GSB2 Gameplay and Balance discussion thread

Hey! I’m pretty sure that most of the oldies (some older than others) remember me, but i thought i’d start with an introduction anyway. I’ve been around the forums on and off since back in 2010, making and discussing mods for GSB1. Arguably, my most notable accomplishment was getting first place in the “community mod contest” held back in 2011 (Which i still hold the bragging rights for!)

I’ve been referred to as the “forum ninja” or “swedish njnja” in the past, due to my indescribable ability to reply to topics mere seconds before someone else replies with the same answer. Recently, i’ve been referred to as “able assistant” by Cliffski.

Right now, my assignment involves balancing hulls and modules in GSB2. Knowing some of the issues the first game suffered from, i am deretmined to have them dealt with for this game. So first off, i thought i’d lay down the grounds on how the different classes of ships are being regarded in GSB2 and how they may act differently from what you’re used to in GSB1.

Fighter: This is almost the same as in the first game, except they now require carriers to bring them into battle. You usually dont want to stick too much stuff on them, especially now that the new fuel modules add weight.

Gunship: These are the new “big fighters”. They act in the same way as fighters, being deployed in squadrons and requiring a Carrier to deploy them. They share a lot of the modules with the fighters, but have some heavier options available to them. They also have a larger selection of slots available on them than the standard fighter.

Frigate: These ships now share the mid-range with the Destroyers, making us able to push them into a more combat-oriented role. The frigates are faster, smaller ships that are equally at home acting as anti-fighter support and acting in packs to hunt cruisers. They may be able to equip some limited cruiser-level of equipment.

Destroyer: Reliable, slow moving, Dedicated cruiser supports. These will be some of the only units able to deploy support beams. The exact mechanics and stats of these modules is still to be determined.

Cruiser: These serve as the backbone of any fleet. Being able to soak up damage as well as dealing it. These are probably the most similar to how they were in GSB1, but the added destroyer support should make for some fairly interesting choices.

Dreadnought: As the name implies, these ships fear nothing. They are the largest ships in the game and have the most slots available to them, as well as some of the most powerful weaponry. Their immense cost means that you wont be seeing a lot of them on the field at the same time.

With that out of the way, im going to talk about some issues GSB1 had and what ideas we have of elliminating them.

1. One of the most prominent exploits i’ve come across over the years of reading the forums and playing the game is that it is possible to make almost invulnerable “armor tanks”. They are basically cruisers that have enough armor slapped onto them to get an average armor rating that is higher than any weapon in the game is able to penetrate. Pair this with a repair module or two and you got yourself a titanium-reinforced bedrock wall that can self-regenerate.

This eventually led to tedious and boring challenges in the multiplayer section and impossibly massive scores in the survival scenarios. Now, i’ve got a couple of ideas for a solution to this.

A. Make a dedicated armorbuster weapon with redicilously high armorpenetration. This would be the easiest way to deal with the problem, but it wouldn’t remove the problem itself.

B. Increase the stacking penalty on armor in order to lower the maximum average armor possible. I like this solution, since it encourage people to use more varied builds. If you’re not spending 5 slots on armor plating, perhaps you can fit one of them targeting boosters or another engine? The problem here would be the dreadnoughts. since they have such a massive ammount of slots, armor quickly become useless. A quick fix here might be expensive superheavy Dreadnought dedicated armor?

2. Frigates didn’t really have any important place in your fleet. They died too quickly, they couldn’t make a dent in any semi-decently designed cruiser and they were simply not a cost-effective way to deal with fighters.

The only use i’ve ever personally gotten out of frigates is to either put them far back with long range weaponry and have them take potshots at enemy frigates (if said enemy was brave enough to field any in the first place), or using them as cheap-ish EMP platforms for when i really didnt have any room to spare onboard my cruisers. Even then i’m pretty sure i could have fitted cruisers to do those jobs more eficciently.

I believe this issue is being fixed with the addition of destroyers and their support role and the revamping of frigate and destroyer modules in general. Now the gap between frigate and cruiser modules isn’t as big. The heaviest frigate shield might have as much resistance as a light cruiser shield. Two or three frigates that are equipped appropriately may be a considerable threat to a cruiser.

