This is a little long, but I thought was the perfect thing to help here. This is something from one of my design docs that was included to help others think up new weapons for the game. These categories should help you all to think up your own cool new weapons that you would like to see in SCO.
(R5.2) General AI Weapon Categories
The following concepts apply to weapons in any type of game or simulation. It will eventually become important that anyone involved with producing this game understand these concepts. The player will never see any of this, or ever hear these terms. This section really deals more with the properties of weapons in any type of game and is not necessarily specific to Pirate Dawn. It is, however, also an effective introduction too this section.
Hit or Miss
“Hit or Miss” weapons either hit the target or miss it completely. Most weapons in most games, and most weapons in real life, are “hit or miss” weapons. This category supports any type of kinetic force weapon, such as a bow & arrow, gun, or cannon. Most weapons used in Pirate Dawn possess this property.
A “static effect” weapon causes a set amount of damage when it strikes the target. No matter what the range, or other conditions, a hit always results in the same amount of damage. Due to the fact that damage does not vary with range, these types of weapons are the most powerful long-range weapons (i.e. low percentage shot) when used en masse. The failure to recognize this fact causes severe balance problems in many of the games on the shelf today.
These are weapons that can cause a varying amount of damage. The variable damage is often linked to range, time, or some other factor, but may also simply be random. This type is not necessarily a “hit or miss” weapon, however, and can also represent a weapon that never completely misses but causes a variable amount of damage (i.e. a “true” range-of-effect weapon).
True range-of-effect weapons are most commonly found in space combat games. No true range-of-effect weapons exist in real life, although some modern US targeting systems create essentially the same effect. Various forms of common sci-fi weapons and devices fall into this category, such as the “Tractor Beam” from Star Trek that is probably familiar to most people. In this game true range-of-effect weapons are referred too as “wavelock weapons”, they use the targeting system and require a “lock” similar to a missile.
Hand grenades, bombs, torpedoes, and anti-aircraft missiles all fall into this category. Area-of-Effect weapons (referred too as “Proximity Detonation” weapons throughout this sci-fi game) are weapons that affect an area of space rather than a single point in space.
“Direct-fire” weapons, for the purposes of this game, are those weapons that are fired on a ballistic course and have a minimal time-to-target. Any type of weapon shot that travels at a rate of speed that makes “dodging” an “on-target” weapon after it has been fired highly unlikely is a “direct-fire” weapon. Beam weapons are examples of “direct-fire” weapons within this game. Since the inertia of the firing ship is imparted to the shot, only these high velocity weapons are effective when firing in the opposite direction of travel. This is a very important distinction in this game.
Technically, direct-fire weapons are ballistic weapons; they simply travel a straight course and are not guided. The difference between the two terms as used in this document is that “direct-fire” weapons have a minimal time to target while “ballistic” weapons travel more slowly and are thus useful only at short range and firing forward. Most projectile weapons are examples of “ballistic” weapons within this game.
In reality the term “direct-fire” is simply a made-up term that really means the same thing as “ballistic” as far as the rest of the world is concerned. These terms essentially describe what most people would simply call “guns”, but here the two terms are used to separate this class of weapons into two types based on projectile speed (which is a much more important factor in space combat than in any other arena). Only players who learn to use the Object Editor will ever see these terms, so the confusion isn’t relevant to the game.
These are weapons that move closer to the speed of a ship than to a direct-fire weapon and can be outmaneuvered or avoided by the target while the weapon is on-route. Missiles, Limpets, and Organic Plasma are examples of seeking weapons within this game.
(R5.3) AI Weapons (Foreign Technology)
Each category covers a broad range of possible weapon types. You will have a hard time thinking of any type of “weapon” that could not fit into one of the categories in this section. These categories can also be used to represent countless non-weapon systems and some devices also fall within these categories (but are not listed here with weapons). The categories assist in conceiving new weapon types by organizing the types of possible weapons into groupings. They assist in implementing those weapon types within a game by limiting the methods used to represent weapons (and other systems) to the established categories. In most cases only the category types need be constructed through programming within a game, any variations within a category are usually just graphical variations and minor damage/timing adjustments.
The properties associated with each category of weapon are pretty basic and fundamental, and from those properties almost any type of weapon within a given category can be represented. The best example of this below is the “wavelock” category, which is already being used to represent Lighting, sustained beam weapons, and the Gravitic Projector. This is a major element behind the flexibility of the Object Editor and its ability to allow players to add a wide range of new AI Objects and technology to the game.
