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Mw5 Mercs Mod Plan -- Heat System Rework

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#1 Koniving

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:35 PM

MW5 Mercs Mod Plan: Heat System Rework

First, a preface:
Tabletop, in its strives for simplicity even as it gets layers upon layers of complexity, never truly addresses its greatest inconsistency with the lore that accompanies it. This inconsistency is how heat works.

In tabletop, you move, you use weapons, you jump, all these things create heat.. But your heat is in a single pool which you subtract from every turn, regardless of the situation, regardless of what is happening, so long as you have heatsinks, provided you're not using an ICE... and if you are, then heat means nothing to you.

In fluff, you move, you use weapons, you jump, all these things create heat.. but there are distinctions. Weapons overheat and stop functioning or worse when the machine does not. Jumpjets overheat and cease to function until cooled, yet the mech is cold as ice. Distinctions are made between engine heat and that of an autocannon. There are descriptions of the real world dangers of chambering shells/missiles into super-heated weapons and the threat of cookoff, things that exist in fluff but don't exist in the tabletop or games unless the entire mech is overheated to the point of where pilots are dying from the heat around in the fluff.. And unlike tabletop, ICE does not save you from the threat of heat, as crews die in their tanks due to the immense heat produced by AC/20s alone.

Yet, every game is blind to this element and instead opts for other solutions. For example every mech game has a "cool down time" in which you have to wait before firing again...as such your weapon never overheats. In MWO your RAC and your Flamer are the only weapons that do. UAC in MWO has a random jam chance that has nothing to do with heat, in fact you can jam on the first shot, as there's one check per mouse click. Every click of the mouse MWO checks for a jam and the more you spam it, the worse it gets. MGs are inherently weak over time, and buffed into oblivion to make up for this misconception. Yet in comparison, an MG on tabletop can easily outperform an AC when fired in controlled bursts rather than simply allowed to overheat; but this builds up heat... Leading to a concept lost on the Mechwarrior series -- machine guns building heat? And then there's jumpjets, and "Fuel" that magically refills when you land.... somehow. Jumpjets don't have fuel according to fluff, its just a made up limiting factor that ignores the base fluff... That being jumpjets are actually limited by the heat they can safely tolerate before giving out to avoid exploding/breaking or other failure.

As such, in order to turn MW5: Mercs into a Battletech simulator, I feel it is imperative to rework the simplicity of the heat system into something closer to that which is reflected in the lore of the technical readouts, the tech manual, etc.

Though this is required to facilitate a number of lore-friendly weapons, etc... this must be done if for no other reason than to placate the "omg magic heat when I lose side torso oh noes I can't fathom actual thermal dynamics and how heat per cubic inch actually exponentially amplifies when you remove a significant amount of mass away from a continuous heat source" crowd...and those people are crying over the fact that heat isn't reduced..

But don't worry, I won't be adding exponential heat, there isn't really a need.

Instead, I will have changing "heat" to "Individual Source Heat"... and the "Heat pool" from a single entity to separate bars and thresholds indicating what each is, as well as a final bar known as the Heatsink Capacity.

In the past I've called this system I've been developing multiple names.. Multi-stage heat being one of them, the three stage heat system.. Today we're going to call it the Trinary Heat System.

This is because there will be three primary sources of heat to identify which we will get into individually.

First and foremost, the Reactor.
All engines produce heat, especially nuclear reactors. So it would be obvious that when you're using this reactor in any real load, heat is generated such as movement.

However, contrary to the seemingly popular belief, energy weapons need to draw energy from something. Similar to how a power generator spikes its RPM to meet a higher need, similar to how a car revs up to increase power prior to a gear shift, similar to how a forklift can stall when trying to perform too many operations at once, there's a finite amount of power and the generation of heat is the biproduct of drawing more power..

HBS Battletech captured this in the audio presentation, but the whirring sound of amplifiers drawing the energy, amplifying it, and producing the laser fire. It doesn't come from nowhere. Although fuel consumption is typically not tracked in Fusion Reactors, in lesser engines every energy weapon fired reduces your overall fuel, draining on a resource that will make you choose between being able to reach the objective and killing the other guy so that you'll live to walk there on foot when you run out of fuel.

Why does that matter in a game where we are not tracking fuel? Simply put, bringing forth this fact introduces us to another fact, lasers don't make up their own energy... they are powered by the reactor. And thus, the heat they generate, in large part, comes from the reactor as well.

This is not the case with other weapon systems.

As such reactor heat will come from all types movement as well as powered equipment and energy weapon usage. While the specifics depend on the weapon in question, see the followup post for a better idea of the distribution,

The reactor's heat will be seen in the primary heat display from native MW5.
The reactor itself will have a static capacity of 30 units, the cap of which it will shut down for safety reasons.


Weaponry and Equipment heat:
Weapons and equipment will generate their own heat.
In terms of equipment, I'm specifically referring to those that have heat generation as a balancing factor, such as Stealth Armor, jumpjets, etc. How brand name equipment generates heat will be an individual factor, such as the Chevron II opposed to Northrup 750, but in general the total heat expected is divided between the jumpjet and the reactor.

