Deep Scan idea

I love that Science can only see in a limited range, and that confirming the identity of radar blips is an interesting little minigame, but when there are no unidentified ships I feel like science should have some more to do.

Here's my idea; the view that science has currently is what the ship's computer is able to correctly discerne from a combination of transponders and its sensor data. On top of that, the science officer should see the "raw" sensor data.

My proposal is a radial graph around the current science view (kind of how the weapon dial is a ring around the tactical view):


It shows three readings, which are just everything that appears in that direction, out to some indefiniate range. The further away, the weaker the reading. There's also some weak noise added to it, to make very distant objects harder to read. Nebulas would show up as random noise, making it intuitive why you can't see through them.

EM is electromagentism; basically everything would show up in this. Nebula and explosions would show up the strongest.

GRV is gravitic effects; large objects like black holes would show up here, but also jump/warp drive usage.

NTR is neutrinos, which you could say comes out of ship and station reactors and impulse drives.

In this example, at 128, there are strong, clear readings on all three channels, so there is certainly a ship there. Readings that clear would be what you would see for a ship that is within 30km. Things outside of that range would show up weaker, just barely out of the noise, to where the science officer has to be paying close attention to make out signals inside the noise.

This also gives the science officer a little more to do that Relay can't. Relay can give the captain a lot of information about what the ship and allies can see. Science can give a little information about things unseen, and suggest possible directions to launch probes.

Lets one design missions around exploring uncharted regions looking for artifacts and anomalies.


  • What it might look like, animated:

  • I'm very ambivalent for this context. While the idea appeals to me, I find the different categories a bit too complicated for first time players. What I more agree with is to have only one category of reading, so people would know that something is up there but would not know what.
  • Could simplify it to radiation and gravity. However, I think first time players would just assume it is screen decoration at first, and then start noticing that the data corresponds with what they can see in the main scanner, and may start wondering if weaker spikes are things that are further out of view.

    The three letter abbreviations are probably silly too; just having full labels for "Radiation", "Gravity", and "Neutrino" or even "Warp Energy" would be better for learning.
  • I'd like to see a way for Science officers to 'lock horns' with each other. I'm not sure how you could make this engaging, but the idea would be to fight over how well your Weapons officer's missiles track the enemy ship and how well their missiles track on yours (so a jamming/locking war).
    This would make 1-on-1 duels much more engaging for the science officer, as well as make it feel like you're fighting each other at the same time as the Helmsmen and Weapons officers are fighting each other. It could also increase the interaction between stations in a fight, especially if scanners were a repairable/damageable subsystem on the ship.
    A feature like this would also give a great excuse for a larger capital ship to have multiple science stations working together to perform multiple tasks at once, helping add options for games with more than six players.
    I also see this a preferable to other alternatives regarding missile counter-measures on larger ships (such as being vulnerable to beam weapons or interceptor missiles/flares/chaff), not that those other systems couldn't be cool too.

    And while I'm busy begging for features, I'd love for the Helmsman and Science officer to see which ship that Weapons is targeting, so that we're not constantly confirming which callsign we're referring to.

    In regards to Trevor's idea, I'd much rather only see what's outside of the Science officer's view show up on the radial graph, as I don't think it adds any utility to see what's inside, and making it not too easy to identify what's outside can be accomplished very easily otherwise.
    Additionally, on easier science scanning difficulties, the radial graph could simply be replaced with basic symbols of what's outside the scan radius.
  • Sonar ftw. I play Dangerous Waters from time to time and the Russian Typhoon? class has something just like this.

    I was just about to suggest some kind of "cloaking" for ships that can turn invisible and are only detectable through these kind of readings. Would be a whole new aspect to the game.

    Sonar however as in Dangerous Waters, is a learning curve and there are lots of stuff you need to just "know". For example a Submarine has a different sonar frequency to say a Tug (different subs have slightly different frequencies too for classification). I would suggest playing the game.

    Implementation of something like this may require a design overhaul.

    @John Bono the radial allows directional confirmation of where the target it is. However just like in Dangerous Waters, if your target is above or below're in trouble as a radial idea isn't good at confirming something like that.

    But yeah, I wholeheartedly agree with this idea. Although looking at that animated graph @TrevorHillHand that's an awful lotta contacts to sit down and classify!

    This would also need the range of science to be extended somewhat (by an order of magnitude).
  • Well the idea is science would otherwise stay the same, and this wouldn't REALLY tell you what's outside of the normal sensor range, just give you an idea of what direction you might want to go and look in. And the different categories are to let the science officer start to feel like a genius for decoding different types of sensor data.

    "Captain, massive gravity readings at heading 245, could be a black hole."


    "Captain, I'm getting strong neutrino and gravity readings, and getting stronger, as if a ship is approaching at warp speed, but nothing has been identified by the computer."

