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Q&A: Aegis Hammerhead

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From the RSI Q&A  https://robertsspaceindustries.com/comm-link/engineering/16317-Q-A-Aegis-Hammerhead

 

Q&A: Aegis Hammerhead

Greetings Citizens,

Below are answers to the most voted for questions in our Hammerhead Q&A thread that we posted last week on Spectrum. Thank you for taking the time to submit your questions and voting for the ones you care about most.

Also, special thanks to John Crewe, Adam Parker, and Steven Kam for their help in answering your questions.


Are the ship computers powerful enough to run all turrets by AI Blades?
It depends what other Computer Blades you want to equip and whether you upgrade the Computer items, but as it stands, the plan is that you won’t be able to completely convert all turrets to be controlled via AI using the default loadout. We presently estimate that 4 of the 6 can be converted to AI as standard without any extra item tweaks but this system is still to be implemented.

 

Are the large Power Plants sufficient to run 24x S4 Laser Cannons or is the Hammerhead designed to use ballistic cannons?
Yes, the default power plants are able to handle the energy requirements of the default weapons. It comes equipped with very efficient military grade power plants for this purpose, however, running ballistic weapons does provide another avenue of pursuit in terms of maintaining fire output.

 

What’s with the big hole in the middle? Could it not have been filled with something like cargo or living quarters or was it just a design choice?
It’s a design choice and there are practical reasons for it as well. In our Shipyard post on Ship Mass, we indicate how we derive ship masses from their geometry. The Hammerhead is pretty fast for its size, since one of its duties is to help screen and protect larger ships from fighter attack. An increased internal volume – even from “filling in” the negative space, would add mass. In-lore, the UEE has ordered a lot of Hammerheads – thousands of them – for a combat-dedicated role. Adding mass for off-mission amenities wasn’t deemed an effective design choice by the UEE Military.


How will the Hammerhead’s speed and maneuvering compare to similar ships like the Polaris?
The Hammerhead is aimed to be more nimble than the Polaris but with ships of this type, it’s all relative. Ships of this size aren’t dogfighters, they’re mobile weapons systems. The Hammerhead excels at being a mobile defense ship and keeping steady or at least providing smooth movement to help the turrets stay trained on their targets.

 

Does modularity mean we will be able to install a scanner station/extra fuel tank/computers/medbay? Is there something we can install into the gap in the middle?
Please see the above answer. The negative space is not a hardpoint, and plumbing or piping it to serve as one would impose an added cost in mass that doesn’t serve the Hammerhead’s military mission profile. The Hammerhead, though, provides an excellent defense for ships that you’d want to carry scanners, fuel, or medbays, and most would want the Hammerhead’s existing computer and scanning resources devoted to enhancing the performance of its weapons first and foremost.

 

There seems to be some inconsistencies in the ship stats we have been given (mass, length, manned/unmanned turrets). Can you clarify these for us please?
The Hammerhead has 6 turrets, all manned. The confusion on the turrets came from a fairly last minute change to convert two of them from unmanned to all of them being manned hence how there were combinations of 6 and 6+2 kicking around. Development is a very real-time process, and here you get to see it – warts and all. We talk amongst ourselves and tweak the designs a lot even during the design process – as you’ve seen from our other features, a great deal of iteration occurs even in the concept phase and continues beyond! The mass value given was from the original design brief for the ship and wasn’t updated in time for the release with the new calculations as detailed in the recent Shipyard posts. We will be updating the dimensions and mass values on the ship stats page soon, but as the ship is in active production it may change in the future.


The turrets on the Hammerhead look quite fragile. Will this be true in game making its greatest strength also its greatest weakness?
To an extent, this is true – the Hammerhead’s turrets are somewhat exposed. Of course, as you can see from the turret emplacement design, this exposure is also what gives the Hammerhead’s weapons their excellent coverage and arcs of fire. It’s a tradeoff you’ll see in many weapon designs, in history and in the real world, in everything from tanks to warships – protected, hull-down, heavily armored weapon batteries tend to have limited arcs of fire, slower traverse, and other aspects that make them more cumbersome or unwieldy than lighter, more exposed designs. The Hammerhead is a patrol and escort ship, tasked with screening larger ships from fighters and small attack craft, as well as providing patrol in force primarily against non-capital ships. When arrayed against its intended targets, being able to bring multiple turrets to bear and overwhelm small targets with direct fire is the Hammerhead’s preference, especially when those smaller ships are not attacking the Hammerhead, but the charge the Hammerhead’s been tasked with protecting. The Hammerhead is a defender, but a very aggressive one that believes that the best defense against small ships is a good offense. What does this mean for the attacker? You know that the Hammerhead’s turrets are a relative structural weak point and might provide an entry point for boarding if attacked specifically. It might be a weakness, but we’ll leave it to you to decide whether it’s actually one that’s easy to exploit.