Each weapon and piece of equipment where applicable will have its own thermal limitations, its own heat generation rate, and its own range for failing when and where applicable.
Autocannons can fail/jam/explode, lasers can be damaged, PPCs could stop working or worse, missiles can cook off quite expectedly...and you'll be able to expect and prevent these by monitoring your individual heats.

These will be presented wherever your weapons may be displayed and will replace the "cooldown" meter for each. After many of my weapon changes, the cooldown meter would become worthless anyway.
Jumpjets will still use the same display, but rather than being a bar that depletes overtime and refills upon landing, the bar will fill during use and 'cool off' while not in use. It will be able to cool off while still in the air.

It is worth noting that changes to better suit the Battletech lore rather than the Mechwarrior standard in how the weapons themselves work will also change the way heat is built up. For example, twin ER PPCs is not something you want to spam, but not all 30 heat will be coming from the reactor, and as such, you won't shut down just for firing two ER PPCs at the same time.

More details of how the heat system for this will work will come below in a followup post.


Finally, there is the heatsink pool.
Like MWO, heatsinks will have their own capacity.
Unlike MWO, this will not be linked to the reactor threshold in order to give you super thresholds and insane alpha strike potential.

Heatsink capacity instead is going to be used to indicate how busy the heatsinks are. The busier they are, the slower they will draw heat away from other systems and the more likely they will fail. For example, the reactor's heatsinks once nearing their limit will prioritize cooling the reactor over the weapons, completely ignoring weapon heat entirely. Heatsinks found away from the engine will prioritize whatever is closest to them, or so the working plan is.

Likewise you can dedicate heatsinks to a weapon system of your choice, such as the three dedicated to the Lord's Light PPC in the Panther. Dedicated heatsinks are more efficient due to their focus, but cannot be used for anything else. Tabletop has the ability to shift dedications around or to open them to all heat... as much as I would like this, I doubt I will be able to achieve that level of control. As such you will need to choose your dedication from the mechlab.

So what does this mean?
Your heat is going to be a real threat to your survival. Similar to the Heatsink (over)Taxing rule of TacOps, you can overtax your heatsinks.. That is to say overload them to the point of -- depending on brand name, heat, how it came to be, etc. -- melting, bursting with hot coolant spraying everywhere [potentially making things even worse], or any number of other issues. The safest bet is either coolant is burnt up (meaning you just need to refill which is cheap and potentially doable in the field) or the heatsink deactivates until some air cooling has reduced the stress a bit. Either way while that might be good in the long run, it screws you in the immediate future.
The heatsink display will be immediately next to the Reactor Heat display, opposite of the Jumpjet's default location.

Naturally more details will come down below in followup posts.


External (environmental) and Mech heat.

External heat sources in tabletop have no distinction from internal ones. For example stepping into a hex with an active inferno due to a stray ER PPC blast setting the area on fire, generates 2 heat per ten seconds so long as you're standing in the fire and the fire is still raging, which lessens if the fire weakens, and smaller fires are completely inconsequential. This is identical to being hit with a flamer set to cause heat instead of standard damage.

In MWO, fire literally is meaningless. In MW5, we do not know exactly how it will work or if it will have any meaning. Either way there is little doubt it will need a rework.

As far as the player / AI's "heat" is concerned, external heat sources raising the mech's temperature is not going to affect the reactor's heat pool or the heatsink's whatsoever. The reactor is heavily insulated and protected, and heatsinks are only pushing heat out as the final stage of dissipation.

It will directly affect weapon and equipment heat properties by raising (or when applicable lowering) idle temperature and dissipation into the heatsinks from them.

There will be some environmental conditions that may cause other havoc but those will come later.

External/Mech heat will be introduced to you similar to classic Mechwarrior 2 as part of the initial information about the planet.
Furthermore, immediate area heat will be presented in a display in your HUD, at least until I can manage to transfer most of the HUD onto cockpit monitors after which it'll be on the monitor dedicated to your core heat management. In terms of game functionality, it will be checking the area on which your feet is standing or, if the current Unreal Engine is anything like previous ones, it'll actually check the area dead center or at the bottom of your collision.

Edit 1: Some grammar corrections, adding some supporting links.

Edited by Koniving, 21 April 2019 - 10:47 PM.

#2 Koniving

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Posted 21 April 2019 - 10:52 PM

Quick set of definitions list, updated as necessary.
Rating - a "use" of the weapon with expected heat, damage, etc. within an expected amount of time, regardless of how many shots it takes. Similar meaning can be construed when used with equipment, with the caveat of replacing damage with "function."

First, lets get a little bit into heatsinks, the engine of a Battlemech...and how heat relates to them.

Battletech's heatsinks are described as industrial-grade heat pumps, I've seen these work in real life as both air- and liquid-based. While these cannot completely cool something that is in constant use, they can certainly increase the thermal range in which the machinery can operate. In terms of something that heats up dramatically for brief periods and then goes dormant, they would effectively work similar to those in Battletech... so yay BT.

