Could we please have a method for Ship entities (which works on NPCs, player ships, and
subentities of player or NPC vessels) which tells the ship (or subentity) to simply fire one shot from its current, or a specified, laser as long as it has such a weapon and the weapon is not recharging or overheated? I can see a few uses for this:
1) The 'laser strafing mine' concept
suggested by Huntress, which unless I've interpreted it wrongly calls for lasers to fire indiscriminately in all directions.
2) An easier way to make player ships with multiple forward (or aft, or side) lasers, which fire simultaneously in the same manner as NPCs'. I know this will be controversial, so I will set out a few reasons for allowing this below.
3) Detailed control of ships in combat using scriptedAI, for instance to make a mission ship fire a warning shot across the player's bow (the present scriptedAttackAI simply shoots if the target is in its sights).
4) The ability to make the player's lasers malfunction in a way which produces uncontrollable firing, or to have a 'co-pilot' opportunistically fire the aft gun if a target wanders into its sights while you're looking forward (or vice versa), or anything similar.
Reasons for allowing player ships to have multiple front lasers in this manner:
1) There would be other applications for the required scripting functionality (see above).
2) The present restrictions on player-ship armament pre-date Oolite 1.77, which gave NPC lasers equal firepower, and Oolite 1.81 which reduced standard per-second damage rates for both player and NPCs and allowed the definition of new laser types. I think these changes give room for multi-laser player ships to exist in a more balanced fashion.
3) If I remember rightly, the backstory justification for not allowing players to fly MFL ships was that they're illegal for civilian use. However, the ability to define new starting scenarios and create missions around them means that the player may not always be a civilian--and some players have little respect for the Galactic Cooperative's laws anyway.
4) It is currently easier to make self-firing secondary lasers which can fit on any ship (Primeable Lasers OXP) and self-aiming laser turrets than manually-operated equivalents. Barring that OXP's attempt to make itself more balanced by restricting its equipment to Deadly-rated commanders, I find this a bit odd given that game balance is the reason for not allowing multiple front lasers in the first place.
5) I have already produced a workaround
which allows something approaching this functionality, but it has some serious bugs and even if these are fixed it will be more complex, less efficient and less versatile than the method I'm asking for. Essentially, you can have MFL player ship OXPs this way with some other OXP-ing possibilities, or you can have them an inferior way, but some day they will exist.
6) I am asking for one scripting method which would make it easier for OXPs to add MFL player ships, not full core-game support for such vessels. Issues such as upgrading the subentity lasers would be left entirely to the OXP.
7) It would be each player's individual choice to fly such a ship if desired, just as it is now their choice to install NPC ships with multiple front lasers or indeed any other type of uber-ship OXP. If unbalanced gameplay results, that's their problem.