Dev Diary #4 - Weapons, Turrets and Damage
Posted on July 22, 2016
Hello, everyone!

It’s time for another Dev Diary, this time about the weapon system. Initially I wanted to cover damage distribution and other advanced gameplay mechanics, but then I realized it’s difficult to write about it without explaining weapons first. So here we are, enjoy :-)


Weapon Turret mechanic

The first thing to know about weapons in GJL is that they are placed on the ship as any other block in the form of firing turrets. In combat, these turrets may fire only on targets that are in their line of sight meaning that not all turrets will necessarily fire all the time. This creates a challenge for the ship builder to create an effective design - he may try to focus all of the ship’s damage to one side or try to cover as many angles as possible or somewhere in between.

Weapon Types

As you know there are three weapon types in the game - Gauss, Lasers and Missiles. Each has a different damage dealing mechanic which creates various gameplay possibilities and situations. We’ll cover them one by one. Note that this diary is about the general design of weapon types and not about specific weapons and their numerical balance.


A graph of weapon use in the first month of GJL Alpha.

Lasers

Lasers or “Lazers”, as some of you affectionately misspell them, have two specific properties: their fire is hitscan and they deal damage over time. Hitscan means that damage is instantly applied to the targeted block after firing. Lasers deal damage over time with an interval of 0.125 seconds or 8x per second. For instance the Phaser deals 7.5 damage each 0.125 seconds giving it a DPS of 48 (as of patch 1.0.1063). These properties allow lasers to fire with the greatest precision making them great at targeting specific components - especially the Ship core. The downside is that they require a period of sustained precise aiming to deal significant damage. There are currently two Laser weapons in the game - The Heavy Laser and the Phaser.

Missiles

Missile weapons have two characteristics: they are automatically guided and they’re not limited by turret rotation. They work like this: When you fire a missile, the game checks whether you have managed to aim at a ship block via hitscan. If you didn’t aim at a ship block, the missile is targeted at the point in space you were aiming at. If you’ve managed to aim at a ship block it is selected as the target and the missile tries to reach it as precisely as possible. Missile weapons have a defined speed, acceleration and rotation rate which determine their ability to reach their target. Another feature of missiles is that they are not limited by turret positions and their line of sight - that means all missile launchers fire all the time. Because of these two aspects, missile weapons offer quite different gameplay and ship construction options. Their advantage is that they don’t require as much focus on aiming and turret positions and all of them are able to fire all the time. This makes them ideal for newer players and players who want to focus more on abilities than aiming. Their downside is limited precision compared to gauss and laser weapons. Developing missiles took by far the longest time compared to other weapon types and we’re not sure how they will perform in the meta game. We’re excited to find out.

Gauss weapons

These are basically classic canons except their bullets are propelled by electromagnetism (Thanks Wikipedia). Weapons of this type currently have three specifics - they are projectile based, their gun turrets cannot cover a full 360° horizontal angle and they have the highest range in the game. Being projectile based means that they fire a bullet with a specific speed and it takes some time for it to reach its target. For instance the Heavy Gauss Cannon has a range of 3500 m and fires its shell at 7000 m/s which means it reaches its maximum range in 0.5 seconds. The Gatling gauss has a speed of 6000 m/s and the Uber gauss of 5500 m/s. Hitting with the Gauss is more tricky than with other weapons but we try to compensate for this with the best range and highest DPS in the game.



Missile weapons are guided and so the player doesn't need to worry about turret positions.

Damage distribution

When the damage of a projectile is higher than the HP of the block that it hit, the remaining damage doesn’t disappear but instead spreads to other blocks. A random block neighbouring the originally hit block is selected and damage is spread to it. When all blocks neighbouring the original received damage and there is still damage left, it spreads into another layer of blocks and another block is selected at random. This process repeats itself until the damage is depleted. Only after all damage is distributed does the game check for lost connections to the Ship Core and all blocks that have lost their connection are destroyed. Get it? You might want to read this a few more times :)

I think that’s more than enough information for this week. What do you think about the weapon system? Let us know on the Forum.


See you next time

Martin “Gajxo” Gajarsky

Game Designer