3. Bombers are just not as useful as normal laser equipped fighters. I think a lot of this issue is already solved now that shields hug the hull of ships rather than being big bubbles that willingly welcome everyone with open arms. Now you actually need those weapons with shield penetration. I’m still struggling with the “why use torpedos on vulnerable fighters when i can just slap them on a well protected cruiser instead” issue.

One solution could be the gunships. The increased ammount of modules available could give them enough speed to avoid cruiser fire, while being armored enough to withstand fast light fighters. That does however pose a new problem. what would the fighters be good for? maybe it could be a rock-paper-siccors situation where gunships out armor light fighters, heavier fighters can shoot down gunships and light fighters can avoid heavy fighter fire.

Rock-paper-siccors gameplay usually doesn’t make for very interesting gameplay, but it might not be as bad when you take frigates and destoyers into account, along with their roles alongside the bigger ships.

4. One new issue that might arise is with Dreadnoughts. I would personally prefer if they were used in moderation. Having dreads as the new cruisers in the “why use anything other than this?” sense is something i’d really like to avoid. This might be where the bombers come into play. They could have enough firepower to penetrate even dreadnought shields (or even equipping them with disruptor bombs that lower shield stability).

Another strategy i’ve found that works when i’ve played with mods in gsb1 that use dreadnoughts is to bring lots of EMP. Disabling one ship might not sound like a lot, but when that ship account for half of the enemy fleet, it sure does give you an edge.

I’m pretty sure i will find more issues as i go along, but i think these are the most important ones right now. I’m anxious to find out what you think and if you have any ideas or problems you would like to have adressed.

ok i was think about your rock paper scissors theory and also the dreadnought things

on way to enuser that dreadnoughts aren’t the new cruiser is to make their weapons unable to hit fighters, it may be an arbitrary restriction, but it will make people have to figure out to protect them

which is where you rock paper scissors things come into play\

in naval tradition (or just air force tradition) there is 4 main types of combat aircraft (ignoring helicopters)

The fighter, mainly used for air superiority.

The heavy fighter. This one is a bit more complicated, these lack the maneuverability of their lighter cousins and although some air forces tried to make these escort for bombers it usually didn’t work well, in stark contrast,and with a twinge of irony these excelled at bomber hunting, and they’ve also had radars mounted to them to make the effective at night (during ww2) i will be honest the day of the heavy fighter is over and is mostly replaced by the next type of aircraft.

The fighter bomber. Traditionally this is just a light bomber with front facing guns but they have evolved much from that (so much so that the line between fighter and fighter bomber is very blurred) that they are basically dedicated precision strike aircraft, things that provide close air support for troops on the ground.

The bomber. we should all know what this is if not from our own knowledge than from the stuff that the other aircraft cannot do. the bombers mission is to destroy the enemy in much the same way as artillery this means carrying a lot of bombs or carrying a really big bomb. that do not fight fighters and must be escorted

the point here is that your rock paper scissors theory is true, and it has roots to the most basic part of war, there is no way of getting around it, now you can go and make sides asymmetrical (Starcraft 2 is good example) but the same principle will stay, vehicles have things they are built to excel in but then they will, lose in other parts. so if you’re worried that fighters will be replaced by gunships, and that dreadnoughts will replace cruisers you must simply make its so that the ship types all have a unique ability

for example

fighters hunt other fighters and gunships but their weapons can’t do much to cruisers and capital ships
inversely gunships cannot dogfight very well but their armaments make them dangerous to everything thus you must escort them just like bombers were escorted during ww2

of course space does not apply to conventional flight in every way but i hope you get the point i’m making, because to remove the rock paper scissors, as you put it, would be to remove all the tactics

and if you didn’t mean it that way well the I guess i’ve just gone and wasted my time

I guess i should have been more speciffic when i stated that rock-paper-siccors gameplay is boring.

I meant it would be boring if every fighter is able to beat every heavy fighter and every heavy fighter was able to beat every gunship and so on. What we need is depth and grey areas. Being able to make a gunship that can take down fighters for instance. or a heavy fighter equipped to take on destroyers to mess up the opponents support. (please note that “heavy fighter” is not actually a class in the game, it’s just what i use to describe fighters that are more heavily armed and armored compared to the usual fast fighter)

I agree that dreadnoughts (maybe even cruisers) should have too large weapons to take on fighters. The key is to give every ship a role without forcing it into that role. The player should have options and my goal is to make every single module in the game useful in some way. GSB1 had too many modules that i never found any use for.

