GSB2 Design: Modules

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Aeson » Wed Aug 06, 2014 7:09 pm

Firstly, I agree with the sentiment that purely ablative armor is less interesting to me than armor with some kind of shot immunity mechanic, whether it's the GSB 'must be this tall to ride' bar or an 'all incoming damage reduced by 5' mechanic or per-plate resistance values that work like the GSB armor resistance does.

Danou wrote:- point defense
I don't know if it's only me, but the PD + Scanner combo didn't work well. I always used the Scrambler instead.

To me, the issue here was mostly just that the scrambler is a much, much better form of point defense than the PD weapons are. Scanners are quite useful even with scramblers as long as your opponent is using something that has decoys since it makes the scrambler waste significantly fewer shots on the decoys, though against MWMs it's a bit unnecessary since all the missiles have real warheads. PD probably just needed to fire faster (and possibly down warheads/decoys more reliably with a shorter firing animation) to become reasonably effective by comparison to the scrambler, and might need a bit more range. Alternatively, they might need to become a cheap alternative to scramblers, rather than the current form where they're as expensive as or a bit more expensive than scramblers.

Danou wrote:- ship speed VS weapon tracking speed
In GSB I missed weapons with tracking between 0.1 and 0.4. I also disliked player challenges with very slow ships.
If we had weapons with very high armor piercing and decent damage, but very low tracking speed, players would be incited to have faster ships in their fleet.

I rather disagree with there being a need for very low tracking high power weapons. Unless it has significant amounts of armor, heavy plasma will already penetrate every defense a slow ship has; a 16-slot cruiser without armor bonuses already has to devote 8 slots to armor to resist heavy plasma (7 plates if the ship has at least a 4.1% armor bonus, 6 if the ship has at least a 17.8% armor bonus) if all slots are filled, and if it's crawling at 0.05 speed then the to-hit multiplier from speed versus target tracking is 0.875 for heavy plasma, which is already a bit low especially if the ship itself is fairly small, and anything even moderately faster just makes heavy plasma much less useful. I can see a case for boosting heavy plasma to better fit into the role of a superheavy weapon that barely works against anything that isn't crawling, and I can see a case for the addition of weapons with high offensive strength but slightly less than heavy plasma tracking, but I can't see a good case for extremely low tracking high power weapons. They're just far too specialized when the issue could be fixed with weapons which might actually be useful against more normal ship designs.

Danou wrote:- cloaking
I didn't like how camouflage worked in GSB, but I have no idea how to make it better without making it to powerful. Especially combined with repair systems this could become overpowered.

I personally like how camouflage works in GSB. I think what it needed was access to weapons which could be used while cloaked so that it was more useful in a fight, with the trade-off being that the weapons that can work while the ship is cloaked would be less effective than the standard-use weapons. The net result would be that you'd have a ship which was less powerful offensively than a similar design based around 'traditional' combat, but which can occasionally cloak to become four times harder to hit while still being able to attack its targets if a proper set of weapons were selected.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Danou » Sat Aug 09, 2014 1:28 pm

Aeson wrote:Firstly, I agree with the sentiment that purely ablative armor is less interesting to me than armor with some kind of shot immunity mechanic, whether it's the GSB 'must be this tall to ride' bar or an 'all incoming damage reduced by 5' mechanic or per-plate resistance values that work like the GSB armor resistance does.

Danou wrote:- point defense
I don't know if it's only me, but the PD + Scanner combo didn't work well. I always used the Scrambler instead.

To me, the issue here was mostly just that the scrambler is a much, much better form of point defense than the PD weapons are. Scanners are quite useful even with scramblers as long as your opponent is using something that has decoys since it makes the scrambler waste significantly fewer shots on the decoys, though against MWMs it's a bit unnecessary since all the missiles have real warheads. PD probably just needed to fire faster (and possibly down warheads/decoys more reliably with a shorter firing animation) to become reasonably effective by comparison to the scrambler, and might need a bit more range. Alternatively, they might need to become a cheap alternative to scramblers, rather than the current form where they're as expensive as or a bit more expensive than scramblers.

Totally agree! PD just needs better stats to become a useful alternative to scramblers.

