Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
yurch

Oh, that silly ion.

Recommended Posts

The ion weapon is a source of much consternation for me, and after much time in game and on both ends of the thing, I have to say I still don't like it.

What tipped me into posting about it? I was perched up atop some hill with another player(I don't remember who) who wanted to try it in a group, and we were easily smiting all those who dare oppose us. At the range we were at, I would be straining to hit a moving target with a 120mm.

After a while, his comment:

"This is kinda boring, isn't it"

And I would probably have to agree with him, it certainly didn't seem fair to the burning targets below us, despite whatever extreme tactical advantage we supposedly had. I cannot tolerate using the weapon for long, and when I do, I can't help but feel there's something amiss about it.

For me, challenge is a good part of the entertainment. I like to get better with something over time (furthest dropship kill with single 120mm: 5100m, wooo) and I can't escape the feeling I've already hit the improvement ceiling with the ion cannon.

Let us examine it for a second:

Exceptional rate of fire compared to similarly mounted weapons; Accuracy is nearly a non-issue even against small or fast targets;

Apparently infinite in range; Infinite in ammo; Kills armored targets slowly, light targets exceptionally fast; All hits are in some way effective in a cumulative outlook.

Game players are amazingly good at any matter of instantaneous timing, like pulling the trigger whenever the crosshair aligns with a target. It is only when you insert additional, invisible requirements (accounting for lead, windage, trigger delay) or require additional coordination at a pace they aren't in control of (keeping a missile lock, maintaining a "weapon" on target through the motion of recoil) that difficulty of use begins to steep in. There are more ways, obviously (like non-orthoginal or generally more difficult controls for that coordination), but let's keep it simple for the moment.

Disturbingly, the ion cannon has none of these compared to other weapons. On this level, all that's required is to keep the target in LOS and stay in firing capable condition. There's a bit of work getting the cannon to fire at the optimal rate, but this shouldn't be anything near difficult for the average player.

The constant noise, flickering muzzleflash in zoom, and the need to continually press the button are all easily sortable minor concerns, but they certainly do not add to my enjoyment of the weapon.

The weapon also has a very low viceral satisfaction to it; the constant hitting with no visual consequence is intermittedly punctuated by the craft exploding at an arbitrary point.

On the recieving end, the ion is an irritating weapon to fight against. Getting totally out of LOS within a limited timeframe of a distant target with a high overview of the battlefield is difficult in slow craft and light craft alike; The light craft can get tires knocked out or be completely destroyed(shrike) on the initial volley. At excessive range, retaliation is often impossible with many of the other weapon systems. With multiple beam users or combined with other enemy craft, the experience borders on frustrating.

There are no reload periods, armor angles, or leading difficulties with the weapon to exploit. It really is the perfect weapon outside it's "low" armor ablation rate.

Now, I figure it's intended to keep the weapon in the game, so I won't attempt to persuade anyone to remove it or it's core attributes.

I would like to throw some simple suggestions out, however.

I would like to see the weapon have a long-running burst followed by a long reload period. This adds the minor coordination requirement of having to keep the beam oriented on a moving target during the limited firing phase. If the same average damage output is retained, more independant 'shots' of the burst would be wasted by user error and would not be recoverable until the next firing period.

This could tame it's extreme-range useage and accuracy a bit, at least on moving targets. It also gives a small break where the ion user will want to duck behind something, both helping him (in terms of safety) and his target (as the ion user now has to visually reaquire the target). As a bonus, you don't have to add auto-fire yet. :D

If this is not enough, perhaps the recoil could be upped enough to actually disturb the chassis or the point of aim. It's not exactly realistic for huge tanks, but then again, neither is the weapon. tongue.gif Given network physics and all that fun stuff, this is probably not feasable.

When I imagine an ion beam cannon, I always think of some sort of high-powered and demented pressure-washer. (has anyone here played Freespace 2? Yeah, lets have those, with more particle effects!) While a mod might be able to make the weapon fire in long bursts with a reload, I don't think it would be capable of making the beam truely 'sweepable'. It would only need to be so in a visual sense, we all can understand there are limitations to the amount of interpolation you can do for that sort of thing, even with a fixed turret speed.