Heatpumps in real life, similar to heatsinks in Battletech under what me and my friends call the heat taxing rule from TacOps, are not infinite in their cooling capability. There comes a point where the heat generated far surpasses what the heatsink can handle which can lead to any number of failures.

In Battletech, your cooling happens before you experience any heat on the heatscale bar and it is only what is left over that actually affects you at the end of each turn.
In any real time mech game within the BT universe, heat affects you immediately and cooling is applied over time.

To mitigate this difference, MWO took the 30 threshold and then added the value of your heatsinks as additional threshold in addition to the cooling power... effectively making initial double heatsinks into quad-sinks in terms of how far you could abuse them. Even gimped at the worst they ever have been, they were still superior to double heatsinks from tabletop in terms of what kinds of crazy antics you could get away with.

Here, it is very likely MW5 has used MWO's approach. This is great, if the game frontloads tabletop mechanics into every single shot (i.e. AC/20 does 20 damage and 7 heat per bullet) and there's a rapid firing rate to boot. However with my mod shifting things from front-loaded damage to damage over time, even 30 threshold would actually seem very lenient without the heat system tweaks I'm putting in place to create the experience often described in the source material, let alone something akin to 50+. This is because if the weapons are not frontloaded, the heat isn't frontloaded. If the heat isn't frontloaded, the mechanics need to be adapted accordingly.

Furthermore, as you'll find under Mech heat, fluff-wise to assume the "heatscale" bar of tabletop is an overall state of heat for the Mech itself is simultaneously accurate yet erroneous..Afterall, it doesn't account the state of increased heat from laser burns, yet it tracks the heat of a burning field of grass when you travel through it. It tracks the heat of ballistic weapons, and yet if you lack a Fusion, Fission, or Fuel-Cell engine and that entire bar doesn't even exist. In fact, even with energy-based weaponry if you lack one of those three engines, there's no heat bar to track at all, no heat to even be concerned with. As such, it is clear that the basic heatscale in tabletop reflects the state of the engine more than anything else.

Meanwhile, although heat isn't tracked, there are cases in battletech lore where the heat of a pair of AC/20s has killed people inside of the tanks operating them in spite of wearing cooling suits to keep them comfortable. Machine guns, a weapon system that in any mechwarrior game has never produced heat... not only overheats in lore but it also jams. Lasers that have been given exact power output and beam times when plugged into a laser drill calculator with their 4-to-6 cm beam diameter couldn't do much against steel in a single shot, but 3 to 5 of these short durations could put a hole through 7 inches of construction-grade steel
in all of these shots are done within 3 seconds, a bit less but still pretty impressive at 5 seconds (which is the time factor I will be going for).

As such, in order to capture these things, to really harness them, and yet have heat both mean something and yet be able to take what you do in my mod and be able to recreate it in tabletop, these minor tweaks are necessary for the mod to be complete. Some of it is for everything to make sense, yet other aspects are also to maximize the control a player has against RNGeesus. In tabletop a weapon jam depends on your roll and how it performs against the pilot's gunnery skill. Here, whether a weapon jams depends on how you use it and how much attention you give to the weapon's own heat. Whether your machine is affected depends on the attention you spend on your reactor's heat, your environmental heat, your equipment's heat, and the status of your heatsinks. Rather than dice deciding your fate every time you fire an Ultra AC, you decide it...and if you tempt fate, well that's on you.


Lets begin... Here's how the heat system will work.


We're going to start here.
As discussed above, MWO attempts to address the disparity of front loaded cooling against left over heat from the tabletop by giving the heatsinks threshold for heat and tacking it onto the base 30 of tabletop.

There's a rule in tabletop which I affectionately call the heatsink tax (as it sucks if you only have 10 standard heatsinks or less, as even if you could say fire 38 heat worth and still be functional, you'll have to pay the tax of losing up to 5 heatsinks because you did something really really stupid when this rule is in place)...The rule's proper name is the "Heatsink Coolant Failure". This effectively gives heatsinks a separate, self-contained threshold.

This is the basis on which my change to heatsinks and how they function will be handled.

This said, heatsinks will have a separate threshold from the reactor. This threshold will be equal to the value of the heatsinks you presently have. Akin to Mechwarrior titles and unlike tabletop, heat buildup occurs in real time. But unlike any previous BT universe game ever presented, these heat buildups will be at their sources. Energy generation at the engine, waste heat (energy, ballistic, etc.) at the weapons, etc.

Heatsinks will pull heat away from the various sources with the weight of removal based on proximity. Heatsinks closer to the weapon will pull more from the weapon. Those that are part of the engine will pull more from the engine. When the heatsinks are clogged, priority goes to the engine so that you won't be a sitting duck and not the weapons (which would only in turn generate yet more heat when fired again).

