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System Scanning


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No, this isn't about the beloved SS order. It's the start of conversation about scanning system for fleets. Currently, all ships have a built-in stealth mode in that in order to know a fleet is at a given warp point/orbit, it needs to be collocated with one of your fleets. Even if you move to an orbit with a fleet and that fleet moves before the end of the that particular order number, you won't see it. Both fleets have to be at the same location at the same time in order to see them. Even the sensor sweep only affects the orbit or warp point you are located at and doesn't extend past that. In just about every Sci-Fi show or book ships can usually detect the presence of other ships within the same star system through various means. While we do have Short/Medium/Long range sensors, they don't do a whole lot. And the other detection systems are kinda in the same boat. Currently, if you want to know if another player's fleets are in a system, you need to put an asset at each warp point and each orbit (those bouy things or an actual ship). That can get pricey production wise depending on how big you want to make the asset. Then these assets just sit there until another fleet shows up. Either make the sensors worth more by letting them ping a system and detect ships and orbitals (probably not surface forts) with an order. Or put in the game a device that would allow that. Like make the Short Range Sensor ping the current orbit plus one to either side of it. The Mediums could do the current orbit plus 3 to either side while the Longs could do the whole system. And say Mk I/III can detect ships but not orbitals or surface forts. Mk IV/Vs can detect ships and orbitals while Mk VI/VIIs have a small chance at surface forts. Items like the Fleet Formation Scanner would give a bonus to detecting fleets when doing the ping. The SLY equipment could also provide a bonus to the chance to detect items. The FPS could also be used to bump up the chance to see things. Even the Gravitic Sensor Webs and Mass Detector Sensors could also provide bonuses.

I understand that it would take a lot of programing and probably won't make it into the game (assuming it isn't since I haven't come across anything like it in game so far)

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I wrote the above a work and since then have had some time to write up a better version of it. Please let me know your thoughts.

Here's a better write-up for the Ping idea.

I was thinking the range sensors would have a range in orbits but I think using AUs for their ranges would be more realistic. This would make it easier to include warp points. This could mean that you have long range sensors at orbit 1 but don't have the AU range to hit one or more warp points. You would just have to move the ship to a deeper orbit to try to cover everything.

There would be three numbers: Detection Rating, Detection Threshold, and Detection Awareness.

Detection Threshold (DT): Each fleet would have a DT based upon their total tonnage. It could be a simple divisor used for all fleets. Another idea is tonnage ranges similiar to what's used to classify a ship. I like the simple divisor because it's easier to implement. The bigger the fleet, the easier it would be to detect it.

Detection Rating (DR): Each ship would have DR based upon the Short/Medium/Long Range Sensors installed on it with positive bumps from Fleet Patrol Sensors, Gravitic Sensor Webs, Mass Detector Sensors, Intelligence Sensor Packages, Computer Systems. The base numbers from the S/M/L Range sensors would be based upon the Mk level. The bumps from the other items would also be based on the Mk level. The Fleet's DR would be equal to the highest DR of the ships in the fleet. Maybe a slight bump from other ships with a DR higher than 0.

Detection Awareness (DA): This is a number for the each fleet and would be based on their level of installed Range Sensors. It gives chance to detect if they have been pinged. And I can see it giving reports saying you have detected sensor energy from an orbit/WP. This is a flat percent change to detect that you were being scanned or detected the energy of their sensors.

If the Detection Number exceeds the Detection Threshold, you get a report saying there's a fleet at that orbit/warp point. You could even flavor it by having a part in there about the empire. If your empire has already encountered ships of Empire A and you successfully Ping a fleet of Empire A, your Ping report could say you detected a large fleet of Empire A at Orbit 5. If you haven't encountered that empire before you would get an Unknown Energy Signature of a small fleet. This could also work in reverse for a DA report. "You detect sensor energy from Orbit 4 from Empire A or from an Unknown Source".

You would still get a turn delay. Turn 1 you issue a Ping order. Turn 1 results you get the results and discovered two unknown fleets. Turn 2, you send fleets to those two locations. The fleets could have moved anytime after the Ping order.

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That’s an intriguing idea but will add a level of complexity to a code that is already over 20 years old. I know how much Pete likes the idea of opening up the hood and tinkering let alone adding a whole new supercharger system to an engine that already has millions of miles on it 🤣

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Cloaking devices on ships just don't work. They serve as prereqs for other techs now.

I agree that the level of programming effort would be sizeable which why I was trying to keep it simple yet workable.

It also brings into question the interaction with Planetary Field Distorters. Are all fleets stationed at an orbit with a PFD within the bubble? If so, then they wouldn't be detectable until you ran across them in real space. 

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