Defeating the Fighter Paradox

Here’s the Fighter Paradox: fighter effectiveness is inversely proportional to fighter cost. This is a general rule not true in all cases, but it’s true most of the time. It bugs me a lot but I’m new and don’t know any better. I figure it must not bother all you old hands or it would have been patched or modded out of existence by now. Still, I’d like to tinker with it some.

As I’ve never modded this game before, I’ll need a lot of help and advice. Thanks in advance. The purpose of this thread is for folks to comment and tell me I’m an idiot, and perhaps give me some pointers and verteran knowledge. If by some unlikely turn of events any of this work ever gets completed, I’ll start a new thread then when I make it public.

Anyway, the Fighter Paradox. The reason it exists is because speed is by far the most important attribute of a fighter. It’s their only defense against being hit, which is usually mortal if not instantly fatal. So, fighter effectiveness is pretty much a function of speed because speed allows fighters to live long enough to do whatever job you bought them for.

But here’s the thing: instead of having to spend money to go fast, it’s exactly the opposite. A fighter’s speed is determined as follows:

Speed = ((Total Module Weight) / (Total Engine Thrust)) + (Speed Buff * ((Total Module Weight) / (Total Engine Thrust))).
NOTE: Empty hulls have a weight of 1.00 but this disappears from the calculations once you add even 1 module to the hull, so only module weights count.

Thus, each time you add a module, you have to pay for it, which increases the cost of the fighter. And every modules adds weight, which slows the fighter down. Thus, the more money you spend on a fighter, the slower it goes. And you also have the fact that the bigger the engine you put in an otherwise empty hull, the slower it goes. This is bass-ackwards IMHO. This is the essence of the Fighter Paradox. It also greatly limits the utility of fighters. By the time you’ve spent the money on a fighter to make it capable of more than a very specialized and generally non-essential role, it’s either too slow to survive very long and/or costs too much compared to buying a cruiser instead…

SO… What I want to do is reverse this. I want players to have to pay for speeds so high the fighters are practically immune to return fire. But at the same time, I want to make reasonable useful fighters more affordable, so folks will be more inclined to use them, thereby increasing the diversity of the battlefield. Hell, it might even result in frigates coming into fashion.

And while I’m at it, I hope to fix the race-specific special figthter parts that currently are worse than useless. For exanple, the Nomads have a Fighter Dogfight Laser which was obviously intended to be great against fighters. But it completely sucks compared to standard weapons; it’s actually THE WORST thing you can put in a fighter other than the torpedo (which I might want to fix, too). And the Swarm has a totally counterproductive Micro Target Booster and an ineffectual Fighter Fusion Gun.

But, I have no idea how to begin this. I don’t know how to edit anything in this game and would appreciate some pointers.

To get the ball rolling and illustrate what i’m talking about, I have attached a spreadsheet showing how things stand now. For each race, I made fighters with each type of weapon (or none at all). In each case, I tinkered around trying all combinations of hulls, engines, and power to make the absolute fastest fighter I could for each type of weapon. As a result, none of these designs have any armor, which is a separate kettle of fish. So, the 1st page of the spreadsheet ranks the fighters for each race in order of decreasing speed, which is also the order of increasing cost (other than the painter, which is by FAR the most expensive fighter module). On the 2nd page of the spreadsheet, I re-arranged the data so that fighters of a given type for each race are ranked in decreasing order of speed. Enjoy.

I look forward to your comments and advice.
Fighter Paradox (19.9 KB)

I suppose I should also outline some specific goals I have for the project, too.

The way things are now, the standard fighter weapons work best for different jobs:

FLC: best dogfighter weapon (although a mix of rockets and painters can sometimes beat it, depending on circumstances). Also 2nd best at strafing, so in general the most useful fighter weapon. Medium cost and speed.

FPL: best strafing weapon against cruisers (and frigates) but sucks in a dogfight. Rather expensive and slow.

FRL: obliterates frigates but seemingly ineffective against cruisers and useless against fighters outside of special circumstances. Dirt cheap and very fast.

FT: almost completely useless in its intended role of attacking cruisers and frigates, due to extreme weight, low rate of fire, etc. Ultra-slow and prohibitively expensive.

I have no intention of changing these preferred targets. But I would like to alter the speed and cost factors associated with them to reflect the value of their chosen prey. For example, dogfighting (unless it clears the way for other purposes) is generally a waste of time, so I would make the FLC fighters the cheapest and fastest. Frigates are the next target in value, so rocket fighters need to be more expensive and probably slower. Cruisers are the most valuable targets so FPLs and FTs still need to be expensive and slow compared to the others, but the FT especially needs to be made an effective weapon. Actually, I’d like to make these weapons equally viable alternatives so races with high-power hulls might choose the FLC while races with weak, low-power hulls would still have the torpedo available.