I also think the ion should lose some effectiveness in an atmosphere at range.

Overall, an armor-eater is an interesting idea, but instant-hit weapons always make me squint. There's something that's just wrong about a total hit assurance.

Anyway, thanks for reading. I may put my money where my mouth is and come up with some actual numbers later.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree that two experienced players under a tower protection are almost invincible, to tweak a little ions towers should'nt be able to intercept any volley but just work as AAA platforms and may be antimissile, this way a party could deploy just out of the AAA umbrella and move to engage the ions guys

the idea to nerf a little the AAA towers it's ion independent, on the grass map if 'im defending i'll go close to a tower with an ATGM and get around 20 hits before been force to leave by some ions (they are the only effective weapon under AAA cover)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

i wonder what can the enemy do to counter ions protected by the laser AA tower...what about taking more ions than the defenders? smile.gif what about using smoke arty? or dropping right behind them with normal thors or apollos (to minimise damage done by dropships destroyed by ions)?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I was that other player and I totally agree with yurch.

I especially like his solution: a continous, time limited blast with reloading time is a great idea.

If the ion would also sway a bit that would help to limit the usefullness at infinite range.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Good points, yurch!

However, I think this is mostly a scenario problem, not a game problem. Just like the Hurricanes.

The ions are very powerful, especially when used in pairs. But remove the long visual distances on the ice map, or the ion AA towers on the raid map and they are much less powerful.

Teamwork + favourable terrain + protection from incoming fire are force multipliers that are in the current mix. Remove some or all of them and the situations is different.

I bet 3 ATGM vehicles under ion cover would make quite a mess...hmmmmm...gotta try that. :D

Maybe we need smoke from on-board mortars? Drop a couple of smoke rounds on the ion tanks and they have to move out of their comfy fighting position.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That's where I'd have to disagree, Kurtz. The ions aren't really all that effected by scenario, just the current player usage.

It's easiest for a lone player to sit up top somewhere under antiprojectile fire, but the ion doesn't have to be used that way.

I've rolled into the raid base, close combat, with a 3-ion thor tagteam, and it really is amazing when they go to work. Light vehicles get immobilized or die quickly; 120mm vehicles need to kill several thors from the front very quickly or suffer at the least, permanent damage to thier front armor and become clumsy HEAT targets. Spotted dropships go down hard. Another thing about the constant ion fire output is the efficiency of it all - if you were to have 3 players shoot simultaneously at a close dropship with HEAT rounds, you're probably wasting 2 HEAT rounds and 6 seconds of reload time for each of them. Not so with the ion.

Having a player jump into an enemy ion thor that was controlled by a bot a few seconds earlier is an unpleasant experience and a stark contrast to how the bots use them.

Ion does 6 ablation per hit, with .4 reload time. This gives it a theoretical maximum output of about 15 ablation per second. Apollo front armor (or, thor side) is 150; 150 front armor / 3 thors / 15 ablation per second = 3.333 seconds minimum for apollo to live. That is scary. Double that for the front chassis of a thor - it will be able to reload it's 120mm once.

I say minimum because it is assumed that all ion players are instantly aquiring the same target from the same general angle and are firing at maximum efficiency. That, and the target isn't spinning to the beat like a breakdancer. But even with less favorable conditions, it's still an exceptional weapon.

A common thing I have teammates do who want to try out ion groups is dropship denial. We park somewhere where we can get a shot at reinforcement drops (no matter what the scenario terrain is like, you can probably get a shot at the sky) and light up dropships. With two players, lets say in tempests or IC paladins, firing at less than optimal rate and accuracy, (for the sake of argument, 10 ablation per second) it takes 75 armor / 10 ablation/s / 2 players = 3.75 seconds to down a ship, which is plenty of time to down it before it deploys, and certainly before it extracts. (same numbers, thor front, 300/10/2 = 15s, which is respectable) I know I can manage to down a ship by myself if I catch it early enough. Given the mobile nature of these chassis and the range of the ion cannon, an ion group is probably the most effective and hardest to prevent AA in the game.

