[Discussion] *Why* does OP mod content happen?

Posted in the semi-recent past at here, there and also here, we have a bit of a mildly humorous amount of “whose mod is more overpowered? yours!” and “no wai u r teh OP” going on here. :stuck_out_tongue: I think that we need to channel that energy into asking a different series of questions. For example:

Why do some modders seem to feel the urgent need to include various amounts of game-breakingly powerful weapons, defenses, etc.?

I am asking this question because of the clear trend towards more and more overpowered hulls plus devices to fit aboard them. When compared to the amount of well-balanced mod content already in existence this may seem only like a small irritant, but it seems to be on the rise and I would like to explore this trend in a rational manner.

The so-called standard ruler that GSB is measured by will always be the nine official races; the Great Powers. Do you folks create your content at the level that you do because you feel that the ships and gadgets in the official content are too weak?

Or is it simply a fanatical desire to transplant content from the science-fiction franchise of your choice into the game, regardless of how poor it might fit in the game if you were to keep the content fully “accurate”?

Or is it done because people would rather lavish the majority of their time on fancy graphics while deliberately refusing to make the effort to balance their content against Cliff’s official GSB stuff? Or balance it against other mods? If so, which mods??? You may end up choosing one that is just as unbalanced as yours, but with the flaws located in places different from your own mod’s flaws – that makes it hard to choose intelligently.

Or does it happen because people are too lazy or too unskilled at preventing their mod from getting out of control? Do some of you simply not care about balance at all regardless of how it badly it distorts the game, while others might care but have no clue how to accomplish it or where to begin?

Now that the majority of the small devoted number of long-term people here are veteran GSB modders first and veteran GSB players second, we are going to keep encountering these problems more and more frequently as more mod content is created over time. Therefore, I think it’s important that we at least make some attempt to have a “meeting of the minds” here. Hopefully you folks will share your thoughts on this subject.

I’ll begin by speaking of how my own mod fits into this larger situation…

For my own part, a big reason behind the genesis of my well-known Classic Dreadnoughts mod were my own thoughts that yes, the vanilla cruisers are too weak for some situations.

Look at the Alliance’s cruisers; 3 out of 4 cruisers only have a max of five turrets! Despite the differences in the exact types of guns available to each class, that’s barely better than most frigates.

The Empire isn’t much better, with some of the biggest (i.e., hardest to keep enemy units out of their shields) cruisers in the game and all of the turrets spread out around those huge rings. Goodbye, concentration of firepower.

So where does this leave us? Well, we now have seen that 2 out of the 4 races that ship with every copy of GSB are built with significant flaws. :frowning: That’s really not a good position to be in.

The Swarm’s in a similar position to the Empire regarding tactical difficulties due to size. Hell, the Nomads are stuck with only 1 cruiser out of 4 having a hull size smaller than 240! There’s a clear problem with too many ships being built too large (and thus hard to shield as well as easy to hit) relative to the amount of usable firepower that they can actually carry.

The current version of my dreadnoughts does a good job of allowing a player to achieve local firepower superiority in a relatively small area. The tactical value of this cannot be over-emphasized. However, the hulls themselves are expensive - about four times the cost of a vanilla cruiser. The special shipboard equipment is likewise neither cheap, lightweight, or otherwise “a freebie” for the player. Even if you choose instead to bulk up with standard items, the COSTBOOST penalty I baked into each hull will make sure that you pay for the privilege. Balance is therefore preserved. Yes, you can have a much stronger cruiser-type warship, but I promise you’ll pay a steep price for them. :wink: This acts as a very efficient check upon their numbers when assembling your fleet.

But much more than giving you new tactical options, an even greater reason to create my mod was a desire to have a carefully crafted counter-weight to the further spread of OP mods out there. Some of what I’ve played, reviewed, privately tested or otherwise heard of from others is just much too strong for the units and equipment that ship with the basic game and the DLC expansions. I think this is not a minor problem and that it needs to be addressed somehow. Anyone can hastily power-level their way through the official scenarios in the game without too much trouble if OP mod stuff is freely used. This brings me to my next point…

My future plans for the CDN mod are revolving around creation of additional scenarios, with dreadnoughts as part of the A.I. threat forces. I think it is important to give the official game the ability to bite back and bite DEEP when you show up with some over-caffeinated “Very Heavy New-Type Super Protonic Attack Battlecruiser” of your own creation. The stock A.I. fleets were designed over two years ago and are permanently stuck within the game in this now-primitive state. I seek to provide much more risky and interesting missions for all of you bloodthirsty admirals.