Once the standard weapons get tweaked, I’ll then slot in the race-specific stuff. The Swarm FLC should incorporate the MTB and be slightly better than the standard FLC, and the Nomad DFL should be a bit better than that. Likewise, the Swarm FFG should be a bit better at strafing than the standard FPL.

But the #1 goal of all, first and foremost, is to change the way engines work. If you want a slow fighter, you put small, cheap engines in it. If you want a fast fighter, you put strong, expensive engines in it. This is going to take some creativity. The idea I have right now is to somehow add real, permanent weight to fighter hulls which has to be overcome with lots of thrust. However, a quick perusal of the hull text files shows no weight value for any of them. So is this even possible? And even if it is, will not the hull’s weight get junked anyway, just like it’s current “phantom” weight of 1.00?

Rather comprehensive plan there Bullethead.
I will admit I have not given this area much thought nor have I crunched the numbers as you have.

Just of the top of my head, a suggestion for your consideration:
Increase the cost of the engines and to make the weapons a negative cost. For example:

  • the Fighter Laser Cannon has a cost of -10
  • while the Fighter Torpedo has a cost of -50
    (Maybe negative cost is proportional to weight ?)

That way, the slower the fighter the cheaper it gets.

Intriguing project you’re undertaking here, Bullethead. Allow me to fill my pipe, pour a tumbler of Jameson’s 12-year special for each of us, and share my insights with you. Apologies in advance for the length of this post.

I’ll begin with some background…

Part 1
The great majority of eager new modders whose boots have trod these marble halls over the years have generally found that it’s been much easier and more fun to create wholly new content for this game than it has been to [-cough-] sweep up after the horses in Cliff Harris’ parade, if you know what I mean. That’s one reason why you find that situations like the Fighter Paradox are still here.

Another, larger reason is that cliffski’s typically had time to introduce various functioning concepts into the game, but very seldom enough time to revisit them sufficiently to smoke out the maddening inconsistencies, occasional “illusion of choice,” and gameplay-tangling imbalances these functioning concepts are stuck with.

Because you’re new to our ranks, you don’t know how incredibly unusual and rare it is for cliffski to open a thread for ideas on a new race. Way back in September 2010, we honestly thought the Nomads were the end of the line. :slight_smile: It was exactly a year later that the Parasites joined the game, which was a huge shock. Sure, stat-wise all of their hulls were nearly complete duplicates of the ones the Nomads have [-grumble-], but the three new Parasite modules were a much-needed addition to the modder’s toolbox. Flak/area-of-effect damage in particular has been repeatedly asked for ever since the game was less than a month old. Hurrah! It only took two years even though no fundamental changes to multiple delicate parts of the codebase were needed to make it happen. O.o

Anyhow, it’s that very conspicuous lack of cliffski’s time for any tinkering with GSB’s core codebase to any significant extent that is the reason why the “race #10” thread has devolved into a tangled and confusing Babel. This opportunity is the GSB equivalent of Halley’s Comet, so the thread is frustrating and hard to read and increasingly off-topic, but it’s also somewhat understandable WHY people are desperate to shove their foot in the metaphoric door and shout their “sales pitch” for fixing the parts of GSB that they like the least. More than a few of the things being asked for in that thread are well beyond the scope of work that Cliff is able to budget for a mere DLC-type expansion to the game. Indeed, I’m going to have to visit that thread soon and restore some much-needed focus to it.

Part 2
You see, GSB’s primarily been a modder-community-fuelled game ever since approx. December 2010; the month after the beta version of the campaign add-on went public. (Close to that time, player participation on these forums had dropped very sharply, with much worse to come.) That’s nearly two years – 22 months out of the game’s 38-month lifespan as of now. As nearly 60% of GSB’s entire lifespan since the pre-release beta went public has coincided with this period of little to no official development of the game, I don’t consider it any wonder that most of we modders (though not all) would prefer to shoulder our way past aggravating mysteries such as this one and lavish our attention instead upon all-new content of a much more entertaining sort.

That’s not to say that we weren’t wholly uninterested – just that, since we’re only modders (guests in one wing of the GSB codebase palace) and not blessed with Cliff’s godlike access to everything, why go wrestling with a pig when you don’t have to? It only gets you dirty, and the pig likes it. :stuck_out_tongue: Any whining about it to Cliff that we might have done would have been pointless; it was clear that sales of the game were down very significantly, and he had to move ahead to start coding his next profit-center (Gratuitous Tank Battles) so he could keep food on the table.

