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Finally a sequel to the award-winning, genre breaking, asymmetric strategy cult classic.  The most sentient AI in gaming.
Sequel to the award-winning, genre-breaking, asymmetric strategy cult classic.  The most sentient AI in gaming.
Sequel to the award-winning, genre-breaking, asymmetric strategy cult classic.  The most sentient AI in gaming.
2,545 backers pledged $97,205 to help bring this project to life.

Interplanetary Weapons: Who Needs Engines When You've Got Guns?

Posted by Keith LaMothe

Keith here.

Wow! You hit the Nemesis goal!

(ominous hum as all the reactors in a moon-sized machine start spinning up)

... What have we done?

Thanks again for all the support, it's a great encouragement. Now hopefully we can survive the result.

Maybe some of those ancient Galactic Artillery Batteries over there will give us a chance.

What's that? Arms race? Me? Never.

No Gun Is Too Large

Short story: a long time ago other races built big guns. They broke. You find big guns. You fix them. Enemy mad. You fire them. No good. You sad. Then you try aiming first. You fire again. Enemy really mad, but broke now. You smile.

Long story:

For some reason, when galactic empires build enormous weapons of unprecedented power they do a terrible job of cleaning up after themselves and putting the sharp things where younger empires can't reach them. So, among the other derelicts you're finding here and there throughout the galaxy (some small old reactors, some large old fortresses, etc), you'll find a few ridiculously big guns. No engines, either. Didn't need 'em. To re-aim the weapon, the gunners got out and pushed (ok, not really, they have some maneuvering thrusters).

(note: you choose to enable or disable these pre-game, since they're superweapons)

Now, the AI isn't stupid, so it isn't going to let you just waltz in and take control of these weapons. On the other hand it apparently has plans for the weapons itself, since it hasn't tried to destroy them. Galactic overlords often have such difficult dilemmas. Nonetheless, expect these to be well guarded.

Furthermore, they're broken. They broke one day after their warranty expired and that was a long time ago. Repairing one is going to take a lot of resources.

Did I mention the AI won't like it when you start repairing one? Yea. It really won't like that. Expect visitors.

To further complicate matters: the weapon itself will take so much power to operate that you won't be able to keep it armed and also have much in the way of static defense in the same system. You can turn it off and fortify, but when you turn it back on it has to go through the full reloading process again.

But what if you do find one, and you do capture it, and you do repair it, and you do power it up, and you do keep the AI from killing it (or you) long enough to do all those things?

Then it's time to get the party started.

The Sky. It's Burning.

Precisely what will happen then depends on the specific weapon. In all cases you select the weapon and push a button to enter targeting mode, which takes you to the galactic map.

The Very Large Ion Cannon Array - An artillery weapon. You pick an angle to fire at. After a delay based on galactic distance, each of the systems along that line will suffer about thirty seconds of bombardment by large ionized plasma bolts (the closer a system is to the Array, the denser the bombardment). Any smaller ships hit by one of those bolts will probably be vaporized or at least severely damaged. Anything that survives will wish it had not, will be completely disabled for some time, and then will have to rebuild their engines practically from scratch in order to actually move at a decent speed again.

The Pulsar Device - A wide cone disabling weapon. You pick an angle to fire a cone-shaped blast. All units in all systems within that cone will suffer EMP damage and be temporarily disabled. Systems closer to the Device, and systems closer to the center of the cone, will experience greater effect.

The Interplanetary Assault Cannon - A ship catapult. You pick a single system within range. After a delay based on galactic distance, swarms and swarms of explosive rockets pepper the entire system and damage anything they hit. Then swarms and swarms of drone-pods hit the system and deploy tons of drone fighters, bombers, etc. You can't directly control those, and they run out of fuel and self-destruct after a short time, but they can really wreak some havoc.

The Galactic Mass Driver - A bouncing planet wrecking death shot. You pick an angle to fire at. A large projectile is fired from the Driver's system and travels across the map. If it strikes a planet, everything on the planet takes damage from a large explosion (the closer to the planet, the greater the damage). If the projectile still has enough momentum (that is, if the projectile didn't have to travel too far) it will wreck the planet itself and most/all of the resources on it, and then ricochet away on a trajectory based on the angle at which it hit the planet. The explosion will renew the projectile's momentum, so in theory it can chain-hit. In practice, why would you do that? Oh, nevermind, I forgot who I was talking to.

The Photon Lance - A penetrating beam weapon. Emphasis on the definite article. You pick an angle to fire at. An immense beam sweeps across each of the systems on that line, doing heavy damage to anything it touches (more damage in systems closer to the Lance). Units that survive will protect the targets behind them, but the beam will punch through anything else.

But The Physics! They're Weeping!

Yes, I know all of the above examples are flatly ludicrous. I thought it best to not even try to explain how they don't totally violate physics. But they're fun! So I suggest learning to stop worrying and love the bomb. I'm aiming to have them fit within the same suspension of disbelief as the rest of the game, though.

