Cloaking Mechanic

Could you think of a reason why cloaking would necessarily interfere with shields? From a visibility standpoint, shields don't light up unless you're hit, which would drop your cloak anyway, so having shields on doesn't seem as though it should give away your position.

Also, @CMDR Cosmic Spacehead suggested that having night vision on should reveal artifacts (or possibly a blur) that indicate the presence of a cloaked ship, making it thereby partially visible or detectable to the trained eye, and more so the closer it is. I think that would work better than having the cloaked ship partially visible all the time, as in a way that would somewhat defeat the purpose of cloaking to begin with, particularly considering that the cloaked ship still shows up on radar.

The Metamaterial Armour I suggested could be made significantly heavier as you suggested, and I think that would also be a good trade-off, but perhaps not to the point of severely limiting manoeuvrability, though it should take a noticeable hit due to the weight increase.

The reason I suggested that deploying weapons should deactivate the cloak is so that there's a slight delay between decloaking and firing on a ship, revealing the cloaked ship just before the first shot can be fired.

I think though that a large power draw for the cloaking module would be a good way to restrict overpowered stealth fighter builds that would otherwise have had a stack of Shield Boosters and Shield Cell Banks, so that would be a good way to limit shielding on these ships without actually having the cloaking interfere with the shields directly.

I will incorporate some of this feedback into the OP. Thanks.
My thought was that invisible + fully shielded could be an OP ramming ship. I guess as long as either weapons (as you suggested) or shields are limited by cloaks, it shouldn't be too imbalanced.
 
I would love to see a cloaking mechanic; frankly I am surprised that something like it doesn't exist already. Here are my thoughts:

- Shields interfere with cloaks, so engaging a cloaking takes the shield offline.

- A cloaked ship should still be partially visible; it should have a transparent texture with refraction, so if backlit by a sun or planet it is a bit more visible, and at close ranges it would be visible against a starfield backdrop also.

- The cloak would require a very heavy specialized armor plating that is weak to all weapon types. It's a highly specialized shell and therefore not suitable for sustaining heavy fire. The armor plating would be heavy enough to severely limit maneuvering and speed.

- Having weapons deployed while cloaking could work just fine, but the cloak should be so power hungry that hard points would actually have to be deactivated to compensate for an active cloak. A poorly set up power management configuration would result in a ship with neither a functional cloak nor functional weapons. I'd like to see the cloak able to be bound to a fire group.

- Duration would be short, with a fade in/ fade out. With extreme engineering, we're talking 2 minutes tops, with 30 seconds to a minute as baseline cloak durations depending on size and rating. Cloaking effectiveness should also be based on ship size, a smaller ship should cloak longer and more completely than a huge one.
To be realistic like Klingon or Romulan cloaked ships, I don't believe a cloaked ship should be partially visible or fade in/out like the original Elite game. However, I like the idea where it can be detected on scanner with night vision but not targetable else it will be not much different to silent running.

Could you think of a reason why cloaking would necessarily interfere with shields? From a visibility standpoint, shields don't light up unless you're hit, which would drop your cloak anyway, so having shields on doesn't seem as though it should give away your position.

Also, @CMDR Cosmic Spacehead suggested that having night vision on should reveal artifacts (or possibly a blur) that indicate the presence of a cloaked ship, making it thereby partially visible or detectable to the trained eye, and more so the closer it is. I think that would work better than having the cloaked ship partially visible all the time, as in a way that would somewhat defeat the purpose of cloaking to begin with, particularly considering that the cloaked ship still shows up on radar.

The Metamaterial Armour I suggested could be made significantly heavier as you suggested, and I think that would also be a good trade-off, but perhaps not to the point of severely limiting manoeuvrability, though it should take a noticeable hit due to the weight increase.

The reason I suggested that deploying weapons should deactivate the cloak is so that there's a slight delay between decloaking and firing on a ship, revealing the cloaked ship just before the first shot can be fired.

I think though that a large power draw for the cloaking module would be a good way to restrict overpowered stealth fighter builds that would otherwise have had a stack of Shield Boosters and Shield Cell Banks, so that would be a good way to limit shielding on these ships without actually having the cloaking interfere with the shields directly.

I will incorporate some of this feedback into the OP. Thanks.
I agree a cloaking device shouldn't interfere with ship's SG. Since some of us have agreed a cloaking device cannot be used in SC or within no fire zone of stations when requesting for docks, then a scenario where it can be misused for ramming another ship is in normal space outside of stations' no fire zones. To prevent ramming misued, maybe FDev can delay the de-cloak process by a few secs where ship cannot be used for ramming until it's fully de-cloaked before it can deploy/re-activate HPs.

