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Empire Detection Mechanics Rework - Printable Version

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Empire Detection Mechanics Rework - SpaceGeek - 01-17-2019

After discussing a bit with Dean on Discord, I had an idea to split up empire detection mechanics to be more logical and allow specific forms of detection, allowing an empire to place more deliberate focus into empire detection as an attainable goal. It would utilize Dean's suggestions as posted in his Fog of War and Deep Space Radar threads.

Radar Detection

Airports and Military Radars have different purposes. Airport radar is for tracking and identification while Military Radar should be dedicated toward threat tracking and targeting. I propose that Airports be able to show any vehicles within their range while Military Radar must exist in a city in order for defensive systems to target hostiles that aren't hovering directly above a city. In addition, airports and military radar will have a power consumption rating which determines their range. Airports will have a maximum rating lower than military radar, allowing military radar to be set to a larger potential coverage area. Detecting an alien ship within range would reveal the existence of the empire and its name, but not their planets or claimed systems until they are detected by one of the proposed Observatory types below.

As with Dean's idea, underwater cities would be undetectable by radar and any radar built underwater would have a nearly nonexistent range. This makes it effective for people wanting to hide a city from radar without giving them the unfair advantage of being able to detect others themselves.

Optical Detection & Fog of War

Observatories can detect the basic parameters of solar systems and planets at range, but the fidelity of reports depends upon the tech level of the blueprint for them. To see the status of a solar system, it must be within range of an observatory otherwise the system report reflects only the information available the last time it was in detection range or was last visited. Observatories can detect the optical effects of civilization upon a planet, but it takes time for these signs to become apparent (reflecting the time it takes for light to travel from the source to the observatory). The existing System Emission mechanic can be used for this.

Detecting cities via optical means will only reveal that an empire exists there, but no other details about it.

Unlike Dean's idea, I believe probes should not communicate with an observatory but with a new building type.

Radio Observatory

Radio Observatories detect transmissions coming from empire cities and ships. Detection of cities over long range occurs the same as the System Emission mechanic, but the lower threshold of detection is more relaxed: radio emissions can be detected much earlier (at a lower power rating) than by optical means. This reflects the real world potential of an alien civilization detecting our radio transmissions long before optical evidence of our cities is apparent. The existence of a Mass Media building would increase the time and range at which its planet is detectable. Detecting an empire via radio would reveal its name and any cities in a solar system.

Ships can be detected well outside of radar range, but the detection and ability to track the ship is not immediate and would depend on the ship, its crew, officer or captain communicating via the comm or by hailing. This makes it possible for a player to specialize in stealth by building cities underwater, utilizing mission disks and keeping communications to a minimum.

Wormholes should only appear in remote system reports if they are within range of a Radio Observatory. Considering that wormholes are ship-sized and they show visual radiation, it would make sense that radio emissions may be part of their nature. Perhaps polarities are detectable at higher TL blueprints.

Remote probes communicate via radio signals and would require a radio observatory to receive.

Hails and communications performed between ships and cities within the same system would not contribute to detection.

I believe there would be a more detailed progression to detection types with these ideas, increasing with tech level. As a civilization ramps up, it will gain the ability to use new types of detection while potentially making itself detectable to them and granting the potential to limit their vulnerability as well. Likewise, a civilization will be able to specialize in a specific area to have "optical stealth" or "radio stealth" on an empire level. It also reflects the realities astronomy in all its flavors. Optical astronomy has the longest range but is passive and will not reveal much about any empire detected with it other than the fact that they exist. Radar is short-range, immediate and reveals many characteristics but is not useful for long-range astronomy or remote detection of anything. Radio astronomy balances the middle-ground between Optical and Radar detection by revealing partial details at long range while making it possible for careless empires to reveal themselves from farther away.

RE: Empire Detection Mechanics Rework - Deantwo - 01-22-2019

I think those ideas would make it needlessly complicated.

Also you haven't been around for a while I guess, but TL doesn't exist anymore.

See: Fog of War
And: Deep Space Radar Counter