I really do adore GSB, but due to all of the above factors it truly feels like only four-fifths of a game at times.

Anyhow, lest you think me nothing but an embittered complainer, I’ve repeatedly been grateful - very - since 2009 that GSB does afford at least some moddability. Even within those too-narrow limits, we’ve accomplished some truly amazing work at times. Cliff was almost wholly unprepared for the colossal popularity which GSB would enjoy, but he did make the game as moddable as he knew how to at that time.

But there’s a big difference between making comparatively minor tweaks to one module here or two weapons there, versus skiing down the bell curve to the far extent of what’s player-accessible and trying to bravely change Planck’s Constant. Which brings us to…

Part 3

Emphasis mine; I believe that specific aspect of things is going to completely elude you. And this is a case where I would love to be proven wrong. :frowning:

Changing the weight of empty, module-less hulls is beyond the reach of we who mod GSB. It’s a fundamental aspect of the game, and to put it mildly you’re paddling against a mighty powerful current that only Boudreaux and Thibodeaux would bother with. :wink:

Assuming there are no latent universe-destroying causality chains attached to this that I’m unaware of, I think that Cliff Harris might be able to make that weight attribute “modder-alterable”. Miiiiiight. But as you’ve possibly divined on your own by now, Positech Games is indeed a one-man studio and cliffski has no end of things competing for his very scant time away from his current paying project. [-deep sigh-]

One could certainly start by reshuffling the official fighter engines such that the heaviest one provides the least thrust and has the cheapest cost, while the lightest one provides the most thrust and is the most expensive to buy. I freely concede this is a graceless hack but something akin to it could be rather effective, especially compared to the current state of affairs.

I suggest taking a deeper look at cutting the prices of the empty fighter hulls themselves and, in concert with my suggested basic hack to engines, see where that leads you. Darkstar’s radical negative-cost hack for the weapons is a very clever idea; use it sparingly, though, and test the hell out of each instance of it.

I wish you well in your quest to adequately address both halves of the Fighter Paradox via one solution set.

Now, down to more mundane matters of interest…

Part 4
When it comes to the procedural/mechanical aspects of modding GSB, it’s pretty simple; especially since you’ve already got the graphical angle taken care of already. :slight_smile:

Each hull, module and weapon textfile can be viewed in any text editor program. As long as you understand what the attributes in each textfile mean, you’ll know what to alter and can empirically determine to what extent to change a value to. So it’s just a question of shutting off GSB if it was already on; prudently making a backup copy elsewhere of the game’s core files; making a tweak to a particular textfile; saving that modded file into a mod-in-progress folder of your choice outside of the game; copying the altered file back into your active game install; then opening the game in order to load old (vanilla) and new (modded) assets together and checking that the tweak had the effect which you intended. Repeat several zillion times until you are satisfied. Voila! You created “a mod”. :smiley:

One doesn’t have to be an expert, or even close to that, but it helps (lol); even someone with a small amount of talent but a large amount of time can get there eventually. Of course, the more experienced you are with playing all aspects of this game before you begin modding for the first time, the more you can shorten the time required to create your mod. Frankly, the amount of effort you’ve already allocated to precisely defining the problem as well as the desired outcome places you firmly in the ranks of this game’s modders. Everything beyond this point is largely the tedium of trial-and-error playtesting and record-keeping; you’ve also done a considerable bit of that already, too. We veterans have no magic pixie dust that we use to accomplish the heavy lifting…just persistence and attention to detail.

And you’ve already done the hardest part of all: finding a good idea for a mod.

Even so, rising above the rank-and-file mod offerings on this forum are some breathtakingly ambitious mods which were in the graving dock for over a year before they went to sea. I know of a select few mods ([size=50]“That’s not a mod…it’s a space station…I have a bad feeling about this”[/size] :wink: ) which have been in “R&D” and under construction for two years and longer. So just take as much time as you feel you need, or can comfortably commit.

I suggest that you get very friendly with the “Modding 101” guide, which is stickied at the top of the Gratuitous Modding forum. That’s the compendium of accumulated wisdom from the modding community, and while it’s not 100% complete it’s still of great help to all new modders. There’s a post in there which expounds upon the meaning of the attributes in the textfiles, so that’s a prudent place to begin. That data can be found within the fourth post down on page 1 of the guide; see “Ship Modules” variables.

Feel free to ask questions of the Friendly Community Mod Squad if you run into a spot of trouble. Take care!