The suggestions of the first post in this thread probably won't do much to change all of this other than reducing the overall ablation rate due to waste and timing error.

Regarding modding it in as an example, it seems I have hit some problems. I can define a burst fire for the weapon (like the 20mm), but I cannot find where to define the rate at which it fires. It seems to continually fire through the entire reload period, evenly spaced out. I can control the muzzleflicker length, though. The beam visual and hit effect also only seems to appear for the first shot of the burst. So, I now have an ion cannon that fires an invisible beam for 6 seconds at a time at around half damage rate. Not quite what I had in mind. I also don't think you can assign a shot deviation for the ion.

So far, I don't think it's possible to illustrate with a mod yet.

I notice the beam also does not connect fully with the target chassis, usually stopping a half-length or so before hitting the target and displaying it's hit effect there. It'd be nice if that could be sorted out by the time particle hit effects are added. smile.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There are two things here. Number one: I happen to think that the hills are the key in the Raid map. If the attacker can control them (or atleast deny the use of the hills) the attacker is in a strong position. This is just the way the scenario works. If you let the defender sit on that hill with Shrike/Ion thor/whatever losing is expected.

The other thing is that the ions are really, really powerful at long ranges compared to the other platforms. And when sitting at the cover of the towers, the ATGMs and mortars can't hurt you, so you are in pretty good situation. My suggestion: make the burst something like 3-5 seconds long. If you can keep the aim at the target for the whole duration, you get the same damage or more than now. But if your aim goes off for 0.5 seconds, you lose _more_ than just the 0.5 seconds worth. Something like you heat the armor, but if your aim goes off, it has time to cool of. Also hitting different parts of the tank (side, front, turret) means the target will cool off. This way the Ion beam is much harder to _use_ at extreme ranges, jet as effective as ever at shorter ranges. Also, it is effective at longer range against stationary targets, or if you happen to be very good at using it. Keeping your aim at a moving target for 3 seconds at 5000m isn't too easy. Also, the target has a way to defend himself. Maybe there should be base damage plus increasing additional damage when hitting continuously. This way a hurricane that is rotating wouldn't be invulnerable.

This heating thing is just to clarify what I mean, so don't bring out your physics books to show me that in 0.5 seconds the armor doesn't cool of...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

That is an interesting idea. Could also reward extremely good multiuser coordination, where the players fire in sequence in order to keep the armor 'hot'.

Also something we won't be able to do with mere values mods. ;)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems like distance should reduce effectiveness (the beam should spread the farther it travels) so the total energy applied becomes dispersed.

Right now it seems like it has an undue effect at long range. It should be very effective at close range. Smoke should have a negative effect as well (ie more material in the atmosphere has to be burned through to reach the target).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Originally posted by kmead:

It seems like distance should reduce effectiveness (the beam should spread the farther it travels) so the total energy applied becomes dispersed.

Right now it seems like it has an undue effect at long range. It should be very effective at close range. Smoke should have a negative effect as well (ie more material in the atmosphere has to be burned through to reach the target).

This is my thinking as well.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

More thoughts:

The maximum possible ablation per 'shot' (with 'heating') should be around 45 or lower. Why 45? Because 50 is the current 'standard' for the lightest armor on everything tougher than a shrike. Gameplay wise, it does not make sense to give a single ion a one hit kill opportunity when it has so many other things going for it.

Requiring more than one shot will mean a reload, which will give a breather to target units. The ion will still be best paired with other ion carriers or simply other teammates, weakening enemy armor for possible shots with deadlier ammunition.

This will make apollo/paladin side/hurri front take a minimum of 3 bursts, thor side/apollo front 4, thor front 7. Hurri sides and most rears will take 2, thor rear will take 3.

Thor chassis front will start becoming vulnerable to 120mm HEAT rounds after the first two bursts.

