How do I ensure a weapon is "balanced"?


I’m trying to create a “Mass Driver” weapon, borrowed heavily from the Tribe Howitzer, and other sources.

I’ve made the damage, range, etc etc averaged to the top and bottom for each variable, but I don’t know how to test the weapon to evaluate its effectiveness.

Please give me some feedback on how I can improve this weapon without going over to the Dark Side (although, the Dark Side is great, they have cookies!) One thing I’m not sure how to fix is I can’t see the projectile paths, the projectiles seem invisible?

Here is the code: (Note, requires Tribe expansion for the blast texture)

unlockcost = 0
lockable = 0
blasttexture = ""
category = "WEAPONS"
classname = "SIM_KineticWeapon"
color = 9
height = 6
cost = 116
crew_required = 9
description = "Rail Gun, Coil Gun, Mass Driver. Whatever its name, it makes big holes where holes shouldn't be."
fire_interval = 3055
guiname = "Mass Driver"
hitpoints = 110
icon = turret
max_range = 900
min_range = 90
name = "mass_driver"
optimum_range = 600
powerconsumed = 15
damage = 31.5
armour_penetration = 40.5
shield_penetration = 34
size = "CRUISER"
sound = tribe/data/sounds/cruiser_howitzer.ogg
soundvolume = 0.5
speed = 20
tracking_speed = 2.05
turret_sprite = "turret_auto_v1"
turretsize = 13.0
weight = 110
width = 2.2
slot_type = TURRET
uisortpos = 1092

0 = cost,DECIMAL
1 = weight,DECIMAL
2 = hitpoints,DECIMAL
3 = powerconsumed,DECIMAL
4 = max_range,DECIMAL
5 = damage,DECIMAL
6 = fire_interval,INTEGER
7 = tracking_speed,DECIMAL
8 = shield_penetration,DECIMAL
9 = armour_penetration,DECIMAL
10 = crew_required,INTEGER
11 = optimum_range,DECIMAL
12 = min_range,DECIMAL


For Kinetic Weapons the Bullets are invisible, if you want a projectile you need to use bullet.

As for Balancing, thats harder:
Balancing is subjective - there is no right and wrong answer.
What i think is balanced is overpowered to another

In the end it is your weapon, and if your happy with it - then every one else can go get knotted


AHHA! Thats a great place to start, thank you!

Updated code:

unlockcost = 0
lockable = 0
blasttexture = “”
category = “WEAPONS”
classname = “SIM_BulletWeaponModule”
color = 4
height = 5
cost = 116
crew_required = 9
description = "Rail Gun, Coil Gun, Mass Driver. Whatever its name, it makes big holes where holes

shouldn’t be."
fire_interval = 3055
guiname = “Mass Driver”
hitpoints = 110
icon = turret
max_range = 900
min_range = 90
name = “mass_driver”
optimum_range = 600
powerconsumed = 15
damage = 31.5
armour_penetration = 40.5
shield_penetration = 34
size = “CRUISER”
sound = tribe/data/sounds/cruiser_howitzer.ogg
soundvolume = 0.5
speed = 20
tracking_speed = 2.05
turret_sprite = “turret_auto_v1”
turretsize = 13.0
weight = 110
width = 2
slot_type = TURRET
uisortpos = 1092[/code]


Looks like a Plasma with more damage, tracking, and no minimum range… So it’s slightly OP. But then, if you make this weapon “empire only” for example, then it won’t be OP because the race itself is underpowered. So it also depends on the context.

There are no rules to ensure anything is balanced. You just have to play the game enough to understand how to exploit most of the stuff in the current game.

cost = 116
crew_required = 9
powerconsumed = 15

fire_interval = 3055
damage = 31.5
armour_penetration = 40.5
shield_penetration = 34
tracking_speed = 2.05

max_range = 900
min_range = 90
optimum_range = 600


As people say, there is no rule about balancing. The thing u can do is make a list of the standar original vanilla modules in, for example excel, and create your new modules under that list, so u can compare in real time all the values, u will need some formulas for calculating for example the dps if u want more accurate balancing issues. But in the end, the weapon will never be 100 % balanced, i think thats impossible to achieve. If u create a plasma type weapon, compare it with the original vanilla plasma weapons and change the values in consecuence. And the same with every type u made. 123stw wrote the basics u need to understand for making a balanced weapon. Some things are native of the type weapons, for example, missiles and plasmas have the best range, energy weapons consume more power, missile and bullet weapons consume less power but more weight, etc… the only thing u need is time playing, and u will learn anything u want.


i had a dream that i have created complex formulas excel file where you can calculate what should be the price, weight, damage etc for balanced weapon…

If i wanted to ever start at this project i should take one weapon module as an balanced template… and i was thinking of Cruiser Beam Laser…


I would like to say that great minds think alike but i wouldn’t wanna drag you down to my level [size=25](i love that saying)[/size]

I found that when i analysed all of them i developed a weapons performance envelope
From there i have been trying to determine a suitable equasion that would make balancing easier.
As for my results, lets just say that I have found several equasions that do NOT work.


yeah it is complicated at best… Still it is a nice dream


This game functions with too many breakpoints and niches for a formula to work.