If I can achieve my goal to my satisfaction, the end result will greatly extend the usefulness of a copy of GSB – for us here who create mod content, as well as the far greater population who does not but will sometimes play with a mod.

Who’s next? Don’t be shy. :smiley:

The balance of your Classic Dreadnoughts mod is the main reason why it is always installed. While I have played the Unity and Union mods (as an example, I’m not singling them out), they make it far too easy to simply blast through every game scenario. This isn’t to say that I don’t enjoy those particular mods, just that I need to restrain myself from steamrolling through the content. I think part of the reason this happens in mods is that the authors have a particular vision of how epic the content is supposed to be, and like most games, later content seems to make the previous content irrelevant. Ive seen this happen in almost every MMO as well. There is a power inflation inherence in each successive patch or release. But you’re correct that the authors themselves need to rein this in. Cliff does a great job of this. The DLC races bring new weapons and new tactics to the game without making any of the races “flavour of the month”
Perhaps, if the community can come together and get behind such ideas as the balance mod, and even the restricted vanilla mod, it will be a good basis for evaluating new mods to keep them from escalating the game into a free for all of super weapons and indestructible defenses.

Creating a race mod is a lot of work and people need motivation to see it through to the finish. A large part of that motivation is ‘role playing’ the race concept. The builder invests a lot of thought and story telling (though not necessarily full blown written stories) into the creation while also doing the coding, graphics, etc… And as is the case with most role playing of characters in role playing games, the player wants their character, or in this case their race creation, to shine.

Unfortunately as Archduke Astro pointed out, this often results in problems with game balance. The easy way to shine is to have bigger ships, more powerful weapons, etc… Both conceptually and mechanically, it is very easy to simply change a few numbers on weapon modules and now, Yu RuLe!!! Well, maybe in your mind… :wink:

Some race concepts ‘seem’ like good ideas when it comes to balance. Union seemed like a good idea; really good ships, but so expensive that you are horrendously outnumbered. I love playing Union, but it’s not a balanced race in my opinion. My single flagship design defeats almost everything racking up ghads of ‘honor’, just one ship on the map. It is simply ‘too much’ concentration of firepower. (But don’t expect me to uninstall the Union mod any time soon.)

Perhaps there could be some sort of ‘poll’ thread wherein people voted for the balance rating of any given mod. A vote of 1 would mean that the race was ridiculously under powered compared to the standard races, 3 would mean it is very well balanced, and 5 is that it is horrendously over powered compared to vanilla. People could then decide if they wanted to add race mods that would mess with their game balance.

As an aside, why balance is useful… If you as a player are perhaps wanting to play a campaign game using one of the standard races and you have overpowered mod races installed, such as for instance, the Union mod; then you run the risk of encountering Union fleets as opponents. Heaven help you if your gigantic, happy go lucky Rebel fleet happens to meet a pair of my Union battlecruisers. Time to start a new game.

Oh well, from the beginning i’ve noticed how hard is to come with something “balanced”, just making new modules as i’ve started a year ago. When, thanks to Darkstar, i started to make Praetorian Industries my brain was full of new ideas (and stills), started to make huge ammounts of weapons like some type of mad scientist “Its ALIVE,! next…!”, at the beginning was easy to balance the modules, just a few changes here and there, removing a bit of efficiency and Tah Dah!.. but when PI mod started to… well, to be huge, i looked back and said: -Oh wait, did i balanced that module? or was that one?

