The largest problem in this game stems from the fact that PGI has kept certain traits and rules from the board game such as the separate location damage models, then added the ability to group several weapons together and shoot them all at one location. These damage models were balanced for a board game in which weapons hit completely random locations; now that where they go can easily be selected we have created an environment that rewards boating the biggest alpha strike as possible as they are superior in nearly every way to other weapon systems.
To fix it PGI needs to make a decision; is this going to be a simulation of the board game, or a first person shooter skinned with the lore?
If the former, they need to relook how they allow alpha strikes to work. If you fire a single weapon you should have accuracy. If you want to fire off all your guns at once, don't expect the bullets to all fly through the same little hole without some work.
Homeless Bill's system was a good idea, but it was incredibly complicated and over complex when the system has been in the book already the whole time; El Bandito referenced the novels for the feel and I think that a combination of the actual rules and the fluff material would make the convergence issue much better. It would require changing the reticule's behavior somewhat depending on combat conditions.
A New Reticle For Group Fired Weapons:
The original reticle would be retained for the purposes of providing the player an aiming reference point for single fired weapons. An additional expanding and contracting reticle would be added around the existing reticle to serve as a group firing reticle. Instead of having the center of the reticule be the point of convergence for grouped weapons, each location of the 'Mech will have its own focus point to where weapons fired from that location would be converged to:
(thank you Unbound Inferno for creating the original reticle graphic)
The player would still have a reference on where his shot would go, because the various stadia line on the reticle would remain the same.
A Reactive Reticle That Adjusts to Combat Conditions:
To achieve a group to pinpoint precision, the firing 'Mech would have to target a 'Mech and then hold its reticle over the 'Mech for a time determined by combat factors such as heat, target movement speed, and range; if the target 'Mech breaks line of sight and the target information is lost, or the reticle is removed from the vicinity of the target, convergence begins to deconverge, much like missile locks currently do.
Pulse lasers would have quicker convergence than ballistic weapons and could continue to converge as the shooter fires them; this accuracy bonus would help differentiate them from other weapons and give them a slight advantage as lasers are a high skill weapon, but have the potential to spread their damage as they are damage over time.
C3 could be added as equipment, as its function in the board game was to allow 'Mechs on a network to use other 'Mechs in the network's targeting data to reduce the penalty of firing at longer ranges; this could be added to this system as well, so having a spotter at close range with C3 could allow a 'Mech at longer ranges to gain tighter convergence. This would allow snipers to still be accurate, if a team mate acts as a spotter, making coordination and team play more of a factor for long range direct fire support, much like LRM fire requires a spotter currently. C3's functionality would be negated by ECM.
This system would require the player to obtain a lock on the enemy by hitting R. Convergence for group fire would not occur until the player selects a target and holds the reticle over the enemy; the reticle would visibly constrict over the target, giving the player clear reference where the various locations weapons would hit if fired at the target. This would require a work around for how ECM currently works; perhaps ECM protected 'Mechs would still be non-targetable by the R key, but if the open a player could manually target them by placing their reticule over an enemy in visual line of sight.
Factors Affecting The Speed of Convergence:
The rate in which the lock constricts would be governed by several things:
- Player's Heat Level - the hotter the 'Mech is, the slower convergence would be applied, giving a real downside to running hot.
- Target 'Mechs movement speed: the faster the enemy is moving, the harder it is to hit. This speed is based on the actual movement speed of the 'Mech, not the rate of the throttle so a 'Mech moving 54kph would be easier to converge your weapons on than a 'Mech moving 90 kph. A 'Mech running 120+ would take a bit of tracking with the reticle to gain pinpoint convergence. This would help the survivability of faster 'Mechs, especially medium 'Mechs who are especially vulnerable in the current meta
- Pilot Tree Skills - give Pinpoint something to do, dammit
- Damage to Actuators - critical hits to actuators in the arm would slow convergence
- Pulse lasers - to represent the accuracy bonus pulse lasers have in the source material, pulse lasers would enjoy a quicker convergence speed than other weapon systems.
