Game Design, Programming and running a one-man games business…

Reflecting beam lasers

My recent design thoughts and today’s tweaks make it clear I needed a way to see visually that lasers were just bouncing off enemy shields and achieving nothing, so I added a sort of ‘bounce’ effect to the lasers (see video below). I didn’t bother doing any fancy maths for the collision reflection, it just skews off at a slightly random angle. Does this look ok? (also there is some quite cool shooting of rockets by a point defence laser going on in the second clip).

17 thoughts on Reflecting beam lasers

  1. Hrm… I’m not a big fan of the reflecting lasers.
    It seems to me that shields should be absorbing energy from the lasers. The visual result of which would be a ‘splash’ of energy at the point of impact. Perhaps with some visual glowing of the shield sphere.
    You could do that in addition to the shield indenting some, that would be cool looking. The more powerful the laser, the greater the indent, that would really make battles look interesting ;)

    If your going to have them reflected, then since the reflection is so small (much less than the length it still had to go to get to the target) then the shield must be absorbing and reflecting. Although we don’t see any visual queue that absorption is going on.

    Also, one other thing that has constantly been bugging me in all the videos are your lense flare type affects when a bigger explosion happens. Right now it looks like your just doing as a pure white sphere/blur sort of thing. It’s very disconcerting.
    I know your just in development, but I think getting this impact shockwave thing looking good would go a long way towards making the whole battle feel more awesome.

    By the way I love what your making and I love reading your blog. It’s really getting me excited about making another game myself :)

  2. Looks very good to me. Anything that helps communicate “there are titanic amounts of energy slamming into each other here” is a step in the right direction.

    Like Robert mentioned, the impact shockwave effect is very important. Remember what the shield impacts were like in Master of Orion 2? I really liked those, particularly because the “shot fully absorbed” and “shot partially penetrated” animations were suitably different.

    Still more advanced is making the impact effect intensity proportional to how much damage is actually being stopped by the shield. A massive laser-of-doom against a puny frigate shield won’t make much of a shield flash (it just goes down), same with a normal laser against a really powerful shield. But if you take the big laser and the big shield, I wouldn’t mind a significant chunk of the screen going white-flash-with-crackling-energy to get the point across.

    Thanks for keeping us posted like this, it’s a great way to generate and maintain interest in the game.

  3. Weird, this is the third comment I’ve posted but the first one to actually show up. I figured my first two (under “More Waffle about Spaceship Shields” and “Spaceship speed”) were awaiting moderation. Did they just not make it into the comments table at all?


  4. The main thing I’m concerned about reflecting lasers. The lasers in the video almost looked like they were coming from a cloaked vessel. I think it takes a second to realize they’re not.

  5. What happens if you switch the reflect angle to a new random angle every frame or so? It might better show that the laser is hitting a wall and bouncing off in flickers and scatters.

  6. I think instead of reflect to a certain angle, you can consider reflect to let say 12 angle of every interval out of 360 degree

  7. I vote for the comments re: orb with sparks flying out.

    The reflected lasers remind me of physics experiments from school. It doesn’t look that nice to me. Since the reality you’re building comes from the cliffskiverse you can use some artistic license to make it look better no need for reflection/refraction/etc.

    JAPOV (Just Another Point Of View).

  8. What type of laser impact on a shield constitutes a reflection animation? Is it that any laser that doesn’t pass through the shields and impact the ship causes this reflection to occur? Or is it that any hit on a shield that doesn’t cause the shield to lose durability?

    I think that there should be three separate animations for when a laser hits a shield. And they are:

    Laser distortion at the shield layer: This animation would occur when the laser passes through the shield layer and strikes the ship. The laser would retain its original look, but at the point where it passes through the shield, there should be a bit of animation that eludes to the fact that the laser passed through, something like a bit of interference.

    Laser impact and shield buckle: This animation would occur when the laser strikes the shield and causes the shield to lose durability. At the point where the last makes impact, there should be a wake of energy proportional to the strength of the laser. Some simple animation to let the player know that the shield took a hit.

    Laser reflection: This animation should be exactly what you are showing off in the video. This should only occur when a complete reflection that doesn’t affect the shield’s durability takes place.

  9. I agree with Robert. Lasers should not reflect off shields, they should be absorbed by them. This could be signified by a brief pulse of bright light where the beam hits the shield, like when a bug gets zatted by a bug zapper. The whole shield could glow brighter every time it absorbs a blast but at the very least in addition to the impact glows.

  10. The problem is, I have to differentiate between:

    1) weapon hist shields, and is totally useless, bounces off
    2) weapon hits shields and damages them, but does not break through to the ship and
    3) weapon hits and overcomes shields entirely, breaking through and additionally doing damage to the hull.

    The current system has it that when a shield is worn out (all shield points expended) its gone forever and all further shots just hit the ship.
    Although bouncing off makes little sense in physics, I’m hoping it conveys “This weapon was useless against this shield”.
    maybe a collapsing series of inner shockwaves would help convey that an incoming shot damaged the shields. After all, missiles don’t currently have a way of conveying that they did zero damage.

  11. How about implementing a cracking effect which grows the longer the laser fires onto the shield at the point the laser strikes it.

    Assuming you are using a 3D engine but using polys in 2D planes. I would have an invisible sphere/ellipsoid/whatever which matches the shape of the shield and then place an animating crack texture at the point on the sphere where it is being struck. You should then get a nice perspective correct shield impact damage being shown.

    That covers 2), and if 1) then don’t show a cracking image and for 3) have some sort of shield shattering anim.

  12. for 1) I think the reflection works well, so long as
    2) is designated by the shield reacting (collapsing series of inner shockwaves sounds good)

    Another thing for 2 and 3 is some indicator of where the laser actually hit the shield (like the little circular pulse already mentioned), because “penetrating the shield” and “fired at something on the other side” look similar. For example right at 0:09 on the posted video there are two lasers coming from 2/3rds up the left side of the screen that appear to converge on the ship but don’t have any visual interaction with the shields.

    I’d prefer if worn-out shields kept trying to recharge themselves (perhaps with a 1-2 second delay between down and recharging) until the shield module itself is taken out by internal damage. It probably wouldn’t have a huge tactical impact (unless the ship survives and takes a minute to get to another fight), but it would give a cool indicator of how bad off the ship really was.

  13. I agree with the comments above that say there needs to be some additional “splash” animation when the laser hits the shield and then bounces. Also another problem, which perhaps you simply want to ignore, is that the bounced back lasers probably should damage targets they strike but don’t appear to do so.

    Maybe the best solution would be to simply have the laser hit, cause some sort of splash/explosion animation to signal the bounce is happening, then bounce and quickly dissipate.

  14. On bouncing lasers damaging things in the way, it appears to me that a shot cannot damage a target it was not aimed at (fighters flying through a laser shot at a cruiser, etc). This makes perfect sense in terms of not burdening the system down with a ridiculous amount of collision checking, but I wanted to ask if it’s true.

    Are there any area-of-effect weapons?


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