Its not easy to make a “standard sized” mod, imagine how hard is to make a big mod like Union that haves several new modules, now imagine a huge mod with around 300 modules like Uni-T… well, Praetorian Industries stands between those two titans of modding. Union has not so many modules as PI but has the advantage of variety. And Uni-T, wich has around 150 more than PI, but almost all of its modules have Mk1, Mk2 and Mk3, meaning higher quantity but less variety.
PI mod has around 160 modules but with the main advantage of Variety, becuase there is not Mk1 and Mk2 or even Mk3, all of the modules are different, with 3 or 4 exceptions…

Back to the point, i’m very happy with what i have done, but looking at the results of the losing of control of my own creations… I have to say guys, do not do something like this if you are not going to use excel or similar programs to make a full list of modules with all of their data!.. believe me that, by personal experience, its painfull to see that quantity of modules and think that i have to balance all of them, again. [size=50](Now thanks to Darkstar i’m far more relaxed)[/size]

im more of a concept guy. i dont plan ahead, i come up with stuff as i go along and i dont have much patience… those are actually huge issues and i think thats why i may seem confused at times :stuck_out_tongue:

i never consider anything i make as “final” or “perfect” everything is a work in progress, at all times. i only put version numbers on my releases so that i can keep track on em. im not good with numbers and thats why i mostly post graphical parts with confidence and stats with questions.

my mod is a mess. im used to work in that kind of enviroment and while it may not come out the way that people expect, im still satisfied with what ive done and ill keep doing it that way.

ballancing is not my top priority, ill admit that. but when people come with suggestions, that becomes my priority.

its late an im tired, so im sorry if this seems confusing. its very confusing to me… ô_õ


thats a good idea. adding it to Deserter thread now. thanks! :slight_smile:

And I’ll just go download the latest version so I can vote :slight_smile:

thanks! i really appreciate it! :slight_smile:

The following is a brief evolution of Uni-T and how good intentions can quickly turn into over powered problems. . .

Unity v1.00
When i first started to created Unity [size=50](from the ashes of the Big Gunz Mod)[/size], my [i]intention[/i] was to create a race with new battle tactics rather than the standard fallback of cruiser laser or MWM spam and a bit of variety for the player.

During my tests, the race appeared to be balanced and the new tactics available appeared to work well. When i used the same deployment as an enemy, I could use a vanilla fleet to defeat Unity ships. (credit for credit - must be fairly balanced . . right ?)

So i released Unity 1.0 into the wild asking for feedback on how to improve the mod. . . and my wish was granted - i received some rather awesome feedback but the main theme was the same: Uni-T was Over Powered.

Despite my efforts it was possible for GSB players to design Uber ships by creating designs that had never occured to me.
So one of the major learning experiences i took away from Unity V1.0 was:

[size=120]Players do not design ships the same way you do
nor play your mod the way you
intended it to be played[/size]

While this may be obvious for some, for me it was a revelation. So I went back to the drawing board determined to fix the problems.

Unity v2.00 - 2.032
After reading and re-reading all the feedback i received on and off the forums i modified the weapons and honed the balance. I also added in a few new ships and updated some graphics. However this time, when i was conducting testing i tried every trick i knew to build the toughest designs, create armor tanks, spam fleets etc.

The end result was I felt that version 2.00 is balanced against Vanilla GSB however i personally feel that there is still some more room for tweaking to remove those final exploits.

As a result of this topic i have made a poll in the Unity thread for people to vote / comment on what they think.

I tend to make my mod overpowered as it makes the battle feel more epic. However, I always ensure that they are balanced against the enemy that is being faced in that particular mission. Mods are supposed to enhance the gaming experience. If you were to make a mod that is perfectly balanced against the vanilla, where would be the variety? Having weapons with insane fire speeds makes the game more exciting, there’s more action on the battlefield. But it can still be fun if the enemy is just as powerful.

This is a good reason:

the attention (or occasionally lack there of) to balancing is never an easy one to address for several reasons in my humble opinion.

  1. Impatience is one big factor, not only are the developers OF the mods eager to get these mods out to the rest of us but WE, as a community are impatient to see them and get them. So all too often, we overlook little things like balance; Union’s been revised TWICE now for a reason and my impatience to get it out to you all before I was done balancing it is why.

  2. another is, as praetors said, balancing is difficult. Particularly with brand new equipment or innovative features. Whatever program Cliffski uses to keep things balanced most of us don’t have it…therefore we are left to our own devices of trial and error…Which are based off how we each personally play the game…and as such are biased and thus fundamentally flawed.

  3. When I was developing Union I quickly fell in love with one weapon in particular that I (with Darkstar’s incredible help) that I wanted to be not just my favorite weapon but EVERYONE’S favorite weapon…the stuff we like the most is the stuff we have the hardest time lowering numbers on to make it balanced.

