JasanQuinn

Star Theory: What's With All The Beacons?

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Previously on Star Theory...

 

Did Dynamis become the Privateers?

 

Is Star Conflict set in the Warhammer 40,000 universe?

 

You Are All Living a Lie!

 

Biomorphs, Cybers and Blackwood, Oh My!

 

And now, from the creator of the increasingly inaccurately named Star Theory Trilogy...

 

What's With All The Beacons?

 

Beacons. Specifically, Navigation Beacons. They are a part of our lives as Star Conflict pilots. Sometimes we're sent to capture three of them and hold them for a set amount of time. Sometimes we're sent to capture three of them and they have an annoying habit of only staying active for 70 seconds or so. Occasionally, experienced pilots will be given three beacons to defend while capturing three enemy beacons. But why?

 

Well, here at Star Theory we have literally spent minutes pondering this mystery, and after a quick pint down the pub we believe we've got the answer!

 

But before we reveal to you the answer, let me ask you a question - how many times have you died today? How many times in your career have you been shot down, only to suddenly return to the fray mere seconds later? Have you ever wondered why this happens?

 

The answer lies in the beacons. More than one pilot has noted that the ships we fly appear to be empty, and upon "death" the computer announces "comms link lost." Do beacons explain this behaviour? They certainly do!

 

You see, our ships ARE empty! They are piloted by remote! These war machines are glorified drones, and you are the drone controller, sat safely out of the fight. Somewhere behind the lines there is a carrier filled with your ships - dozens, perhaps hundreds of fighters, interceptors and frigates ready to scramble at your order. As a pilot, you select the ships you feel are best for the mission at hand, mobilise a few squadrons of them and then launch them into battle one at a time. You control them via subspace beacons that transmit your inputs to the ship at almost incomprehensible speed. A signal is broadcast across a few million miles in milliseconds, meaning that your ship handles almost as well as it would if you were sat in the cockpit! Best of all, if your ship is lost you can immediately select a replacement, load it into the warp catapult and establish a new remote connection as it warps into the fight!

 

And yes, it is the beacons that do that - the very beacons we fight to control. Think about it - when your squad controls the beacons, the enemy team's "health" depletes. Why is that? Because while your team is in control of the beacons, it is actively trying to sever the enemy team's connection! Every time an enemy craft is destroyed a connection fails, and a suitably intelligent program, or an attentive script kiddy back behind the lines could use that information to spot vital clues in how the enemy squadron is connecting to the beacon, and sever the connection. When that doom clock hits 0, the enemy have totally lost all connection to their ships in the field, and you and yours can salvage the drifting craft for bonus swag!

 

But that's ludicrous, right? I mean, why would you BOTH be using the exact same beacons to control your ships? Well, because you don't own them! They're neutral ground, used by lots of people to do their work! Think about it - with all those pirates and biomorphs flying around, wouldn't you rather send a bot and mine remotely, or use an unmanned cargo barge? Those "neutral" beacons are public property and a part of the interstellar communication and transit network. Or to put it another way, ancient armies didn't build their own personal road and rail networks - they used ones built by civilian governments!

 

Wait, I know, you're still doubting this idea. After all, if these ships are all flying by remote and all it takes to knock them out is to hack a beacon, then why don't the various powers come up with a way to fight without relying on these easily-captured beacons? The answer is that they have!

 

Capture the Beacons - the mission where both sides gets three Beacons - is one example of mercenaries being aggressive. These beacons are not neutral territory, and behave quite differently to the conventional beacons. Once they're offline, they're gone for good. Why would this happen when other beacons are much more stable? Because these are simpler models, more easily deployed onto the front line and then recovered after the fact. This kind of deployment is quite costly in resources though, hence why it is only done in higher tiers, in support of the most valuable attack squadrons.

 

Another, simpler solution is to use Nav Stations. We're told that Nav Stations are primarily used to guide shipping, but it seems they also work nicely as a carrier for military control signals. Being resistant to hacking, they seem to be a nice alternative. However, this has caused mercenaries to resort to blowing them up a lot, so maybe they aren't a good solution.

