[size=130] News : V0.32 out, install bug should be squashed. Clarification : you DO have access to the vanilla races after installing balance mod [/size]
GSB is a great game, but we are all aware that there is some serious gameplay balance issues. The GSB Balance Mod, inspired by the famous “balance mod” for Space Empires, is focused on giving you more tactical options, without introducing additional modules or hulls, so that you can play current scenarios and challenges easily. Inspiration for the changes comes from reading forums guides and rants, as well as my own experience playing challenges.
[size=150]Objectives of the mod :[/size]
More options : Bring life to “dead-wood” modules that no one uses [because they suck]
More tactics : Change existing modules in order to bring new tactical options
Reduce tea-time tactics : Some tactics [universal tanks & lure fighters come to mind] slow down battles too much - very much reducing the enjoyment of the game
[size=150]Major features :[/size]
Creates a ‘Balanced’ version of each race. You keep access to the vanilla races.
Rework of fighter combat dynamics
[*] Fighter armour is better (but heavier), giving you the opportunity to protect your fighters against certain weapons
Torpedo fighters can actually destroy stuff without getting killed first. Bringing them to battle at the right moment can give you the edge. Give them heavy armour to protect them from fighters, or max their speed so that they last longer against cruisers.
You can now use dedicated “space superiority” fighters with fast tracking pulse laser - designed to hunt all those quick fighters.
Heavy interceptors take out light interceptors (pulse laser and some armor)
Gunboats (laser cannon and armor) have an edge against heavy interceptors
Increase in fighter engine HPs and armor make carrier bays workable (they’re cheaper too)
Rockets are slightly heavier. They’re still very good, but now shootable without tractor beams (by pulse laser fighters)
Fighter Hulls rebalancing
[*]All costs now reflecting more accurately hull capacities, while trying to leave their advantage to ‘fighter races’
Hull redudancies reduced. Each fighter hull now has modules / harpdoint / power that allows to make useful designs.
 AA Weapons : Cruiser defence laser now actually helps and is a standard module, Frigate rapid fire laser now a dedicated AA weapon, Anti-fighter missiles better (more range, slightly less fire interval)[/:m][/list:u][/:m]
[*] Frigate Combat
Frigate Phasor Cannon II is now a heavy anticruiser weapon - delivering powerful salvos, but not very precise
Turbo shields are now a good choice
Long Range Combat
Heavy Plasma is now a powerful weapon at hunting immobile ships
Decoy Missiles are now standard modules and have cruiser missiles range
Cruiser missile increased range and speed
Small boost to fast missiles
Frigate missiles can now pierce all cruiser shields
FrigateTorpedo damage increased, minimum range decreased (“kamikaze torpedo frigate”)
PDs are boosted and changed to standard modules, giving more options to protect against missiles
Mid Range Combat
Cruiser Rockets have now improved dps, making them a good mid-range shield buster
Megaton missiles significantly improved, they are now a threat to slow moving ships.
Close Range Combat
Quantum Blaster has been redesigned as an anti light cruiser weapon, while Pulse laser is now less suited for this role
Tribe has been included, their HP bonus is reduced to 80%
The Order is in. Firefly rockets have been balanced, other weapons pending.
Rebel beam changed
Alliance weapons boosted.
Tanking reduced by increase in armor penetration of Positron beam
Shield stacking increased to 0.93
ECM Missiles Mk1 & Mk2 now have different roles (anti-frigate vs anti-cruiser)
A few graphical changes, so that weapons screen display reflects their actual power more accurately (cruiser laser, megaton missile, quantum blaster, phasor cannon)
Many small balance changes, aiming at boosting underused modules (Target booster, camouglage, emp shield, etc.)
[size=150]Potential Problems :[/size]
If you find something that is still clearly unbalanced (from vanilla GSB or my “Balance” mod), please send be a challenge at knightofni so i can try to include it to a new version.
Finally, a balance mod should reflect what the community as a whole has identified as over/under powered, so please don’t hesitate to give me feedback on what i missed (or which new problems i just introduced)
As a final word, have fun experimenting, re-try your favourite challenges with the changes introduced by GSBB !
[size=130]Legacy version : [/size]
Beware, will overwrite core content files ! GSB-B_v01.zip (136 KB)
If only I was able to type as I used to be able to (i.e., without carpal-tunnel pain, quickly, and at length). [-sigh-]
Knightofni’s post is the first pebble in what has the potential to become a major avalanche. Those of us who have delved deeply into the underlying mechanisms that support the cool graphics know that GSB does indeed have signifigant imbalance problems. Those imbalances are, to me, a key aspect behind the presence of so many of the mod packages we’ve created.