The Future

But what if we annihilate this goal too? Then it's time for Solar Systems, which we can implement at the $112,500 mark ($15k for the goal itself). Why leave the stars in the background, when we can make them part of the war?

(Sees you looking at the stars, and then at the Galactic Artillery Batteries, and then back at the stars)

I should've known...

From the new stretch goal description below:

You'll be able to generate galaxies with whole interrelated solar systems instead of individual planets. The stars themselves will be special locations with different rules, resources, and challenges. Surgeon General's Warning: do NOT annoy the Sun.

Onward! And thanks again, very much.


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    1. Missing avatar

      treyra on

      As an astronomy and physics major, I had some objections to the physics of planet pool, but the Dr. Strangelove quote silenced those.

      Love the updates!

    2. Tridus on

      If it's possible to mod these in, I intend to try to add the Kostura Cannon from Sins of a Solar Empire. That's a giant gun that when fired at a system, launches an EMP to disable static defenses, and creates what amounts to a warp gate between the cannon and the target system.

      Imagine the mayhem that could be unleashed if you can open up a five minute warp lane to anywhere. Oh, then imagine what happens if you lose that system and the Nemesis gains control of it.

      On second thought, don't imagine that last part...

    3. Missing avatar

      Curiouser and Curiouser on

      There was a Douglas Adams line as well from the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: “There was one planet off in the seventh dimension that got used as a ball in a game of intergalactic bar billiards. Got potted straight into a black hole.”

    4. Benjamin Baxter on

      Can you guys update your graphic to have a banner on it saying "fully funded" so that more folks get the message that we're in the race for the stretch goals? It's something I've seen other KS projects do; I don't know if it works, though.

    5. Missing avatar

      Aotrs Commander on

      @Chris Park

      You're not thinking of the "playing pool with planets" bit in Red Dwarf, are you?

      (If not, you should look up the episode White Hole (from season 4) at some point...)

    6. Missing avatar

      Alexander Lars Robinson on

      This one Red Dwarf episode had literal planetary billiards as part of an exercise in plugging a white hole.

    7. Missing avatar

      Yusef on

      I love these new ideas which trade a local tactical disadvantage for an overwhelming tactical advantage somewhere else.

      What if there were super weapons that allowed a strategic example as well? For example, a weapon that functions like the Pulsar Device, but disables all wormholes in each system it hits. You could use it either defensively or offensively.

    8. Missing avatar

      Andrew Lyon on

      The first one reminds me of the Very Dangerous Array from schlock mercenary.

      Except this one can't be claimed to be a sensor array. Because its made out of ion cannons. ;)

    9. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on

      Isn't there some sort of cartoon short or something that did a funny thing with planetary billiards? I don't know, that seems familiar. :)

    10. Keith LaMothe Collaborator on

      Realism suffers another humiliating loss to Planetary Billiards.

    11. Missing avatar

      Alexander Lars Robinson on

      Well, considering the projectile can't be moving at "normal" speeds and reach its targets within the same year, maybe the cannon is doing something weird with spacetime. Like an unpowered attritioning warp bubble.

      I guess I just needed to try harder.

    12. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on

      The other amusing thing is that we think of planets as being so big, but it's like throwing an atom at another atom, by hand, from one side of the Pacific to the other. "Ooh, direct hit! And it totally ricocheted off and hit that other atom in the middle of the Atlantic after that!" ;)

      But nonetheless, I don't complain in the slightest. It sounds awesome/

    13. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on

      I'm going to put my pedantic hat on and note that over those distances you have quite a bit of space dust and other debris, plus a lot of gravitational fields. And these things are BIG, so they'd hit a lot more stuff (thus causing more drag) compared to something like Voyager 2. I imagine they'd slow down a bit going through the Kuiper belt, for instance.

      Now putting on my BS hat, and I don't mean Bachelors of Science. ;) Based on the mechanics, this must be some sort of strange lawbreaking FTL to go those distances without wormholes or hyperspace or whatnot, so maybe there is post-c drag? ;) Perhaps FTL is possible, but there's some sort of resistance from spacetime itself. Maybe only objects of sufficient density and mass can be accelerated beyond c.

      I'm really reaching with that one. ;) But it's fun to make up technobabble. I bet someone can come up with a much better one than that.

    14. Keith LaMothe Collaborator on

      Well, it's not a pure vacuum. But! We could certainly have it just crack every planet it touches. For the realism, you know.

    15. Missing avatar

      Alexander Lars Robinson on

      I think the only part of the physics that bothers me is that the mass driver's projectile can somehow run out of momentum in a vacuum.

    16. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on

      Incidentally, I also like that your "short story" version of this seems to be narrated by Grog, our favorite. :)

    17. Chris Park/Arcen Games 2-time creator on

      Keith: "Oh hai would you like to be hunted by Terminators for sport? Sound good? Yes? Here you gooo..."

      *next stretch goal*

      Keith: "You again. You want a bigger gun? Oh sure -- that's a surprise, but sure."