 

But both of these solutions have a glaring fault - they involve dropping static, and quite vulnerable objects close to the front lines. Is there any way to get around this? Oh yes! In fact, there's a deliciously evil option! Build a beacon that can move and fight back! Yes, I'm of course referring to the warships sent on Combat Reconnaissance missions! These sophisticated ships are able to directly receive a command signal and fly without beacon assistance. So why don't all ships do this? The answer is likely down to cost and technical limitations. We can infer that these "lone wolf" ships lack certain capabilities of their conventional counterparts. After all, the only time we ever see them deployed is as escort ships for a "Captain". When the Captain is lost, the mission is aborted and no further reinforcements are dispatched. The remaining ships can fight on, but clearly the real prize is the Captain. What could be so special about them? Well, perhaps they are flesh and blood pilots? Perhaps they sport a sophisticated electronic warfare module allowing them to hack beacons, upload malware and install control interfaces for other battles? Whatever the explanation, Captains are clearly a massive investment of resources - hence why the deployment of a lone Captain warrants up to a dozen high-value escort dronecraft!

 

This just leaves one last question - where is the pilot? Are they sat on the command stations of Guardian-17, New Eden and Mendex? Nope! These stations are acting as holding bays for our ships, and likely have the resources to build replacement craft, but the pilots are safely elsewhere. These platforms are simply allowing us to pass our signals through them to control our ships. What makes me think that? Consider how we travel between stations. We can pay a transfer fee, we can pay someone in the black market (with GS) to transfer us, or we can transfer ourselves. Where else have we seen our dronecraft transfer control protocols? Beacons. In short, by docking with a station we are essentially hacking it!

 

Docking ships to "hack" stations? Really? Absolutely! We see it all the time in PvE! In Ellydium, when the "Cargo" ships successfully dock, all the station's defenses shut down instantly! In Crimson Haze, we are fighting to stop the Cybers from docking. Why? Think about what you did just before - you knocked out their nav stations. With those offline, you can build your own cannons and blast the Cybers out of the sky! Yet the moment their ships dock the mission is over - they have your cannons and their systems are back online!

 

In fact, PvE does a lot to reinforce this idea. Look how many PvE missions follow the patterns we've established here.

Blackwood Shipyard - defend your nav stations to maintain control of your ships; eliminate enemy nav stations to deprive them of control; kill the "Captain" to utterly destroy the signal. Enemy ships immediately go into mass self-destruct when signal is lost.

Hidden Shipyard - knock out nav stations to deprive control, then two missions of disabling defenses so the ship can be "recaptured". Note how the enemy waves get weaker by the third wave - by which time you've killed numerous enemy officers, suggesting they are running out of ships capable of piggy-backing their control signal!

Ice Reef - Disable the ship's main batteries to allow safe approach to the beacons; capture the beacons to disable the majority of the enemy ships; wipe out the enemy command ship. All surviving enemies self destruct. Again, consistent with the idea that the beacons and captain are carrying the command signals!

Ellydium - Knock out power systems, then board the station with cargo ships to utterly destroy all defenses! Round 3 is against Aliens - an entirely different faction - but yet again when their command ship dies, so do its escort!

Crimson Haze - As mentioned, capturing nav beacons allows you to control the enemy defense platforms and turn their weapons against them!

Pirate Base - This is one of the most interesting to me. We disable key systems to shut down defenses, and yet again killing the enemy flagship is the death knell for the entire defense force. But what about that transport? What's so important about that escort mission? Think how much the black market achieves for us - pirates have access to ships unavailable through official channels; they can get you "licences" that ensure higher pay; they can obtain you superior synergy, equating to better ships; they can ensure you are cleared to use vastly superior technology. In short, the Pirate Base raid is about stealing the kind of electronic warfare components that allow the black market to thrive, and perhaps even to perpetuate this hack-intensive warfare!

 

So for many of us, Star Conflict is just a glorified video game. In the 41st century, wars are fought remotely with drones and bots and hacking. In such a war, bandwidth is king, and so the Beacon is the shining centre of the entire conflict. He who controls the beacons controls the galaxy.

 

Of course, this is all just wild speculation, but I'm certain I'll have irrefutable evidence shortly. I think we left it at the bottom of a pint of Guinness...

 

 

Next time on Star Theory: Beacons are powered by sweet rolls!

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This one is so completely and obviously true that I've theorized bits and pieces of this myself.

 

You sir, are a genius. +2!

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Thank you. I'm glad you enjoy my wild mass guessing!  :012j:

I'm going to edit in a little more on the PvE front, just for the sake of being complete. It'll be done by the time you see this post.

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Oh, come on. You're flagrantly ignoring all the facts! Think about it. If the beacons were truly used as ansibles ((which Firefox helpfully suggests might be a misspelling of "lesbians," by the way)), then why is it that those pesky triplets of beacons that only stay active for 70 seconds at a time manage to interfere with the owner's ship production line? If they really were used to communicate, then the team that owns the beacon would have shorter deployment times, if anything! Clearly, there's another explanation.