Dropships will take 2 bursts, but with a proper reload time it could be possible to make it only possible to stop a drop by yourself if you catch it very early.

It's theoretically possible (as it even is now) to bring enough ion carriers at once to annihilate targets in the initial volley or in a very short timeframe. I don't think the servers support that sort of playercount yet, but I think at that point you can call that an ion critical mass.

Availibility should be set to prevent this from ever happening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I have to agree with yurch here. Yurch and I are constantly using the Ion-120mm combo to devastating effect. A Freespace style to the ion cannon would make it more of a challenge and more fun to use.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yurch,

Well put... The ion is the only weapon that doesn't "feel" right in this game - to the point where I've stopped using it, even though I know it's quite effective.

As a matter of fact, long, long ago I worked in a physics lab that did experimental ion beam research. (Just a warning though: I'm a little rusty, because this didn't end up being my field of expertise!).

But, just to convey some sense of how hard this is to do: We had a very high voltage (> 10,000 V) power system the size of a truck, hooked to a cathode in a small vacuum chamber. Ions would shoot out of the cathode and strike the target, which was only a few inches away - inside this high vacuum chamber. The result was about one Amp of current into the target.

Air molecules certainly dissipate an ion beam's energy (hence the vacuum chamber in the lab).

So game-wise, it would make sense to have a big penalty for shooting one of these things through an atmosphere. The energy delivered to the target should be some strong function of 1) density, and 2) range. This could be interesting, because the ion beam could be a nice standoff weapon on an airless moon, but would only be a short-range "dogfighting" weapon on the green map, say.

Also, if we wanted to include some "physically-inspired" ion weapon drawbacks:

1) Size and weight

2) A chance of EMP'ing some teammates in your vicinity, due to rapid discharge of capacitors. 3) A long recharge rate, b/c capacitors can only charge so fast.

4) The ion weapon might not receive damage well... Envision a violent shower of sparks and EMP side-effects.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll have to agree with combatplus2 here (studying physics and all). If there is an atmosphere it should really dissipate the ion beam. You would have to have a laser beam or something to have a beamweapon without so much dissipation in an atmosphere.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

maybe it just shoots so many near light speed ions that it simply nocks the air out of its path during the first instant of shooting? These are anti matter pwoered. Have you seen how fast these huge vehicles accelerate up steep hills? And I think the 120mm AP round goes over 300m per secend. Some of the armow deflects these. that must be thick armor these are carrying, and moving very fast, thus very powerful engines. That is why the power of the hurricane isnt unreasonable, the same engine powering the arty pawers those super strong jet engines. I would be bothered if air affected beams in a similarly strong way as shells. one possible to lessen the ion beams power and make it take more skill would be lowering the area damaged by each hit. Make it so you have to hit a smaller area the same number of times.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

And as a final addition, a 'prep time' of about a second or so (with ominous noise, weee!) after pressing fire but before actual beamage could reduce the overall reaction time of the platform, if it was necessary.

It will make the weapon feel more experimental and possibly less militaristic, but it is a very different weapon to begin with.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It seems reasonable for the ion to get weaker through dispersion in air.

Would an ion cannon barrel get too hot to be effective after continuous use?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great ideas, all.

The plan for the ion beam currently is:

1. Implement a "charging phase" so that the weapon fires in staggered bursts as proposed by Yurch.

2. During the charging phase, a precursor beam paints the target, preparing a vacuum tunnel for the ion beam to pass through. This precursor beam is usually feintly visible, so experienced players will realize that they're being prepped for an ion beam attack and can try to hussle out of danger before the ion beam is ready to fire.

3. Increase the ablation rate of ion beams - once the burst starts firing it's going to hurt a little bit more than it did before.

It's important that they maintain their effectiveness at extreme ranges, so we won't be taking that away.

These changes won't make it in before the 1.0.0 release but they should be ready very shortly afterward.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Yeah, this team is soo great. so is this game. i have played a lot of good shooting games, and this is my favorite by far of any game where I aim. Thank you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  

×
×
  • Create New...