By PWE_BranFlakes @ October 18, 2013 at 12:00pm
Designing the Voth Space Combat Experience
My name is Jeff “AdjudicatorHawk” Hamilton, and today I’m here to talk to you about the group and combat design of the Voth, as experienced in spaaaaaace! Last time, we shared details about the inspirations and thoughts that guided our combat designs for the Voth in this Dev Blog. In short, the Voth are extremely intelligent, technologically advanced, and defensive in nature.
So, what does that mean for their ships?
The two things we see about Voth ships in Voyager is their immense size, and their ability to disable an enemy ship at will. From a gameplay point of view, however, if the Voth could disable you at will, they wouldn’t be very fun to fight. So we focused instead on their size and defensive nature, and interpreted their ability to disable enemies as “control over power levels and spacetime”.
Our rendition of the Voth use powerful defensive abilities. The Voth have developed a unique Immunity Matrix, which phases a volume of space around their ships to provide them with total immunity to damage from that direction. More advanced versions of this technology allow them to reflect energy back at its origin point, turning their invulnerability into a weapon against unwary foes. They also use Aceton-based power-drain technology, delivered both via drones and by a special mode employed by some of their ships which renders them invulnerable to energy damage for a short duration.
We wanted to bring new mechanics to space combat that players aren’t accustomed to seeing NPCs using. One of these mechanics made a lot of sense for the Voth: Healing – in space. As they are about to be destroyed, all Voth Ships have a chance to put out a distress call to a nearby Voth Repair Ship. When this occurs, the Repair ship will exit their phased cloak, approach the downed vessel, and restore its structural integrity over a brief period of time. Repair ships will then stay nearby and heal their Allies’ shields as long as they survive, making them a priority target for many players.
The Voth use a special type of Antiproton beam weapon which lowers the damage of their targets when they critically hit. Antiproton weapons traditionally do more damage when they critically hit, but this defensive take on them maintains their same proc condition (Critical hits) and makes it feel defensive instead of offensive. The Voth also use a new special torpedo type with Transphasic and Chroniton characteristics, warping spacetime ever-so-slightly to increase shield penetration and slow the movement of targets struck. These weapon types are used by all armed ships in the Voth fleet, providing a unique visual and gameplay experience when fighting them.
Voth Palisade-class Frigates are the only Voth ships to make in-combat use of their Phase Cloak technology. They are armed with Dual Beam Banks facing forward and Beam Arrays in their rear arc, along with their unique Transphasic-Chroniton torpedoes in the front arc. Groups of Palisade-class ships often coordinate using a tactic in which they project a photonic decoy of a ship, and then phase cloak the original ship. This decoy is extremely volatile when affected by high-energy particles, causing an explosion of energy to disable the engines of nearby ships when fired upon.
Voth Bastion-class Cruisers are heavily-armored ships capable of utilizing the most basic version of the Voth Immunity Matrix. This powerful shielding absorbs all incoming damage on a single shield facing when activated, rendering the cruiser completely immune to damage from that side until the barrier falls. Additionally, Bastion-class ships employ Aceton Drones. These drones seek out nearby hostile targets and drain energy from their systems while absorbing energy weapons fire. After absorbing sufficient amounts of power, they explode in a large burst of radiation, dealing damage to all nearby enemies based on the amount of energy they absorbed.
The Bulwark-class Battleship is the backbone of the Voth fleet, capable of defending itself and its fleetmates from any threat. This ship utilizes a state-of-the-art Reflective Immunity Matrix, allowing its shield to reflect incoming energy weapons fire back at the original source. This reflection deals full damage to the original ship, meaning firing on the immune facing shield will actually deal your full amount of damage to your own ship instead of to the enemy! Bulwark-class ships also improve upon the technology used in Voth Aceton Drones, allowing them to turn the entire vessel into a conduit for energy. When this mode is engaged, the ship absorbs power from incoming fire and nearby vessels for a short duration, then pulses radiation damage to all nearby ships when full.
Voth Citadel-class Dreadnaughts are rarely seen vessels capable of holding off groups of lesser ships single-handedly. The scale of the Citadel-class ship allows them to employ a multi-directional version of the Reflective Immunity Matrix, covering a full 180 degree arc with the same reflective shield employed by the Battleship. Citadel-class ships also employ a number of high-caliber high-technology abilities, including Gravity Wells, Tractor Beams, and multiple Aceton Drones. Due to their large scale and lumbering turn rate, these ships have been fitted with an internal wide-angle torpedo deployment system, allowing them to fire Transphasic Chroniton projectiles at any target nearby. Additionally, they can use this torpedo deployment system to project a series of seeking charges at all nearby targets, causing massive damage to any stationary enemy.
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In space combat, the Voth hopefully feel substantially different from other enemy groups you’ve fought before. Between their substantial Immunity Matrix, their Aceton powers, and their heavy use of Beams and Torpedoes, they feel much less aggressive but no less capable than, say, the Elachi. Instead of using their cloaking devices to start fights like Klingon Birds-of-Prey, their frigates cloak defensively to become difficult to target or to flee. We’ve set out to maintain the awesome feeling of seeing that giant Voth City Ship transporting Voyager inside of it, and I think we’ve done a fairly good job staying true to that interpretation of what the essence of the Voth is. Hopefully you’ll enjoy playing with the Voth, and competing with them for a stake in the Solanae Dyson Sphere!
Keep checking back for more updates on what we have in store for one of our best season updates yet! Season 8: The Sphere will be unlike anything we have previously released, and we hope you are as excited for this release as we are.
See you in-game!
Jeff "AdjudicatorHawk" Hamilton
Star Trek Online
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