 

Yes, it's true. The whispers you heard are correct. Those metal monstrosities are not "beacons" so much as containers. Containers for a certain cut of pork.

 

It's simple. Bacon has been an important part of civilized diets for millennia now. Empires have risen and fallen in the wake of the high-profit industry. But there's always been an argument over the most important of details: Chewy or crispy? The bacon barons who sell the finished product have been employing mercenaries in their cutthroat business for centuries, now. The "beacons" act as both a place of storage and a source of thermal energy. In layman's terms, it's a giant space frying pan. As the bacon cooks, mercenaries fight to control the temperature and oil content to determine the final texture. Why else would there be such strict time controls and slowly decreasing "points", or rather, time left to change?

 

In the mission known as "beacon hunt", each beacon has its own supply of bacon with which to cook, but only a limited amount of energy is available for the whole sector, thus requiring a short rotation period for each beacon. As a team captures it, raising or lowering the temperature as they see fit, the beacon responds, using what power it can to heat to the correct level. Of course, pilots who lose their ships while their team controls the beacon are forced to micromanage the bacon inside -- stirring, flipping, and whatever is needed to prevent burning.

 

In domination, the beacons have much less bacon, but a good deal more power with which to cook. Pilots fill their cargo bays with bacon to be cooked, set the temperature, and jet off to cook more. Of course, when a ship is lost, the bacon in the cargo bay is gone forever, thus explaining the sudden loss of ten points. The bacon barons also become more wary of sending them, forcing longer and longer waits before sending them out to fight again.

 

In detonation and capture the beacons, each team has their own beacons, but each has too much security to change the cook settings. In detonation, the beacons are blown up using a non-thermal bomb to avoid overcooking, and the bacon harvested from the resulting explosion. In capture the beacons, the beacons are loaded and unloaded by opposing teams, just as in domination, but the limited bacon supply means that each ship can only unload so much bacon -- and the cost is simply too high to send many ships to fight.

 

And in combat reconnaissance, one ship is loaded ten seconds before launch with all the bacon available. Weapon cooling and bacon cooking are intimately linked in an expensive process which highly increases damage potential, but requires a large escort for protection. 

 

Your talk of pilots and remote controls, of hacking and docking, they're all convenient explanations that seem to corroborate your story. But what kind of poor future are we living in if a ship can't store a consciousness on board? No, clearly there are simple coincidences that merely have possible alternate explanations that make your story ever so slightly more believable. Ansibles, super-hackers, drones? Those are all works of fiction. Bacon? That's real.

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While I applaud your bacon focused counter-theory, it does raise a valid point; I didn't address the wandering beacons.

 

The intermittent nature of these beacons suggests some sort of malfunction in their power supply. The beacons routinely cut out, albeit in sequence, which to me suggests some kind of failsafe - a built in emergency protocol intended to maintain a minimum quality of service in an otherwise difficult situation. Disrupting enemy signal carriage in this situation requires different strategies than elsewhere. In this case, with a vastly depleted signal to work with, the attacker is forced to try and strike a balance between the use of their fighting ships and the electronic warfare aspect of their plan.

 

However, this explanation does not address the lack of importance of kills - something which I have established as being significant previously. So, what could explain this? Well let's consider the attackers again and how they cannot change over control of ships while they have an active hack running. Or should I say "will not"? Clearly, whatever they are doing is so important that they cannot risk any kind of disruption. Or, perhaps, they cannot risk leaving a trail of evidence?

 

I submit then that this "wandering beacon" phenomenon is related to the confused and multi-faceted nature of war in Sector 1337, and represents a situation where both sides are seeking information that they do not want to share with another party. Or, to give a simple analogy - Faction A and Faction B both plan to loot Faction C's resource cache. To do that, they need to find it, and to find it they need to access the data without giving Faction C any clue that there is an intrusion in progress. Neither side can trip up the other without losing the prize themselves, leading to this cat-and-mouse race to perform stealth intrusions while constantly jumping between access nodes. And why jump between them? Because the simple act of connecting to the network is dangerous. By physically moving the intrusion point at regular intervals, they may be ensuring that any automated countermeasure never has time to register the attack. Thus, they can build their digital weapon piece by piece inside the target, and the moment the final lines of code are uploaded the prize is theirs!

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But what neither of your theories explain are the effects commonly known as "high ping" and "package loss", even though they are some of the most decisive factors to the outcome of any battle (according to certain pilots renowned for blaming their defeats on them). They cause many pilots to rage over comms, shouting "f***ing bs" very loudly. Unfortunately they have since become an excuse for poor performance on the battlefield.