Aeson wrote:
Danou wrote:- ship speed VS weapon tracking speed
In GSB I missed weapons with tracking between 0.1 and 0.4. I also disliked player challenges with very slow ships.
If we had weapons with very high armor piercing and decent damage, but very low tracking speed, players would be incited to have faster ships in their fleet.

I rather disagree with there being a need for very low tracking high power weapons. Unless it has significant amounts of armor, heavy plasma will already penetrate every defense a slow ship has; a 16-slot cruiser without armor bonuses already has to devote 8 slots to armor to resist heavy plasma (7 plates if the ship has at least a 4.1% armor bonus, 6 if the ship has at least a 17.8% armor bonus) if all slots are filled, and if it's crawling at 0.05 speed then the to-hit multiplier from speed versus target tracking is 0.875 for heavy plasma, which is already a bit low especially if the ship itself is fairly small, and anything even moderately faster just makes heavy plasma much less useful. I can see a case for boosting heavy plasma to better fit into the role of a superheavy weapon that barely works against anything that isn't crawling, and I can see a case for the addition of weapons with high offensive strength but slightly less than heavy plasma tracking, but I can't see a good case for extremely low tracking high power weapons. They're just far too specialized when the issue could be fixed with weapons which might actually be useful against more normal ship designs.

You are right! My reflection was wrong. I do not want to put very specialized weapons that only damages the slowest of the slow ships. The solutions is to keep the current tracking value and slightly boost damage of heavy plasma, like you said it here:
Aeson wrote:...boosting heavy plasma to better fit into the role of a superheavy weapon that barely works against anything that isn't crawling...


Aeson wrote:
Danou wrote:- cloaking
I didn't like how camouflage worked in GSB, but I have no idea how to make it better without making it to powerful. Especially combined with repair systems this could become overpowered.

I personally like how camouflage works in GSB. I think what it needed was access to weapons which could be used while cloaked so that it was more useful in a fight, with the trade-off being that the weapons that can work while the ship is cloaked would be less effective than the standard-use weapons. The net result would be that you'd have a ship which was less powerful offensively than a similar design based around 'traditional' combat, but which can occasionally cloak to become four times harder to hit while still being able to attack its targets if a proper set of weapons were selected.

This is a good idea! With the addition of such weapons, the current camouflage system would be more useful.

Danou wrote:No matter how the armor-system works in GSB2, it's important to have some useful and well balanced alternatives and complements to armor. GSB had already a few good ones (shields, repair systems, scrambler, HP boost for Tribe), but some could need improvements:
...

My wish is to have a good number of balanced and useful defensive options. Just want to emphasize that for me this is just as important as having varying and balanced weapons and other modules.

GSB2 will surely be a worthy successor. I am looking forward to the release.
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby AcePalarum » Sat Aug 09, 2014 8:19 pm

Danou wrote:Totally agree! PD just needs better stats to become a useful alternative to scramblers.


Scramblers in GSB1 outclass point defense on two points. (Please note that I am primarily referring to the vanilla equipment rather than any modded content, as down that road lies madness.)

1 - Scramblers allow the missile to wander around for its full fuel value, as opposed to point defense destroying the missile. With the "one missile at a time" mechanic, this is a clear advantage.

2 - The fire interval of a scrambler is set by its beam duration (420 for the Guidance Scrambler Beam) because scrambler modules lack the fire_interval variable (and will ignore it if you put one in; I have tested this). Whereas the three vanilla PD systems available to cruisers have fire intervals of 700 or 800. Net result: twice as many missiles zapped by the scrambler.

Cliff, a suggestion/request: for any module that fires anything (missile/plasma/beam/bullet/PD/scrambler/EMP/tractor/etc.), can there automatically be a fire_interval to limit its power? This would help keep entire module classes from being effectively obsolete. If the scrambler in GSB1 had a fire interval similar to the various PD modules but they were significantly cheaper, for example, they would be a bit more on par with each other.
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Berny_74 » Sat Aug 09, 2014 9:33 pm

AcePalarum wrote:
Danou wrote:Totally agree! PD just needs better stats to become a useful alternative to scramblers.

