I started looking into new ways of forcing capital ships to fight in close range for a game I am developing. The game is a starfighter-centered space combat simulator, so having ships fighting hundreds (or thousands or a combination of the two) of kilometers apart just doesn't work with the theme I am going for (as well as map size limitations.) However, I did not want to ignore reality without an in-universe justification that didn't involve handwaving/handwavium.
While trying to create a means for starfighters and bombers to be viable (and not be automatically vaporized by point defenses before they could even see another ship,) I came up with an idea. Perhaps long range point defense systems massively outpaced offensive long range projectile weapons developments (missiles, solid munitions, etc) to the point that ships had to move closer if they ever wanted to hit something.
So, the new issue is limiting the effectiveness of those point defenses when dealing in ranges under 20km (Unreal engine's limit on map size.) One such idea was that the point defenses could not track at short ranges. Big lasers are heavy and hard to turn, after all. But, then point defenses would just be switched out for smaller lasers, right?
Another idea was to use existing equipment. Ships are already fitted with electromagnetic shielding to block cosmic radiation. Could this same shielding also disperse laser fire enough that a small ship would be able to survive long enough to get out of the way?
If you're presenting alternate solutions, I'm looking to avoid anything that needs to be externally mounted on the hull so that I do not have to retrofit it to all of the ships I've already designed.