So take frigate shield resistance. The difference between 12 and 13 is so great no formula can accommodate for this.

Or take a weapon with 26 shield penetration versus 27 shield penetration,

Or a weapon identical in every way except for their type (missile, plasma, laser, gun)

Or an armor boost hull with 8.3 initial power vs 8.4 initial power

And the list goes on.


I may just be repeating what these very experienced modders have already said above, but I haven’t been playing for THAT long and I have already found out this:

  1. Stuff complicated equations, just go with something u think u like, see how over powered it is in game, and if you don’t like how it decimates everything, then simply lower that particular stat.

  2. Maybe I have made a simple equation here, see if u like it:

High Low Low Light MG∴(Therefore symbol) anti fighter
Low Medium High Sniper∴long range, weakens enemies b4 they get to you
Medium High Medium Heavy Cannon∴The main weapons, they generally need to be a little more high powered than the rest
Very Low Very High Medium Artillery∴Very heavy damage but med range, like a shortranged kind of plasma cannon.

This does not have any actual guidelines, so it is YOUR idea of what is very high, medium etc.

  1. Stuff everyone else, it is your mod, and if people say that it is too overpowered then tell them if they dont like it they can bugger off and make their own thank you very much.


I have even made a not too tricky balancing calc program for Numbers, requires IWork08 and a Mac.

All u do is enter it’s stats, it works out the rest. Sorry about teh Windows, but in my opinion Bill Gates is a n00b.

Here we go:
Overpowered (97.3 KB)


If you use a simple linear function of the values themselves then yes, it can’t work. You can come up with reasonable functions in other ways though. For example, take shield resistance. What you want to calculate is effectively the damage potential when that shield is in use. A quick way could be to take a function of the damage, and shield penetration of all the weapons. This should model the breakpoint at which many more weapons become effective. As a very simple example, assume we have three weapons (unrealistic stats for demonstration purposes):

W1 - 100 damage, 10 shield penetration.
W2 - 50 damage, 8 shield penetration.
W3 - 60 damage, 10 shield penetration.

We also have four shields:

S1 - 7 resistance.
S2 - 8 resistance.
S3 - 9 resistance.
S4 - 10 resistance.

Take a function (I can’t do proper equations on this forum, so stick with with me here): DP = SUM[x](WDx * WPx), where DP is damage potential, WDx is the damage for weapon “x”, and WPx is the penetration ability of weapon “x” (assigned 0 if the weapon can’t penetrate the shield and 1 if it can). Using this formula, we calculate DP values of:

S1 - 210
S2 - 160
S3 - 160
S4 - 0

As you can see, the model assigns similar values to the first three shields, with S2 annd S3 being identical, but then the value instantly drops to 0 for S4.

A more advanced model may take into account weapon range and so on, but for “back of the envelope” calculations, something like this would work.

Note that I don’t intend the model I gave here to be used for real purposes, and take no responsibility for death or injury that may occur.


No there are no reason to consider 4 shields because 90% of the time people will only use the one with the highest resistance. The only exception is if the new breakpoint does not offer new protection (say from frigate shield 1 to frigate shield 2). Other lighter shields will simply not be used.

So in here only the last shield with 10 shield resistance is important. A weapon with 9 shield penetration will be just as useless as one with 0 because people can, and will exclusively use the last shield under those conditions. If you make the weapon with 9 shield penetration weaker than one with 0, then it becomes useless.

Weapon range on the other hand, is far more complex than shield penetration. Things to considered include speed (cruiser vs frigate), tracking, armor penetration, current weapon range, etc. For cruisers, the weapon with the longest range does not have to move at all, while the one with the second longest will need to pay for engines to get in range. For frigates, range determines rather or not they need to be at enemy’s firing range at all. Currently the best frigate weapon, the ion cannon, has 500 range, so pulse laser with 600 range is a good frigate counter. If the Ion cannon has 700 range though, then pulse laser will become useless against frigates. Tracking and armor penetration is important because the two anti long range strategy are rushing and armor tanking. If a weapon have over 900 range and over 70 armor penetration, it will still be used as utility even if it’s damage is half that of plasma.