  4. Quite a lot of material we create is also inspired by stuff from games, movies, or books…in which there is quite often a “Best weapon” or “Ideal loadout” that is present that we, being fans of it, want, on some level to emmulate…but we also know that if that “best loadout” is only AVERAGE in GSB we’re not doing proper justice to the source of the inspiration…thus there’s often “Best stuff” in each mod that, because almost all of us have way more credits than we’ll ever need, are easy to unlock and unbalance the game farther.

  5. on some level (and let’s be honest about this) we ALL occasionally enjoy feeling a level of superiority when playing video games. I think on some level this translates into the mods we all make.

  6. “You read what others had done, and you took the next step” This line (Jurassic Park) is key in understanding the growing gap in mod balance becayuse it explains TWO reasons why its happening. I reality, as time passes technology advances and things get more and more powerful…a “next step” made all the easier by the fact that we have a healthy, close-knit forums dynamic that makes it easy to see what “others” have done and add our own little spin or trick to an existing idea.

Good points Cen, i also want to add something to this one:

…As we like to have a feeling of superiority when playing, also that feeling is transferred to what we create, and to be really honest, maybe not many of you noticed this, but there is also a certain level of competitiveness between modders their mods, in some cases conscious and in others unconscious, to archieve the best mod ever (or close). At the beginning i didnt noticed that my “ambition” of make a great mod was actually impulsed by three things, firstly to make a mod that the people should really enjoy, secondly to leave my own mark of my first real mod to a game that i really like, and thrdly the objetive of overcome the Uni-T, the best mod that had from my perspective as a rookie modder a year ago. That last objetive dissapeared when PI started to be a “community mod” or at least something close to that, a mod created by the efforts of many modders. Now my main objetives are the first two and back to my point, there is a bit of competitiveness between modders their mods, as example read the old posts of the Ponyus VS Randy modding race to make the first levi on the times of the “Leviathans Rising”… or the more recent Randy VS WarStarlkeR on the race of the most powerful race, lol.

Those above two would probably be my own reasoning. I’m a lover of sci-fi, especially military sci-fi, so the ability to put some off-the-hook awesome weapon from Book Series X into a game is just too difficult for me to ignore. For the second point, there’s something cathartic about overpowered mods. I mean, one time I grabbed a challenge, featuring about two dozen Tribe cruisers mounting autocannons, howitzers, plasma cannons, and missile defense. No matter what Federation fleet I threw at it (I really should try the other vanilla races, but that’s neither here nor there), I kept getting rolled. Then I put together a few modded ships, with a few concepts and ideas borrowed from some several sci-fi series, and it was the Tribe to get WTFPWNed w/ BBQSAUZ.

And now I have seriously think about reigning in my mod. While I really, really don’t want to give up on epic superdreadnought that laugh at five cruisers, I’ll have to think long and hard how I can balance that. Most likely economic balances, since even the strongest individual ships can be dragged down by weight of numbers. But then I have to think, there will be people who can find a way around that, like using cheap vanilla modules to circumvent the expensive mod ones. And so on and so forth.

Man, I hope Lonestar reads this.

I find it funny that both Union and Uni-T keep showing up on this list, even if truthful.

As a bit of a example though, I dropped two of my Resolution patterns at the Uni-T: Viral’s final mission (Endgame) with 3 full squads of Fireflies acting to clear fighters included in the mission. Mainly cause I think Viral is basicly a remix of all the species thus far in GSB, thus it’d be equal to if all the combined races struck these two ships (if I was wrongish, please tell me) Note, this is still an older version of the mod (if it’s been updated recently, I dunno if it has or not)

Statwise, the Resolution patterns I have got 11.51 Average Armor, 436.49 Shield Strength, 1.00 Shield Resistance, and 5041.92 Hit Points, and all the available weapon slots have various weapon choices installed from nose to tail, with shorter ranged going closer to the front of: Sunbeam Cannon, Positron Cannon, Firestorm Cannon, Repulsar Cannon, and Deuterium Cluster Missiles.

