Since laser properties became writable there has been the option of colour choice for new (or old) laser weapons.
This helps to make the different weapons more distinctive and flavourful in game.
I think the following could not only add to the variety but also help to simulate other weapon types without major alterations.
- Custom sounds
- Custom beam graphics
Sounds, like colour, could help to add flavour to the various weapons but when combined with beam graphics could potentially result in quite striking changes.
As I understand it there are currently two textures that combine to create the laser effect; exactly how they do this I am unsure but assuming that they do there may be a simple way to simulate rapid projectile fire using the same method.
A crude concept diagram:
'Beam' texture A: --- ---
'Beam' texture B: ---
If the beams were to alternate (either with two textures or just by flipping one along its mid point repeatedly) then with approriate spacing and timing you could have the illusion of projectiles.
Still too much like lasers? Add a suitable sound effect and a duller, perhaps greyer colour scheme and then the illusion is reinforced by the cosmetics.
Reimagined Multiple Lasers
Multiple lasers now exist of course but they are not always the most practical due to spacing. The Krait for example is arguably the core ship design most suited to multiple lasers and yet it is also one of the widest ships - therefore making such lasers impractical much of the time.
Again, a crude example of how a more usable (and traditional) implementation might work.
- Central laser remains but is rendered invisible (or at least changed to black colour - it can be transparent too, right?)
- 'Laser' lines are drawn (as a visual effect?) from the imagined weapon placements to whatever the invisible laser hits
- If the actual laser misses then the fake lasers simply converge at maximum range - or half/quarter range if the former results in too much 'clipping' of narrowly missed targets
So in the diagram below, the actual (invisible) laser is represented by the straight line down the middle.
Either side are the fake 'lasers' represented by the arrows, converging at the target (the X) as described above.
You then have a laser comparable to the original lasers in Elite: one which will also show up in external views.
Whilst there would then be the possiblity of clipping other vessels or objects when in a crowded combat, I can't imagine this happening very often except possibly at very short range where it is least likely to be noticed on account of manoeuvrability to target distance ratios.
Theory is easier than practice of course but these ideas are now out there for consideration/improvement.