Scramblers in GSB1 outclass point defense on two points. (Please note that I am primarily referring to the vanilla equipment rather than any modded content, as down that road lies madness.)

1 - Scramblers allow the missile to wander around for its full fuel value, as opposed to point defense destroying the missile. With the "one missile at a time" mechanic, this is a clear advantage.


I would have had liked scrambled missiles to be able to "reset" and re-lock on a random or the nearest target in the missiles flight path. That way, although scramblers may have superior performance, it leaves your airspace full of randomly flying missiles that have the potential of coming back to bite you.

An alternative would be that PD weapons have the ability to strike at fighters though with minimal damage, giving it dual purpose but not the best for both purposes. Great for the Budget minded designer.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Daynen » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:28 pm

Finally I think to look for a board for GSB and I find this. Tons of things on my mind, but for now, all I'll add to this is an opinion from the other side of the coin: things that should NOT be in GSB2.

1: Modules that are so similar as to be almost indistinguishable or even inferior, except in the most niche cases (i.e. proton beams-ONLY a better choice if your opponent has LESS THAN 73 armor, but more than enough to shrug off everything else)

2: Modules that are inferior except for a single value in a meaningless quantity (i.e. frigate turbo shields--7 more shield strength has NEVER mattered for all the increased requirements and other inferior stats; why does this exist?)

3: Modules with identical names (i.e. Federation fusion beam, Rebel fusion beam.)

4: Modules, most commonly fighter modules, that are only even legal, much less viable, on exactly one or two setups for exactly one or two races (i.e. fighter pulse laser; does anyone ever actually use this over a regular one? can hardly make a fighter that can actually run it, much less win with it. Also, Swarm micro-targeting booster. Really? This is a thing?)

5: Race-specialty modules that are basically outclassed by more than 75% of available choices (i.e. swarm disruptor beam; awesome in concept, never worth the requirements in practice, and yet it's swarm only. Devalues a race choice a bit.)

6: Ship hulls that have no clear build options or are clearly inferior to other choices (i.e. tribe heaven fighter. FIVE modules and ONE weapon? There is no reason to ever use this hull. I still can't even conceive a useful build with it. Nobody appreciates a noob trap like that. Also, Fed rabbit cruiser. WTF.)

7: on the flip side of no.2, modules/ships that are clearly SUPERIOR to other choices in 90% of cases, even race-specific ones (i.e. nomad missile launcher. Faster, longer range, comparable damage and performance to every other missile launcher in the game by far. Even as a race-specific, this probably wasn't a good choice. It's the most important weapon in the nomad arsenal for only nominally higher requirements.

8: modules that require other modules to work properly, or to even be usable (i.e. point defense scanner. has to be used with point defense or scramblers, does nothing at all on it's own. I never take up the slots with one; just get more ships with PD instead of wasting the money. Perhaps just make more PD type modules with a better differentiation of accuracy stats. This would reduce clutter and unused game assets. Also, anti-fighter missile launchers. Highest tracking in game, still misses fighters with engines less than 50% of its tracking speed, has to combo with tractor beams. Again, WTF.)

9: A campaign mode that neither presents clear rules, nor (seemingly) obeys them. Threat 100% is taken to mean an attack IS imminent at any time. Until that time, there shouldn't be much chance at all of an attack, or at least not an overwhelming one. However, multiple times I have lost a planet due to willing temporary sacrifice or error, and seen up to FIVE PLANETS taken BACK TO BACK, literally one turn apart each, which were previously under zero threat whatsoever for a dozen turns or more, ending in a single turn a campaign which had seen almost half the map conquered. This is neither fair nor fun. Explain the rules of the game so we know they're being followed fairly, please. It's fine that campaign mode is supposed to present a challenge, but the difference between a challenging game and a punishing one is very important. If this is working as intended and there are hidden rules to the campaign mode, then there need to be in-game ways of discovering and defining them. This is called a challenge. Otherwise, it's just frustrating with no redeeming fun factor.

