Thursday, November 7, 2013

Multicapsule Ships - Going Further

Hi folks!

As I mentioned in Twitter, I will be focusing on the Multicapsule Ships concept. It's not just because it is really actual at the moment with the vision shared by CCP Seagull, having Rubicon as the first step in it, it's also because this is something that I love very much - it excites me, it's a challenge and it's all good. Just imagine when we, as capsuleers, start conquering newly discovered stars, building our own space routes and begin to struggle and fight for the abundant resources we find. We will have ultimate freedom and will face great dangers, some much greater that what we're used to deal with. This is why I have started to imagine what ships we will need to fly in order to deal with the harsh environments that we encounter deep in unknown space.

So, again, what are the Multicapsule Ships?

These ships represent a brand new class of large spacecrafts, capable to store multiple capsules in a specially designed shell that is put inside them - something like a big capsule that stores the small ones. In addition these ships are meant to store multiple frigates in special on-board bays. Whenever great dangers occur, the pilots may board the frigates, detach from the large ship and defend it like a small but powerful fleet. The multicapsule ship itself would give good bonuses to its frigates and aid them in battle. While inside the multicapsule ship the pilots may act as a crew and perform various on-board tasks such as multi-directional scan, cooperative probe scanning, control over some of the large ship weapons and modules, repair jobs and so on - all can be done inside the shell that hold the capsules or inside the capsuleer crew frigates.

I call these spacecrafts Multicapsule Ships, but this is actually a working title. They must have their own class title, must be something remarkable and fearsome. Actually if you have some good idea for their class name, please, don't hesitate to share it. It's all good.

The idea is that out there - deep in the Unknown, where no station services are present, we will have to survive on our own, sometimes waiting for a long time in order to discover the next suitable solar system, while defending our newly conquered territory. We will have to produce our ammo and modules on the fly, in our ships, gather whatever resources we can find in order to do so. We will have to deal with great dangers that lurk in this wild space - anomalies capable to destroy everything we've build out there, unexpected guests - capsuleers or not, eager to do what we want to do with all that we've found so far away from civilized space. We will find ancient artifacts, protected by insidious traps, and who knows what else. This is why we will have to stay closer together, in spacecrafts much more resilient than the ones we have today.

This is why I've started to imagine and develop this concept - the Multicapsule Ships. I started doing it long ago and now I see that it is more actual than ever.

If you are unfamiliar with this, you can start reading from its very beginning. It's a long read, be warned.

Now it's time to add the next parts to this concept, things are going further.

As mentioned before, a Multicapsule Ship would have the option to equip various Bays in a special Bay slot - something like a bay subsystem. These Bays would vary of size, depending on how many frigates a captain wants to have on their ship. The various bays were as follows:

    Triad Bay – stores 2 frigates and 3 capsules in Shell

    Diamond Bay – stores 3 frigates and 4 capsules in Shell

    Fist Bay – stores 4 frigates and 5 capsules in Shell

            Warden Bay – stores 5 frigates and 6 capsules in Shell

    Wing Bay – stores 6 frigates and 7 capsules in Shell

    Sentinel Bay – stores 7 frigates and 8 capsules in Shell

            Emblem Bay – stores 8 frigates and 9 capsules in Shell

    Fleet Bay – stores 9 frigates and 10 Capsules in Shell

This would mean that for every crew count change the captains of these ships should fit a new Bay subsystem, which means that they will have to go back to civilized space and dock somewhere. This is not good. Actually when I was writing the draft of this post I had a big dilemma: What would be better - to allow pilots to have any desired count of frigates in their multicapsule ship Deck, thus allowing them to modify its mass and maneuverability (using the Bay subsystems mentioned above) or give them a lower variety of multicapsule ship/Deck sizes making them want to maximize their crew accordingly and ensure their better survival in Uncharted Space? The latter option feels a lot better for me plus it will allow more options. For example it would allow Multicapsule Ships to carry larger frigates - like bombers. Due to the good changes that bombers had not that long ago, they’re now larger and fitting them in a Bay subsystem would be a trouble.

Even better - assuming that a bomber frigate is twice larger than a regular one and a destroyer class ship is as large as three regular frigates, then this would allow larger Multicapsule Ships to carry destroyers too! Yes, I do need to make a good research about ship sizes on order to make all this make sense, but it sounds good in theory. I guess that if this concept goes further there could be more accurate adjustments regarding the size of these ships.

I do feel that I need a much better knowledge and more piloting experience in this stellar realm of ours, maybe I should just relax and take some time to figure out how things are made here. But I can’t, I want to go further, I want to shape up this concept and make something good of it! Will adjust things on the fly.

So there won’t be Bay subsystems for Multicapsule Ships! The concept goes in another direction.

Actually it starts going back to the previous designs. At least for this particular thing.

Instead there should be various predefined sizes of Multicapsule Ships and they should be capable to carry not just frigates, but bombers and destroyers as well.

This may look cool, but I figured out that I've been missing something very important - the size that these multicapsule ships would have. Well, let's say that a ship like these has a Deck storing 6 frigates. Adding the fact that it must have a large cargo bay, a specialized large mining drone bay plus a regular one and a Micro-Factory that should be something very large despite its minor name... and it appears that a regular Multicapsule Ship should have the size of a freighter or even larger! So it's time to correct this: Multicapsule Ships will no longer be meant to be battleship class vessels, they will be some sort of sub-capital ships.

Another thing: the Multicapsule Battlecruisers concept. Well I have to admit that I did the same mistake twice. Even if they have just two frigates in their Deck, they would be huge. Much larger than a battleship.