[size=120]1. Armor Tanks[/size]

@ponyus: From your solutions, I slightly prefer B over A.

Here is another solution (not very elegant but simple):

C. Limiting the armor value
Say you have only 3 weapons with an armor penetration between 80 and 100 (1 plasma, 1 missile, 1 beam). All other weapons have 79 or less penetration. Limiting the armor to 80 would be an easy way to deal with this problem.
Instead of having a fixed value of 80, we put a “max-armor-value” in every ship-hull file. This keeps the possibilitiy for mods or future factions to modify this value.

We have chosen to go with option D. Changing how average armor is calculated.

Before, it depended a lot on how many modules you had installed on your hull. The problem was that ships that were left with a lot of dead space got more armor.

Now we’ve changed so that it’s based on how many module slots the hull has. Regardless of if you’ve put something in them or not.

This means that hulls with fewer slots have a higher potentional average armor. Bigger hulls with more slots will get armorboosts to compensate. Dreadnoughts will get their own superheavy armor aswell.

With careful tweaking, i should be able to keep things within a sensible limit.

That is certainly the simplest solution and should definitely make balancing things easier. I know while working on the balance for my Antares Expanse mod for GSB1, the biggest problem with armor wasn’t ships that piled on as much armor as possible, but rather the ones that piled on armor and nothing else. With effectively two “classes” of armor to worry about, you either get ridiculous hollow armor tanks, or actual warships with armor that’s as protective as a wet Kleenex. Taking that out of consideration simplifies things immensely. Good call!

This new armor calculation changes quite a lot compared to GSB, but in a good way I think. I like it!

Don’t know if anyone still remember me, but here’s the problem GSB1 had

  1. Size - The only thing that works is the smallest ship in GSB1, because size determines shield bubble, dodge, density of formation, and somehow the smallest ship also has the most hardpoint. Size matters so much that the smallest ship they have makes or breaks the race. Even Tribe became balanced once Utopia was banned from some of the challenges.

Please make bigger ships useful in this game.

  1. Armor - Either OP (when Armor > Penetration) or useless (when Armor < Penetration).
    The only use for armor in GSB1 is either to defend against laser fighters inside the shield bubble, or armor tank. Because once armor drop below penetration value they are good as dead.

  2. Frigates are generally okay but do have some problems.
    Frigates spams by themselves can rush at high speed with ion cannons/beam lasers while dodging attacks. With their main weakness being pulse laser/rocket fighters.
    Cruiser spam can tank their way through the match.
    Locking frigates with cruisers isn’t fine because a frigate will lose all it’s dodge and dies in half a second.

Even without that, frigates are still overly vulnerable compared to cruisers but are also proportionally too expensive compared to cruisers. Please correct this.

  1. I have to say that torpedo fighters are REALLY REALLY BAD. They deal low damage, are heavy and slow, doesn’t penetrate cruiser shields, and not enough tracking to hit frigates/fighters. They are bad against everything.

Rocket fighters was always viable, and essential if you don’t want to get wipe by every single frigate spam out there. The strongest fighter type was tribe hybrid laser/rocket with some painters.

If anything ship hugging shield sounds like it will just make laser fighters obsolete.

  1. Lure - Let’s hope we don’t see those again at GSB2.

By Lure, do you mean ships designed to be destroyed to release a formation? Because thats fixed now.

Good to hear that lure is fixed.

It was when you can pull the whole enemy team into a corner using 1 dummy ship. Ship don’t change target so it just keep trying to chase that one ship.

I do I think we had fun on some of the SAC and NEC challenges.
I agree with some of your points - I am not sure if armour will be fixed. Somehow I hate how armour ablates, but from what I have seen of the mechanics that will occur again.

In some cases I keep frigates pinned to cruisers - and I tend to have some success in most challenges.


Will there be other ways to control formations? The use of picket ships was about the only way to keep a formation stable and allow it to function as a group.

A ways back, the AI changed a little and ships now would re-target (driver order) periodically so if a lure ended up being further than an attacking ship it would change targets. Lures and decoys still work a little but if you can see the lure and decoy when deploying you can avoid it being an issue. And if you can’t well - “ruse de guerre”

Will insert witty comment when an appropriate time occurs.