10: Inconsistent victory conditions, especially in the campaign. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, raises my blood pressure about this game more than seeing it refuse to surrender a 100% guaranteed outcome. Just had four nomad plasma equipped cruisers sit at optimum range versus three outcast anti-fighter cruisers with over 70 armor and orders to sit outside their own firing range. TWENTY MINUTES LATER, they hadn't fired a single shot at me, and all three were destroyed due to the targeting behavior allowing the damaged ships to limp away. It should clearly have called the stalemate in my favor long ago since I had a larger fleet, took no damage, chipped them down and had 0% chance of losing, but it held out and denied me any salvage at all. Lack of vulture orders and targeting algorithms be DAMNED; It was perfectly countered and it knew it. That is the AI being a sore loser in the extreme.

Some of these are nitpicks from a would-be game designer myself, and some are just mind-blowing oversights that alternately raise my eyebrows and bring me to laughter. Just a few "oopsies" to think about for the future. I love GSB, but there are things about it which I distinctively despise; it's likely that they infuriate me all the more BECAUSE I enjoy the game so much. I dare to dream of a sequel that addresses these oversights and evolves into a sublime strategy experience that just can't be faulted and begs to be played by all. Regardless of what's actually in store, I'll be paying a little closer attention to this board now; my interest is piqued and I hope for the best.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby darkstar076 » Wed Aug 13, 2014 9:37 pm

Daynen wrote: Also, Fed rabbit cruiser. WTF.)

I don't know if you really wanted an answer to this one but here it is.
http://blog.wolfire.com/2009/07/rabbits-in-space/
http://positech.co.uk/cliffsblog/2009/0 ... -attitude/
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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Aeson » Thu Aug 14, 2014 5:39 am

Daynen wrote:1: Modules that are so similar as to be almost indistinguishable or even inferior, except in the most niche cases (i.e. proton beams-ONLY a better choice if your opponent has LESS THAN 73 armor, but more than enough to shrug off everything else)

Proton Beams can also be better than other beams if, for whatever reason, your opponent has chosen to design a shielded cruiser which does not carry a reflective shield generator, as unlike other common beam weapons, Proton Beams can penetrate any non-reflective shield in the game (they have 24 shield penetration instead of the 20 shield penetration of the cruiser beam laser, which means that Fast Recharge Shields and Mark II Shields are vulnerable to proton beams even though they're immune to cruiser beam lasers). Also, I personally like the fact that Proton Beams exist because it implies that within the game universe someone has been experimenting with design trade-offs - they sacrificed a little damage and a bit of range, but picked up a bit of anti-armor and anti-shield capability. There is also a significant difference between the Proton Beam and the Cruiser Beam Laser in that the tracking speed of the Proton Beam is significantly worse, which pushes the Proton Beam into more of a specialized anti-heavy cruiser role than the Cruiser Beam Laser sits in, which is more of the general use anti-armor role. I will also point out that Proton Beams are considerably cheaper than Cruiser Beam Lasers, which are their only real competitor in many factions. If you're trying to save on the budget, a proton beam just might be the more economical choice.

Daynen wrote:2: Modules that are inferior except for a single value in a meaningless quantity (i.e. frigate turbo shields--7 more shield strength has NEVER mattered for all the increased requirements and other inferior stats; why does this exist?)

Personally, I think the Turbo Shield is rather funny - it's a heavily hyped module (at least from reading its description) which fails to deliver on its promise. It could certainly have been more useful, e.g. if it had fit into the same role for frigates that the cruiser Multiphasic Shields do for cruisers, but I don't really feel that there's a significant issue with having some modules that aren't quite up to par.

Daynen wrote:4: Modules, most commonly fighter modules, that are only even legal, much less viable, on exactly one or two setups for exactly one or two races (i.e. fighter pulse laser; does anyone ever actually use this over a regular one? can hardly make a fighter that can actually run it, much less win with it. Also, Swarm micro-targeting booster. Really? This is a thing?)

Fighter Pulse Lasers are very good for strafing fighter designs, and all factions can create a valid design for it. It's not a good weapon for a dogfighter in most cases, however. The greater damage when compared to the Fighter Laser Cannon makes a significant difference when penetrating heavy armor and killing the ship after the armor is broken, at the cost of being somewhat more vulnerable to ship-borne anti-fighter weapons and being less competent in the dogfighter role. Swarm micro-targeting boosters suffer from the issue that all the targeting boosters have, namely that they don't appear to make a significant difference, at least without looking carefully, and compound that with being a nonessential module intended for use on a craft that relies on being fast for its survivability.

