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This is an in-depth description of vehicle configuration in the computer game Starsiege.
Every vehicle in Starsiege can be modified and upgraded with numerous parts and components, though performance is still limited by the thresholds of the particular chassis. Specifically, every vehicle has a maximum speed, maximum acceleration, and maximum mass, as well as limited space for each type of component. These limitations, particularly maximum mass and space, constrict how much a vehicle can be customized. However, there are still hundreds of ways to outfit any given chassis, each configuration with its own benefits and detriments.
- Top Speed - The maximum speed, in kilometers per hour, that a chassis is capable of achieving without the usage of a turbo or rocket booster.
- Top Acceleration - The maximum rate, in kilometers per hour per second, at which a vehicle can increase its speed without the usage of a turbo or rocket booster.
- Energy Demand - The amount of energy required by the vehicle to match the maximum energy requirements of its components (i.e., the amount of energy used when all of the components are operating or charging). Energy demand is compared to reactor output. If demand is equal to or lower than output, the vehicle should not normally encounter any energy problems. If demand is higher than output, when all components are active or charging, the vehicle's energy pool will beging to drop, until there is no power remaining and the vehicle must shut off to recharge. This is not a strict threshold, because it is possible to enter battle in a vehicle which has a higher energy demand than reactor output. However, in this situation the pilot must carefully manage weapon usage and firing chains to avoid depleting power too quickly.
- Mass - The maximum mass, in metric tons, of a given chassis. Mass is the sum of the base weight of the chassis plus the weight of all of its components.
Different components take up different amounts of physical space, and there is a specific amount of space in any given chassis. To reflect this, component slots and weapon hardpoints - and their respective parts - have sizes. Most components are available in Small, Medium, or Large, though weapons and engines also have an X-Large (extra large) size. It is possible to place a component in a larger slot (for example, putting a medium weapon on a large hardpoint), but obviously impossible to put a component in a smaller slot.
Component Slot Types
Vital to every chassis is the engine, which provides movement. Engines come in varying sizes and powers. Engines are rated in two ways, velocity rating and acceleration rating. These numbers reflect the engine's power in velocity and acceleration, with higher numbers indicating a stronger engine. Stronger engines are generally heavier and take up more space.
The optimal engine for a vehicle depends on its weight. The heavier a chassis is, the more power the engine will need in order to reach maximum speed and acceleration. Using a heavier engine, however, will require more mass that can no longer be used for other components. Sometimes it is necessary to find a balance between the power and weight of an engine.
Another critical component of any vehicle is its reactor, the source of power. Reactors are rated by energy reserve and output per second. Energy reserve, also known as the energy pool, is the maximum amount of power that a reactor can store. A higher energy reserve gives the pilot more energy to expend before depleting the reactor, in the event that the output per second does not meet the vehicle's requirements. Output per second is a rating of the number of energy units the reactor produces every second. These units are used to power and recharge active components. If more energy is produced than is currently being used, and the energy reserve is not full, the leftover energy will be added to the reserve.
As with most all components, reactors generally increase in size and weight as they go up in power.
The computer mananges all functions aboard the vehicle but is most important in regards to weapons usage. Three types of computers are available, Basic, Improved, and Advanced. While the Basic computer only offers the bare necessities of combat, the Improved and Advanced computers offer improved zoom, lead indicators, and extended target identification range. The Advanced computer also offers automatic targeting.
Shields provide the first line of defense for Hercs, and are not available on tanks. They are rated in three ways: protection factor, charge rate, and efficiency. The protection factor, or shield pool, of a shield generator is the maximum number of shield units that it can store. A higher protection factor gives the shields more charge and presumably extends the time they remain up. Charge rate is the rate at which shields recharge, measured in units per second. If a shield's charge rate is 50, that number of units are added to the pool every second until the shields are at full charge. Efficiency is the amount of damage that each unit of shield absorbs. A higher efficiency can also extend the length of time shields stay up.
The general principle is that a shield with a higher protection factor will last longer, but some shield designs utilize much higher charge rates and efficiencies to make up for a lower protection factor.
Armor provides the secondary defense for Hercs, and the only defense for tanks. Different types of armor are available, each with its own effectiveness against energy and ballistic weapons. Specialized armor is also available, including one type that reduces a vehicle's radar signature, and another composed of nanites that re-allocate themselves over damaged areas. The latter is very heavy and only available on tanks.
Unlike other components, the weight of armor varies with the vehicle to which it is equipped, as different vehicles will need different amounts of armor to cover their surface area. Armor is much thicker on tanks to counteract the absence of shields.
Sensors are the means by which other objects on the battlefield are scanned and targeted. They provide constant information on the location, classification, and condition of every object they can detect. Sensor effectiveness is judged by numerous factors. There are two types of scan, active and passive, each with a separate range and resolution. Additionally, each sensor has a unique sweep time. Active is a radar mode in which signals are continuously sent out by the sensors to detect other objects. Although active radar is much more effective for detecting most ojects, it also gives away the scanner's position. Passive radar only monitors incoming signals (chiefly, active radar signals) and uses these to detect other objects. Range is the distance in meters in which the radar can detect an object. Active radar range is always higher than passive radar range. Resolution is a measurement of how fine the radar's scan is, and what it is likely to pick up. Active radar resolution is almost always higher than passive radar resolution. Sweep time is the time in seconds it takes for the sensors to do a complete 360 degree scan of the surrounding area. The entire area is not scanned at once.
The balance between these different characteristics varies widely from sensor to sensor, giving each type its strengths and weaknesses in different situations.
Special slots are additional slots for various miscellaneous components that may be fitted to Hercs or tanks. These components range from boosters for short spurts of added speed to shield amplifiers for additional protection. Special components serve a variety of purposes, and many are invaluable tools in certain configurations. Like other components, they come in a range of sizes and weights.
Of course, weapons are absolute necessities in warfare, and no vehicle should leave the base without them. Hardpoints vary in size and number from vehicle to vehicle, from an average of two on tanks to up to six on some Hercs. All manner of weapons may be placed on these hardpoints in order to rain death and destruction upon the enemy.