I'm not sold on the idea cloaking device de-activates shields because I reckon it should be used for defense rather attacking another ship.
 
To be realistic like Klingon or Romulan cloaked ships, I don't believe a cloaked ship should be partially visible or fade in/out like the original Elite game. However, I like the idea where it can be detected on scanner with night vision but not targetable else it will be not much different to silent running.



I agree a cloaking device shouldn't interfere with ship's SG. Since some of us have agreed a cloaking device cannot be used in SC or within no fire zone of stations when requesting for docks, then a scenario where it can be misused for ramming another ship is in normal space outside of stations' no fire zones. To prevent ramming misued, maybe FDev can delay the de-cloak process by a few secs where ship cannot be used for ramming until it's fully de-cloaked before it can deploy/re-activate HPs.

I'm not sold on the idea cloaking device de-activates shields because I reckon it should be used for defense rather attacking another ship.
Interesting, so you'd see cloaking applications for traders, among other things.
 
To be realistic like Klingon or Romulan cloaked ships, I don't believe a cloaked ship should be partially visible or fade in/out like the original Elite game. However, I like the idea where it can be detected on scanner with night vision but not targetable else it will be not much different to silent running.

I agree a cloaking device shouldn't interfere with ship's SG. Since some of us have agreed a cloaking device cannot be used in SC or within no fire zone of stations when requesting for docks, then a scenario where it can be misused for ramming another ship is in normal space outside of stations' no fire zones. To prevent ramming misued, maybe FDev can delay the de-cloak process by a few secs where ship cannot be used for ramming until it's fully de-cloaked before it can deploy/re-activate HPs.

I'm not sold on the idea cloaking device de-activates shields because I reckon it should be used for defense rather attacking another ship.
I think ramming and sneak attacks are legitimate activities that a cloaked ship pilot would want to do. However, given the hit to power consumption which reduces shield buffs, and the increased armour weight that reduces manoeuvrability, it remains a risky prospect. It's worth it to consider the differences between Silent running, and Cloaking as we're proposing it.

Sneaking up to a ship to ram it or open fire on it.
With Silent running, your ship will show up on the radar once you've entered into the auto-resolve range of the target ship's sensors and so you will be targetable. You will also be visible, so you'd need to approach from their blind spots, and if you want to open fire, you can try to do so from outside the auto-resolve distance, but you may not be able to easily ram your target.

With Cloaking, the commander of the target ship would need to be monitoring their sensor screen to notice your ship in the vicinity. If there are a number of other ships around, then your cloaked ship will likely not be noticed on the sensor screen. If your presence on the radar is unnoticed, you can approach as closely as you want at any angle before deciding to ram the ship or open fire, so I think Cloaking is probably better for this purpose.

Smuggling goods into a station.
With Silent running, as long as you're heat management is half decent, it's fairly trivial to get through the mail slot or onto an outpost's landing pad without being scanned, and without sustaining any damage, or very little if any.

With Cloaking, it should be just as trivial, except the concern is about cloaking time remaining rather than heat buildup, so I think the two methods are roughly on par in this regard.

Escaping pirates and bounty hunters.
With Silent Running, while outside the auto-resolve distance, pirates and bounty hunters cannot target your ship to scan it or open fire on it with gimbaled or turreted weapons, but if you're around 1-2km away, you would likely be spotted, and any fixed weapons can cause you trouble, or the enemy ship can move towards you within the auto-resolve distance and scan your cargo hold or scan your bounty reward.

With Cloaking, other ships cannot target your ship to scan your cargo hold, scan your bounty reward, or to open fire with gimbaled or turreted weapons, even within a few metres distance. Also, as you will not be visible, there will be some difficulty in accurately firing on you with fixed weapons, though it's possible because your location on the radar will allow your direction to be tracked by the pirate, that is if they're paying attention to their sensor, and if there aren't a bunch of ships clogging up the sensor screen. For this reason, I think Cloaking is slightly more useful for escaping or evading pirates and bounty hunters.

Pirating or bounty hunting in normal space.
Scanning for bounties or cargo is probably more convenient whilst cloaked, as you can do so from any distance, whereas with Silent running you need to stay out of auto-resolve range, and scanning also increase your ship's temperature (I think).

It's also easier whilst cloaked to get into position for a pirating attempt, or to fire the first shot for collecting a bounty. However, the power requirements and weight increase of a cloaked ship will mean some sacrifices in shield buffs, making both professions a little more risky.