A single heatsink will pull heat away from its source at a rate of 1 unit per 0.5 seconds.
At this point that 1 unit of heat is in the heatsink, preventing it from taking any more or.. "clogging" it.
It will dissipate that heat into the atmosphere at a rate of 1 per 0.5 seconds AFTER the heat has entered the heatsink.
In total, 1 unit of heat removed entirely per second.
  • Why would it matter to have two stages in heat dissipation rather than just one?
    • If the heat is in the heatsink, you still have it. If it is dissipated, it is gone.
  • Now what happens if the heatsink fails and it is not yet sent into the atmosphere?
    • You still have that heat.
  • What happens if you prevent the heatsink from venting in order to be harder to detect by sensors and to become invisible to thermals?
    • It builds up in the heatsink, hidden away from the cold surface of your machine.
  • I have more heat than my heatsinks can absorb and they're all full.
    • Well they won't be doing anything until they finish.
  • If heatsinks are full and have many sources to pull heat away from, then what is their priority, my weapons, equipment or reactor?
    • This depends on the difficulty in implementing it, but ideally I want the heatsinks to draw heat from whatever is closest first. If it is near your weapon, then the heat from the weapon comes first. If it is near your engine, then the engine's heat comes first. In terms of construction, many fast lights have most to all the heatsinks in the engine, which in this concept would make their heatsinks focus entirely on ensuring the best mobility possible. Slower lights tend to have some heatsinks near weapons, such as the Panther which is described as having 3 heatsinks wired exclusively to the PPC. Supplemental to that, my goal is to permit heatsink dedication. But in case if this idea can't be implemented then I have two other backup plans.
  • My heatsinks have been perpetually clogged for a while now and I'm getting alerts.. what's going on?!
    • Coolant Failure if you're lucky, heatsink failure if you're unlucky.
  • What's coolant failure?
    • You've lost an amount of coolant, making your heatsinks less efficient. But they are still functional. Coolant is cheap, you can even steal some from a coolant truck if you have a hookup.
  • Wait a minute, what's a heatsink failure?
    • Welp, through heat in this case (as opposed to damage by weapons fire), your heatsink has completely been disabled or lost. Maybe it can be repaired. Maybe its so far melted that you need to replace it. Whatever the case, its your fault for ignoring your heat.
Why are we even doing this?

There's a multitude of reasons.
  • For example if heat is trapped in a heatsink and you lose it in the limb that was just blown off; that heat is gone...but if the heat was still in the engine, you still have it. This matters because people in MWO think that unsunk heat with reduced capacity is "magic heat". It isn't, it was never sent to the heatsink because you still have it in your engine or weapon. Which also brings the need to separate heat sources.
  • Beyond that, its necessary to have a visual indication of heatsink status to make informed decisions in combat. Afterall, rather than rely on random chance for weapon jams or other equipment failures (such as Supercharger or MASC), the condition of the weapon/equipment in terms of its health and its heat are what determines exactly when and how a weapon or piece of equipment will fail. In order for that to be a factor, the heat of weapons and equipment must be tracked.
  • It presents a bit more immersion and simulated realism in a franchise where people dedicate space in their homes to build sim pits JUST to immerse themselves in a good Mechwarrior game...so why not pay homage to that by making the game just a little more immersive?
  • It prevents "frequent shutdowns" from front loaded weapons, and allows lore friendly combinations like twin ER PPCs to be fired at the same time [MW2 intro] without having to inflate the engine threshold beyond 30 in a real time environment.
    • This would allow frontloaded 30 heat to still not immediately cause a shutdown. Also while MW games have always been frontloaded in its heat generation, tabletop BT has always had combat time slices of 2.5 seconds to 2 minutes. In fluff, PPCs are incredibly hot but since they do not fire instantly, their heat should not be built up instantly either. With firing delays of up to 2 seconds, there's no reason for all the heat to hit at the same time.
  • It allows a shutdown to be a crippling, devastating situation in which only masochists and the truly desperate would intentionally push themselves into.. but also allows a shutdown that any incompetent mechwarrior could, with little difficulty, 'accidentally' experience the harsh reality of heat as the pilot's deadliest enemy.

The Reactor:
The Fusion Reactor is the primary power source of the typical Battlemech.
It powers everything from the Myomer muscular structure to the weapons, the targeting systems, the DI computer which interprets what the pilot intends from the controls to produce nearly organic movement in the war machine and even the toilet's waste vaporizer. Very little exists on the common Battlemech that isn't tied into the reactor.

Fun tidbit: An interesting thing I've learned is that Fusion Reactors are not only affected by gravity but in fact require it to produce the conditions for conducting fusion reactions. As such, it has given me some ideas of how to make low gravity environments and high gravity environments all the more...interesting.

Fusion power can produce immense amounts of energy for its weight in fuel, however this must be done under special conditions of temperature, pressure, confinement interval in order to create the plasma necessary for Fusion. The temperature of this confined plasma is in millions of degrees in real life experimental Fusion reactors. In other words, even in the future, these things are hot and an overheat would be no joke...

But in every mechwarrior game that's ever existed... overheating has been a laughable atrocity.

With this mod the task of overheating the reactor itself ideally will not be as easy as it was in Mechwarrior 3, but at the same time, it will be as punishing or perhaps more so than tabletop.

