Sunday, 23 December 2012

Grappling with Engineering

Today I have been focusing my efforts on providing guidance on how to manage engineering effectively. In my own opinion, being an Engineer is probably the most challenging role because if you get it wrong, at the very least you annoy your crew mates and captain, and at the very worst, you endanger the ship. From experience, I have observed crews which almost come to blows over power to systems; usually the engineer is overloaded with shouts for more power, or isn't reacting quickly enough to be effective. Aboard my own ship, I expect my engineer to keep systems at readiness, making sure they adapt power levels so that my officers can carry out my orders effectively, whatever the situation.

Writing guidance for how to operate the engineering console has been a challenge, however. Not because of a lack of knowledge or ability on my part, but because of the amount of variables involved, such as how a situation develops or how different captains run their ship. Initially I thought I might provide settings for particular manoeuvres or tactical situations (the settings for each system for a High Energy Turn, or for engaging at close range with Primary Beams), but then I realised this wouldn't work. Although I could tell you specific settings for a HET, as an Engineer I would still tweak them dependant on the situation, and I couldn't possibly detail what to tweak when and why. Like I said, there are just too many variables!

After trying out several variations, I think I have found one that I can settle on. Rather than show particular settings, I have been writing up ideas of minimum and maximum settings, recommendations for particular situations and other advice to adjust settings. I have given standardised values, for example never take any system below 20% without an order from the captain, or put systems to ~30% when recharging, as that level provides sufficient reduction to power consumption to recharge. The intention is to give guidelines and recommendations that doesn't overly restrict how an engineer operates, but rather provides advice and ideas.

It'll be interesting to see the reactions to my recommendations. It is meant for guidance and to give a standard so captains can be confident that a minimum power will always be maintained in combat or out of combat. Below are a few points summarising what I have written:

  • Never cut power below 20% unless ordered
  • In combat all systems must be kept at a minimum level of 75%
  • Never increase power to over 220% unless ordered
  • To recharge, reduce power levels to 30% on all systems
  • In normal running mode, keep all systems at 50% or greater
  • In combat mode, keep all systems at 75% or greater
  • In combat mode, manoeuvre and impulse must be kept at 100% minimum
  • Even a small boost to a system (e.g. 150%) can provide benefits
  • Coolant levels are not sufficient to keep multiple systems running at levels such as 200% for long periods
  • Cutting a system back to 100% rather than letting it overheat is better than keeping it high and causing damage to systems

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