A negative cost is NOT a good idea!
I can see from here a dual weapons fighter only equipped with 2 torpedo… Here it is, the +100 credit by pilot boost! ^^

Some stat:
Engine 1:…7…14…1.4
Engine 2:…6.8…8.5…1.13
Engine 3:…6.67…5.1…1.05

Here is the main problem: Thrust/Power. Cause of that, you have to purchase a bigger power generator, add some weight, and so reduce Thrust/Weigh and Thrust/Cost

Now that would be excessive negative cost :stuck_out_tongue:
The trick would be to make sure that no combination results in a positive gain.
But this is just one of many options . . .

Ummm, yes; if used to excess, it would be a bad idea. However, that is why I commented on it in this way:

Darkstar was clearly just making an example. He was not saying it was the perfect step to take, and not seriously advising Bullethead to do it to that extent. I think we can relax for now. :slight_smile:

@ Archduke:
Thanks muchos for bringing me up to speed on the history of the game and the current status quo. I’ve been hoping somebody would pull me asside and give me exactly such a briefing. Also, I couldn’t let you drink alone so I had some 12-year Lagavulin and a home-grown 100% Perique cigar while reading it. So thanks also for the providing the excuse for such indulgence :).

Bear in mind that while I’ve been coding off and on since about 1980 (yes, I used punch cards back then) and was even paid to do parttime so up until a few months ago, I much prefer and am MUCH better at knapping flint than coding, and my knapping sucks compared to the masters of the craft. And that’s not a joke on my ancient age in computer years; my main hobby really is knapping. Thus, I approach all problems as if they were matters of bashing 2 rocks together to make something sharp enough to get groceries. Please bear this in mind–I’m Paleolithic Man having trouble coping with the 21st Century :).

Anyway… So changing the empty weights of hulls is impossible. Bummer. OK, next idea… There’s that Order Limpet Launcher thingy, which says it adds weight to fighters. Would it be possible to make that effect a congential defect of fighter hulls? IOW, can I make it so that as soon as a fighter spawns at the start of a battle, it’s immediately afflicted with a limpet infestation? It would be ideal if this could be made a permanent feature of the hull itself, so you’d see the effects in the ship designer while working on designs. However, it would suffice if you knew your fighter, while actually in play, would weigh X amount more. Then you could still calculate its in-game speed on scratch paper as you worked.

It’s really interesting the way fighter engines work right now. If you look at the “Modules” column on the 1st page of my spreadsheet, you’ll see that E1 and E2 work best within specific fighter weight ranges. And E3 is only useful in specific hulls of just a couple of races, which have enough speed buff, power buff, and/or inherent hull power to overcome the E3’s low T/W and T/P ratios. This is so consistent across the board (although there are exceptions) that it’s hard not to think it’s deliberate. But it does fuel the Fighter Paradox due to the very ratios you show. So altering those ratios is one of the 1st rocks I’m going to hit, as us cavemen say.

This issue, however, is a bit more complex than might meet the eye because another essential part of Non-Paradoxical Fighters is adjusting the weights, costs, and power requirements (plus other stats as needed) of fighter weapons. IMHO, no fighter should be so fast that even a specialized dogfighter has only the default minimum chance to hit, although all fighters that can strafe, rocket, or torpedo big ships must be slow enough for specialized anti-fighter weapons to have a non-minimum chance of hitting them (otherwise, why have specialized anti-fighter weapons?). Thus, engine performance and weapon module stats are joined at the hip so 1 can’t be changed without consideration of the other. I definitely don’t want torpedo fighters able to strap on big engines and go as fast as interceptors.

One way to achieve this would be to limit certain weapons to specific hulls, then tailor those hulls to optimize the performance of those weapons. Is that possible? If so, that would help A LOT!

See, I’m thinking of making the FLC a specialized dogfight weapon by reducing its current ability to strafe. That way, if you want to strafe, you need an FPL. But part of being a specialized dogfight weapon is that the fighter carrying it is the fastest the race can make. So, the new FLC would use so little power that the fighter wouldn’t also need a PG, and thus the effective weight of the FLC would be much lower. At the same time, I intend to vastly up the weight and cost (and perhaps power requirements) of the FRL, so these fighters are much slower than they are now, perhaps even providing a new home for the PG that FLCs will no longer need.

Unfortunately there is no active method that can limit weapons to specific hulls.
There are various workarounds that are available, but their effectiveness is limited.

  • Slot types
  • Power Requirements

Well, there’s still hope. By juggling the power requirements for various weapons and tweaking the inherent power and variuos buffs provided by the different hulls, you could probably make certain hulls only useful for 1 type of weapon.

