Post news RSS Starfighter overhaul overview

Before my burnout of a few months back, I was working on a comprehensive, from-scratch redesign of all our starfighters, from weapon types to applied debuffs and abilities, everything has been completely reimagined. This took a long time and I haven't shared much of it with the community. Now that it's approaching completion and the testing and designing is done, I've written a overview on individual elements and the design philosophy for each element.

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Before my burnout of a few months back, I was working on a comprehensive, from-scratch redesign of all our starfighters, from weapon types to applied debuffs and abilities, everything has been completely reimagined. This took a long time and I haven't shared much of it with the community. Now that it's approaching completion and the testing and designing is done, I've written a overview on individual elements and the design philosophy for each element.

What is the starfighter overhaul?

The starfighter overhaul is a from-the-ground-up rework. Many smaller reworks have been done previously, such as the (released in 3.x) performance suplex.
Generally as the mod got bigger and changed from a more vanilla-oriented mod to a much larger mod with many more units, I did not introduce enough new elements such as new weapon types or armor types, which would set these new units apart. After years and years of that going on, stuff got a bit stale, and one day I woke up and decided to pull the trigger on a full redesign, first designing weapons/armor/shield/ability types, and then designing the starfighters around these. The result, a completely new system that is much more indepth, with every unit designed to make use of the variety of new elements, and after relentless balance testing (seriously, so much balance testing) seems to perform largely as intended. Starfighters are now individual models again, and generally the amount of fighters in a squadron has dropped from 10 to an average of 6, with bigger units like gunships having fewer, and weak, cheap craft like the TIE fighter having more.

Starfighter attrition

One of the most substantial changes to the starfighters is that garrisoned Starfighters are now no longer “free”. Upon death, a garrisoned starfighter will subtract its build cost from your credit total. Throwing away your carrier-spawned units is now no longer an option, as that will leave you broke and unable to build any structures or units in Galactic Conquest, eventually causing you to lose. Building a large carrier force first and then banking on winning with that fleet alone will still cause you to lose, because simply not being able to build anything is too much of a detriment. This change was made to make carrier units less powerful, because simply hyperspacing in carriers, sending their starfighters at the enemy until either the enemy died or you ran out and then running away was far too powerful. Not just carrier-based starfighters have attrition costs however, all starbases and all starships that spawn any kind of unit now will require you to pay for their replacements should any die, and die they will if you do not take the rest of this documentation into account.
An example of how this changes the game dynamic: For Rebel starfighters this ties their focus on durability into the gameplay mechanics, for the Empire the cost-efficiency of TIEs is now a factor as these are far more expendable than high-cost units. Spawning large, powerful and expensive starfighters from ships and bases is no longer purely an advantage. There’s a lot of dynamic and faction identity that’s built on top of this system. Many different ideas were considered to tone down the prevalence of massing carriers, this was considered the best option.

Armor/shields

The easiest to start with and the simplest overall are the new armor and shield types. Starfighters are now equipped with light, medium, or heavy armor. This is set up as logically as you might expect, with small, light craft and light interceptors like the TIE Fighter and V-wing having light armor, offering higher speed. Strike fighters generally have medium or heavy armor, and this usually negatively impacts speed and maneuverability. The X-wing and TIE Bomber are good examples. Heavy armor is usually related to larger unit size, but some units have the attribute "Advanced Armor" which gives them the heavy armor trait, units like the TIE Defender and E-wing are smaller craft with that attribute. Other than this, the Skipray, Y-wing, Rihkxyrk are all larger craft equipped with heavy armor. Pretty much all gunship sized units (30 meters and above) like the X4, Krayt, K-wing, Gozanti, Sentinel, are all equipped with heavy armor. Of course as the craft get bigger, they also have more hitpoints.
Shields are divided into two categories, standard shields, which regenerate 3 points per second, and interceptor shields, which generally have far lower total shield points (around 50%) but regenerate 4.5 points per second. This combined with the smaller target profile gives these craft higher survivability in a dogfight. This took quite a bit of testing to get right. These shields are specialized in taking lots of damage over time, but are vulnerable against burstfire as they will deplete much faster. As units get bigger, starting from units like the Lambda/X4/Supa size and their shield strength increases, their regen speed also increases, but due to their large size there are no gunship-sized craft with "interceptor" type shielding, as they're far too easy to hit and would take too much damage. All shields count as Light Armor for our damage matrix.