Good. Things look like a big mess so far. Let’s shape things up.

Some time later…

I made a small research and I figured out that bomber frigates are not that large compared to regular frigates and in terms of volume and ship long axis length, destroyers are also not that large compared to regular frigates and bombers. Yes, there are some exceptions, but things are well balanced.

Well, it looks like a design like the one mentioned above is quite possible: Let’s say that a Multicapsule Ship is able to carry regular frigates, bombers and destroyers, but the systems and machinery that are meant to maintain and service them will be quite limited, so the largest multicapsule ship would be able to carry 9 regular frigates, or 4 bombers and 1 frigate, or 3 destroyers all at once. Of course any other combinations would be available. So each multicapsule ship will have a certain amount of Deck Points that determine the count of smaller vessels that it can carry. Each regular frigate would occupy 1 Deck Point, each bomber frigate would take 2 Deck Points and each Destroyer would take 3 Deck Points.

It’s time to determine the various multicapsule ship types, each able to carry different count of smaller ships, meaning that each type would have a Deck of different size.

I think there must be four types of multicapsule ships:

Triad Type - With 2 Deck Points and 3 capsules in Shell

Fist Type - With 4 Deck Points and 5 capsules in Shell

Wing Type - With 6 Deck Points and 7 capsules in Shell

Fleet Type - With 9 Deck Points and 10 capsules in Shell

The Triad type would consist of the smallest and swiftest multicapsule ships out there. Well, they will be fast ships, maybe a little slower than the fastest battleships out there, will see.

The rest of the types would consist of heavily armored, gracefully slow and very tough ships, each next type heavier and tougher than the other.

This means that each multicapsule ship would have some space inside of it, that must be dedicated for the smaller vessels that it can carry, yes, something like a small hangar or as I call it - Deck. Similar to the existing supercarrier designs, these decks may have a shielded opening or maybe some massive hatch doors. This will be decided later when making the Concept Art. :)

It is true that this can be easily applied to the Bay Subsystems  mentioned above - each one with a different Deck size, meaning that there would be fewer multicapsule ships to design for each race and faction, but the sizes would vary too much, which would still mean that lots of ship designs should be made. Plus the new idea with four predefined sizes of multicapsule ships would not require new design additions to the ship fitting window.

I feel that things regarding the size of these ships are pretty much sorted for now.

Moving on.

In the previous blog posts I mention the option for ships that the multicapsule ship is carrying, being able to fire their launchers from inside of it, using special hatches in its hull. Well, as it turns out, this should be implemented in a different way, because the previous idea isn’t realistic enough, at least for me.

OK. Having the option to fit additional turrets on the big host ship (the Multicapsule Ship), dedicated to the smaller ships inside, would mean that the maximum count of 8 High Slots on the ship should be exceeded. There is no need for this to happen.

In the initial blog post regarding Multicapsule Ships I have set up some limitations for the ships inside the host ship in case they want to shoot their weapons while still docked in it:

"Only three crew member frigates can use their launchers at a time – one launcher per frigate. The captain determines which frigate will use launchers. When the frigates are inside, the maximum count of active launchers on the Crew Ship (Crew Ship + Frigates) cannot be more than the maximum allowed launchers for a battleship class vessel."

OK, a better concept is needed here. This restriction was designed in order for the multicapsule ship to be less powerful when the smaller ships are still inside of it, but at least give the capsuleer crew the option to fire their weapons while docked inside. However, this seems too restricted right now. Here is what I’ll do:

The large ship will have its own high slots and turret/launcher hardpoints. In addition to that it will have Secondary Hardpoints. They will be dedicated to the smaller ships inside of it. Depending on the Multicapsule Ship specific attributes, the count and type of these secondary hardpoints may vary, but they will provide the option for the capsuleer crew to fire their weapons while still inside the large ship. Technically this will be possible, because the systems of the large ship would allow launchers, as well as turrets, from the smaller ships inside, to be transferred and mounted on the large ship hull as long as it has free Secondary Hardpoints for them. Of course it would be good if the turret/launcher bonuses that the smaller ships have, could still apply when they're transferred to the large ship hull.

Yes! This concept will allow us to have not just our launchers, but our turrets as well, while still inside our big host ship! This gives more freedom when selecting the capsuleer crew ships.

Visually this would look very cool. Imagine how the capsuleer crew leaves the Shell, boards their ships and use the systems to transfer some of their turrets or launchers on the hull of their host ship, its secondary hardpoints hatches open and the crew turrets and launchers deploy starting to shoot in every direction.

This would give us the option to choose whether to deploy the smaller ships and deal with any present hostiles, or stay together inside and battle from a fortified position. Both options will be available on any given situation, however they may lead to very different results, so we should choose wisely.

Hmm… There is a question now: Should the Secondary Hardpoints have their launcher/turret type restrictions or should they be combined allowing any type of weapon the smaller ships have to be mounted up on the large ship hull? The second option would mean more freedom of choice when selecting the types of smaller ships. I like the second option. How about you?

Of course there should be some limit to the count of these Secondary Hardpoints so that things get meaningful. The leading concept here is to make Multicapsule Ships less powerful when smaller ships are docked inside of them, compared to when they are being deployed and act as a fleet.

OK, things look a lot better now. There is more stuff to sort out of course. The concept will evolve further. Hey, I’d love to know what you think about this. Share your thoughts in the comments. Let’s do this together!

EDIT: The project evolved further. Check it here.

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