Other applications?
There are probably some other scenarios where cloaking can be used that haven't occurred to me at the moment, so if anyone can mention any that would be appreciated.
I also foresee possible future missions like scouting and reconnaissance where you have to avoid detection whilst observing and collecting some information, as well with avoiding detection when hacking installations, which is currently in the game.
 
Interesting, so you'd see cloaking applications for traders, among other things.
I'm not promoting traders use cloaking device except (1) do you restrict such a device to non-freigher ships only and (2) it can assist a non-combatant (trader or explorer) CMDR with a chance to evade being killed by a pirate or PvP'er after submitting to an interdiction. Note, some of us agree ship cannot be cloaked in SC or within the no fire zone of stations and there needs to be some "cost" for cloaking so it can't be abused per se.

I think ramming and sneak attacks are legitimate activities that a cloaked ship pilot would want to do. However, given the hit to power consumption which reduces shield buffs, and the increased armour weight that reduces manoeuvrability, it remains a risky prospect. It's worth it to consider the differences between Silent running, and Cloaking as we're proposing it.

Sneaking up to a ship to ram it or open fire on it.
With Silent running, your ship will show up on the radar once you've entered into the auto-resolve range of the target ship's sensors and so you will be targetable. You will also be visible, so you'd need to approach from their blind spots, and if you want to open fire, you can try to do so from outside the auto-resolve distance, but you may not be able to easily ram your target.

With Cloaking, the commander of the target ship would need to be monitoring their sensor screen to notice your ship in the vicinity. If there are a number of other ships around, then your cloaked ship will likely not be noticed on the sensor screen. If your presence on the radar is unnoticed, you can approach as closely as you want at any angle before deciding to ram the ship or open fire, so I think Cloaking is probably better for this purpose.

Smuggling goods into a station.
With Silent running, as long as you're heat management is half decent, it's fairly trivial to get through the mail slot or onto an outpost's landing pad without being scanned, and without sustaining any damage, or very little if any.

With Cloaking, it should be just as trivial, except the concern is about cloaking time remaining rather than heat buildup, so I think the two methods are roughly on par in this regard.

Escaping pirates and bounty hunters.
With Silent Running, while outside the auto-resolve distance, pirates and bounty hunters cannot target your ship to scan it or open fire on it with gimbaled or turreted weapons, but if you're around 1-2km away, you would likely be spotted, and any fixed weapons can cause you trouble, or the enemy ship can move towards you within the auto-resolve distance and scan your cargo hold or scan your bounty reward.

With Cloaking, other ships cannot target your ship to scan your cargo hold, scan your bounty reward, or to open fire with gimbaled or turreted weapons, even within a few metres distance. Also, as you will not be visible, there will be some difficulty in accurately firing on you with fixed weapons, though it's possible because your location on the radar will allow your direction to be tracked by the pirate, that is if they're paying attention to their sensor, and if there aren't a bunch of ships clogging up the sensor screen. For this reason, I think Cloaking is slightly more useful for escaping or evading pirates and bounty hunters.

Pirating or bounty hunting in normal space.
Scanning for bounties or cargo is probably more convenient whilst cloaked, as you can do so from any distance, whereas with Silent running you need to stay out of auto-resolve range, and scanning also increase your ship's temperature (I think).

It's also easier whilst cloaked to get into position for a pirating attempt, or to fire the first shot for collecting a bounty. However, the power requirements and weight increase of a cloaked ship will mean some sacrifices in shield buffs, making both professions a little more risky.

Other applications?
There are probably some other scenarios where cloaking can be used that haven't occurred to me at the moment, so if anyone can mention any that would be appreciated.
I also foresee possible future missions like scouting and reconnaissance where you have to avoid detection whilst observing and collecting some information, as well with avoiding detection when hacking installations, which is currently in the game.
Preventing use of a cloaking device for ship rams can be challenging except how many fast ships have thick hulls to ram slower ships with thinner hulls?

I suggest we keep silent running and cloaking device separate for smuggling - i.e., cloaked ship must de-cloak before entering no-fire zone and request for dock.

Using silent running to escape from pirates or bounty hunters can be fatal in a slower ship with no shields b/c you are still susceptible to fixed weapons hits (NPC authority ships have good aims ;)). The challenge is how do you avoid Wanted CMDRs using a cloaking device to escape from law enforcers? I don't have an answer yet except suggest cloaking device can only be activated after FSD has cooled down and you can't engage FSD until ship is de-cloaked which has another cool down time?

I don't reckon a cloaking device should be used for pirating or bounty hunting b/c we agree it can't be used in SC to allow interdictions.

In summary, I believe we should look at ways to use a cloaking device for passive or evasion purposes rather than aggression (avoid abuse use).
 