In the concept images with all turrets firing forward, the rear turrets are nearly hitting the front turrets. Is the Hammerhead not intended to fire all turrets forward? What are the intended firing arcs and convergence?
The Hammerhead is intended to hold a position with full 360 turret coverage on all angles, rather than be able to point them all in one direction. There are systems in place to prevent the turrets from hitting the ship so whilst they can fire all forwards, it isn’t an optimal solution. Recall that one of the Hammerhead’s chief duties is protecting other ships from attack by fighters and small bombers; the Hammerhead is not a dogfighter, it’s too large and too heavily armed for that. It’s designed to provide, not firepower in one direction, but flexible, massed firepower in any direction while adapting to the flow of combat threats around the ships it’s escorting. And when it’s not escorting anything, the Hammerhead is designed not to be safe to approach from almost any angle.


It seems like there are a lot of quality-of-life features missing, like a kitchen/meeting area/mess hall/etc. Are there plans to introduce any of these?
It is not particularly clearly shown on the cutaway images and fully built out for the concept images but we have left space for a small living quarters area built around the bunk room exterior and in between the upper/lower turret entrance rooms. It’s not the most luxurious ship, but then, warships often aren’t. The combat-focused mission of the Hammerhead, along with size and performance considerations, also lead to a focus on combat features over comfort. That said, I’m sure there are Hammerhead crews that look rather jealously upon the Polaris’ pool table.

 

The Ships Stats page lists the missile launchers as being “Marsden 683” racks. Does this mean you can also replace these with “Marsden 616” or “Marsden 625” racks in order to equip a small number of torpedoes instead?
We aim to make them interchangeable. The blockout for them currently meets the metrics for allowing interchangeability but things may change as the ship moves through the pipeline. For more information on Torpedoes vs Missiles please check out this Shipyard post which goes into detail on how the two types can be mixed together.


Does the Hammerhead come with military spec components or civilian ones since it is a military ship being sold to civilians?
It comes with Military Grade C items stock, although once these are worn out people may find it more efficient to replace with other types for durability given the expense/rarity of replacing these.

 

What is the ideal counter for a Hammerhead in terms of rock/paper/scissors and vice versa to what threat is the Hammerhead an ideal counter?
A dedicated anti-capital ship such as a Retaliator would be able to fight the Hammerhead effectively by tackling it from outside the effective range of its guns. The Hammerhead is intended to defend other ships from attack fighters with its many turrets, so massed waves of small ships stand little chance against it.

 

Will the Hammerhead be a practical option for everyday gameplay? Can I hop in with a friend or two and an NPC crew and e.g. go hunting pirates to make a profit?
Like all our ships, it can be manned with a minimal human crew, but the difficulty in doing this may outweigh the returns, depending highly on what missions you undertake. With the given example it would be perfectly possible to achieve that scenario but having a few more friends to help out would yield a more enjoyable experience.

 

Can we expect any ramming ability?
We don’t condone this sort of behavior, but for some reason Aegis did provide extra internal reinforcement in the head of the ship.


It seems to have a short range due to its M-size quantum fuel tank in relation to its L-size quantum drive. Can it be refueled in space by a Starfarer?
Of course it can be refueled in space by a Starfarer! Interplay between ships is one of the key gameplay loops of Star Citizen and whilst the L Quantum Drive can get you places the slightly smaller tank will require you to do a little more forward planning. Since we’re talking specifically about the quantum fuel tank, in UEE Navy fleet operations it’s contemplated that the Hammerhead usually sticks pretty close to the big ships it’s protecting.

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Are the ship computers powerful enough to run all turrets by AI Blades?  their answer is "almost", which is a fair deal.  The issue, of course, is finding people to man turrets, but they are enforcing group gameplay.  So the questions about turret start to flow - how should the turrets be organized? which turrets get AI blades, which get NPCs, where would you assign your two human gunners? 

 

Are the large Power Plants sufficient to run 24x S4 Laser Cannons or is the Hammerhead designed to use ballistic cannons?  how would you best arrange energy/ballistic weapons?

 

What’s with the big hole in the middle? Could it not have been filled with something like cargo or living quarters or was it just a design choice? meh, didn't expect them to give on this, leaves long corridors on either side and would add a lot of value, but ... oh well

 

How will the Hammerhead’s speed and maneuvering compare to similar ships like the Polaris?  we need people specifically to pilot these, we got a few in the last sale and putting pro pilots in the seat will be crucial.