Weapons

The overhaul has all new weapons, with calibers, projectile weapon types and debuffs that some weapons apply. For the best info, I suggest you open the Weapons tab in the excel sheet linked at the bottom of this news post, but here I'll briefly go over each weapon and its role in combat:

Energy weapons
Energy weapons are fast moving and output high Damage per Second (DPS), but do not track targets or penetrate shields. There are two energy weapons: Lasers and ion cannons, each has a Repeater variant that fires multiple shots in rapid succession, with a higher reload time. This is ideal for agile dogfighters that need to quickly light up a shot. Starting with the lasers:
Light lasers: very low range (300) but the highest overall damage output of any laser. To Light|Medium|Heavy armor these deal 5|4|2 damage per shot with a 0.5s reload time, on top of excellent accuracy. Good for taking down shields and lightly armored craft, you can find light lasers on craft like the TIE fighter.
Medium lasers: Medium range (500), 12|10|8 damage with a 2s reload time, medium lasers are the bread and butter of any craft not dedicated to light interception. While lower in accuracy and overall DPS than the light laser, it does not lose 60% of its firepower vs heavy armor, only 33%. X-wing/Starviper/K-wing, you really find these everywhere.
Heavy lasers: Long range (900) with a 3s reload time, the heavy laser is ill-suited for attacking anything smaller than a heavy strike craft due to low accuracy. The 24|22,5|21 damage output of the heavy laser is ideal for punching through heavily armored gunships (or starships) that are not small enough to dodge the shot. These are heavy assault weapons that will simply not be able to hit nimble units such as an A-wing. Equipped only on large units, and the Arc-170
Light Turbolasers: Turbolasers are extremely inaccurate compared to standard lasers, and have a hard time reliably hitting even large-sized craft. However, they deal 30|30|30 damage over long range (1000) and if they do hit, they hit hard. It is not a weapon meant for Starfighter combat, and is only found on the Hutt Turbosailer, TIE Bizarro, and K-wing.
Ion cannons: There is only one type of ion cannon on starfighters, and it is devastating. Medium (575) range, 25 damage (to shields only) with a 2 second reload time, in addition to a 50% firerate reduction for 8 seconds. Now with fancy particle effect applied to show which unfortunate bastard is having his firepower halved. Ion cannons are pin-point precise, and extremely dangerous. Units like the TIE Defender, XG1, Skipray, B-wing are happy to feature these weapons.

Projectile weapons
Projectile weapons can be fired quickly for major, target tracking damage, There are now many different types of missiles and torpedoes for starfighters applying a variety of debuffs, and most except the highly dedicated ones can be fired at both starships and starfighters. All ships currently count as heavy armor for the starfighter weapons, though we're working on also implementing new armor types to starships. Keep in mind, any debuffs these weapons apply, only apply to starfighters unless otherwise mentioned. A lot of testing and trial&error went into these debuffs, trying to find out which combat mod actually worked as intended and which was severely bugged/nonfunctional entirely was very time consuming and quite frustrating. But, the testing is done, and we now know for sure that every debuff we’re using works. Torpedoes are fairly slow and have a low turn rate, while missiles are pinpoint accurate, faster, much more maneuverable, and therefor much better against starfighters. The starfighter based missiles do not ignore shields. This and the armor piercing properties of the proton torpedoes exist to keep proton torpedoes the premier ship-bombing projectile. All these projectiles have the same recharge speed, 15 seconds. All missiles and torpedoes are visually distinct, and especially the lineup of missiles is quite colourful to leave no question of what kind of missile you’re looking at.

