Apologies if the following borders on thread derailment but it is at least relevant to this oxp...
Varying masslock based on mass seems very logical, satisfyingly so, but I wondered if there was a way to discriminate with the emphasis placed firmly on gameplay.
The ins and outs of the masslock 'issue' have been discussed at some length elsewhere, so I'll try
to be brief.
When is masslock at its most frustrating?
When is masslock at its least frustrating?
- When theres another ship in front of you that's headed in the same direction as you (especially if it's of similar speed to your own ship).
- When it's a precurser for aggression or when the other ship is headed in the opposite direction to you.
So rather than ship mass, what if heading relative to the player were the means of discrimination?
Well, like most proposals around this issue, there are a few questions to be answered.
In Elite, I seem to remember a great many of the ships encountered heading away from the main station, so many that I wondered why when I never seemed to have reason to. Less realistic perhaps but more satisfying from a gameplay point of view in that masslocks tended to be shorter. In oolite there are potentially more reasons for ships to be headed 'outwards' and yet (because it simulates 'realistic' traffic) fewer seem to do so.
Who's most likely to be headed to the station?
Who's most likely to have a reason to head the other way?
- Traders and their escorts.
- Police (patrols); pirates (fleeing those patrols or 'catching' oncoming traders); bounty hunters (after said pirates).
There are exceptions of course but I'll try to cater for those below.
When would masslock activate?
So how would it be different?
Why the time delay?
- If no other vessel is headed in the opposite direction to you (and condition remains yellow) then torus is re-enabled after 10 (or similar) seconds.
What about being released from target lock if an aggressor switches target?
- It prevents 'insta-skipping' of encounters (in which case it could be argued that they may as well not be there in the first place).
- It grants pirates or aggressors headed in the same direction as you the opportunity to target you and prevent your use of the torus drive.
- Each masslock, independant of heading, remains an unknown where anything could happen.
What happens when you pass/overtake a ship? Their relative heading has now changed in relation to your ship.
- A means to escape masslock that a player might be able to fish for? Why not?
Or, if that's really a problem, then disable it whilst any combat is occurring on scanner (too dangerous with ships zipping about everywhere).
How is this any better than the default game?
- In relation to your ship, yes, but in relation to your heading, no.
The question then becomes why can't I now just torus away from the ship that just flew past me?
Perhaps now the countdown begins (for torus reactivation) or perhaps not on the grounds that they should be off scanner soon anyway.
Is anything lost?
- The longest and most tedious masslocks would be limited to 10 seconds in duration (subject to there not being overlapping masslocks), even if you're overtaking an Anaconda in... an Anaconda.
The ten second delay could even be (if the duration was balanced just right) a point of dramatic tension if you know or suspect pirates/police to be present.
What could be the 'real world' reasons for it to work this way?
- Still unsure of intentions of those masslocking you? Check.
Time for aggressors to target you? Check (10 seconds might not be the best value for this but something short in any case).
Still get to admire/experience other traffic? Check.
- Safety - ships headed in the opposite direction present more dangerous risks of collision than those headed away from you. Stationary objects (asteroids etc) are generally much more predictable than mobile objects headed away from you (which can turn). Torus near a main station is disabled on the grounds of this being a busy area where ships are launching as well as docking.
- Once disabled by cut-out (i.e. masslock) a short period could be required for re-calibration (similar to the hyperspace countdown perhaps) and/or for adjusting your ships heading to avoid any upcoming hazards.
- Red alert disables the torus because combat is not only highly unpredictable but a hit on an active torus drive could be catastrophic.
So rather than find a method to reduce masslock based around it's own (admittedly very good) 'handwavium', it would be a reason to reduce masslock based around the 'issues' of masslock.