Daynen wrote:5: Race-specialty modules that are basically outclassed by more than 75% of available choices (i.e. swarm disruptor beam; awesome in concept, never worth the requirements in practice, and yet it's swarm only. Devalues a race choice a bit.)

Sometimes it's fun to be different and go in with an all-beam fleet, and Swarm is the only race that really has that as a valid choice since everyone else would get beaten by reflective shields. It also offers significantly better tracking than standard plasma or unpainted missiles at a similar range to the plasma weapons, which makes it much more useful against midspeed or higher frigates and fast cruisers when compared to plasma. Plus, unlike missiles, disruptor beams are unaffected by Swarm's other special cruiser module, the Smart Bomb Pulse Generator.

Daynen wrote:6: Ship hulls that have no clear build options or are clearly inferior to other choices (i.e. tribe heaven fighter. FIVE modules and ONE weapon? There is no reason to ever use this hull. I still can't even conceive a useful build with it. Nobody appreciates a noob trap like that. Also, Fed rabbit cruiser. WTF.)

Tribe Heaven fighters I agree are rather unusual, though you can make really tough fighters if for some reason you end up in a situation where a fighter's health is its most important quality (which is an exceptionally rare occurrence, I will grant). Federation Rabbits are basically an in-joke, are an indication that there are more ship designs out there than just the 'standard' faction designs, and indicate that the Federation might be more willing to employ mercenaries for its military campaigns or may keep older designs in use. Also, Rabbits aren't exactly bad cruisers. They're not great, certainly, but they aren't that bad either.

Daynen wrote:8: modules that require other modules to work properly, or to even be usable (i.e. point defense scanner. has to be used with point defense or scramblers, does nothing at all on it's own. I never take up the slots with one; just get more ships with PD instead of wasting the money. Perhaps just make more PD type modules with a better differentiation of accuracy stats. This would reduce clutter and unused game assets. Also, anti-fighter missile launchers. Highest tracking in game, still misses fighters with engines less than 50% of its tracking speed, has to combo with tractor beams. Again, WTF.)

I really don't have a problem with this, at all. Tractor beams are great for improving the effectiveness of a whole slew of anti-fighter solutions, be it escorting squadrons around your frigates/cruisers or shipboard anti-fighter weapons. Anti-fighter missiles have greater reach than the other purpose-built anti-fighter weapon and a 3-missile 1-tractor anti-fighter frigate is a reasonably effective support ship for your cruiser line. PD Scanners nearly quadruple the volume of incoming fire that PD and scramblers can handle if it's a missile with decoys, though they're held back by the effectiveness of unsupported scramblers and the popularity of the Multiple Warhead Missile. None of these are particularly bad options, nor do I see why it's a bad thing to allow players to boost the performance of a ship system by adding in something else. For that matter, this complaint can be extended to almost every module in the game - almost all modules require crew in order to function, and no hull provides any, so just about every module in the game requires that there be at least one crew module in place in order for the design to function; most modules will also require that a power generator be installed in the ship hull in order to function. Neither the crew nor the power modules accomplish anything on their own, nor do any of the other modules (aside from armor) function without these.

Daynen wrote:9: A campaign mode that neither presents clear rules, nor (seemingly) obeys them. Threat 100% is taken to mean an attack IS imminent at any time. Until that time, there shouldn't be much chance at all of an attack, or at least not an overwhelming one. However, multiple times I have lost a planet due to willing temporary sacrifice or error, and seen up to FIVE PLANETS taken BACK TO BACK, literally one turn apart each, which were previously under zero threat whatsoever for a dozen turns or more, ending in a single turn a campaign which had seen almost half the map conquered. This is neither fair nor fun. Explain the rules of the game so we know they're being followed fairly, please. It's fine that campaign mode is supposed to present a challenge, but the difference between a challenging game and a punishing one is very important. If this is working as intended and there are hidden rules to the campaign mode, then there need to be in-game ways of discovering and defining them. This is called a challenge. Otherwise, it's just frustrating with no redeeming fun factor.