 

There seems to be some inconsistencies in the ship stats we have been given (mass, length, manned/unmanned turrets). Can you clarify these for us please?  What does Chris say "no s**t, we already knew that?"

 

In the concept images with all turrets firing forward, the rear turrets are nearly hitting the front turrets. Is the Hammerhead not intended to fire all turrets forward? What are the intended firing arcs and convergence?  Might be more than one way to fly these, perhaps situational - the difference between a small group anti-fighter action and as an escort, but it will not be fighter style - appropriately more like a shark cruising through

 

It seems like there are a lot of quality-of-life features missing, like a kitchen/meeting area/mess hall/etc. Are there plans to introduce any of these?  I like this, RL ships are sometimes minimal, and if it helps performance that's good

 

 

Does the Hammerhead come with military spec components or civilian ones since it is a military ship being sold to civilians?

 

  • It comes with Military Grade C items stock, although once these are worn out people may find it more efficient to replace with other types for durability given the expense/rarity of replacing these.

 

that answer should get a lot of people thinking, this game will be very complicated

 

What is the ideal counter for a Hammerhead in terms of rock/paper/scissors and vice versa to what threat is the Hammerhead an ideal counter?   ... and the Eclipse too; what is the ideal escort for a Hammerhead?

 

It seems to have a short range due to its M-size quantum fuel tank in relation to its L-size quantum drive. Can it be refueled in space by a Starfarer?  for small group ops in one system this is no issue, but for inter-system ops this is an issue

 

 

 

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"What is the ideal counter for a Hammerhead in terms of rock/paper/scissors and vice versa to what threat is the Hammerhead an ideal counter?   ... and the Eclipse too; what is the ideal escort for a Hammerhead?"

 

This might be looking through the telescope backwards.  The Hammerhead is by nature an escort ship - eg. other ships don't escort it, but the other way around.  By nature it is accompanied by smaller ships, or both larger and smaller ships.

 

It will be a matter of scaling operations from squadrons, to wings, to multi-hull battle groups and patrols, to fleets. 

 

For example, if just a couple squadrons and a Hammerhead were the designated solution in a case, the squadrons should be fast (as I think all squadrons should be, a "fleet standard" navy ship) to be able to defend the Hammerhead from bombers (hate the term "bombers" used in space hehe, :) rather "missile ships"), but otherwise sticking close to the Hammerhead for its superiority against fighters.  If someone brings a Polaris or larger in that scenario... exit stage left.

 

 

Does the Hammerhead come with military spec components or civilian ones since it is a military ship being sold to civilians?

 

  • It comes with Military Grade C items stock, although once these are worn out people may find it more efficient to replace with other types for durability given the expense/rarity of replacing these.

 

that answer should get a lot of people thinking, this game will be very complicated

 

 

I tried, difficult as it is, to stick with a single manufacturer for combat ships, for uniformity of cockpits, knowledge of capabilities (strengths, weaknesses, etc.), and the aforementioned belief that max. speed, missiles, and superior numbers will matter (over considerations like refueling.)  For similar reasons, I believe that we would be best served to have standard "role" ships that we acquire once in the game (not with real backer dollars).  So for example, when we form a squadron, train as squadrons (refined in final stages of game development), we use the same equipment, including the "recommended load outs" and "upgraded/modded ship gear" provided by Research and Engineers.  So when we say, "Blue Squadron, take Target A", Blue Squadron uses their training and gear to fly effectively, same max speed to intercept, formations, tactics, familiarity with victory considerations related to all the preceding, and we win.  We can't do that all entirely yet with our various backer ships, but we can get started on all fronts and training mentioned.
 

7 hours ago, RSLtaken said:

I think this ship is even better for escorts mission now that you only need two gunners. That could free up a lot of people for other jobs. 

 

I'm a huge fan of AI gunners ... took a lot of heat from some for suggesting we should have them in Star Citizen years ago.  Which is all NPC gunners are anyway; its all AI run by the game and processors. 

 

The question remains to be seen is, how effective will CIG let them be?  Maybe it will depend on cost and quality of AI module purchased, just like quality of NPC escorts.  In theory, AI should be much better than humans; essentially the PC processor just lets them hit everything they shoot at within range - which is completely realistic; unlike Star Wars with troopers standing at turrets missing all their shots back in the '70s, when the first movie was made before we even had personal computers, but today in RL we have automated turrets on Navy ships that can already shoot missiles and jets out of the sky.  Star Wars never evolved with the times and they still have troopers standing there in turrets missing shots :) plus about 40 serious plot holes.  But I digress.

