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 Post subject: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 7:07 pm 
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If like me you pilot larger, less maneuverable ships (Boa, Python class and carriers), then I'm sure you have been aware how infuriating it is to zap away at a ship lowering it's shields before it zips away into the distance courtesy of injectors, faster speed and greater maneuverability.

Would it be possible to have a tractor beam available for greater mass ships that offer a re-balancing of the scales?

I find that it is difficult especially when I don't want to destroy the ship, just lower the shields low enough to encourage the offending captain to bail out so that I can collect his ship on my escort deck or mine it using the tow bar. Having more time to do this would help.

Maybe the tractor beam could take up space in the cargo hold, have a significant energy drain in addition to only being available to ship masses at the larger size of the spectrum (I'm thinking Boa and above).
What are peoples thoughts on this idea?

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Sun May 27, 2018 8:49 pm 
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Just thinking about how something like this would work. Would you have to maintain target lock on the ship? Would the result be that the injectors are disabled, and/or that the ships max speed is limited to your ships speed (or lower), and/or the the ship is actually pulled back towards the player ship? And/Or something else?

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 12:11 am 
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Quote:
Just thinking about how something like this would work. Would you have to maintain target lock on the ship? Would the result be that the injectors are disabled, and/or that the ships max speed is limited to your ships speed (or lower), and/or the the ship is actually pulled back towards the player ship? And/Or something else?
Just my 2-cents for this idea, since its a constant beam maintaining target lock would make sense. Depending on the mass of both ships the speed of the target would slow down, get limited to your own speed or get pulled towards you. Maybe keep a pressor beam or strong shields as countermeasure in mind so that by draining your energy banks there is a way out.

from Wikipedia:

Fiction

Science fiction movies and telecasts normally depict tractor and repulsor beams as audible, narrow rays of visible light that cover a small area of a target. Tractor beams are most commonly used on spaceships and space stations. They are generally used in three ways:

As a device for securing or retrieving cargo, passengers, shuttlecraft, etc. This is analogous to cranes on modern ships.
As a device to harness objects that can then be used as improptu weapons by the craft
As a means of preventing an enemy from escaping, analogous to grappling hooks.

In the latter case, there are usually countermeasures that can be employed against tractor beams. These may include pressor beams (a stronger pressor beam will counteract a weaker tractor beam) or plane shears aka shearing planes (a device to "cut" the tractor beam and render it ineffective). In some fictional realities, shields can block tractor beams, or the generators can be disabled by sending a large amount of energy back up the beam to its source.

Tractor beams and pressor beams can be used together as a weapon: by attracting one side of an enemy spaceship while repelling the other, one can create severely damaging shear effects in its hull. Another mode of destructive use of such beams is rapid alternating between pressing and pulling force in order to cause structural damage to the ship as well as inflicting lethal forces on its crew.

Two objects being brought together by a tractor beam are usually attracted toward their common centre of gravity. This means that if a small spaceship applies a tractor beam to a large object such as a planet, the ship will be drawn towards the planet, rather than vice versa.[citation needed]

In Star Trek, tractor beams are imagined to work by placing a target in the focus of a subspace/graviton interference pattern created by two beams from an emitter. When the beams are manipulated correctly the target is drawn along with the interference pattern. The target may be moved toward or away from the emitter by changing the polarity of the beams. Range of the beam affects the maximum mass that can be moved by the emitter, and the emitter subjects its anchoring structure to significant force.[43]

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 8:53 am 
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Good idea, I think it is an invisible rope attached to the targeted ship, which will pull your ship toward because you are not anchored to any fixed point in space.

There is an optimal range where the beam can not pull back the target, nor the target can not escape even at a lower speed. Tactically this is the best range where the beam could activate automatically: at any longer range the beam just initiate an escape reaction which will be successful and you will not win too much.

Although it could be able to pull the target near within the optimal range, usually this is not what you want to do with a fast ship: it can move out from your crosshairs more easily if the range is small. So I think enough if the beam can keep the target in a fixed distance, at least in the first version.