Proton torpedoes: Slow to turn, long range (850) and dealing 20|18|16 damage to light|medium|heavy armor, and debuffs the hit starfighters health by 25% for 14 seconds. (after which, if it is equipped with an astromech or is repaired via drones, it can be repaired back up to full) Either the damage or the debuff applies (once), whichever deals the most damage to the unit from our testing. This makes the proton torpedo ideal vs shielded high health gunship-sized units like the K-wing or Gozanti, or anything else it can reliably hit. Nimble and small units like the A-wing, especially in a dogfight, are nearly impossible to hit with these weapons due to torpedoes slight inaccuracy. Deals 160 damage vs ships. Some units that spam these like y-wings have slightly higher inaccuracy vs starfighters to prevent them from dominating starfighter combat.
Advanced proton torpedoes: The torpedo she tells you not to worry about. 26|25|24 damage across 950 range, with +50% turn rate and debuffs the target for 33% hp instead of 25. Deals 240 damage to ships. These (flat out better) torpedoes do even better against heavy armor and are usually only seen on expensive, high tier units like the TIE Defender or B-wing.
Ion torpedoes: An expensive dedicated anti-ship torpedo that deals high damage to shields (500) no damage to hull, and debuffs the targeted ships (not battlecruisers or dreadnoughts) firerate and total shield points by 33% for 14 seconds. A stronger version of this used to be the single-use ion shot ability, these weapons are now on the units hardpoints, and no longer require an ability to fire. The ion torpedoes massive debuffs make it very effective against capital ships and frigates. Dedicated medium to heavy bombers such as the TIE Interdictor, Y-wing, and Skipray carry these weapons and make them well suited to supporting fleets.
Plasma torpedoes: Very expensive ultra-high damage (1250) anti-shield weapon that debuffs the targeted ships shield points by 33% for 14s. BCs and dreadnoughts immune. Only carried by the B-wing elite and K-wing squadrons currently.

Missiles: Standard, high damage warhead dealing 25|18|10 damage, 100 to ships, over long range (900). While not great against heavy armor, in general the standard missile is a great general purpose weapon, dealing good damage vs shields (all shields count as light armor) and decent hull damage over long range. These non-specialized missiles can be found on units like the TIE Bomber and the Rihkxyrk. Yellow trail.
Discord missiles: Also known as buzz droid missiles, discord missiles deal very little damage (5|4|2) over only 750 range, but reduce the targeted Starfighters hitpoints by 33% for 30 seconds. Like proton torpedoes they are excellent for bringing down high HP targets, but hit smaller targets far more reliably. Found on CIS units and the Black Sun variant of the Skipray. Solid blue trail.
Concussion missiles: The premier dogfighting missile, concussion missiles debuff the targets firerate by 85% for 8 seconds, and deal 20|15|8 damage over long range (1000), excellent for prolonged dogfighting and declawing enemy starfighters to handle them safely. Found on units like the A-wing, Z95 and Missile Boat. If I could slow down Starfighters, this would be its effect instead, but the speed debuff combat mod is nonfunctional vs starfighter locomotor equipped units, to my great sorrow. Green trail
AP missiles: Armor-piercing missiles are better against heavy armor but worse against shields and light armor, dealing 20|19|18 damage, 180 to starships, over long range (1000). Ideal for units that need to punch hard and do not care for debuffs, instead killing the enemy as quickly as possible such as the TIE Defender, Supa and Krayt gunship. Blood Red trail.
HE missiles: These went through a couple of iterations. Devastating against light armor, the HE missile deals area damage, hitting up to 5 targets for 15|8|4 damage over long range (1000). These missiles are the bane of shielded and unshielded light craft alike, and serve as the crowd control of missiles. Not commonly found, the HE missiles can be seen on units like the Krayt and Basilisk. Fireworks-like yellow trail with sparks.
Ion Pulse Missiles: An uncommon, high tech and devastating anti-shield weapon, completely stripping all shields in a medium blast range for 14 seconds over long range (1150). Deals 400 damage to starship shields instead. Found on already expensive Starfighters that absolutely, positively must dominate Starfighter combat like the elite TIE Defender and elite A-wing, or weapon platforms like the TIE Interdictor. Blue smoke trail.
Sonic missiles: Seismic charges on a missile. Extremely expensive. High blast range. Ignores shields (only missile that does). 30|27,5|25 damage. Long range. Purposefully overpowered. Awesome. Thick light blue smoke trail. Only seen on Slave-1 and the K-wing.

