A whimsical psuedo-tutorial on sensors (written for version 0.7.2) can be found on the forum here.
Basic mechanics Edit
Each ship in the game has a sensor profile that determines how far away it can be seen, and a sensor strength that determines how far it can see. The two figures are summed within each fleet, and used to calculate how far away two fleets can see each other. Two identical fleets will spot each other at the same distance in the absence of terrain bonuses.
Each fleet has a sensor profile equal to the sum of its five ships with the highest profile, and a sensor strength equal to the sum of the five ships with the highest strength. Fleet A can see another fleet B if the distance between them is smaller than A's sensor strength + B's sensor profile. Multiplicative effects from abilities and terrain apply to the sum of strength and profile.
When another fleet is in the player's sensor range but has its transponder off, it will initially only be shown as a "sensor contact": a set of triangles indicating the size of the fleet. As it gets closer, more information will be shown: the hull types in the fleet, current task, and maximum burn speed. Once it is very close, the fleet's faction and name, and the officers of the ships will be displayed. If the other fleet's transponder is on, the full information will be displayed from the beginning.
The base sensor strength and profile is based on ship size:
- Frigates: 30
- Destroyers: 60
- Cruisers: 90
- Capital ships: 150
Various hullmods alter the sensor strength and profile of the ship they are installed on.
- Augmented Drive Field reduces strength and increases profile by 50%.
- Civilian-grade Hull reduces strength by 50% and increases profile by 100%.
- Degraded Engines increases profile by 50%.
- Faulty Power Grid increases profile by 50%.
- High Resolution Sensors increases strength by 60.
- Glitched Sensor Array reduces strength by 50%.
- Insulated Engine Assembly reduces profile by 50%.
- Phase Field reduces profile to zero.
Various abilities can modify the fleet's sensor range and detection range (how far it can be seen from):
- Transponder: +1000 detection range
- Go Dark: -50% detection range (-75% with level 2 Sensors skill)
- Active Sensor Burst: +3000 sensor range, +5000 detection range
- Emergency Burn: -50% sensor range, +50% detection range
- Sustained Burn: +100% detection range
- Neutrino Detector: +50% detection range
- Remote Survey: +5000 detection range
- -25% sensor profile with level 2 skill
- Doubles the effectiveness of the Go Dark ability with level 2 skill
- +25% sensor strength at level 3 skill
Fleets in different terrain types can have altered detection ranges.
- Asteroid Belt: -75% detection range (when stationary)
- Ring System: -75% detection range (when stationary)
- Accretion Disk: -75% detection range (when stationary)
- Nebula: -50% detection range
- Magnetic Field: -50% detection range
- Deep Hyperspace: -50% detection range
- Hyperspace Storm: +2000 detection range
Miscellaneous effects Edit
- Fleets in combat have +1000 sensor profile
- The minimum sensor profile is floored at 30, even for 0 sensor profile ships with a Phase Field. It is not possible to be absolutely undetectable but it is possible to get very close to it, particularly when stacking multiple bonuses.