To vote on the idea, please sign in with your personal or social account (Facebook or Google).
To watch the idea, please sign in with your personal or social account (Facebook or Google).
When APS railguns were last revamped, the dev notes indicated that the intention for railguns was to be a more compact alternative to conventional APS with a higher upfront cost, but a lower cost per shot. I was and remain a huge fan of of this role for railguns, and up until recently made extensive use of them to take advantage of this efficiency.
Unfortunately, Railguns as they currently stand no longer fill this role, because the changes to efficiency of both fuel and now steam engines have made them cost more than gunpowder APS per shot, in addition to already having a higher upfront cost.
To illustrate my point: a 500mm gunpowder casing costs 12.5 ammo, which given current ammo processor efficiency costs 0.833 material to produce. Even by creating it directly in an ammo box, the ammo would only cost 1.25 material. For that material cost, the gunpowder casing provides 2000 propulsive force, which can be inferred from the fact that it increases recoil by that same amount.
In other words, for each 1 material spent, you can get either 2400 or 1600 propulsive force while using gunpowder.
Railguns on the other hand do not require casings, unless using extreme amounts of rail energy in excess of the shell's natural capacity. Instead battery power is converted to propulsive force in a 1:1 ratio, which again can be seen by the fact that recoil is equal to rail energy spent on the shell.
Fuel has been inefficient for a while now when it comes to railguns. At 14.6 fuel/mat (3 cokers per cracker, a fourth takes 7+hour to break even so is rarely practical), injector fuel engines running 1 injector & 1 exhaust at 100% load will only generate a pathetic 475 propulsion per material spent (14.6ppf*32.5fpm=474.5ppm). That's less than a fifth of the per-shot efficiency of just using chemical propulsion backed by ammo processors!
Even if you use a highly efficient engine, something like the ecodraba4000, which featured on the examples engines platform for the 2.6.0 devnotes as an example of the most efficient designs, you can only get about 70ppf at 50% load, or 90ppf at 25%. That works out as 1022 and 1314 recoil/propulsion per material spent, respectively.
Steam used to be the saving grace for railguns, prior to it's recent rebalance. At 20% burn rate on a steam-to-turbine arrangement I could get 4000 recoil/propulsion per material spent, and could actually enjoy the increased efficiency that railguns supposedly had.
Of course, steam did desperately need that nerf to bring it in line with the current fuel engine efficiency, but now all i can get out of my steam engines is between 533 and 725 recoil/propulsion per material, depending on burn rate.
I'm not going to ask you to change that back, but please do understand that as things currently stand railgun are:
+More compact than chemical APS thanks to shorter shell length
-Cost more than chemical guns for a given amount of firepower/firerate
-Cost more per shot than chemical guns firing a comparable shell, despite the fact that railguns were intended to be more efficient.
This doesn't really give much cause to use railguns right now, especially as the large, low density engines needed to soften the blow of point 3 in turn invalidate the only remaining benefit of railguns. Gunpowder APS is categorically better in every way right now. The only other benefit railguns have is that they're the most practical way to accelerate shells of 2m+ length to greater than 1000m/s speed, which can be useful for niche applications like extreme levels (talking 5m metal or greater here) of armour penetration on APHE shells, but even that has been hit hard by the fact that thanks to the reduced efficiency, each shot of a shell like that now costs something like three times what it did previously.
There are three ways i can think of to address this, though i'm sure you'll be able to come up with additional possibilities:
Options one and two are to increase the material cost of ammo in general, or to increase the ammo cost of gunpowder casings specifically. I won't go further into these as I'm not personally a fan of them and there'd likely be a whole bunch of knock-on effects on other ammo systems, particularly for the first option.
Option three is to increase the efficacy of Rail Energy, so that 1 Rail Energy spent on a shell generates more than 1 recoil/propulsion. This has the benefit of reducing the knock-on effects to just APS, as only railguns are directly affected, and only other aps systems by association/competition.
I'm honestly not certain what value would be best, probably something between 2-5. 2 would be enough for the most efficient fuel engines to begin to break even or be more efficient than gunpowder, but doing only that still makes a mockery of Railgun's claim of being the more compact system.
5 recoil/propulsion per rail energy on the other hand would be enough for steam at 100% burn rate and the least efficient injector engines to break even or get close to gunpowder, while the most efficient engines would be about 2-2.5 times more efficient at converting material into shell propulsion than gunpowder.
Thanks for at least giving this request a read, I know this probably comes of as complaining about that steam nerf, but honestly I'm fine with that and understand the reasons for it. Railguns are my favorite system in the game however, and it's such a shame to me that there's no good reason to use them right now, and they don't even meet their dev-intended role any more. They desperately need some kind of change to give them a reason to exist, and if they're still intended to be a more efficient per-shot alternative to regular APS, then increasing the effect of rail energy seems to me like the best way to bring it back in line with that purpose with minimal knock-on effects on other systems.