Flak
Explosive shot rapid-fire mass driver cannons are heavy and require a lot of ammo storage capacity. They are crude, but effective, and although they do not penetrate shields they are excellent crowd control weapons, devastating against light interceptors equipped with interceptor shields, as the fast projectiles can reliably hit the fast moving interceptors and the damage burst can easily overpower the low total shield points. While more effective against many smaller Starfighters, these weapons are also reasonably effective against single, high health heavily armored targets due to the consistently hitting armor piercing damage.
If only they didn’t weigh so much and needed so much ammo storage…

Flak/mass drivers: Currently the only type of flak cannon, the rapid-fire flak mass drivers deal 2|2|2 armor-piercing damage over a medium area over medium range (750), Found only on the Arc-175 and Supa.

These are all of the weapons currently used on our starfighters.

Abilities

Abilities play an important role in how Starfighters interact with eachother, especially between different sizes of units. Larger craft have more space to house support systems such as flares, or repair drone swarms, while smaller craft have fewer abilities. Some abilities have been “automated”, such as the ion shot ability that changed into a standard firing ion torpedo hardpoint. This change was made to reduce unnecessary micro that did not actually make the game more enjoyable, even if you did it perfectly, and felt like needless busy-work. Many Starfighters like the standard TIE fighter/bomber/interceptor, Y/K-wing and Rihkxyrk simply do not have any activatable abilities. But, the abilities that remain feel meaningful and that makes the gameplay better overall. Usually tiered, abilities are easy to place in terms of effectiveness in relation to eachother.

Speed
S-foils:
Tier 1 speed boost, +50% speed at the cost of 67% firepower. It can be toggled, so no expiration or recharge to the ability. Found on units like the X-wing, Arc-170, and Starviper.
Power to engines: Tier 1 speed boost, +100% speed at the cost of 67% firepower. Expires after 30 seconds and then recharges for 60s. Found on units where a temporary speed boost can be a major advantage, such as the A-wing, Supa, and Lambda/Sentinel.
SLAM: SubLight Acceleration Motor, an advanced and powerful tier 2 speed boostable engine that provides +100% speed at no cost for 30 seconds, then recharges for 50s. Only used on the K-wing and Missile Moat.

Countermeasures
Anti-missile and torpedo abilities are important balance tools because these weapons are very powerful burst damage dealers that become more powerful the bigger the target becomes due to the increased chance to hit. Especially torpedoes become far more powerful against gunship sized units like the Gozanti or X4 because of their size. This is why most gunship sized craft have some form of countermeasures, it simply does not make sense not to have a missile defence system on larger units.
Flares:
Tier 1 ability that jams incoming missiles and torpedoes for 15s, then recharges for 60s. Flares are often used on larger units as an add-on countermeasure on gunship sized units. Requiring more space than is available on standard fighters, some craft like the Starviper and E-wing still have it to reduce vulnerability against warheads. Otherwise seen on units like the X4, Krayt, and Supa.
Point Defence Targetting: Tier 2. Advanced laser targeting system that is able to shoot down missiles and torpedoes. Rapid-fire, but not unbeatable, PD targeting protects your craft for 60s, then recharges in 200s. Currently only used on the Tartan.
Passive Jamming: Tier 3 advanced jamming computers are an always-on passive ability seen on the Skipray and A-wing, and the best self-defense ability because of the constant protection.
Missile Jamming Pods: Tier 3. Large and expensive pods that can be launched from warhead launchers to create a large missile jamming field (that can be moved) to protect any starfighters and starships within its wide radius for 60s, with a lengthy 450 second reload period. Much like the repair drone ability, except these jam missiles and torpedoes. Excellent support ability to cover your ships and starfighters alike, making any unit equipped with these pods excellent fleet-support units. Only seen on the TIE Interdictor and Scimitar Assault Bomber.