    "Oh god, they're cloaked. Shields up!"
  • Given how these things work and how short the ranges tend to be... things like gravity readings should be able to picked up from at least 50km away. I mean, we can detect them now hundreds of light years away. It seems daft to limit Space-age sonar in this manner... and I do think using it should give you an edge because you're not getting accurate data as is currently the case with science, but you're having to use your brain. To be frank, if you can use the radial, being a Sonar Technician is not gonna be that much more difficult. From Sonar alone, I can usually pinpoint bearing from the boat and the heading of the target. If I can classify it fast enough I can usually tell how far away it is likely to be. A few course detours and I can confirm this. Usually in about ten minutes or so.

    You would be surprised at just how much data this thing would reveal. Even just for a gravity reading (which if my physics is working today... would be given off by any object with mass) I would be able to find important information.

    For that matter...helm range is a little short... especially at warp speeds.

    I'd rather this didn't replace normal sensors, but rather enhanced them. It would make for some quite interesting missions...
  • >It seems daft to limit Space-age sonar in this manner...

    Actually, it's the anti-gravity drives used in EE that are causing so much sensor noise that scanning beyond the range of 30km is impossible.

    (AKA. It might not make scientific sense, but it does make gameplay sense)
  • Yeah; if I wanted a realistic space sim, I'd go play Kerbal or something.
  • Note that I do not oppose the deep scan idea. But I do think it's something that new players will have a hard time to grasp.

    And, gameplay is nr 1 for me. Realism isn't important in the slightest bit. After all, real space combat would be really a odd happening. As the best way to destroy your enemy is put an large asteroid or something in the proper orbit and have it collide with their home planet. Cheaper then using a thousand ships to attack it. And takes about the same timespan (years)

    So never let "but in reality..." stand in the way of "makes for good a game"
  • Finally did a screenshot mockup:

  • That actually looks quite nice :D now my head is thinking up how to implement this...
  • Seriously, take a look at Dangerous Waters sonar. Works really well. :)

    In dangerous waters you can "switch" sensors to get confirmation readings, assuming that Probe is pretty much just a towed array and ship sensors are just primary boat sensors... then you can usually "mark" one on the towed array/probe sensors, then switch sensors and check if the other sensor confirms. At that point you can determine target bearing and possibly distance.

    The way I see it unfolding is that once a target is "marked" and "confirmed" it would then show up the relevant, "distance, heading", listening for other things like gravity (mass), EMs would enable you to classify the ship, possible faction as well as speed. This could be used to then check the distance.

    Promoted to the main tactical map (which by the way, my middle button just doesn't support... for the Captain) the Captain would be able to see targets from many kilometres away and be able to avoid detection.

    Personally I feel it would make a better game if this enabled the range of the ships sensors to be extended. Given what Science (or someone) would have to do. I'm not necessarily saying that have to have unlimited range, but an increase of double would be an adequate reward.
  • I really like how you did the deep scan, I play Silent Hunter and a few other games as well and this looks good! I hope to see it in a build in the future!
  • We will turn this into a Subsim... >.>;;;;

    In all fairness, I enjoy subsims because of their similarity to space.
  • Here is something recently, concerning gravity waves for your idea on deep scanning,
  • Awwww yesss...that's so cool!!! Thank you it looks great!

    Recently I was able to play EE over the net with my good buddy, it worked perfectly! Gotta love it!
  • Made a few more tweaks after that picture, then showed it to an experienced player. After a few seconds he picked it up. Like, wait, if that is showing this, then there must be a ship over there out of range of my radar. So it actually works, but data can be hard to read properly.

    Is it a ship or a group of asteroids? Or a station? Who knows?!?
  • What are the different colors referencing?
  • Alpha, Beta and Gamma scanners. Which all act differently on gravity, electrical and biological signatures (or a mix of them)
  • When are all of these recent changes going up on the main github download page?
  • No, only where he is storing the source, I'm sure he will do a build on the download page.
  • Daid. Why biological? I was thinking maybe infared or some sort of other sort of emission source?
  • Okay, I tried the new science deep scan. Via the builds kwadroke has setup, very cool. Only tried it for a little. But will here in the near future with my crew.
  • edited February 2016
    I absolutely love this idea. I think it would make an excellent addition to UNION too, do you mind if I incorporate it?

    Our sensors are already based on energy signatures, but I never thought to represent them in this way.
  • I like it a lot!
    trevor's mock-up looks like it'd be quite intuitive to interpret the incoming data, and add some extra analysis to the Science station.
  • @Faerdan I do not mind at all. Steal whatever idea you want to make the best game you want :-)
  • Ah now, steal is a bit strong, but I do appreciate the sentiment. :)
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