It would be interesting for our scientists to discover a reason for these phenomena. And maybe a second or third pint of Guinness might even help them come up with a solution!

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But what neither of your theories explain are the effects commonly known as "high ping" and "package loss", even though they are some of the most decisive factors to the outcome of any battle (according to certain pilots renowned for blaming their defeats on them). They cause many pilots to rage over comms, shouting "f***ing bs" very loudly. Unfortunately they have since become an excuse for poor performance on the battlefield.

It would be interesting for our scientists to discover a reason for these phenomena. And maybe a second or third pint of Guinness might even help them come up with a solution!

 

Actually it makes perfect sense. The signal to these beacons is sometimes poor, and thus provide low quality of reception and service.

Seems to me like the factions out there should really get on upgrading that...

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Pretty much the same things that cause packet loss over the internet (or indeed any network) would apply in the above scenario. Sometimes data packets are lost. Sometimes network traffic is busy. Plus, in the conditions I mentioned, packet loss or signal problems could be a direct result of hostile actions.

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But what neither of your theories explain are the effects commonly known as "high ping" and "package loss", even though they are some of the most decisive factors to the outcome of any battle (according to certain pilots renowned for blaming their defeats on them). They cause many pilots to rage over comms, shouting "f***ing bs" very loudly. Unfortunately they have since become an excuse for poor performance on the battlefield.

It would be interesting for our scientists to discover a reason for these phenomena. And maybe a second or third pint of Guinness might even help them come up with a solution!

It's really simple. The answer lies within the game itself, inside one of the many government approved messages able to be sent to the enemy seconds before their consciousness is sent back to the mothership.

 

"Sure, blame it on your ISP". A seemingly simple statement that once had a very different meaning in the 21st century. Now, it simply shows disdain for those who cannot deal with their Inertial Stability Program. The programming which allows ships to maintain flight paths that would otherwise only be possible in atmosphere also sometimes interferes with pilot maneuvering. Rotation is occasionally overdone, flight speed and path may be less than optimal, and time itself may eventually seem a bit wonky should the pilot completely fail to make use of the ISP.

 

C'mon, I don't even need bacon to explain it. Everbody knows this stuff.

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While I applaud your bacon focused counter-theory, it does raise a valid point; I didn't address the wandering beacons.

 

The intermittent nature of these beacons suggests some sort of malfunction in their power supply. The beacons routinely cut out, albeit in sequence, which to me suggests some kind of failsafe - a built in emergency protocol intended to maintain a minimum quality of service in an otherwise difficult situation. Disrupting enemy signal carriage in this situation requires different strategies than elsewhere. In this case, with a vastly depleted signal to work with, the attacker is forced to try and strike a balance between the use of their fighting ships and the electronic warfare aspect of their plan.

 

However, this explanation does not address the lack of importance of kills - something which I have established as being significant previously. So, what could explain this? Well let's consider the attackers again and how they cannot change over control of ships while they have an active hack running. Or should I say "will not"? Clearly, whatever they are doing is so important that they cannot risk any kind of disruption. Or, perhaps, they cannot risk leaving a trail of evidence?

 

I submit then that this "wandering beacon" phenomenon is related to the confused and multi-faceted nature of war in Sector 1337, and represents a situation where both sides are seeking information that they do not want to share with another party. Or, to give a simple analogy - Faction A and Faction B both plan to loot Faction C's resource cache. To do that, they need to find it, and to find it they need to access the data without giving Faction C any clue that there is an intrusion in progress. Neither side can trip up the other without losing the prize themselves, leading to this cat-and-mouse race to perform stealth intrusions while constantly jumping between access nodes. And why jump between them? Because the simple act of connecting to the network is dangerous. By physically moving the intrusion point at regular intervals, they may be ensuring that any automated countermeasure never has time to register the attack. Thus, they can build their digital weapon piece by piece inside the target, and the moment the final lines of code are uploaded the prize is theirs!

Or better yet...

Beacon Hunt is nothing short of a wargame.

A tactical sim match thrown up to help drone pilots train for future missions where clutch control becomes the focus of the fight.

Team Battle is yet another twist of the wargame, simulating a shortage in drone production due to an attack on the "home base" station creating severe and crippling damage.

 

This is based on wargames of today, where objectives are captured in a simulated battlefield, using conditions which are similar to the real thing but not on the dot.

infact, Paintball is like Team Battle, only with permadeath. You get hit once (or die), you're out for good regardless of where it hit. With wargames, it is more of "[enemy] is attacking right flank, defend it now before they break through our defenses" with a noted reaction against a simulated enemy. Then, a simulated counter attack against this "enemy" to push said "enemy" back.

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