I guess it should work in short range and on smaller ships only. For example the longest range could be 5km and applied on ships below 10% of your mass, then more mass need shorter range, up to 50% mass at 1km.

An easy visualisation of the active beam could be a blue Waypoint box placed over the target and oriented back to the player, updated in each frame.

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 11:55 am 
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I think what I had in mind with the idea was very much along the lines that you are thinking Norby.
I think with regard to mass ratio between the two ships in the tractor beam process you could set a minimum ratio but it also makes me think that there could be an alternative use for a tractor beam in certain instances where you could use the tractor beam to get a speed up tow. For example lets say that a Boa uses the tractor beam on Caduceus, Drak Rainbow or Python CC, these target ships are (I think) all greater in mass and significantly faster perhaps it could be possible that you are pulled along (kinda like me being in a tug of war with Geoff Capes)
phkb and montana05 raise many, many interesting points and questions which makes you start to appreciate that what you initially think is a relatively simple idea has a large amount of variables and interpretations which can be (and should be) taken into account. Perhaps you could have different models or grades of tractor beam in the same way that yo have different lasers / cannons and not all will fit on all ships.
I think it could be a suggestion to say that you need to deplete a ships shields to a certain level before you can initiate the tractor beam (think I'm being heavily influenced by the opening scene of Star Wars - A New Hope in this thought).
Another train of thought could be that the tractor uses the huge energy stores of the shields - ie it collapses your shields to project a new field which is anchored around your ship and encompasses both and renders the target ship inert. This would impose a huge risk as you would be very vulnerable to attack from other ships.

But I know nothing about coding or what is possible (phkb will attest that I'm still coming to terms with reading oxp instructions properly :oops: ) I just spout ideas and rely on better more experienced minds to tell me whether they think they are of any use or indeed feasible and how they could be shaped.

Peace & Apple Hoagies :lol:

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Mon May 28, 2018 2:39 pm 
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Quote:
But I know nothing about coding or what is possible (phkb will attest that I'm still coming to terms with reading oxp instructions properly :oops: ) I just spout ideas and rely on better more experienced minds to tell me whether they think they are of any use or indeed feasible and how they could be shaped.
I think we all like your idea, just need to find a solution how its manageable on Oolite, while phkp and Norby are experts I am still learning every day, last time I wrote a serious code was PL/I so a while ago :oops:

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 12:50 am 
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Tractor beams and pressor beams can be used together as a weapon: by attracting one side of an enemy spaceship while repelling the other, one can create severely damaging shear effects in its hull. Another mode of destructive use of such beams is rapid alternating between pressing and pulling force in order to cause structural damage to the ship as well as inflicting lethal forces on its crew.
There is a less aggressive option too, for the equivalent of saying "I can take you if I feel the need to, but I don't need the paperwork" - aim your tractor beam at the port side of the irritating vessel and your pressor beam at the starboard side ... and watch the other Jameson have to fight his controls to line up his hull laser on you, while wishing he's paid for that gun turret with 3-axis target tracking.


A "feature" that has appeared in recent versions (I think post Trunk 1.74, but I'm not sure about that) is that some ships - aggressive Kraits in particular - blow up and eject a slab of alloy ... faster than Military Fuel Injectors, but not as fast as Torus drive. Catching that lump of metal can be a real PITA. A tractor beam which would actually slow the damned things down enough to scoop would be a good tool.

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:22 am 
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A "feature" that has appeared in recent versions (I think post Trunk 1.74, but I'm not sure about that) is that some ships - aggressive Kraits in particular - blow up and eject a slab of alloy ... faster than Military Fuel Injectors, but not as fast as Torus drive. Catching that lump of metal can be a real PITA. A tractor beam which would actually slow the damned things down enough to scoop would be a good tool.
<shameless plug mode on>There is a device in the GalCop Missions OXP that does this.</shameless plug mode off>

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 16, 2018 1:28 am 
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I've still never met a generation ship in-game, but one of my "to do" items for a long time relates to tractor beams, mining tugs, and a minor character in a different SF universe.