The fact that only 2 ships and 3 squads of fighters (admittedly they can’t be built in Campain for the price and are slow as sin) pretty much tore up that fleet with only one of the Resolutions getting major damage (thanks to it getting stunlocked by the Allience side of the board towards the start until the one carrying the EMP died) with 61,525 points of cost for a 10,000 point mission kinda says something about them.

I’m not trying to nitpick, but while it’s true that the Union are meant to be fluffwise the ‘combined might’ they also kinda seem like the combined superpower.

Now what I wanna know is why my union challenge fleet with these bad boys still lost 5 times :confused:

will be the first person to admit that, while I have TRIED to balance Union (and will continue to do so) I’m only human and not perfect…I’m probablly guilty of every point I myself made in my post earlier on this thread.

While its true that the technology, firepower and ships of the Union are SUBSTANTIALLY more powerful than anything vanilla. Any technology that is new, innovative and powerful is also VERY EXPENSIVE…I did my best to reflect that not only with the high cost modules but also with the cost boost present on just about every ship except the Jakalope.

The Union mod pre dates the campaign expansion…and admitedly I tweaked the shipyards so they could acutally BUILD Resolute and Starburst hulls…they tended to last only 1-2 battles before they blew up. So I resorted to building mostly Jakalopes and Windreapers for the bulk of my cruisers before…and it was only near the end that I was actually able to deploy Resolute, StarBurst and Hurricane loadouts with any long term effectiveness because I had the shipyards and resource influx to support them.

Because I AM still working on Union and developing new and interesting modules and weapons I encourage anyone who has the latest version of the mod to post on this thread with their concerns. I will gladly accept any input anyone may have.

The short version of what I have to add here is: all of the above. I suspect that every possibility that’s been voiced here has at least a grain of truth within it.

So what I can add is really the way I have been approaching the mods I have in the pipeline. Let’s go mod-by-mod:

The Cheaters
This is an unabashedly overpowered mod that no one but me will ever really see. Why? Largely, because it is unabashedly OP. I built it for a few reasons:

A) Sometimes when I boot up GSB, I am not looking for a tactical challenge, or a vigorous mental exercise, or even just to pit my ship designs against survival missions and see how well we can do. Sometimes, I just want to blow some @#$% up. A seriously OP race is good for that.

B) I put in the effort to actually make one race of over-the-top KABOOM stuff largely after downloading Archduke Astro’s Classic DNs mod - the idea being that once I had beaten a standard scenario fairly, with vanilla/DLC races, for a respectable honor haul, I could come back with the Cheaters and increase the honor by 3X. Because I really wanted to unlock all the DN goodies. Yes, I could have just hacked my honor straight up, but where’s the fun in that?

C) Occasionally, I run across a challenge/scenario that is just frustratingly uncooperative. No strategy works, no adjustment to deployment/orders/anything produces a result other than a crushing defeat. The only way to leave the game without being pissed for the rest of the day? To utterly crush the offending fleet. And nothing is more gratifying in that circumstance than wiping out the intractable enemy with a single ship before they get into range.

Now, on to the actual mods I’ve been working for release:

The Matmos Rift (http://positech.co.uk/forums/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6621)
My first attempt at a real mod. Not released into the wild yet, but getting there. Here are the goals I was shooting for regarding balance/OP:

A) Make the mod unique, with some potential strategies that differ from the standard approaches with the Great Powers.

B) Make the mod challenging to use without narrowing it down to “here’s the thing that works”.

C) Most importantly: make the mod fun to play by providing a gratuitous visual experience.

Goal A) tends to lead toward overpowering if not handled correctly. New strategies does not necessarily mean overwhelming strategies. Goal B) tends to pull back toward balance, since “challenging to use” implies “you’re gonna lose sometimes”. Goal C) is, to my way of thinking, the most important. A big part of GSB is the “Gratuitous” part, which to me is watching the actual battle. Which means in addition to thinking along the lines of “how strong of a shield should this new gun penetrate?”, one also has to consider “how much OMG will this gun provoke when it actually penetrates that shield?” And quite frankly, just one seriously OP weapon can kill the wow factor pretty quickly. An entire OP race - even more so.