Because it’s been much, much easier to create one small isolated corner within Cliffski’s GSB universe and keep that balanced instead of attempting to tackle Cliffski’s game as a whole.
We likely wouldn’t feel that desire or need as sharply if things “back home” weren’t quite so, ummmm, shaky in key locations. This sub-forum appears to be the only part of the player community that cares enough to try creating that missing and greatly-needed balance. I hope that there are enough modders who (1) actually give a damn about this, (2) are willing to go “under the hood” using a scalpel instead of an axe, and (3) are willing to lend a hand with some mind-bogglingly tedious and slow work.
Of course, knightofni is not the only player who’s accurately identified much of what currently ails GSB. I know that others out there have a similar viewpoint that’s backed-up by careful observation and comparison; not just reflexive unthinking “I just don’t like that part” feelings. However, some of what needs fixing is also well outside the reach of modders who will never have access to the game engine itself. I hope that something positive and enduring can be done despite that. It might take a group of modders – the more experienced with GSB, the better! – who are hopefully able to avoid getting lost in the small details and who also won’t grow bored or frustrated with the effort after just a month or two.
edit: I am also of the opinion that any balance mod should concentrate on the four bundled races first and foremost: Federation, Rebel, Alliance, Empire. After all, imbalances within these affect everyone who bought the game. The DLC races can wait.
Well, I’m more than ready to accept criticisms and advices (i actually expect it). I’ve done quite a lot of thinking and tinkering with fighters, but i could definetely use some help on cruiser direct fire weapons… To me this mod should aim at reflecting some kind of consensus of the modding community - I think many of the changes i introduce simply reflect issues that we all noticed. The only “original” change i made is improving fighter amour.
Yep, you’re right. I wanted to start thinking about the DLC’s, but concentrating on the core races - and achieveing some balance is probably a smarter idea. Especially that weapons such as radiation guns are very difficult to judge (probably the reason why it’s not so widely used). However, starting to think about tinkering with the hulls costs (and maybe bonuses) should be done rather quickly.
Unfortunately, no amount of modding will change the behaviour of torpedo fighters firing their torpedoes at the escort fighters of the cruiser i want them to destroy… And don’t start talking about camouflage AI (“We just lost all ourt repair systems sir !” “Perfect time for camouflage, don’t you think, old chap ?”) But despite those annoyances i’m optimist enough to think that we can achieve a much better (and more enjoyable) gameplay by combining our energies and modifying some little txt files (with the help of Kemp’s great tool ). It won’t be perfect, but it will be better.
Indeed so. Having never been a big fan of the online challenges, I’m personally indifferent to the lack of same. There’s always some vague possibility of petitioning Cliffski to accept a completed Balance Mod as an actual Community Patch by convincing him to add it into the codebase for the game engine itself. I’m not terribly sanguine about that right now, but at least it’s some (quite minor) hope.
Another option Gentlemen is to have a mod that introduces an “elite” version of the core races that have the balanced weapons/modules . .(However I have yet to work out how you can restrict their weapons to the balanced version without changing core files)
I’d like to see that “third way”. Implementation is a right proper bitch, though.
I’m feeling mostly blasé about changing core content in the game. Others may be more straight-laced about that. So until then, it comes down to a personal choice. [-shrug-] You pick your poison and you take your chances. As long as my own personal choice doesn’t impact anyone else’s, “no harm - no foul”.
You know, after playing this game for so long, I think this game is more balance than most people give it credit for. Aside from Tribe the balance is fine.
Making modules balance is not necessary going to increase fleet diversity. So while the Quantum blast can be made better, what difference does it make? A rebalanced Quantum blast will just be another Cruiser Laser. You still going to end up with the same rush fleet, getting into the same range, having the same command, and do roughly the same thing as an existing CL rush.
Or say you rebalanced the point defense so they are at the level of Guidance, you will still going to end up with the same slug fleet vs slug fleet.
Things that serve the same functions are just redundancy.
Granted that it would be a tough task with the current setup . . however, a line in the race file like “use_standard = false” could go a long way to ease the pain . . Cliffski ?
While i have not investigated this fully, a package file on the “elite rebalance mod” might help avoid the “cheater” issue.
I might wrong, but from what i understood of the suggested changes, it would help diversify the modules and reduce weapon redundancy . .
123stw - With your knowledge of the game on how to eek the most out of a design, i would be interested in what you would change to the standard weapons (mainly so i can use it for my own nefarious schemes in another mod . .)