Reactor Heat:

Reactors in battletech fluff are frequently described as hot. Depictions of less equipped pilots piloting in little more than some personal cooling accessories and their skivvies give some credence to this. Even so if the temperatures reach millions of degrees in the engine in Battletech as they do in real life examples, no Mechwarrior game has even considered what this could entail.

BT does have high end rules for pilot fatigue, where simply minutes of battle would be akin to hours of strenous work.

Under normal conditions, an engine generates the following amount of heat for movement.
1 units per 10 seconds of cruise speed (or equivalent movement stress)
2 units per 10 seconds of flank speed (or equivalent movement stress)
+ 1 additional units per 10 seconds per exceptional speed beyond flanking (sprint, supercharger, MASC) or the equivalent movement strain.
1 per 30 meters of jumpjet flight, with 3 minimum.
2 units of heat per attempt to stand.
-1 heat per single (-2 heat per double) heatsink submerged (max of 6)

Movement is never meant to be the defacto element to cause engines to overheat. Even so, it will generate a continuous amount of heat for movement. In MWO movement is treated as a reduction in overall maximum capacity. Here it will not affect your maximum, simply occupy a little bit of your heatsinks.

Heat escalations per weapons, equipments, etc. are explained in the weapons and equipment sections below. It is worth noting that few ballistic weapons will generate heat at the reactor. It makes no sense for a mechanical gun such as an autocannon or non-gatling machine guns to rely on electricity for any means. Those instead will generate entirely (or almost entirely) weapon-based heat.

While I'm sure I'll come back and add more here or make it more cohesive, I thought I'd fill out the basic heat scale.

For any of the following, they will gradually take effect over a period of a couple of seconds before going into full force. Example with the first movement hit, just hitting 16.67% heat isnt' gonna suddenly drop your speed by 10.8 kph, but after about 3 seconds of staying that hot or hotter, that will be the total reduction you'll endure until cooling.


16.67% = Speed reduced by 10.8 kph.
26.67% = Accuracy reduced (I'm still debating on how specifically I'd be doing this).
33.33% = Speed reduced by another 10.8 kph. (21.6 kph total)
43.33% = Accuracy reduced again
46.67% = First heat warning.
(Also maximum heat permitted before a restart of the Fusion engine is possible.)
50% = Speed reduced again by 10.8 kph (32.4 kph total)
56.67% = Accuracy takes its third hit.

From this point on, all penalties take full effect within 2 seconds instead of 3.
60% = Second, more urgent heat warning.
63.33% = Ammunition near the engine will increase by 1 point and in layers of distance will continue to do so for every 10 seconds heat remains above this point, going from the CT outward.
66.67% = Speed reduced by 10.8 (43.2 kph total) and movement will become noticably stiff.
73.33% = Third heat warning with emphasis on dangerous temperatures on munitions.
76.67% = All ammunition heat will take an immediate 1 point increase again. The above remains true.
80% heat = Weapons lockout engaged if heat isn't reduced below this point within 2 seconds. Override required to use them again prior to reaching 46.67% heat. Regardless of override, targeting systems and sensors will show signs of unpredictable failures until below 70% heat.

From this point on any penalty will engage within 1 second.
83.33% = Speed takes another 10.8 kph hit (54 kph total) and the machine may have difficulty interpreting your commands.
86.67% = "Heat level: Critical!"
93.33% = All ammunition will take another immediate 1 point increase. Any ammunition that has reached 4 points of heat will explode. Ammo closest to the reactor will be at 3 if you reached this heat in under 10 seconds of hitting the first ammo penalty. Shutting down before hitting reaching the end of those ten seconds will cool all ammo by 1 point, potentially preventing ammo detonation even during a slow cooldown.
100% heat = Engines immediately cut off. The muscles of the mech will stop function immediately, locking the machine in whatever position it is and leaving you completely at the mercy of your position. Hopefully you weren't in mid-sprint.

It is worth noting that other elements will be permitted to increase the heat of your ammunition as well, increasing the potential risks to ammunition.
At some point, I will update "heat effects on the machine" to include proposals for what "accuracy" reduction entails, as magical cones hardly strike me as a solution.

Equipment Heat:


(Please suggest other pieces of heat-inducing equipment)

Stealth Armor (future-proofing my mod)


Weapon Heat:
The quick summary of weapons is as follows...
Energy generally produces 1/4th of its total heat at the weapon itself, the rest is generated by the engine ramping up output temporarily to produce the energy necessary to fire them.
Ballistics generally produce all their heat at the weapon with none at the engine. Exceptions exist with the Gauss family being among them.
Missiles produce a (continuing later)

Energy-based heat:
Energy weapons are fundamentally powered by the engine. Whether traditionally powered through the standard converter or through additional power relays from an ICE or fuel-cell model, additional fuel is consumed to spike energy production to accommodate for firing the system.

In terms of mechanics, energy weapons develop heat at the weapon and at the engine in a 1/4th to 3/4th split. This is typically the case though energy variants may stray from this general truth.

As such, at face value a PPC generates 2.5 heat at the weapon and 7.5 at the engine. (thus allowing lore-friendly things such as twin ER PPC fire from the MW2 cinematic and a few others).