Stations for the Great Powers (http://positech.co.uk/forums/phpBB3/viewtopic.php?f=23&t=6647)
This started off as an exercise in sprite generation, and blossomed into a mod-in-progress following an outpouring of interest. The goal here was, again, to provide a new twist that could be used to change the battle dynamic - large hulls (and in at least one case so far, not-so-large hulls) that are not intended to be mobile (though with enough thrust, anything will move). But making OP hulls for races that are, by definition, balanced seemed really dumb. How will a Federation station feel like it goes with the other Fed ships if all you need is one station to mop up any enemy force? Nope, not gonna do it. There will be extensive testing on these hulls before they truly see the light of day to ensure they don’t wind up breaking the game experience.

Okay, so I guess all this long-winded meandering really just says this: I am trying to make mods for the people who enjoy not just the GSB game mechanics, but the GSB experience as a whole, which includes the “vanilla” and DLC races. That attitude precludes going for OP stuff, since if OP is what you’re looking for, the Great Powers probably haven’t held your interest anyway.

Sometimes it’s just fun to lay waste to evil nanobot garbage cleaners. (Yes, those Viral Uni-T ships are standard sized.) Yes, I’m going to be doing a lot of hull and module tweaking. When a single ship can take on an entire Expert Uni-T fleet without assistance, it’s clear something’s wrong. (Although the point of a superdreadnought and its 100% costboost is that it’s supposed to be ridiculously powerful, and if you deploy it you have to know it’s serious business)

I don’t remember what thread I read it in, but someone mentioned a challenge where the challenger restricted frigates, all cruiser-class engines, and made a huge mob of heavily armored anti-fighter cruisers. There’s tough/challenging, and there’s “I’m begging for a modded race to kick my ass”.

@ AcePalarum…I TOTALLY agree with you on most of your counts…I have long held that a game should fun first and then challenging second. Many people play games FOR the challenge…I am not one of them. Sometimes it really is just fun to be an engine of devastation and obliterate everything in your path.

I would like to point out here that Union and Uni-T are receiving a rather large amount of posts directed at them. Since Union and Uni-T are essentially 2 halves of the same proverbial coin we’re more or less in this together.

And as much as I personally enjoy everything Ace stated I was NOT attmepting to do that with Union. nor was Darkstar with Uni-T…what we were doing was attemtping to FIND a balnce in our mods through what are relatively unorthodx means. Yes to date between the two mods have the two highest turret count ships ever seen in the game. But between all the downsides we factored into them we thought we had made them unique without making them overpowered.

clearly people have found balance issues with our two mods…but thus far nobody has offered us any real insight, as to WHAT those issues actually are.

I concur with Cen2050.

The objective for Uni-T and Union was to make mods that:

  • was fun to play
  • had a different play style and feel (than what you would find in Vanilla GSB)
    - tried to keep the mod balanced against the Vanilla Races (while keeping it unique) ← hardest part

Since this thread is about asking the question:
Why do some modders seem to feel the urgent need to include various amounts of game-breakingly powerful weapons, defenses, etc.?

I would like to once again summarise the answer that both Cen2050 and I have already said (for those that have missed it)
- We did not feel the need nor set out to include game-breakingly powerful stuff in the mod.

So for those that still feel the need to talk about WHICH mod they found over powered, could i also suggest that you provide some information on WHAT makes you think that particular mod is overpowered - better yet, WHAT you think could be done to improve it. Because that would be helpful to the author that wants to balance their mod.

I think Ancient vs Microbe is balance as is. The mission fleet I put up is no worst than the Tribe online challenges I put up.

Vanilla GSB has fallen into 3 optimum strategy, the MWM spammer, the Plasma Beam, and the CL Rush. How can a mod even be “balance” as in fitting within that tiny box, and be different at the same time? So for me as long as a modded race doesn’t have at least 1 unbeatable build (unbeatable defined as impossible with a vanilla race), it’s good enough. Unfortunately even with this low standard, very few mod actually meet it. Vast majority of the mods I downloaded have at least 1 build that is unbeatable by a vanilla race, mostly dealing with armor resist or super long range. Admittingly building the most ridiculous fleet that can crush top tier vanilla with 10% credit is a few hours worth of fun.

I stop giving balance advise because I realize all the SAC guys left already so nobody really plays the game I do anymore. So rather or not I can build unbeatable fleets with a mod is no longer relevant.