For example, most races have a fighter hull with only 3 slots of which only 1 is a hardpoint. In most cases, however, these hulls are useless because they don’t have enough speed boost, power boost, and/or inherent hull power to make a faster fighter for a given weapon than you can get using a bigger hull. The thing about having only 3 slots is that you can have 1 weapon, 1 engine, and the option of 1 other module (or not). So, if I tweak the FLC so it no longer needs a PG (and also can’t strafe very well), and give these 3-slot hulls the best speed buffs combined with low inherent hull power, then you could make fast, cheap FLC dogfighter out of them. Then, combined with higher power and weights for other weapons, these hulls could only be used for dogfighters.

Given the above, the real trick would be how to keep folks from making uber-fast dogfighters out of the bigger hulls where they can fit more engines to push the low-power FLC. Right now, my best idea for a solution is to slap all hulls with more than 3 slots with a speed penalty and/or little or no inherent hull power. Thus, anything using such hulls would need a PG, even the FLC, and things would be structured so that the fastest FLC would still be on the smallest hull., while the bigger hulls would just happen to be a match for the other weapons.

OK, I’ve added a 3rd page to my spreadsheet, the new version being attached below. This 3rd page is a virtual ship designer. On the left are all the modules where you can change their various stats. Column L is where you indicated how many of those modules you want in the design. And down at the bottom right, you get the final results. The attached pic shows how to use it. Have fun and let me know what you think.

Remember, this is just a 1st pass. Everything is subject to change, especially if I get some good input.

A few things to clarify what I’m doing here:

  1. I have not actually edited any game file yet. This spreadsheet is all there is right now. The idea is that I can tweak stuff here and see what happens before taking the time, trouble, and risk of actually touching game files. Hopefully, this will save time in the long run.

  2. Because I haven’t touched any game files, all the combat values (damage, penetration, etc.) for the weapons are just to indicate the direction my thoughts are going.

  3. So far, I’m only concerned about module weights, power used and produced, thrust, and cost. I have tweaked all the weapons, engines and power generators with these factors in mind, to see what happens to the fighter’s speed and pricetag. I did, however, tweak the damage absorption of Fighter Armor 1 so 1 unit of it on a 3-slot hull would exceed the penetration I’ve given the FLC.

  4. My thinking on fighter speeds: In general, for each type of weapon, fighters should come in 3 flavors: fast, regular, and armored. Regular is the cheapest, fast is very expensive, and armored is in between in price and slowest. “Regular” fighters will have all speeds between about 2.8 and about 2.0, regardless of weapon. At these speeds, they will be vulnerable to each other and specialized ship anti-fighter weapons. FLCs will be the fastest (speeds close to 2.8), FPLs and FTs the slowest (speeds close to 2.0), and FRLs and FTPs somewhere in between (2.4-2.3ish). If you want to spend a bit more money, you can sacrifice some of the regular speed for enough armor to stop an FLC. If you want to spend a lot of money, you can make the fighter too fast for most things to hit.

  5. Hulls will have to be tweaked along with modules. In general, I figure on removing most speed buffs because because it’s easier to figure all the module stats without them. However, I’ll then give some races like the Swarm and Rebels some small bonuses so they stay faster than most others. I also plan to have a hard look at the power produced by the hulls. In general, I’m inclined to minimize this as part of slowing down certain types of fighters by making them use a PG. However, I figure 2 units in the little 3-slot hulls would work quite well, so FLCs in those hulls won’t need a PG and be pretty fast (by the standards outlined above). Armor and hull integrity buffs I’m thinking of leaving alone. I figure price will be a base of $10/slot, plus some for armor/integrity buffs, then plus or minor certain race-specific factors. But this is for a bit later down the line.

Anyway, I think the values I’ve got here are a good 1st step towards breaking the Fighter Paradox, although it could obviously use considerable refinement. Still, I have already solved the main problem of speed vs. cost issue EXCEPT for 1 thing: you can still make an unarmed fighter with nothing but 1 engine and it will be faster and cheaper than anything with a weapon. But there’s no way I can think of to fix that without somehow giving empty hulls a non-zero weight.

Fighter Paradox (23.8 KB)

I also applaud what you are doing. Balancing is a key part of a game’s playability, and it’s always interesting to see someone’s thoughts on how they should be.

There is an error in your module listing - the Fighter Engine III has a power requirement of 3.90, rather than 3.0. This power requirement is probably a large part of why the Fighter Engine III is so lacking compared to the Engine I and Engine II, as it almost always requires that you use a bigger (or the biggest) power plant in order to use this engine.