Preventing use of a cloaking device for ship rams can be challenging except how many fast ships have thick hulls to ram slower ships with thinner hulls?

I suggest we keep silent running and cloaking device separate for smuggling - i.e., cloaked ship must de-cloak before entering no-fire zone and request for dock.
Thinking about it, I think you're right, and it would make sense to disallow docking requests and docking while a ship has cloaking activated. This would help to differentiate it from silent running ships, which is a good thing. I'll update the OP to reflect this.

I don't think there should any problem entering a no-fire zone whilst cloaked though. As long as your weapons are stowed, which they must be if you're cloaked, it should be fine I think.

Using silent running to escape from pirates or bounty hunters can be fatal in a slower ship with no shields b/c you are still susceptible to fixed weapons hits (NPC authority ships have good aims ;)). The challenge is how do you avoid Wanted CMDRs using a cloaking device to escape from law enforcers? I don't have an answer yet except suggest cloaking device can only be activated after FSD has cooled down and you can't engage FSD until ship is de-cloaked which has another cool down time?
I think using cloaking to escape the law when you have bounties on you is also quite legitimate, and would be a common use of the mechanic. Remember it only lasts a short time, so you still have to be careful and quick.

I don't reckon a cloaking device should be used for pirating or bounty hunting b/c we agree it can't be used in SC to allow interdictions.
In normal space it should be fine, like in a RES or CZ. It wouldn't really provide a great advantage anyway. It would just be fun sneaking up on people.

In summary, I believe we should look at ways to use a cloaking device for passive or evasion purposes rather than aggression (avoid abuse use).
I think the vulnerabilities largely discourage abuse of this mechanic. Deploying weapons or ramming a ship will immediately deactivate your cloaking, and start a long cooldown. Moreover, the power requirements of the cloaking module will greatly reduce SCB and SB stacking capability, making your ship more vulnerable, and the extra weight of the armour will also make you less manoeuvrable, so I don't think many cloaked runners are going to want to go head-to-head, and even if they do, once the action starts, they become uncloaked like any other ship, so there's no sustained advantage after the sneak attack.
 
Thinking about it, I think you're right, and it would make sense to disallow docking requests and docking while a ship has cloaking activated. This would help to differentiate it from silent running ships, which is a good thing. I'll update the OP to reflect this. I don't think there should any problem entering a no-fire zone whilst cloaked though. As long as your weapons are stowed, which they must be if you're cloaked, it should be fine I think.
Allowing cloak ships to enter no-fire zone will also allow CMDRs fly right up to air lock or landing pad without risk of being scanned and create other issues for other incoming/outgoing ships.

I think the vulnerabilities largely discourage abuse of this mechanic. Deploying weapons or ramming a ship will immediately deactivate your cloaking, and start a long cooldown. Moreover, the power requirements of the cloaking module will greatly reduce SCB and SB stacking capability, making your ship more vulnerable, and the extra weight of the armour will also make you less manoeuvrable, so I don't think many cloaked runners are going to want to go head-to-head, and even if they do, once the action starts, they become uncloaked like any other ship, so there's no sustained advantage after the sneak attack.
I don't agree cloaked ships should be allowed to deploy weapons or ram other ships until it's de-cloaked (which may take couple of seconds or more). Remember we are proposing a cloaking device for defensive rather than aggressive purposes.
 
I like the idea - I like the principle of it. For me the "cloaking device" should be part of a thargoid mission, perhaps once you get high enough with the AX chaps you're offered a mission to "do a Jameson" and have to fit this "experimental device,".

For me I think it should be at minimum size 4/5 thinking back to Star Wars "no ship that size has a cloaking device".

I think it could be fun if locked behind missions (should that ever be a thing) to preserve the rarity.

I'm not sure id like every eagle in the land having one.
 
Allowing cloak ships to enter no-fire zone will also allow CMDRs fly right up to air lock or landing pad without risk of being scanned and create other issues for other incoming/outgoing ships.



I don't agree cloaked ships should be allowed to deploy weapons or ram other ships until it's de-cloaked (which may take couple of seconds or more). Remember we are proposing a cloaking device for defensive rather than aggressive purposes.
As stated, docking would be disallowed whilst cloaked. So if you tried to go through the mail slot you’d get shot, and if you tried to dock you’d get a violation and fined, and the ship wouldn’t dock.

A cloaked ship can’t open fire while cloaked. As soon as it deploys weapons, the cloak will be instantly deactivated, meaning before a shot is even fired. Also, as stated in the OP, collision with any object will cause the cloaking to instantly deactivate as well, otherwise you could keep ramming whilst cloaked, which is not what we want.

