Fire at Bob, Commander!

Something that’s becoming a common theme on this blog is talking about how to handle different types of player actions in a manner dissimilar from modern games. There is a fine degree of control necessary when operating any sort of military vessel in space, and we want to give it to you.

Aside from being able to target all of your weapons independently, you’ll also be able to directly control their AI actions by setting each battery to a specific mode.

These modes are a little complicated, and still subject to change (as everything here is) but our intention is to allow you to perform behaviors you’re not normally allowed to perform. Not all enemy units will charge head on into enemy fire, some will turn and run away. A group of light fighters confronting a battleship alone, for example, will flee in the face of overwhelming firepower. But how do you convince the enemy that’s in their best interests? In this case the answer is Suppressive Fire, but there was no way for you to know that! So we’ll explain.

Hold Fire

This command is overwhelmingly obvious, it will force the battery to stop shooting and the battery will not engage in shooting again until the order is changed. This is the default mode for all batteries. This mode of fire is for approach or stealth situations.

Restrained Fire

This is the maximum ammo conservation mode. This mode will fire every few seconds at a target, only when it is range and when it has the best chance to hit. That means if a target is moving towards you, it may not fire right when it enters range, but instead wait until it approach much closer then it normally would. The idea of this mode is that you can fire at an enemy without merely throwing out tons of ammunition in the hopes of hitting something, and more valuable weapon types (torpedoes, missiles, cruise missiles) will be more effective as they will be the most likely to hit.

The rate at which a battery will start shooting at this mode is determined by the Lock Strength. Once you have targeted a ship, you must lock a target to engage it. Locks can range anywhere from 1% to 100%. This number determines the likelihood of a shot fired now reaching it’s target. This number will generally start around 25 and work it’s way up the closer you get to the target. Batteries set to restrained fire will not open fire on a target until it reaches at least 85% lock strength.

When set to this mode, a battery will fire until it’s ammo is expended.

This mode is best set when you are trying to destroy an enemy to escape a battle – every shot will count.

Sustained Fire

Sustained fire is very similar to the above – except that rather then depend on lock strength to determine when it will open fire it depends purely on range. Once a target has entered range, the weapon battery will fire short bursts from its weapons every few seconds, maintaining ammo but also beginning to fire as soon as a hit is at all possible and stopping only when it’s ammo is expended.

This mode is best set when you are just entering an engagement and want to inflict maximum possible damage on a target before closing to finish it off.

Fire at Will

This command will order a battery to fire at a target as soon as it enters range and not stop until it is out of ammo. This is slightly different then the sustained fire mode above because the battery will run out of ammo much quicker in this mode, as it does not stop occasionally to rest in between shots.

This mode is best set when you are in the middle of a wild melee and don’t care what gets caught in the crossfire.

Suppressive Fire

This command will order a battery to open up immediately! It will begin firing at a target and continue firing at a target until it runs out of ammo or the target is destroyed. This command will deplete your ammo even faster then the previous commands, and worse, is not dependent on range or lock.

This mode is best set when you trying to intimidate an enemy from closing. This mode can also be used for larger weapons – such as anti-Capital ship weapons – for targeting groups of fighters the battery might not otherwise be optimized to hit. With such a massive amount of fire power going out, the odds are good even one or two close misses can take out a target.

That wraps up our notes on the various battery AI control modes. Stay tuned this week, we’re going to talk more about Target Locks and how to maintain them!

Until next time, Sink Enemy Shipping!

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