Weaponry
There’s not as many different weapon-based abilities as before and the lines blur a bit on what exactly counts as a weapon ability, as many abilities impact a units firepower in some way, such as f-foils. These are the abilities that increase or change firepower in some non-negative way.
Power to weapons: Basic tier 1 firepower boost, +100% firepower at the cost of 50% speed and all shield recharge rate for 30s with a 60s reload time. Used on the TIE Bizarro and Gozanti.
Full salvo:
Tier 2, +400% missile firerate at no cost for 15s with a 60s reload time. Only seen on the HMP droid.
Seismic charge:
Very high damage and range tier 3 ability that drops a sonic bomb with a 5 second countdown timer. You can move your units out of the blast range if you’re quick, unlike the vanilla ability. Only used on Slave 1 currently.
Weapon switch:
Not necessarily a damage boost, the weapon switch makes units more versatile by varying payload. Many units have this ability to switch to and from a large variety of missiles and torpedoes. Just some of the units: TIE Defender elite, Missile Boat, TIE Interdictor, A-wing Elite, Hutt turbosailer. Each ability clearly notes what weapon is switched to what, and which mode is most effective vs what enemy. Ion pulse missiles, AP/HE swaps, every switch has been designed individually to the unit to better handle its targets or give it more versatility. The Elite TIE Defender can switch the default ion-pulse missile after the first volley to strip shields to a AP-missile for hull damage, specifically for that order of operations. The Missile boat switches the default AP-missiles to HE-missiles to handle either high HP targets or swarms of lighter craft.

Support:
These abilities count as some sort of non-self-stat increasing either passive or activable ability. Many of the Countermeasure type abilities such as Missile Jamming Pods or Flares fall under this category, but here I’ll limit the list to just the ones that haven’t been mentioned before. You will notice here the missing Buzz droid, ion shot, and some other abilities that have instead been simplified into standard weapons that fire without needing player interaction.
Astromech droid: Tier 2 passive repair ability. Many Starfighters come equipped with astromech droids, this translates to a 1 hitpoint/second passive repair for every Starfighter, big or small. This can be seen in many units such as the X/Y/E/V/K/U-wings, Skipray, Supa, N1, many units have the slow-but-steady self-repair. This repair rate alone is not enough to give the units a decisive edge in combat. But in certain situations, especially over the course of extended dogfights, it can be the deciding factor, especially on high HP units like the Y-wing this ability has great potential. The Rebellion especially likes their astromechs, and starfighter durability factors heavily into their faction identity, in sharp contrast to the Empire, that has no self-repair on Starfighters smaller than the Skipray.
Crew repair: Tier 2. Essentially the same as the Astromech droid, but every unit over 30 meters in length (gunship sized as I refer to them) comes automatically equipped with this passive. These units include the Lamdba, Sentinel, X4, Tartan, Krayt, Gozanti, K-wing. While high HP units benefit much less from the 1hp/s repair than lower HP craft, it remains a useful incentive to keep your units out of combat for a limited time to allow for repairs to take place. Combined with the Starfighter attrition costs, is pays to keep your units alive, far more so than was previously the case.
Starfighter repair droid swarm:
Tier 3 support ability seen on the U-wing and all Gozantis, the repair droid swarm can repair 300 total HP on friendly Starfighters over 60s over a medium area. An excellent support ability, especially in a dogfight, but also outside of it to heal up Starfighters that cannot repair themselves. Due to the 300 HP total repair, it is best suited to supporting single squadrons.
Replenish wingmen:
Tier 3 ability that replenishes all wingmen with a 90s cooldown, currently only used on Darth Vader’s Black Squadron.
Plot armor:
Tier 3 ability that prevents all damage for 10s, then recharges for 60s. Only used on the Millennium Falcon.

Many of the “redesigned” abilities, were made with supporting the units themselves or other units in mind, but here with abilities like the weapon switch and all the countermeasures stripped the remaining list is fairly short.

Conclussion/TL;DR

Designed from scratch with every other element in mind, this system uses fighter stats, weapon inaccuracy, projectile speeds and turn rates, damage types, armor types, applied debuff effects, activable and passive abilities to create a roster of starfighters with a deep level of interactivity and faction identity. It’s been well tested and I’m quite satisfied with the outcome as it plays better, feels deeper and more satisfying, and is far more organized than any of the previous Starfighter reworks have ever come close to. I’m very excited for people to eventually get their hands on this and give out feedback, the endless test and balance test streams are finally at an end, atleast for the Starfighter overhaul and aside from minor tweaks, the vast majority of the design, test, and balance work is done.