Modifiers to Convergence Speed:
The base modifier for convergence speed is based on the level of experience tier;
Basic Qualified 'Mechs have a 4 second to maximum convergence base time
Elite Qualified (Pinpoint Skill) have a 3 second to maximum convergence base time
Master Qualified have a 2 second to maximum convergence base modifier
Long Range adds 4 to the modifier
Medium Range adds 2 to the modifier
Minimum Range adds 1 to the modifier for each 30 meters of minimum range, ie a weapon with a minimum range of 90 would have a 2 modifier or being 30-60m
Firing at a 'Mech that is stationary to 10kph subtracts 4 from the modifier
'Mechs moving 10-20kph have no modifier
'Mechs moving 20-50kph have a +1 modifier
'Mechs moving 50-70kph have a +2 modifier
'Mechs moving 70-90kph have a +3 modifier
'Mechs moving 90-120kph have a +4 modifier
'Mechs moving > 120kph have a +5 modifier
Heat Level at 20% adds a 1 modifier
Heat Level at 40% adds a 2 modifier
Heat Level at 60% adds a 3 modifier
Heat Level at 80% adds a 4 modifier
Pulse Lasers Subtract 2 from the modifier
C3 would allows a spotter to remove the range modifier, 'Mechs in the C3 network would use the range modifier for the 'Mech in the closest range of the target.
Clan Targeting Computers provide a -2 second modifier to convergence time.
The time to gain maximum convergence is this formula
Base Skill Time + Modifier/3= amount of seconds required to gain complete convergence
So an Elite Tier Stalker that is stationary at long range decides to try to use group fire to attack a Centurion 9D moving 108kph at 30% heat. To gain maximum convergence it would take
3 seconds Elite base time to maximum convergence + 4 for long range + 3 for target movement speed + 1 for heat/3 = 5.6 seconds to gain maximum convergence.
The Centurion is moving at full throttle so convergence of attacks against it are much slower; he is returning fire at the stationary Stalker.
3 + 4 for range - 4 for firing on a stationary target = 3 seconds to absolute convergence.
This means that firing a group of weapons against a 'moving 'Mech takes much longer to converge weapons to pinpoint precision like we have now; an alternative would be to firing in chain fire mode if accuracy at long range is desired, without necessitating the firing 'Mech expose themselves for long periods of time.
What It Could Look Like:
This picture is a mock up of what the convergence would look like - he is moving and though he is at close range for his weapons, his high heat level slowed the convergence spreed of his groups down but he chose to fire a group of weapons anyways - see how the damage would be spread over the enemy 'Mech? Nearly every other shooter has similar systems of expanding reticules to display inaccuracy caused by running, ect so new players familiar with shooter games should have no problem adapting to it, especially as it is not a randomized cone; the reticule has the points of aim for the locations with the stadia lines of the crosshairs.
Group fired snap shots or shots fired at non-targeted enemies would be fired at an accuracy penalty as the targeting computer did not have time to converge properly. However the reticle would still provide the pilot with an idea where his shots will go, and since shooting errors are angular in nature the effective of shooting a group with the larger, unconverged reticle at short ranges would be much less severe then attempting to shoot at an unconverged target far away, and the player always has an option for single fired weapons, which are not affected by convergence and have a separate, constant aiming point.
In this picture we see where left/right torso point of impacts will be, even if the reticle converges fully. Even with full convergence achieved, there is some deviation between the points of impacts of weapons in opposite torso locations.
The new system would force the player to have to choose - if he wants precision when firing a group of weapons he either has to offer himself up as a stationary target which would allow the enemy's computer quicker convergence on him, or fire a single weapon rather than a large alpha strike. If he wants to put out brutal force, he can fire a group, but the damage would be spread over the 'Mech.
This new system would not be a random cone of fire; the player has very distinct points of aim at all times for his weapon systems, and is in control of managing his speed and heat to achieve maximum potential for firing weapon groups, but in general should mitigate the trends we have been seeing where 'Mechs are being cored completely to the center torso by large, long range alpha strikes -- sometimes in a single volley.
Add a reticle for grouped weapons fire that converges like a missile lock; the the different stadia (crosshair) lines on the reticle would be the points of convergence for different locations. The speed on which the reticle converges is based on combat conditions such as heat level or target speed. Chain fire would be unaffected, group fire before convergence lock is gained still does damage to a target, just not concentrated to a single location. Pinpoint convergence is still possible if you hold your sights on a target long enough and don't break the lock either by moving your crosshairs off the target (ie torso twisting, engaging a new target, the target breaking line of sight, ect).
Edited by DocBach, 25 July 2013 - 06:56 AM.