The heat begins at the engine, prior to the energy weapon firing. The weapon heat itself will not start until the weapon has in fact fired.

Energy weapons typically have a low tolerance for heat, comparatively, due in large part to the significant lack of mass involved with a 1 to 7 ton system compared to systems of 6 to 14+ tons.

Typically they will simply not function when overheated, similar to MWO's cooldown phase. Though some can be pushed.

When energy weapons are pushed to thermal levels beyond their specs, any number of failures could happen. Laser focusing lenses could lose integrity, crack, break or melt down. Field Inhibitors on PPCs could malfunction or break. Flamers could end up releasing their vented plasma inside of your mech instead of at the enemy. As with any potential malfunction these are easily avoided by using them in moderation.


Ballistic-based heat:
For the most part, traditional ballistic-based weaponry will not generate reactor heat. Those will generate pure weapon heat.

For example, under typical conditions an AC/20 will generate around 7 heat in total in the conclusion of its standard rated use. During this, of course, heat generated is being sucked up by the heatsinks and pulled away from the weapon in order to maintain ideal operating conditions for it. Should the weapon be pushed, it will potentially reach temperatures which could cause potential malfunctions. Although traditional ballistics are among the coldest weapons in combat, the fact that the majority of their heat is generated at the weapon have both advantages and disadvantages.

We'll get into the downside first.

The disadvantages are several.
  • Akin to all weapons, pushing something like an autocannon to function beyond its rated specs can potentially cause the weapon to fail (jam), lock out, damage it, explode, or cause a host of other potential problems.
  • But even operating within specs is not without potential issue. For example if your heatsinks are already clogged, traditional ballistic weapons may not be able to feed their heat into the heatsinks as they should. This will cause the heat to feed into the machine itself whether it is a tank, aircraft, mech, etc.
    • This further reduces the ability to cool the already existing heat in the area as the heatsinks become available to pull more heat, as well as can potentially cause ammunition feeds to warm up as well, a problem inherent in non-cassette-fed ballistics that could lead to a cook off.
    • If it happens to be in a torso, "clogged" heat can potentially warm nearby equipment up to and including the engine, gyro, etc. This affect admittedly is not 1 to 1 as the further the heat spreads the less significant it becomes...which brings up a nice caveat, even if the heatsinks never become available or the machine never had any to begin with, the heat will eventually radiate and dissipate over the machine's exterior, a process that occurs faster in colder environments.
  • Ballistic weaponry have the lowest priority when it comes to the heatsink priority list, so unless a heatsink is dedicated to the weapon, it will be at last thing that heatsinks care about.
Among the advantages, is unlike energy weapons, virtually no heat is generated at the engine (see below for the exceptions). This means that even when the engine is highly stressed, an autocannon can safely be brought to bear in all its brutal savagery in a dire situation. Of course this doesn't mean you'd be exempt from clogging the heatsinks further, but since they will prioritize the engine over all else, you could safely get a rating out of some cold autocannons without issue. Using an autocannon while the reactor is hot in itself will not shut you down even if that heat would have pushed you over the edge in the simplified traditional system.

Back to the previously mentioned exceptions. Aside from the obvious end of the Gauss family of ballistic weaponry, the exceptions are those with electric-powered ammunition feeds. These include autocannons with electric-powered Revolving chambers, autocannons with electric-powered spinning barrels, Revolving cassette feeds, most ultra autocannons and Rotary Autocannons, and the Chemjet Gun.

An electric-powered feed allows a weapon much higher than standard firing rates and is a crucial component of Rotary Autocannons, though they can be present in any ballistic weapon.

Electric-powered revolving chambers generate 10% of the weapon's heat at the reactor. This could be as little as 0.1 to 0.7, or in one case 0.9 heat. Electric rotating barrels also generate 10% of the weapon's heat at the reactor (any less and it'd be pointless, anymore and it wouldn't make sense). Combined, the two make 20% of the weapon's overall heat come from the Reactor (engine). This actually benefits the weapon by pulling the total heat away from it, and the thermal reduction in the weapon itself (instead of yet more additional ghost heat) is intended to reflect that these systems vent the gas away from the action rather than try to use that explosive energy to power the gun's mechanics.

A revolving cassette feed only generates heat at the reactor when changing magazines. Revolving cassette is the fastest-reloading mechanism available for autocannons and generates a static 2 heat at the reactor on reload only. (I think 1 might be better suited, But 1 is 3.333% and 2 is 6.6667%, and it happens very rarely).

Ultra Autocannons, stereotypically, have a magnetic feed. Each shell is pulled in by an electro-magnet. As such, (continuing later()

Ballistic weapons taking advantage of electrical ammunition feeds, motorized spinning barrels, etc., can easily run longer, be pushed a little further / longer beyond safe operation, and as a direct result of those factors are less likely to malfunction due to excessive or careless trigger-happy use. Of course the draw back is that they are causing the engine to spike heat, which means they pretty much do not have the advantages of other simpler autocannons which do not cause the engine to heat up.