Most beam weapons in Pirate Dawn fall within this category. There are no foreign technology direct-fire beam weapons in the stock game. However, the best native technology direct-fire beam weapons (i.e. “guns”) require foreign technology as a pre-requisite.
Only “Projectile Weapons” fall into this category in the stock game. Modders might add other types of ballistic weapons in the future.
These are weapons that “detonate” at a specified distance from a target. They usually have both a “detection range” and a “detonation range”, which are often identical. (These weapons might also be detonated through a timer system or “by remote control”). The “detection range” is the range (usually a radius) at which the weapon will detect and react to a target (usually by exploding, but other effects are possible). The “detonation range” is the range (usually a radius) at which the weapon causes damage. The detection and detonation ranges need not be identical; for example, a proximity detonation weapon with a detonation range that is greater than its detection range is a particularly volatile weapon that must be used carefully to avoid “friendly fire” incidents. This category of weapons supports such things as mines (or any type of explosion), or a WWII-era naval torpedo with a magnetic detonator (the original inspiration for this entire class of weapons within sci-fi), or a nuclear weapon.
These types of weapons project their effect into a pre-defined firing arc. Damage points “pulse” into the entire arc damaging any target within both the firing arc and range of the weapon with each pulse. Examples of this weapon type would be the “fire breath” attack of a dragon, a “radiation” based weapon, or any type of “spray”.
“Wavelock” weapons are similar to “Fixed Funnel” weapons in some regards. These weapons require a missile lock in order to fire and are often “true range-of-effect” weapons. A “wavelock” weapon essentially establishes a “connection” (or wavelock) between the targeting object and the targeted object. The wavelock can “swivel” within a pre-defined arc, the wavelock is lost if the target escapes that pre-defined arc. The “wavelock” is a property that allows for a great deal of flexibility, a great variety of systems can be represented within this category. This category of “weapons” can be used to represent anything that is “targeted”.
For example, the Sustained Quantum Beam is a “guided beam weapon” that locks on to a target within the pre-defined firing arc and then “swivels” within that pre-defined arc, losing the locked target only if the target escapes that firing arc. “Pulses” of damage are sent down the stream, which damage the “wavelocked” target. The longer the player can keep the beam on the target, the more damage it will do. At the same time, the “wavelock” is used in this game to represent a Gravitic Projector (a means of holding another ship in place in relation to the generating ship, i.e. a “tractor beam”) and the Quantum Teleportation Projector (teleporting an enemy ship). As can be seen, this category of “weapons” can be used to represent a wide variety of systems. If this game had Star Trek’s “transporters”, they too would be a “wavelock weapon”.
This is good glimpse of the Object Editor (S2.0), which is not specifically covered but really already exists throughout the design document. This category of weapons might give the best glimpse of the editors that a first-time reader would be able to see. The wavelock weapon category really highlights the versatility of the editors.
These weapons are quite simple and straightforward. An expanding sphere centered on the firing ship damages anything it contacts. The properties of this weapon type are the effect of contact with the sphere and the diameter of the sphere. There are also either “Static Effect” or “Range of Effect” versions. One type does a set amount of damage to any object within the defined radius, the other does more damage the closer the object is too the firing ship. This category can also be used to represent static barriers, such as the Lightning Field.
Seeking Energy Weapons
This category represents any type of “guided energy weapon”. These are almost always “seeking weapons” which move slowly compared to “direct-fire” weapons. Several creatures use this type of weapon, and a few advanced AI ships also use weapons from this category. These types of weapons often dissipate as they travel through space; they start out initially very powerful and lose strength as they move toward their target. This makes them excellent weapons to fire at an approaching target and an almost useless weapon to fire at a receding target (unless you just want to make sure the target continues to leave). These weapons travel on the map seeking their target until they completely run out of energy, at which point they disappear.
These types of weapons are physically constructed seeking weapons, as opposed to being energy based seeking weapons. They travel to the target at a speed slow enough to allow distraction and/or evasion. They are most often guided by some means, and are often highly maneuverable compared to the targets they are intended to seek. These types of weapons may be actual exploding missiles, or any other type of physical object that is guided to the target.