Extending the Slot System (Slot Types)

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This is a proposal about a further refining of outfit slots. It is meant not so much as a replacement system for the current slot size system, but more an added layer of complexity on top of that.

Goals

  1. Facilitate ship roles
  2. Provide opportunities for ship diversification
  3. Preserve customization freedom as much as possible

Limitations of the slot sizes

Slot sizes are an effective way of limiting equipment use on smaller ships. However, the system falls short when it comes to more specialized outfits, or when it comes to designing ships for a specific purpose. For instance, a big capital ship will typically have mostly large slots, which means the ships can mount any outfit in the universe. This implies the ship can be outfitted to fulfill almost any role combat-wise, which is an important reason (albeit not the only one) why big ships are superior to small ships in an absolute sense.

This proposal seeks to address these shortcomings by not merely scaling slots in size, but also giving them other qualities and properties, allowing N-dimensional variation between slots, and by extension, ships.

Slot properties

Slot properties as modeled in this proposal are essentially a much more varied version of the distinction between weapon, utility and structure slots. In this model, each ship has zero or more slots in each category, and each weapon slot is either small, medium or large in size. Only slot categories the ship has at least one slot in should be listed on the ship information screens.

Consider the following slot categories, and the properties each slot in those categories may have:

  • Fixed Weapon Mounts

These slots may only contain cannon and launcher outfits. Most weapon slots on most ships will be of this category.
Swivel: the arc in front of the ship that the weapon will auto-aim in. Outfits (such as launchers) may modify or override this.
Range: A range multiplier for the installed weapon.
Damage: A damage multiplier for the installed weapon.

  • Turret Mounts

These slots may only contain turrets.
Tracking: The tracking ability of the turret. Slower turret mounts are worse at hitting fast targets. Outfits may modify this.
Range: A range multiplier for the installed weapon.
Damage: A damage multiplier for the installed weapon.

  • Spinal Mounts

Weapon mounts that are an integral part of the ship's hull. Weapons in these slots can not be installed or uninstalled, they come with the ship. This would be a form of hard-fixed outfit. Spinal mounts don't require properties, as the weapons in them will be unique and powerful in their own right.

  • System Enhancements

These slots are essentially the same as the current utility slots. Outfits that modify the ship's native attributes such as CPU, shielding, electronic warfare and energy generation are handled here.

  • Engine Enhancements

These slots are the only place where engine related outfits such as tuning outfits and afterburners may be mounted, though other kinds of equipment may fit here as well.

  • Hull Enhancements

These slots are exclusively used for equipment mounted on the hull of the ship, most notably armour plating, stealth plating, mass collectors and heat dissipators.

  • Bays

These slots are used for volume-critical outfits such as cargo extensions, ammunition magazines, fuel tanks, passenger quarters and fighter bays. The philosophy here is that bay outfits are not single pieces of equipment, but rather the components and machinery necessary to render a ship's bay fit for a specific purpose. It is assumed that most of the cargo space on freighters is accomplished through cargo bay outfits installed in Bay slots.

  • Organs

These slots can only hold organic outfits, but all types of organic outfits are usable so long as the size fits.

Outfits versus slots

As is apparent from the above, a lot of the properties that previously belonged to outfits now belong to slots. Turrets in particular deserve attention, as the slot-side tracking parameter implies that the same turret weapon may perform quite differently on one ship than it does on another.

Although slots are much more specialized in this model than was previously the case, the actual restriction is handled in the outfits themselves. It is the outfit definition that governs which slot type an outfit may be mounted in, and outfits must not necessarily be limited to only one slot type. For example, it is conceivable that a certain weapon model can be mounted both as a fixed cannon and as a turret, and a ship performance upgrade may fit in both a System and Engine enhancement slot.

Concerns

The increased slot type variety means that each outfit can only be installed in a limited amount of slots on a given ship, and conversely each ship can only have so many different configurations because there are only so many outfits to choose from for each slot type. The only real way to overcome this issue seems to be to provide ample variety in outfits for all slot categories.