As far as armor goes, it is occasionally useful against groups of rocket/painter fighters or groups of rocket fighters supported by painter fighters, especially if the armor can be made strong enough to survive one or more hits from fighter rockets, since in this situation the loss of speed doesn’t greatly impact the hit rate of the opposing fighter force. It can also be helpful if you can make an armored fighter that flies at almost the same speed as its unarmored version, or make an armored fighter which is faster than the opponent’s unarmored fighters. Against laser fighters, if you can achieve a higher average armor than the laser has armor penetration while still using a weapon that can hit things that move as fast as laser fighters, you just made a fighter that will generally counter laser fighters, noting though that lucky hits could devastate your fighter force and that your fighters will take far more fire than the opposing fighters will. Generally speaking, I’d only use armor on things that can’t move quickly enough for speed to act as a reasonable defense (torpedo fighters), or on specialty fighters designed for use against a specific challenge, especially since armoring fighters tends to make fighters expensive enough that a single squadron could cost well over 1500 credits. Armor also comes at a significant enough speed penalty that it will generally hurt the survivability of your fighters (with the exceptions being those noted above: average armor high enough to resist strikes from certain common antifighter weapons, or where speed doesn’t make much of a difference in the survivability of the fighter).

The cost of armor is also a factor - if I can buy three to four squadrons of unarmored fighters for the cost of two squadrons of unarmored fighters, I would generally go for the larger number of unarmored fighters, unless I’m more constrained by pilots than by budget and the armor that I gain at least makes up for the speed that I lose. If there are Cruiser Pulse Lasers being used as antifighter weapons, then using an armored fighter that is significantly slower than its unarmored equivalent is generally a bad idea.

Fighter hull bonuses are something very important for balance considerations, as well. Speed is generally the only hull bonus worth worrying about, although there are certain situations where an armor bonus or a health bonus helps more than a speed bonus (usually, when target painters and fighter rockets or antifighter missiles are involved, since speed isn’t really going to affect the hit rate in those situations. This isn’t usually an issue when tractor beams are involved, because if I brought a tractor beam for antifighter defense, you can almost guarantee that I also brought a Cruiser Pulse Laser, and I don’t think any fighter in the game can carry enough armor to have that only affect armor, and very few non-Tribe fighters have enough health to survive even one hit from one of those). Cost decreases are also great, because it means that I can devote that much more of my budget to something other than fighters, or have that many more fighters on the field. As they say, “Quantity has a quality all its own,” especially if my fighters are only marginally worse than the standard fighters but I can get many more of them.

As far as power bonuses on fighters go, I don’t think I’ve ever cared one way or another about a power bonus. I care about installed power, speed bonuses, cost bonuses, health bonuses, and armor bonuses, in roughly that order, though if I’m not going to use armor on a fighter (as is usually the case) I also don’t care about armor bonuses. Since the power bonus is generally around 10% (if the fighter has a power bonus) and fighters produce so little power in the first place, you aren’t usually going to gain enough power from it to enable you to use more power intensive modules without upgrading the power plant, and if you’re going to upgrade the power plant you may as well make the fighter on a faster hull rather than on a hull with a power bonus, as usually you won’t lose enough power from the hull change to prevent you from making your design work, and the additional speed will usually improve the survivability enough to offset the increased cost.

Edit: One more thing - there is a way that you could restrict a certain hull type from being able to use certain weapons. You could alter some of the hulls so that they have no available hardpoints, and change one or two of the fighter weapons to be standard modules rather than weapon modules. I have no idea what effect this would have on how the game sees the fighters, and I don’t know if the game will accept hulls that have only standard module slots as valid ship hulls, but you could try it if you still want to keep certain hulls from being able to use certain weapons.

That’s not an error. I changed the values of all engines, power plants, and weapons so the fighters have the sort of speeds I want from them. This is just my 1st pass at it, but it’s already in the ballpark of what I want to do.

So, using the values shown above, putting bigger engines in makes the fighter go faster and cost more, instead of what we now have where they go slower can cost more ;).

I intend to look at armor more closely once I get the other modules squared away. As you say, making a dogfighter that’s still pretty fast but immune to FLCs would probably be a bad thing. It was just an idea that struck me while I was working on the other stuff so I changed the value in the spreadsheet to see what would happen.

Armor is different from the cost/power/weight/thrust factors for the other modules. With those, the results on fighter performance are determinative and their combat results predictable based on prior experience and testing. Fighter armor, however, isn’t something I’ve messed with much in the past so will require extensive ingame testing once I start tweaking it. That’s why I’m saving it for later.

The way things are right now, nearly everybody has a fighter hull with a very similar speed bonus, making everybody’s fighters of a given type nearly the same speed. So basically, all the speed bonus really does at present is to make certain hulls useless; nobody uses them because they don’t go as fast as the hull with the speed bonus. Thus, my thinking is to do away with speed buffs for the most part because and just work on the overall system. Then, later, add a few small speed buffs here and there to give certain races the edge in speed they currently enjoy.