If you're familiar with Larry Niven's "Known Space" universe ... well, a quick precis. Before humans got FTL travel, they launched colony ships with canned people in suspended animation, and a crew awake. One of these, going to expand an existing colony, didn't decelerate there, shot past the star accelerating and yawing with the solar wind on it's ramscoop drive, then disappearing into the void on an unpredictable path. It was inferred that the crew was dead, the several thousand colonists were aboard in cold sleep, and the story of "The Lost Lazy-8" was born.

Several thousand colonists who's entire assets have been accruing at compound interest for a number of centuries. If they're not dead, they're rich, and as salvors you're in a good position to demand costs and a fair profit.

So, once someone has found the thing (a conversation in a not-so-Seedy Space Bar?), how to catch this BIG generation ship, which has been doing 0.001G for centuries longer than planned? Well, that's where you need your FTL (Oolite : Witchdrive), a tractor beam (under discussion), an asteroid-mining tug full of inertial mass (Boa loaded with minerals), a convenient star, and fuel scoops. Larry likes to keep the number of impossibilities to a minimum, so you've still got inertia to deal with. (I know, Oolite isn't exactly on polite conversational terms with the Conservation of Momentum. But it's the essence of this mission.)

The basic strategy is to use the FTL to get ahead of the Lazy-8, and grab it with the tractor beam as it goes past. The Lazy-8 will pass momentum to your ship by stretching the tractor beam like a springy rope. If you get too far from the Lazy-8, the tractor beam breaks. But you still have some of it's momentum vector. So you FTL ahead of the Lazy-8 and repeat the process. Until you're going at the maximum speed the ship can take (according to Professor Handwavium's Theory of Irrelativity. Or maybe your'e chewing Qurium to power the tractor beam?) Then you FTL back to your star system, line up for a sun-dive, dump your hold mass of rocks (full of the Lazy-8's inertia) into the star (don't get in the way - this might trigger flares!), and then use your fuel scoops to decelerate to "in system" speeds and re-fill the tanks. Go load up the hold with dull minerals again (An asteroid belt? Or can planetary rings be scooped for concentrated minerals?), then FTL off to the Lazy-8 to take another chunk off it's momentum vector. As long as you can take more off it's speed than it's ramscoop drive can pick up while you're dumping momentum into the star, you should eventually be able to drop the speed below what the ramscoop needs to operate. When that happens, you can start the process of turning the star ship back into civilisation for the archaeologists to defrost the "corpsicles" and to sell the wreck as a theme park.

It would be a major mission. You might need to recruit another "asteroid tug" (or be recruited yourself) to speed things up. But you'd be saving more lives than you can easily rescue from a nova.

Of course, the ship may have "gone isolationist" and greet your intervention with some seriously "go away" weaponry. You won't know until you try.

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2018 10:57 am 
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<shameless plug mode on>There is a device in the GalCop Missions OXP that does this.</shameless plug mode off>
Missions / Galcop Missions ... 0.3.7 , which will download various other missions too. Since it's listed as a WIP, I'd filed it under "not yet". How "in progress" is it?

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Sun Jun 17, 2018 11:08 pm 
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How "in progress" is it?
I believe all the individual missions should work as advertised, although it's hard to test every combination. But I still have more plans for it. At the moment, there are lots of individual missions, some of which can be chained together in (I believe) a reasonably understandable way. But that linking is intentionally random - I'm attempting to leave the player-story side of things up to the player as much as possible, allowing the "story in your head" to apply meaning to things. However, I'd like to add some meta-missions to the pack, with some scripted story arcs that the player can slot into. I'd also like to deepen the importance and visibility of reputation, and add some non-monetary rewards (medals, citations, that sort of thing).

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 Post subject: Re: Tractor Beam
PostPosted: Sun Jul 08, 2018 6:28 am 
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Cargo Shepherd OXZ does something like this for loose cargo pods, which as far as the game is concerned are treated as NPC "ships".
That's where I'd be digging if trying to make a more general-purpose ship-based tractor beam.


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