So balance is really about thinking how other players can abuse the new modules. After that’s figure out, and a weighting value is assigned, there are no further need for an equation.


I’ve been following this carefully, and the lowest common denominator is that there is no such thing as a balanced weapon, so opt for the fun of more dakka :slight_smile:

Thank you all for the VERY in depth discussion!


I was merely presenting a model, not a set of suitable shields for use :stuck_out_tongue: As you say, only the highest value shield from that group will be used, and this is true (and backed up by the model, which shows that [given the weapons considered] there is effectively no difference between the first three shields, but that the last one is substantially better). In this case, the model highlights the breakpoint very well, which it may not have been so easy to spot by eye given a more realistically wide range of different weapons.

Shields are a trivial case, but the idea was to show the concept of models that can be developed. This can be extended to other modules which are not such simple cases. The idea then would be to present a single rating which can be considered, rather than the huge range of parameters you start with.

In the end though, as has been pointed out, modded weapons should be built how you feel they should be. Play with the game a lot, get a feel for the base weapons, pick one that is similar to your concept, and tweak it until it’s right. Above all, make sure it’s Gratuitous :slight_smile:


Take it from me, as I’m designing a Mod with LOTS of weapons at the high end of the power scale, balance is EXCEEDINGLY difficult to reach.

But I found a relatively simple way to manage it. Simple, but far from exact. It boils down to 7 things: power consumption, crew requirement, cost, HP, Accuracy/Range, weight and fire interval.

For instance: my mod features a weapon I call the Sunbeam Cannon: It has an attack power of over 150, and shield/armor penetration over 50

Furthermore: I intended it to be a “solar powered” weapon…meaning it’s power requirement is very low, only about 8.

Now…I wanted this to be a relatively long range weapon: 1000+

I balanced it with the following specs:
it’s HP is a paltry 50, less than half that of the average cruiser weapon, I figure a big turret pristling with solar panals would be easy to knock out.

It’s Recycle time is a feeble 6000…it takes FOREVER to fire again.

it’s Crew requirement is 14, relatively high.

It’s Tracking speed is a relativlely low 0.80

Finally it’s cost is a quite high 225.

Naturally ALL these balancing factors sort of come up short in the Galactic Conquest mode, beings that there is no upper limit to the cost and crew of the fleet YOU can field…but in the standard game it makes it quite hard to put more than a few ships armed with only 1-2 of these each, especially considering all the other material my mod will have.

Does if really balance the weapon out? perhaps not…I’ll leave that too this community when the mod is released


The problem with balancing is that, regardless of subjectivity, there are some weapons that are just plain BETTER.
Fast missiles or MWM’s are better then Megaton’s, just about in ANY situation! Fusion Beam’s over Beams, Nomad missiles over Fast… The point is that there are tiers of balance. Moded weapons frequently jump up 1+ tiers, just because you’re making the weapon that’s ideal for a given situation; of COURSE it’s going to be better then the stock veriety!


I decided to try my luck with a formula, seems to be working well, but in any of the more experienced players mind, is the standard cruiser beamlaser well balanced while the quantum blaster is very UP? Because that is what my formula says, and I was wondering if it needs tweaking or if that is the truth.


Sunbeam Cannon
1000 range, 150 damage, 6000 fire interval (25 dmg/interval), 0.8 tracking, 50/50 shield/armor penetration, 50 HP, 14 crew, 8 power, 0.8 tracking, 225 credits, type Beam.

The next in line unscramble able long range is

Cruiser Plasma
950 range, 30 damage, 3000 fire interval (10 dmg/interval), 0.6 tracking, 44/52 shield/armor penetration, 105 HP, 18 crew, 8 power, 115 credits, type Plasma.

It easily deals over 3x the damage of plasma with it’s superior tracking and type. Has more range, cost less crew, same power. The cost is under 2x. The only drawback is the HP, but being compact it automatically benefits from having a higher armor resistance, so survivability has not decreased. This weapon will easily dominates the long range field against the in game races.

Fancy equations can not anticipate every single situation where a specific module can be exploited. You got to think about their utility as well.

Also, damage/interval tells you the average damage to time, and should be considered as a single thing. Very often I see mods with some super weapons that are no better at generating damage then a beam laser, but cost 10x the amount. Then you get this one gun at the side that’s vastly overpowered with 3x the damage of everything at like 200 credits.


Looks correct to me. QB is very probably the worst cruiser weapon, and Cruiser Beam laser is ok.