I picked up Gratuitous Space Battles after reading about it in Penny Arcade and am looking forward to helping improve what is already shaping up to be a great game. I am a game programming student so I hope that I can be a valuable member of your beta team. My first contribution to the beta testing is a critique of the game based on my first day or so of playing.
GSB certainly delivers when it comes to eye candy. The battles are big and beautiful and I don’t seem to have any performance issues on my mid-grade gaming system. The fire and forget style of gameplay is an interesting concept that I quite enjoy but also find kinda frustrating. It seems often I find myself watching my units making terrible tactical choices that lead to their destruction when only a small change could have brought about victory. If the game is about creating your own star ships and having them fight using AI then the AI needs to be as customizable as the starships.
There needs to be more control over how your ships move. Adding a waypoint system so that you can tell your ships where you “want” them to go at the beginning of battle would be a HUGE boon. Initially i had been binding my groups to a main cruiser but everything goes awry the moment that one ship is destroyed.At the moment I have been experimenting with big chains of loose escort commands in an attempt to keep my battle groups somewhat together once the fighting gets rough. Being able to designate highlighted groups as being part of a single battle group would be a big help. Having more granular control of how a ship moves would be a big help as well. I’d like to be able to tell my Flyswatter Frigates to Stay within a set range of allied cruisers but avoid enemy cruisers and pursue enemy fighters or tell my bombers to avoid enemy fighters and frigates and head straight for the cruisers. It would also be nice to have more control over targeting. For instance, I’d like to be able to tell a ship loaded up with Fusion Cannons to preferentially shoot at targets with their shields down and my missile frigate to avoid shooting targets with countermeasures.
Overall I think it’s really great, especially since it’s been made by one person. Keep up the good work and I hope I can help you fine tune it a bit. Oh yeah, I hope my purchase price helps ya out too.