The Gauss Family of ballistic weapons generate heat functionally identical to energy weapons.


Missile-based heat:


The tabletop alpha strike and an MW alpha strike compared a true-to-lore alpha strike.

An Alpha Strike in tabletop occurs when a player queues every single weapon in his or her arsenal to fire within a ten second timeslice. While this is typically somewhat taxing heatwise, some builds (especially cheese builds) could handle this more than once in a row or in some cases indefinitely. While this is perfectly fine on machines with few weapons, some things were never intended to get away with this and when cheese building comes into play... Even then all weapons seem to fire in random directions to the layman. What's actually happening is that the weapons are NOT being fired at the same time but one or two at a time in sequence, and so long as at no point can 30 heat be reached when applying the per second cooling, there's no risk of shutdown. As may often be the case, there's no risk at all.

In comparison, when the time slice of 10 seconds is divided by 4, we have Solaris time slices of 2.5 seconds each. An alpha strike here can not only prove to be quite different, but we see the True Alpha Strike rule in effect. All weapons fire directly ahead, with only arms converging. This means if the CT is rolled as a target, your CT and arm weapons will hit their CT, your left torso weapons will hit their right torso and your right torso weapons will hit their left torso. If the enemy's arm wound up being the target, you'd actually land the CT and arm attacks on the enemy's arm, your corresponding side torso might hit theirs, and your other ST will miss entirely. What's more there's a chance that you've not only hit either a massive risk at least or a potential shutdown, but there's a good chance that if you've done this more than twice in a row by doing it again immediately after recovering from your last shut down, your pilot may actually be dead.

Now, Mechwarrior games usually treat the abuse of digitized alpha strikes with the mech blowing up for absolutely no discernible reason. But not here. Nope. As a Battletech simulation mod, you're going to get the Battletech experience. When you alpha strike you will suffer tremendously at the hands of your own doing. But unless all your ammo suddenly cooks off, there will be no explosions to save you from enduring your own folly. Your pilot will physically suffer in the cockpit from the immense heat. Your machine will suffer, regardless of whether you shutdown or not. All of your weapons will feel the stress. Your heatsinks are going to clog in their attempt to save you from suffering a full on shutdown. Your reactor will spike from the sudden energy demanded on it... and sure, whatever you aimed at is probably gonna be obliterated...hopefully.

But short of dying in your cockpit or an astronomical ammo explosion, there will be no easy recovery from a true alpha strike of any substantial magnitude. It will be a last resort...and similar to Solaris VII, something you'll learn you can't rely on.

Thermal effects on the machine


Thermal effects on the pilot

Edited by Koniving, 19 May 2019 - 02:07 AM.

#3 Snakesh1t


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Posted 23 April 2019 - 08:34 AM

I do like the basic idea, but I'd rather stick with the Tabletop's Heat Scale system. I'm sure there's a way we can affect accuracy of systems and a loss of speed. Perhaps you could program in a damage penalty for energy weapons if the heat scale goes high enough?

#4 Koniving

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Posted 23 April 2019 - 11:24 AM

View PostSnakesh1t, on 23 April 2019 - 08:34 AM, said:

I do like the basic idea, but I'd rather stick with the Tabletop's Heat Scale system. I'm sure there's a way we can affect accuracy of systems and a loss of speed. Perhaps you could program in a damage penalty for energy weapons if the heat scale goes high enough?

That would be easy, but... overall the issue with using a single pool to affect weapon systems... is what happens when your weapons that weren't being used become affected because you hit 21 heat?

Say you managed 21 heat using ballistic weapons and a few missiles, and now that you hit a certain threshold one too many times an energy weapon went down for literally no reason?

Where with this idea, only the weapon you pushed beyond reason would be affected, even when the heat of everything else is low.

As an example, in the ballistics section of this plan (in another thread), there's a "Defiance Mech Hunter", a weapon known to not have any cooling jacket (so this AC/20 pumps out 9 heat instead of tabletop's default 7) due to design quirk no cooling jacket. Now, lets so for whatever reason you have two of these and you use them to fire what's necessary to net 20 damage each, totalling 18 heat. What happens then? What if you pushed them? All autocannons not just ultras are capable of doing double damage in 10 seconds according to the Rapid Fire Autocannons rule (ultra autocannons are just inherently much safer to do this with and after I'm done will deliver that double damage quite a bit quicker than a standard autocannon trying to push that envelope), at the risk of jams and explosions of the weapon (but nothing else).. So now you could push them to pump out 32 heat...shutting you down, causing ammo explosions, etc..

Wouldn't you rather that heat, for pushing those weapons, to be focused on those weapons? Then, while yes they would clog the living hell out of your heatsinks, they would not cause reactor-related issues for no reason (i.e. slowdown, etc), instead the weapons if pushed too much (and you'd be able to see and control how far you are pushing them in order to prevent this rather than random chance), may jam, misfire in the chamber, have barrels melt and become non-functional, explode, etc...hopefully without a chain reaction to ammo, but would in no way affect your reactor or things that it shouldn't affect.