Agreed. A 10% power boost will net you only about 1/2 a power unit at the end of the day, which usually isn’t enough to make a difference in the size of the powerplant you need. So that’s another thing I was considering removing.

Cool idea. It would be interesting to do. But while the hull without hardpoints could only use non-hardpoint weapons, every other hull could also still use that weapon. IOW, while it would make 1 hull useful only for 1 thing, it wouldn’t keep the others from also doing that without some other factor involved.

I would say that the fighter hulls with speed bonuses do not make the fighter hulls without speed bonuses useless; rather, I’d say that the types of fighters for which a speed bonus is more useful than a health or armor bonus are sufficiently more useful than the other types of fighters you could be building that you won’t make use of the hulls with health or armor bonuses. This is especially true because most fighter health bonuses will only increase the total health by about 2 or 3 points, which means that you might at best take another shot from a fighter laser cannon to kill. Where health and armor bonuses should be most useful is with the slow fighters (torpedo fighters, heavily armored fighters). However, since the armor and health bonuses are usually so low, the speed bonus remains about as useful to slow fighters as to fast fighters, since armor bonuses in the 10% range will only usually allow 3 module fighters to absorb one or two extra shots from fighter lasers as compared to a 3 module fighter without an armor bonus, using a fighter with armor 3 and a fighter torpedo and the best engine you can fit, and the same is true for hull bonuses. Moreover, these fighters are so slow that most common antifighter weapons have reasonably high chances of hitting them.

There is also a niche role for armored fast fighters - i.e., rocket fighters that remain fast enough that whatever antifighter weapons you expect to encounter have a hard time hitting them, or laser fighters that are only slightly slower than unarmored laser fighters but can take an extra hit or two due to the armor. So, as an example, you might make an Imperial Phalanx Rocket Fighter with an Engine 1 and Advanced Ablative Armor, and it will still have a speed of 3.7, enough that only the Frigate Antifighter Missile should have better than 2% chances of hitting it, but it has enough armor that two or three lucky shots from fighter lasers will not affect its performance. Thus you have a (somewhat expensive) frigate killer that can work even in the face of large numbers of laser fighters. For that matter, if you expect laser fighters to be the most dangerous foe for your rocket fighters, you could also go for something like an Imperial Javelin fighter with Engine 2, Fighter Rocket, and any type of armor, and still have it fast enough to be hit by only 2% of the shots from most antifighter weapons. With armor 3, this still can achieve a speed of 2.96, and it will take roughly 6 shots from fighter lasers to break the armor and start damaging the fighter, but it will cost 106 credits, as opposed to the 85 credit cost of the armored Phalanx proposed earlier, or the 54 credit cost of an unarmored Phalanx Rocket Fighter. Combine the armor 3/fighter rocket/engine 2 Imperial Javelin with a painter fighter, and you have a fighter force that will perform reasonably well in dogfights and which kills frigates easily, but costs a fair amount to field. Fighter armor will generally add more to the durability of fighters than most modules will, but whether or not the loss of speed is worthwhile is entirely dependent on the quantity and type of antifighter defenses present.

The main problem for the health and armor bonuses is that slow fighters are uncommon and the health and armor bonuses are generally only marginally more useful than speed bonuses for slow fighters yet usually end up costing more, while fast fighters generally gain more from being fast than from having slightly more health or armor. I think it would be fine to leave the current speed bonuses in place, and have the hull bonus adjustments be made on the hull and armor bonuses. As a note, from some testing that I put into your dogfighter thread, it would appear that a health advantage on the order of 28% will make up for a speed disadvantage on the order of 2.5%, in head-to-head confrontations using laser fighters. This probably also applies to lightly armored fighters facing similar unarmored fighters. Health advantages on the order of 30% are easily achieved - all that is usually necessary is the inclusion of an extra engine, possibly with an upgraded power plant, since most fighters seem to run at around 20 health. Adding a plate of Advanced Ablative Armor to such a fighter represents a health increase of perhaps 40%, but at roughly twice the speed penalty as adding the extra engine and upgrading the power plant. At the very low end of the speed scale, I would expect to see greater advantages for having higher health or higher armor.

This, in my mind, describes an interceptor, or a hit-and-run strike fighter or fighter-bomber. Dogfighters, in my mind, need either agility or durability. Granted, in this game speed is agility, so the view that dogfighters should be the fastest fighters is in some ways justified. I would still tend to think that dogfighters should represent a balance of health and speed, rather than focusing entirely on speed. Strike fighters (or fighter-bombers, if you prefer) would use rockets (as they do now) and rely on speed to get past the dogfighters and hit their targets, but would be easily damaged or disabled by fire from the dogfighters. Then you’d have the ability to set up a balance between armor and speed as a way to get your strike fighters through fighter screens to hit light targets, rather than leaving your strike fighters slower than the dogfighters and having the option to slow them further but make them more durable. The speed range for fighters that you listed seems reasonable to me, over all.

