out engineering effects like this means that computers can benefit from specific blade synergies. Commanders may choose to carry two smaller control computers rather than one large one, because it will facilitate specific limpets performing better than they would under one large computer. This system will still make it possible for almost any build in the game to fit critical limpets under a single optional module slot, provided they have a large enough one available. It also promotes specialization of smaller vessels in a wing, encouraging them to each perform a function more efficiently than a single large ship could.

Third Change – More Limpet Interactions
Lagrange clouds in the beta offer excellent opportunities for research limpets, while guardian facilities can offer opportunities for recon limpets to be applicable. Since many exploration ships choose to carry repair and collector limpets, the new limpet system would offer them the opportunity to also equip research and recon limpets for use in the field. Research limpets were originally built to scrape samples from Thargoid ships, these limpets could be readily expanded to scrape samples from lifeforms and structures discovered within them. Samples would be very lucrative to collect and carry back to civilization, with price premiums offered based on station economy. Weather these limpets could be used on barnacles and brain trees, or otherwise be applied to planetary surface sites can be determined later.
Guardian beacons offer great visual spectacle as currently implemented but are a relatively isolated gameplay loop that is only done three times to unlock the affiliated guardian fighters. Since more such structures are undoubtedly in the works, it would expand the intractability of these structures if we could trigger other events or collect additional valuable data if recon limpets were given uses on them. These interactions should generate valuable data or artifacts that can be traded in at tech brokers.
These additional functions proposed would only be practical using Limpet Control Computers or a similar limpet rack system. Otherwise, the additional modules requirements would reduce effective jump range and occupy valuable optional space that smaller exploration ships usually cannot afford to spare. Long range exploration ships would avoid utilizing these new functions without a new limpet management system, due to the cost of jump range and power.

Fourth Change – Module Repair Limpet
This additional limpet allows one ship to repair the internal modules of another, facilitating an additional support role for commanders to undertake. This would allow for coordinated exploration expeditions to increase their effectiveness by allowing ships to run without an AFMU. In order to use a module repair limpet, a ship must possess the module limpet blade and an AFMU from which to draw repair kits. When a module repair limpet is deployed, a certain number of repair kits are drawn from the ships AFMU and deposited in the departing limpet. Once that limpet attaches to the target vessel, the limpet will remain attached until all its repair kits are exhausted, its service life expires, or the controlling ship passes out of range. While attached the repair limpet works like an AFMU, allowing the pilot of a ship receiving repair to designate modules to be repaired by shutting off damaged modules. The module repair limpet will target and repair the most damaged module to 100% before moving on to next most damaged module. The process repeats until all modules are repaired or the limpet exhausts its repair kits, after which another limpet may be launched. This limpet blade would add a gameplay loop all its own, allowing player groups like the Fuel Rats to increase their range of effective services. It would also facilitate wings of players operating in remote systems for longer without needing to repair or resupply at a station. This would be most useful when players are flying large ships in systems which lack the infrastructure to support them, especially in or around community goals. Support ships which wish to specialize could pair hull, module, and fuel transfer limpets with regeneration sequence lasers in order to act as an effective forward operating post in combat zones and hazardous extraction sites.

Fifth Change - Limpet Synthesis
Unlike ammunition synthesis, which provides objective advantages for players who are willing to prospect, limpet synthesis offers no practical advantage to most players. Basic Limpets should have their cost reduced to eight of each resource or two per limpet generated. Standard limpets should receive a higher flight speed and more hit points, potentially creating more than four limpets per synthesis cycle. Premium limpets could receive all the benefits of standard, plus a percentage reduced interaction time. The effects of standard and premium limpets should stack on top of effects provided by engineering experimental effects.

Conclusion
Improving the limpet gameplay loop would provide more meaningful mechanics that would allow wings of cooperating players to specialize. Players can use this mechanic to remain on target and making credits for much longer, and in a wider variety of ways. Updated limpet mechanics would make more modules relevant and useful in more situations without the need to add any new models or 3D assets. While it may be a long time before this has a change to be considered, there are just a few of they ways that I could see the game become more fun. I would play more often if these features were implemented.
 
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