(I'm aware that opens another can of worms; 32 heat and you aren't shut down, but that'll be addressed above when I get the chance. The first four weekdays of any week are the hardest due to how little time I have between when I wake up to when I go to work for 12 hours while taking care of a toddler that needs attention and play in between those two points).

Of course, autocannons wouldn't be the only thing that could be pushed like that. I've had IS medium lasers do 7 to 8 damage in Megamek, so to reflect that there would be ways to push the variants of energy weapons as well, with similar failures for doing it too far and/or too frequently.

But I doubt anyone would be happy, if say you were using energy weapons and suddenly because you hit X amount of heat on a singular bar (say 70%), the missiles in the tubes of your SRM-6 suddenly exploded without warning on the very first attempt to fire them during a mission.

This is why I'm splitting it a bit. Also according to the heatsink taxing rule, if you had 10 SHS which most mechs in Mw5 have, and you generate 15 heat, there's a chance you'll lose one or more heatsinks
Imagine being reduced to 7 heatsinks from 10 because you hit say 21 heat for more than a couple of seconds.

When the above second post is fleshed out a bit more, I think you'll see what I'm doing a bit better. (This said, there's gonna be a lot of mods out there, most are going to stick with the default system rather than making it more lore-oriented as opposed to simply tabletop/MW. Some are gonna pull strict tabletop, some are gonna do MWO-rising thresholds if it isn't already in Mw5, some are gonna do tabletop extended threshold, some are gonna do space magic.. so there will certainly be plenty of variety out there. Just uh, be careful; there will be people that put ponies in there.)

I went to go google up an image to put in a link in that last sentence...but...now I regret it. Google at your own risk.

Edited by Koniving, 23 April 2019 - 11:29 AM.

#5 Snakesh1t


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Posted 23 April 2019 - 10:17 PM

I always saw it as the heat interfering with the targeting circuits rather than the weapons themselves (that's where the ammo explosions come from.) And it's not the weapons generating heat (like MG's generating heat in your first example.) As far as I'm aware in the TT, you're dealing with Fusion Reactor heat, not weapon heat.

#6 Koniving

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Posted 19 May 2019 - 03:05 AM

View PostSnakesh1t, on 23 April 2019 - 10:17 PM, said:

I always saw it as the heat interfering with the targeting circuits rather than the weapons themselves (that's where the ammo explosions come from.) And it's not the weapons generating heat (like MG's generating heat in your first example.) As far as I'm aware in the TT, you're dealing with Fusion Reactor heat, not weapon heat.

Sorry to take so long to respond. But I wanted to make sure my second post was developed enough.

For accuracy, I see it as a number of things. Although I'm not sure how interfering with targeting systems would cause ammo explosions. For the case of autocannons, would messing with the scope of an assault rifle cause the bullets to explode? I mean I could understand it potentially in the case of armed missiles in the tubes and there's something wrong with the targeting systems, but heat makes a lot more sense.

Heat makes ammo go boom.
And as you might also see in my second post, the standard operating temperature of current real life testbed experimental fusion reactors is millions of degrees for the confined plasma to facilitate the reaction necessary to generate power... Even if we assume that future fusion reactors can drop that significantly, we still have the issue that its default "0" temp is hotter than hell.

Far as heat in tabletop, I'm in agreement that you are looking primarily at reactor heat as you'll see in the second post, as I make a case for how weapon heat isn't tracked except for with three specific engine types.

However, would the autocannon on a modern day IFV cause the engine to heat up? Then why would it on the fusion reactor of a sci-fi space robot? Let alone by 7 points in the case of an AC/20, when a RAC/5 goes up to 6 points, and an energy-powered medium laser only generates 3 heat from the reactor. Would seem strange if this is specifically just the reactor. As such I would argue it is primarily covering the reactor, but it in fact covers all the heat the mech encounters. Get flamed, +2 heat. Step through burning fields, +2 heat. Step in lava, +6 to 15 heat.

Anyway, further reasons for the split of how heat is distributed are also above in the second post. There's still more to come there, but I think it is far enough along to share my reasons. This said, I welcome ideas as to how to handle "reduced accuracy" in a Mechwarrior title. Cone of fire is an obvious and simple solution but as with everything else here I'm working to avoid RNG as much as possible.

Of course I have some of my own to bring to the table. An idea that crossed my mind was reducing torso/arm agility, flickering/disappearing reticle and target box, and other tidbits. I also figure that reduced accuracy isn't just a mechanical component but a human one. Allow me to explain:

In real life I work in a rotomolding factory near large ovens that you can fit semi-trucks in. These get up to a thousand degrees, and even at only 500 standing next to one with the door open will cause profuse sweating, blurred vision (from the sweat) and general to acute discomfort. When one of these multi-ton molds comes out of the oven, the entire building if the doors are closed can become an inferno (or even exceptionally warm on a night with 30 degree Fahrenheit weather). Being in a mech that gets hot is as bad to worse if we go by the fluff, and I gotta say if you can't get away from that heat it can quickly become very hard to see. I wouldn't be surprised if pilots experienced hallucinations (third paragraph).

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