I don't think its saying exactly that we have to have 2 gunners, for example that's based on standard equipment and energy weapons.  So there's some trade offs that can make them all AI, and again, NPC gunners are Ai anyways.

 

I don't know how many we have of what, absent a fleet sheet to refer to even among active posters.  I came really close to hitting the button on the Hammerhead, even have it still sitting in my Cart.  But assuming we have all the ships we need with this many members?

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when it comes to AI, i have to ask, which overheats first? A.I. or A.I Crew members?

 

Then ask who is a good shot.

 

Its no good having a PC melt while targeting a ship thats just out of range.

 

Then there is the price of a good crew vs a good quality blade.

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This might be looking through the telescope backwards.  The Hammerhead is by nature an escort ship - eg. other ships don't escort it, but the other way around.  By nature it is accompanied by smaller ships, or both larger and smaller ships.

 

It will be a matter of scaling operations from squadrons, to wings, to multi-hull battle groups and patrols, to fleets. 

 

operational scaling dependent upon mission and expected action; when escorting other mil ships we can expect to have detection and logistics covered, but when operating as the largest ship on-scene the HH may indeed need an escort - maybe a Terp or Tracker, perhaps a Sentinel, perhaps a fast light scout

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7 hours ago, Blue_Solas said:

  If someone brings a Polaris or larger in that scenario... exit stage left.

 

I think you are right. No point fighting a losing battle if you don't have to. 

 

7 hours ago, Blue_Solas said:

The question remains to be seen is, how effective will CIG let them be?  Maybe it will depend on cost and quality of AI module purchased, just like quality of NPC escorts.  In theory, AI should be much better than humans; essentially the PC processor just lets them hit everything they shoot at within range - which is completely realistic; unlike Star Wars with troopers standing at turrets missing all their shots back in the '70s, when the first movie was made before we even had personal computers, but today in RL we have automated turrets on Navy ships that can already shoot missiles and jets out of the sky.  Star Wars never evolved with the times and they still have troopers standing there in turrets missing shots :) plus about 40 serious plot holes.  But I digress.

I don't think its saying exactly that we have to have 2 gunners, for example that's based on standard equipment and energy weapons.  So there's some trade offs that can make them all AI, and again, NPC gunners are Ai anyways.

 

The quality of the AI modules will 100% come down to cost. They will also never hit everything (I don't think cig will want that). I also think that CIG might make it so Chaff and Flares (or something else) will affect how good they are for a short times. Like with the missiles where they break the lock. Also think the range will not be amazing. 

 

Even if you can have all 6 turrets run by AI modules, I think we should have at least a couple gunners on the ship. To replace crew if they need to get off. Say the pilot needs to get off, the Co-pilot becomes the Pilot, and one of the gunners move up to Co-Pilot. Then the AI module takes over for the gunner. As long as a AI turret can be taken over by any player or NPC that sit in it, I don't see why this would not work. 

 

Having more people on the ship means you have more people to help repair the ship if needed. And if you do get boarded by Vanduul or pirates, you have more people to fight them off. Also if someone needs to get off because their kids need them it no problem. 

 

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"They will also never hit everything (I don't think cig will want that)."

 

Maybe so, though I remember all the way back to SWG's Jump to Lightspeed gaming, that there were some ships that you just didn't get close to, because they would cream you as soon as you got into range; the Corellian YT-1300 and the Imperial Shuttle come to mind (PvE AI ships).  If something is good, you just either have ways ( / Ship Types) to get at them, or you stay the heck out of their firing range.  That's realism.

 

 

 

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This all goes back to the question I asked - what are the factors in determining staffing, loadout, and tactics?

 

We have three options for gunners - humans, NPCs, and AI modules.  We expect some issues with getting humans to man turrets, but obviously having one or two at least is desirable.  We do not fully understand the issues surrounding NPCs - cost, skill, availability, nor do we have sufficient info to make decisions about AI.  While we know that a stock HH can manage 4 AI modules, we don't know what we must sacrifice to do that, nor do we know if the AI can hit anything.  Where would you use your two humans?  Will agent Smith be an option?

 

Then we get to the loadout issues - ballistic ammo adds to the cost and is limited to that which is onboard, and there may be other options than the S4 Revenants.  If one were to swap out the energy weapons for ballistics, which turrets would be optimal to change, and who would you want to man those turrets?

 

Lots to learn, much to get figured out

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