As far as I can tell, the campaign mode does follow an internally consistent set of rules. The issue you're complaining about where you lost a series of planets that were previously under no threat? I bet most of those were inside your borders and then your fleet was beaten by an enemy fleet that emerged from the fight largely intact; it saw a string of unprotected hostile worlds and did what any sensible opponent would do - it attacked. What's the problem here?

Daynen wrote:10: Inconsistent victory conditions, especially in the campaign. Nothing, and I mean NOTHING, raises my blood pressure about this game more than seeing it refuse to surrender a 100% guaranteed outcome. Just had four nomad plasma equipped cruisers sit at optimum range versus three outcast anti-fighter cruisers with over 70 armor and orders to sit outside their own firing range. TWENTY MINUTES LATER, they hadn't fired a single shot at me, and all three were destroyed due to the targeting behavior allowing the damaged ships to limp away. It should clearly have called the stalemate in my favor long ago since I had a larger fleet, took no damage, chipped them down and had 0% chance of losing, but it held out and denied me any salvage at all. Lack of vulture orders and targeting algorithms be DAMNED; It was perfectly countered and it knew it. That is the AI being a sore loser in the extreme.

Victory conditions are generally consistent. The fleet with the higher percentage score (the number with the green background, if both sides have equal percentages) in the top section of the screen wins when a stalemate is called. Pure fighter swarms and fleets where only fighters remain generally lose when they drop to half the remaining score of the opposing fleet, all other engagements end when one side drops to a score of 10% or less (the number displayed is rounded, so you may see an enemy sit at 10% for a little while before losing). The logic for the stalemate breaker could be better, of course, but it's usually not terrible. Also, if all three enemy ships were destroyed, then there shouldn't have been any stalemate in the first place and the only thing you have to complain about was that the game doesn't include a mechanic for the computer-side to surrender except when a stalemate has been called. Beyond that, aside from the edge case of a completely unsupported small group of cruisers which are, due to their own orders, completely incapable of engaging your forces, do you really want the computer to surrender to you in the middle of a fight? A large part of the fun of the game is in watching the fights unfold, and having the battles end early because the computer realized that its fleet is completely outclassed by your own. The only real exception to this, at least for me, is when something like an armor tank is involved and neither side is capable of harming the other for significant periods of time.

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Re: GSB2 Design: Modules

Postby Daynen » Thu Aug 14, 2014 10:06 pm

I acknowledge that most modules in the game have a PURPOSE, such as the proton beam's shield counter. I merely used it as an example of a weapon that is so similar in function that it felt irrelevant in most use cases and was only optimal for a select few situations. Your mileage may vary.

As for modules that aren't up to par? The turbo shield sees zero use in any of my designs. ever. Not even in my wildest dreams or craziest plans would I ever have a use for it. It doesn't bug me that it's not up to par; it bugs me that it's clearly a worse choice than anything else you can get, and thus is effectively a waste of space in the game when it could have been an interesting alternative option. If you want your frigates to be effectively shielded, you will always reach for a shield II, never a turbo shield. It's more sad than frustrating really, makes me wish it WERE something alternatively cool.

On pulse lasers, the reason I find them a bad choice is that the increased power requirements cripple the fighter's thrust to power ratio, leaving it extremely vulnerable to weapons it should never have cause to fear otherwise, and the increase in damage or accuracy just never seemed worth the extra burden when a regular laser got the same job done at less overall costs while allowing more freedom in engine and generator choices.

I definitely agree with daring to be different just to throw off the metagame, and that's why I actually LIKE the swarm disruptor beam; it's just not good enough to justify the exorbitant requirements over any other laser, or plasma for that matter. I've tried variations of fleets that employ it, and seen entertaining results in many cases, but in the end, it just didn't do anything that another beam or a plasma launcher couldn't accomplish. also, I'm puzzled as to why it has an outrageous shield penetration value when 27 is the max shield resistance. Seems overkill for nothing, really.

Fed rabbits. good to know about the cross-promo thing, and I'm curious about the game they mention to boot, but it's still got nothing going for it over at least one of the other fed hulls. Try as I might, I can't find any reason to choose it in any fleet.

