Turret/Large versus Small Ship Fixes and Targeting based on Power Output
Sorry, this is gonna be long. But I seriously think it would improve the game a lot.
Space Engineers has a huge issue with PvP and PvE Combat when it comes to stealth, and when it comes to Large versus Small ship.
Firstly, there is no stealth. There is currently no reason not to have every turret on a base/bigship set to attack every possible option (small ship, station, character), and the Turrets do not need you to cross into a field of view, just cross into a targeting range and the turret can shred you, without you even necessarily knowing that you'd made a mistake.
Secondly, Large versus Small ship, the small ship will lose. I've made some lightly modded small ships that can do damage but they will still be destroyed very quickly by a large ship.
There are a few changes and additions that could revolutionize this system, and for relatively little difficulty.
Changes and Additions
1) Add a Spool-Up Period to Gatling Turrets
Just a Quality of Life fix really. They're almost pinpoint accurate, and can cause incredible damage to a ship from even an accidental slip into range. If a 1-3 second spool up was added, this in and of itself could greatly increase the ability of smallship combat.
2) Nerf Interior Turrets
Interior turrets right now can be vicious, with the same pinpoint accuracy coupled with near infinite ammunition capacity, and not significantly decreased damage over time against small ships. A quick fix would be to limit the ammunition to perhaps five magazines, but an additional nice fix would be to slightly decrease damage in general.
3) Target Grid based on Power Output
This is the game changer. This game already has statistics for Power Generated by Grid. So make the Turrets target grids based on how much power they are using. Decoys could make a false power signature, i.e. not deliver power, but tell turrets that there was +1 mega watt to the signature or something, as well as warheads adding to a signature (or not) This could be scaled by range, perhaps adding a certain amount of "signature" every 100 metres something gets closer to the turret from whatever the maximum range is. (if the signature is 5 at 800, then it's 6 at 700 etc.)
For example: A pirate Gatling turret is at point A. Three objects are positioned 500m away, at points B C and D. At Point B, there is a fighter, with 2 batteries and a reactor, and fixed weapons. At point C there is a cargo rover, with 1 battery, no weapons, and at point D there is a large-grid ship with many reactors, batteries, and weapons.
The turret will first target the largeship at D, then the fighter at B, then the cargo rover at C.If the rover had a Turret, maybe the Pirate Gatling would target it over the fighter, but it would still target the large ship first.
4) Targeting options effect power usage
Turret options right now mean very little. You can have them on or off, but it's really just a matter of preference. With this change, Anti-personnel turrets (Interior Turrets) would be relatively unaffected, but Anti-Ship Turrets would have a rather larger change.
Simply put, attacking large signature grids would be default, and cost no extra power. This should really encompass most if not any large ship or station. Attacking medium signature grids (perhaps the output of a "default" "complex" fighter like the Deterrent) would cost some extra power, and attacking small signature grids (perhaps the output of one small grid large battery) would cost even more power. (This inverse relationship between signature and power required denotes difficulty to detect the smaller signature) There should/could also be a cutoff for how little power the turrets can detect, i.e. a rover operating on one small small grid battery might be invisible to a missile turret.
Really, the big thing with this is that the power increase from large signature to medium to small should not be negligible. It should be large enough that there is a reasonable downside to having every turret on your ship target everything.
So, Back to the original issues. PvP/E, and Stealth. Stealth is added in two ways. One, "Stealth" ships can be built, to lower their power signatures below a certain threshold. Perhaps you make a ship that's very slow and weak, but because it has such a low signature, it can get in within 500 metres of a turret instead of only 800 metres. And Two, ships can "Run Dark", or turn off any system that is using power, in order to hide from an enemy. As weapons (and especially turrets) use power, this would mean that those would have to be turned off too.
PvP/E Fixes are a bit more obvious perhaps.
A Spool up time for large grid Gatlings in and of itself makes smallship assault more viable, and reducing inventory for interior turrets allows for one well hidden interior to not be able to just spray and pray your ship away.
But more importantly, Making turrets attack based on power usage adds real functionality to options that are already in the game. It gives a reason to make a fighter with fewer batteries, and fewer guns. It gives a reason to build decoy ships in combat, it makes it much less likely for sub-grid custom turrets to be instantly destroyed by Auto-turrets, it gives a reason to player-control turrets, as stealthy vessels or even simply vessels whose signatures are overpowered can now be a huge threat.
You already have a power usage statistic. You already have numbers for every ship. Yes, you'd have to add in a few things, and yes you'd have to add in a "fake" number for decoys. Yes, you'd have to change a little about how turrets work. But you already have the functionality. All you have to do is a few tweaks, and you could open up Space Engineers to a huge array of different tactics, clever designs, and new players.
I hope you've read this Keen.
And I hope you think about it too.