Mechanics Series - #6 Point Defense and Overwatch
Thanks for joining us this week as we discuss more mechanics that players can take advantage of in Lord of Rigel. So far, we’ve discussed missiles, fighters, and beam weapons. But an important balancing mechanic for these is point defense. Most beam weapons can be set to a point defense version which is shorter range (they have twice the range penalties of other beams) but has a 360 degree firing arc and accuracy bonuses when firing at fighters and missiles. These weapons do less damage, and aren’t as effective against ships, but cost very little in terms of size and space on a ship and can easily take out incoming missiles and fighters. Players facing enemy ships equipped with fighters, missiles, and torpedoes should use point defense weapons as a counter for these devices. Ultimately, while players may destroy the enemy ship launching the above listed weapons, they can still be hit and damaged by them once launched. Having point defense weapons can act like a good measure of insurance to make sure your ships can survive the battle.
One thing we wanted to do in Lord of Rigel was to also make unmodified weapons more useful for the player. It is tempting to want to place the largest spinal mount gun on a ship, but we wanted to make it useful to have a set of weapons that were unmodified and with wider firing arcs. Our answer to that was adding a reaction fire mechanic, known as "overwatch mode". Any normal or point defense weapons unfired at the end of a turn go into overwatch mode. When in this mode, there is a certain percent chance as to whether weapons automatically fire at a moving hostile target based on range. Each turn, the AI considers these percentage rules to determining whether or not weapons in overwatch mode are fired. If they are to be fired, overwatch missiles, torpedoes, and strike craft take priority each turn, followed by moving hostile ships. As enemies get closer to a ship, the chance of reaction fire from overwatch weapons drastically increases. The end result is something that feels more like how a human player would handle overwatch, trying to save shots for when targets are close to increase the chance of hitting. The overwatch mechanic should also encourage players to scan enemy ships to see what weapons have not been fired, and therefore may be in overwatch mode. This will tell them if it is safe to try and close in on an enemy ship to attempt to do more damage or board it.
Join us next week as we discuss the AI system used in ship tactical combat!