At the moment it’s too easy to gain honour, and thus everything gets unlocked too quickly - this means that by the first half dozen battles there’s nothing to look forward to any more. This is partly due to exploits (e.g. stacking on the same spot) which are being fixed (though there will probably be new ones), but is also due to the insane levels of honour its possible to gain from one mission.
This is fine for the beta, because we need to get to play with all of the weapons to find out what’s working and what’s not. But IMO for a full release you need a bit more longevity in the game. So i’ve got some suggestions for achieving that.
(1) Tutorial missions: Currently the game has a learning curve like a brick wall. This is fine for the people who have actively sought this game out, but for people who stumble across the game on steam you’re going to need a selection of fairly easy (but getting harder), probably fairly small (but getting larger) missions to allow the player to learn the game. Combine this with a smaller initial module/hull selection and a more gradual unlocking system (see below) and a new player can gradually learn about new features over a number of missions.
(2) Lock some of the weapons which are currently unlocked at the start of the game. In fact, just give us a small selection of basic weapons and equipment, one or two of each weapon type, max. One power module. One armour module etc. Obviously early missions will need to be easier in order that a player be able to complete them with much more limited ship designs, but this lets the player learn the game bit by bit and gives them an incentive to unlock the next cool thing.
(3) Lock most of the ship hulls. Probably give us only one or two of each class. Possibly just give us a couple of frigates, and force us to unlock fighters and cruisers. More cool stuff to unlock.
(4) Limit the amount of honour that can be gained from a single mission. At the moment its possible to get tens of thousands of honour points once you figure out the right fleet composition, unlocking half a dozen modules with every battle. There should be a fixed upper limit for any mission, probably in the 3000 to 5000 range. Scale it so that an average player will get half that, and an exceptional victory with a fleet, say, half the max size gets the maximum. Dont let even an exception player with an armload of exploits get any more than that. The point is that the average player should still be unlocking stuff by the time he has played through most of the scenarios with most of the races - a really good player should only be unlocking their last item by the time theyre (say) halfway through the 3rd race.
(5) Only let honour gained from the official missions count towards unlocking. Keep track of the honour gained for each mission out of the maximum, players can go back and retry a mission to get more honour out of it (but only gain the extra honour above what they got last time).
(6) At the moment the progression through the game to unlock the different races is a bit linear. By the time you’ve beaten all of the federation’s missions you’ve already unlocked all of the modules and there’s no real incentive to go back to that race later. Instead, unlock the next race at halfway through the missions for the current race. This allows you to have some really hard missions at the end, but still allows the player to try all of the races. It also allows you to have some really expensive stuff which doesnt get unlocked until youve gone through most of the maps for 2 or 3 of the races, which would allow you to go back and beat the really hard missions with the federation.
(7) Obviously, add more cool weapons and stuff. Here’s a thought: unlockable bonuses for certain ship hulls. Cruiser hull X gets a 10% armour bonus for 5,000 honour, then a 20% armour bonus for 10,000, and so on. Cruiser hull Y gets speed increases. Maybe even a couple of unlockable extra weapon/module slots. This might make balancing the online challenges a bit of an issue though.
Thoughts, flames, additions?