October 20th 2017
Todays topic of discussion on the New Ship Matrix is all about thrusters and how we reflect their stats on the web page. Thrusters are obviously a key part of a spaceships and critical for getting you around and also a key area to manage in both fuel consumption and emissions. Thrusters come in a huge range of sizes and types from the smallest fixed maneuvering thruster on a Nox, the huge pivoting VTOL thrusters found on the Idris, and all the way to the humongous fixed main thrusters found on the Bengal.
The first and most dramatic thing to notice with thrusters on the new matrix is the removal of TR values or Thrust Rating from the stats page and we’ve done this for a few reasons:
With how ships are setup and tuned now we do not currently dictate independant thruster outputs, instead we allow thrust to be shunted around the thrusters as needed from a pool but within a total capped amount per thruster. With this its meant we have no “desired” or minimum thrust output values to generate TR values from or against.
The value itself was always very confusing to explain and often did not match the art of the thrusters created by the talented art team which caused further confusion. How could a TR1 thruster on ship X be as powerful as a TR1 thruster on ship Y when its 1/10 the size?
It was a un-intuitive and uninformative value to compare ships with given how complicated the flight model is, knowing that a ship had three TR2’s versus another with 2 TR3’s gave no useful information that couldn’t be better presented elsewhere, such as the values on the Technical Information panel we discussed yesterday.
The second change to notice is the removal of Size attributes for the thrusters, these have been removed for much the same reason as TR was removed. As thrusters are unique to the ship and swappable in complete sets the size loses all meaning. Instead of the old Thrust Rating and Size values we now display the amount and more information on the type of thruster equipped to your ship between the two categories of thruster:
The primary thrusters on the ship that are responsible for making it go forwards, these are the most important ones on traditionally constructed ships and provide the bulk of forward momentum.
Having moved from the maneuvering section of the old matrix these are now counted in the Main Thruster category as they are a critical thruster set on the ship. There is little point having the biggest thruster around if you cant stop in time! Generally found in pairs some ships may have more or less depending on their roles and having a damage one can cause serious issues when trying to stop.
These thrusters provide lift in the Z+ axis and can either be fixed in one position to provide continuous upward thrust or can pivot when needed to provide that thrust. Cargo or particularly ships tend to have fixed VTOL thrusters on the underside if they are required to enter/exit planets or moons with gravity to aid them in leaving the atmosphere and to also slow their decent. If a ship does not have any dedicated VTOL thrusters it is not the end of the world, it just requires more forethought under those circumstances mentioned before.
Fixed Maneuvering thrusters provide instant thrust output as they do not need to align to the desired vector first, this gives a quicker response leading to more agility. The downside is you need to have more of them, a minimum of 12 on a ship to provide the ability to move in any direction with 6DOF.
Gimbal Maneuvering thrusters provide thrust on one or more axis as they pivot or rotate to align themselves to the desired vector before providing thrust. This allows less thrusters to be needed but at the cost of a slower response rate and a small amount of power required to move them into position, making them vulnerable to power management problems.
The best way to theorycraft ship performance using these stats is to consider the types of thrusters in conjunction with the maneuvering stats on the Technical Information panel that we detailed in the last post.
A: In some form yes, whilst we’ve removed them from the Ship Matrix for now due to the above reasons we have plans to bring back a more useful form of them with ongoing thruster and flight model updates in future patches, in part to deal with the somewhat overpowered maneuvering thrusters that have become commonplace with the changes to the flight model in 2.6.
A: That is the goal but not possible in SC Alpha 3.0 and will be included in a future update. We plan to allow players to swap out their thrusters in sets, main and maneuvering together, for ones of alternate type such as Racing or Stealth styled ones. These would come with a visual difference to differentiate them from the stock loadout alongside adjusted stats in various systems to provide a different flight experience from normal. For example swapping out a Hornets default thruster set for a Stealth thruster set would seriously reduce its IR emissions over standard at the expense of performance and wear rate.