Comments
Blue_Fyre
Blue_Fyre

holy ****, i can only imagine the amount of testing that went into this rework ... i look forward to playing the mod!

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Jeroenimo Author
Jeroenimo

Yeah the test streams were rather endless, but now that the combat is complete, I'm very happy with it. All that's left is redo the starfighter costs and add particles to the applied debuffs so you can clearly distinquish which starfighter is under the effect of what debuff. Clarity and understandability is the focus of this system. It's complex, but it's built up very logically and I hope folks will find it very intuitive when they start playing.

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Fedaygin
Fedaygin

Howdies. Let us know your paypal addr. or some crypto coin addr. if use one instead. Wanna show support also via donation cause you deserve it :) Wish you good rest of September & enjoy coding :)

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wookkeels
wookkeels

Very much looking forward to seeing the redesign in action, seems i will no longer be able to get away with x wing spam and will have to actually put some thought into how i use my fighters.

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Jeroenimo Author
Jeroenimo

The x-wing remains a reliable multipurpose craft, armed with 4 medium lasers and 1 proton torpedo launcher.

The Rebellion has more specialized craft for dedicated anti-starfighter or anti-ship combat, but the x-wing is a great middle-ground.

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Woozle
Woozle

Will the Y-wing retain it's ion cannons?

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Jeroenimo Author
Jeroenimo

Yes, making it even more durable in a dogfight due to its applied -50% firepowes for 8 seconds. In general with the changes, the Y-wing can now serves as an assault starfighter as well as dedicated bomber, able to support friendly starfighters with its awesome durability and astromech droid, and single turreted ion cannon.
Though with its ion torpedo and the tendency of proton torpedoes to miss small/medium/fast/agile targets, it definitely still excels at the bomber role.

In general starfighter combat has slowed down a lot to make it less about lucky hits and more about the unit matchups, which also benefits the Y-wings durability.

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Bronx9146
Bronx9146

Will the Rebel Y-Wing Top Mounted turret be useable (E.G Same one that is portrayed in Classic Battlefront II where 2nd pilot can mount the turret)as part of its arsenal or Casting/Passive ability?

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Jeroenimo Author
Jeroenimo

The Y-wing turret is a regular hardpoint that will fire automatically.

To prevent unnecessary micro that didn't feel satisfying to do, as much of the units functionality as possible was automated, inspired by the passives from TW:Warhammer. Quite a bit of this overhaul was inspired by TW, while that doesn't make much sense without clarification, the ability simplification boils down to: I wanted the units to have most of their functionality automated, so the player can focus on the matchups and the engagements themselves, rather than pressing as many buttons as they can.

I've also carried over the attribute system from TW:W to make each units function easy to understand, as well as the general "less micro, more tactics" mindset.

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Woozle
Woozle

Very, Very happy to hear this.

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MrPerson
MrPerson

Dang, now I can't rely on my spawned garrison forces nearly as much as I normally do in Vanilla and other mods which kind of scares me, half the time the only reason I win defensive battles is due to garrison units being meatshields for the actual paid for units.

Hopefully if the AI keep ramming their head against a single planet with defenses built up it doesn't cost more money to protect a planet than the planet is actually worth.

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Jeroenimo Author
Jeroenimo

In combat the dynamic doesn't really change, you still get your units, it's just your credit total suffers slightly and that balances the system. The convenience of having starfighters come out of bases/ships still has value.

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ab2531
ab2531

Interesting, I wonder how you have implemented the extra cost of spawning fighter?
Does it happen even at the beginning of combat or only for replacements? I hope TIE replacements are super cheap because they are super weak and expendable.

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Jeroenimo Author
Jeroenimo

This is answered in the article, it happens upon death of the starfighter.

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ab2531
ab2531

Sorry, I meant in the actual code. Did you add some LUA script for that?

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Thourq
Thourq

So far I'm liking what I'm reading. I am curious tho, does this mean that Proton Torpedos no longer penetrate shields?

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Jeroenimo Author
Jeroenimo

Torpedoes do penetrate shields, missiles do not. Ion and Plasma torpedoes only damage shields.

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Thourq
Thourq

Oh okay, awesome, thanks for the clarification. I got a little confused with the wording in the post.

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