As for ways to make the fighter laser cannon less appealing as a strafing option without really hurting its ability to dogfight, you could look into reducing its armor penetration. However, there is a risk here, as it is currently easy to get a fighter’s average armor to about 4 with a single armor plate.

First off, I’m a little late to this party Mr. Bullethead; and I see my friends, colleagues and mentors Darkstar and Archduke Astro have already offered you copious advice. But all the same, let me welcome you to the modding community as well.

Let me re-affirm what Astro said by stating that it IS much better, more fun, and in a sense easier to make NEW content as opposed to tweaking existing material (since patches will reset your numbers)

It is also VERY easy to mod the text files of weapons, modules, and even entire ships…(easy, if occasionally time consuming in the extreme)

and also rest assured NOBODY will ever call you an idiot here…you’re among friends in this forum.

I like how you coined the term “fighter paradox”

Introductions completed I now have to prepare for work, I’ll offer some further advice another time.


If you’re still working on this, another way you could try for making the FLC a less effective strafing option is to reduce its rate of fire and up the tracking speed (or possibly tracking speed and damage) so that the expected number of hits on (or expected damage dealt to) enemy fighters remains constant for a given time period. This weakens the FLC against armor greater than its armor penetration, but shouldn’t significantly impact its performance against fighters.

Numbers and stats aside some of the tricks you may want to consider are ones I used in the Union Mod

Give fighters a 0 resistance shield…it doesn’t have to be strong, just strong enough to survive 1-2 shots without failing and have a chance to recharge a little, it will VASTLY improve your fighters survival rates.

Alternatively swap out 0 resistance for 0 recharge rate and you will have VASTLY increased fighter life spans…but be careful since shield resistance may mean a fighter with could be immune to all other fighters and even some anti-fighter frigate and cruiser weaponry…My advice would be to design a shield like this to turn a fighter into a close-in slow bomber.

If speed is your paramount concern, make engines with fairly high thrust and VERY low weight (1-2)…compensate for this by raising the cost and/or power output…and maybe making a high cost, high output, low weight reactor to go along with that.

  1. consider the stack effectiveness line seen in engines, shields and other various modules. That stat basically says that for ever other module of the same type put on a ship the module works slightly less effectively; so if you have a 100 thrust engine and 0.90 stack if you put a second one on each one only operates at 90% effectiveness…in this case each engine would only have 90 thrust coming from it.

The inverse is true…it IS possible to have a positive stack effectiveness, however for engines I’m not 100% sure it this works…It appears to work on Frigates but not Cruisers, and I have not tested it on fighters yet.

even if you cant have a positive stacking engine it IS possible to make a high thrust, 0% stack engine so its the ONLY engine you can have on the thing…give it a high weight as well so putting on another engine is a severe detriment.

Concerning weapons
If you’re concerned with speed again you’re gonna want to offset weight with power/cost requirements, as well as things like damage and firing speed.

If you want a weapon that can crack cruiser shields consider one with high resistance, but a low firing rate and damage. If you want a close range strafing weapon and have the Tribe expansion the salvo function is a great way get it. Giving a slow-firing weapon an Order Radiation Damage effect is also a good way to go.

Come to think of it…I’ve given myself some ideas now! Back to modding Union!

The best solution would alter existing fighters, sadly.

The best solution is for fighters to carry EXPENDABLE rockets/missiles. After they fire X missiles, they need to RTB for a reload. For the existing rocket/missile fighters, the engine could assume a fair number, possibly lowering the damage. The goal would be that for a given total damage (damage per rocket*rockets carried) there would be a rough weight, and it would be more than current fighter rocket modules. Mods or new races might have fighters carry “torpedoes” that have a larger damage, but they only carry 1 or 2 shots.

Fighter beam weapons need to have energy, damage and weight scaled appropriately. Current fighter laser uses 4 power, does 4 damage, and weighs 2.5. The frigate laster uses 5 power, does 8 damage, and weighs 28. 11.2 times the weight for twice the damage. (the frigate has a lower ROF, so they almost come out in the wash damage wise). The frigate version has higher penetration, though.

The goal should be that fighters can use lasers vs large ships, and it takes forever to kill a ship. Missiles on fighters should be limited in ammo, and missiles capable of doing serious damage should be large, and fighters should only carry 1-6 of them.

Adds way more interesting design decisions. Make a light, fast fighter, but it carries only 1-2 powerful missiles. Make one with loads of tiny rockets, and is is like current rocket fighters, but does little damage.