Good counterpoint with crew modules and generators, but on a knee-jerk reaction I almost feel like those modules kind of prove the point. If you want a certain amount of speed, weaponry or defense, you pay a tax in crew and module slots in the form of crew bays and generators. Point defense weapons are quite niche for something that needs a module tax to be accurate. I simply think more variety in PD weapons would allow the game to have a scrambler or PD that has built-in decoy tracking as a feature, rather than have separate modules that can potentially be put on a ship specifically to support another module. Generators and crew ALLOW other modules; PD scanners only SUPPORT other modules, and very specific ones at that. I've never used them, and never really missed their presence. A similar point goes for the AF missiles. I get that the antifighters have their benefits, but the insane tracking speed of 12.50 implies that NOTHING in the game should ever be able to outmaneuver it. that's almost 3 times the speed of the fastest combat-capable fighter in the game, and almost 5 times the speed of most laser armed fighters. Yet, they still manage to dodge missile after missile? I've seen frigates loaded with 4 AF launchers get stuck whiffing against 3.something speed fighters for minutes at a time without a single hit. Really makes me question the attribute and weapon design on a base level, that's all.

As for the campaign blitzing my planets? Well, the inconsistency perception comes when those interior planets were completely safe at 0 threat for multiple turns, then stolen immediately before even 10% threat builds up. what is that threat meter even FOR if the computer can just ignore it on a whim? If it was a SENSIBLE opponent, it would attack me on turn 2, before I even have a shred of a real fleet built with the starting cash. It's one thing if the rule is "don't leave your planets unprotected, it could attack any time," but what's presented first is "when the threat builds up on a planet, that's a sign of impending attack." It seems to follow one rule or the other without any warning or cue. there's no way to answer it. If you lose a border fleet, the campaign is essentially over with no way to recover. (Note: I'm going off my experiences with the admiral difficulty; I find playing lower difficulties in games to hold less meaning than seeing what the AI is actually capable of. this is not an excuse for it to selectively ignore its own rules.)

My complaint about that standoff scenario? I've LOST battles to stalemate in under 45 seconds before, with over 75% of my fleet remaining, yet the AI, in the described example, was steadily losing the battle with zero percent chance of winning. Instead of surrendering a battle that I had clearly won through good counterplay and giving me the reward of salvage, it stubbornly engineered the complete destruction of it's fleet, denying me the spoils I had earned through planning and strategy. In my eyes, I was cheated out of a prize. I've seen ACTUAL stalemates before where one side cannot harm the other; those are cases that SHOULD last twenty minutes before the RNG causes someone to get enough lucky shots. This was NOT one of those cases. I set this fleet to counter that enemy fleet SPECIFICALLY after I tested their defenses with a fighter squadron. I KNEW that they would not win against my plasma and that their armor would either not be enough to stop the plasma, or be enough to resist for a while and cause it to stalemate. This was not an accident; this was me beating the AI at it's own game and getting denied what I won. I've seen the AI call itself the victor on much more fair fights, even when I clearly had weapons that could cause damage, ships that had a good chance of surviving, and accuracy enough to actually take down the enemy. The game is all too eager to claim a victory when it thinks the odds are even in it's favor at all, but when it's losing, it often refuses to surrender down to the very last crippled, disarmed frigate. While this may not matter AS MUCH in challenges or missions, in the campaign mode, it's enough to make me exit the game and walk away for days at a time.

I hope this doesn't come across as too confrontational; it's not. I reaffirm that I enjoy the game in a general sense; it's incredibly nuanced and deep. These kinds of things, however, are NOT nuances. They are things that just fly in the face of all logic and prior conveyance of the game. Everything it explains or demonstrates to a new player is defied when these situations come up; it makes a player go "wait huh? what the hell?" It just FEELS like the game is breaking it's own rules to weasel out of defeat or deny the victor rewards for good play. Games are collections of rules. When those rules are broken, whether in reality or in the perception of the player, it's not good for the health of the game. This doesn't mean the game is broken by any means; these are just things that I feel should REALLY be looked at in future game designs.


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