In summary, cloaking will not really help aggressive actions much at all. You can get one sneak attack in maybe, but after that you’re vulnerable.
 
A simple fix for any stealth ramming shenanigans is make any cloaked ship fully detectable at a few 100m.
I don’t think it would really help if the cloaked ship picked up speed in its approach. By the time it got that close it would already be too late to dodge.

You’d just have to accept the fact that a cloaked ship can get one shot at you first if you haven’t noticed it on your sensors first. In my opinion, that makes perfect sense for a cloaked ship.
 
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Id go for that - that ties in with most pop culture sci fi cloaks - dont the federation have deflector shields because they dont have cloaking devices?

I think you're shield should come "online" immediately rather than recharging - although online with 1-2 rings perhaps
 
if you are cloaked then your shields should be offline IMHO and will only come back online when you decloak
It has been suggested, but it’s difficult to find a reason why that should be the case. Shields are invisible unless you’re hit, in which case the cloak is deactivated instantly anyway.

From a gameplay perspective, it’s also unclear what the absence of shields would be offsetting, or what the justification for that disadvantage would be.

Could you elaborate on your reasoning?
 
It has been suggested, but it’s difficult to find a reason why that should be the case. Shields are invisible unless you’re hit, in which case the cloak is deactivated instantly anyway.

From a gameplay perspective, it’s also unclear what the absence of shields would be offsetting, or what the justification for that disadvantage would be.

Could you elaborate on your reasoning?
For the cloak to work, wouldn't the shield system essentially be repurposed to supply the light bending effect (rending the ship invisible to the eye)... Therefore the actual shielding layer would not be there as all shield energy would be being used as part of the cloaking system.

The absense of shields is the tradeoff of being invisible... if you are untargettable on the contacts panel (even though you are showing as unknown signal source) then that means potential enemies have to fire randomly in your general vacinity. chances are NPC's wont be doing that firing, it would most likely be other players... It also means that if someone was to choose to use this sort of mechanism for griefing other players, well they would be hard pressed to do so easily if they have no shields unless they are set up as for hull tanking...

as for any other justifications, I see no need to justify why shields should be down when using the cloak. if you're invisible and untargettable, surely no shields should not really be a problem, it will only be a problem if you get randomly hit and decloaked, well that's the risk you take for being cloaked IMHO
 
For the cloak to work, wouldn't the shield system essentially be repurposed to supply the light bending effect (rending the ship invisible to the eye)... Therefore the actual shielding layer would not be there as all shield energy would be being used as part of the cloaking system.

The absense of shields is the tradeoff of being invisible... if you are untargettable on the contacts panel (even though you are showing as unknown signal source) then that means potential enemies have to fire randomly in your general vacinity. chances are NPC's wont be doing that firing, it would most likely be other players... It also means that if someone was to choose to use this sort of mechanism for griefing other players, well they would be hard pressed to do so easily if they have no shields unless they are set up as for hull tanking...

as for any other justifications, I see no need to justify why shields should be down when using the cloak. if you're invisible and untargettable, surely no shields should not really be a problem, it will only be a problem if you get randomly hit and decloaked, well that's the risk you take for being cloaked IMHO
I get where you’re reasoning from, but it seems like a superfluous drawback, which would be put there simply just because. The reason I say that is because the proposal has already built in costs, vulnerabilities, and restrictions.

Moreover, merely deploying your weapons deactivates your cloaking instantly. Basically that gives you a very brief element of surprise, but also puts you on equal footing with your target even before you engage. Or at least it would be putting you on equal footing if the cloaking module wasn’t eating up your power supply, thereby giving you considerably less defensive potential than your non-cloaking targets.

That brings me to the next point regarding what’s powering the cloak, which is the power drawn from the cloaking module, which is wholly separate from the power drawn by the shield generator, at least in this suggested implementation.

In short, having shields while cloaked does not put you at an advantage over your target where combat is concerned. If you have enough fire power to destroy a weak target in a couple of seconds when you sneak attack, then having shields on won’t make a difference, as you could have easily accomplished that feat even without cloaking. In the case where you get off the first shot just as your cloak is deactivated and then the fight is on, it’s no different to engaging by firing the first shot with no cloaking device.
 
Lol, but seriously, what issues do you see with this implementation? I'm trying to improve it as I go by taking in feedback.
I don't think any amount of improvement would change my opinion.

But let me make my case:
1) I think cloaking devices are just yet another scifi trope, and don't fit my interpretation of the Elite galaxy.
2) Extremely hard to balance game play, which is probably also why stealth is so neglected in Elite.
 
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