I’m not sure why you believe that, nor why you’d couch such an inflammatory argument in such simplistic terms. You’ve glossed-over the myriad of possible ways that any given weapon can be improved, as well as the open-ended possibility of to what degree each attribute can be changed to. It’s plain that you, knightofni and myself all have somewhat different notions here. But as you and I are simply passing opinions back and forth, I can’t completely reject your statements. We both obviously have the strength of our convictions, and we’re each unlikely to convert the other.
What you call redundancy, I call options. I think this game will benefit from having a larger number of viable and interesting options. The amazing amount of underperforming dead-wood equipment out there is a testimony to the possible horizons that’ve been ignored until now.
Oh, you and your schemes. You’ve nearly used up your supply of nefarious…better buy it in bulk next time.
This is all possible with the “elite mod” suggestion - with your examples we would have to extend it to include DLC races.
Everyone has different opinions and as Archduke pointed out it is foolish to try and convince people to a way of thinking, instead we should invite people to add in their 2 cents on how things could be improved in the balancing / diversity, be it a nerf or a boost.
Hopefully a common theme will arrise and the formation of a Community Patch might occur . .
It’s not an option if you spend the time to calculate the opportunity cost.
If 2 modules serve the same function, you only going to get either imbalance, where 1 is just better than the other, or balance, which makes no difference rather you choose 1 over the other. On a graph this will be drawn as a single peak.
Diversity only happens with the minimum relationship of a triangle. When something is better in 1 situation but worst in another. In CL vs Quantum blast, the function of a close range shield breaker is to get in and deal as much damage to enemy cruiser as possible, so only DPS really matters. For frigates the cruiser pulse laser is the way to go.
And because cruiser pulse laser takes the role of Anti Air, Anti Frigate, Anti light cruiser armor with just 1 per ship, the quantum blast does not have a role to play. It’s like the defense laser. Sure it’s better than pulse laser in AA, but if you are posting a challenge you simply cannot afford having a pigeon hole device. People will always try to throw the worst counter against it.
I am not saying I know every relationship in this game. I am simply saying that diversity requires interlocking relationships.
That’s a fine point, and I applaud it. A difference which makes no difference, is no difference. Allow me to further clarify my position. The level of granularity at which I am regarding this topic is not identical to yours.
I won’t speak for knightofni or for anyone else, but balance is not the sole criterion I desire. If it comes down to a tie-breaker between two seemingly identical things in GSB, I’ll choose the one that looks more fun. Fun is an under-rated attribute in this discussion. It’s a subjective beast that laughs at attempts to nail it down to a single cell on a spreadsheet. A sad multitude of slacker modules, weapons, hulls and even entire races, coupled with a small and heavily overused elite of “the best” entrants in each field, is emphatically not fun to me.
I do not seek to export my means of enjoying the game into your own means, any more than I should place your own means (or anyone else’s) of deriving satisfaction from the game ahead of my own. I won’t sacrifice fun upon the altar of numbers. I come to this game for an antidote to the everyday poison of too many numbers. While I now have a better understanding of your own views re: the interlocking relationships between items - and I thank you for it - hopefully you now understand my own priorities better, too.
If I am reading this correctly, you are fine with same function, different looks?
Not that I have any problems with that per say, nor do I think balance is everything. In fact I think some imbalance is good. I just felt that if the goal of this mod is balance, then someone got to say the things that no one wants to hear.
I will avoid the term fun as our definition of that is quite incompatible. I only play games for the decision making elements nowadays. It’s fun for me to imagine how many ways my fleets can be killed. If this is a text game with no graphics whatsoever, I will still play it.
“Mostly but not entirely the same function” would be more accurate, although there can be cases where a particular item needs stronger medicine than that. it’s on a case-by-case basis; I have no “one size fits all” solution waiting in the wings. As for the purely visual appearance of things, I’m pretty content with it as-is; I’m not seeking to change that.
I can’t fault a man for voicing his opinions, even if they might be at variance with my own. Cue up Voltaire’s oft-attributed quote about the subject. When it comes to tinkering with balance - or even just the outer suburbs of same - it often tends to polarize folks. That’s to be expected. While I don’t agree with all opinions on this subject, I consider my own thought process to be richer for having been exposed to them. If this Balance Mod that knightofni has proposed really goes someplace interesting, I hope that it will indeed spark new optimum strategies here and there. [-stage whisper-] And fun, too!
Wow, you guys are typing too fast for me. Thanks all for the feedback.
True. Now way to avoid it completely. That’s why i recommend to use a back-up copy of your base GSB folder. Besides, I’ve included a package file so that you can differentiate “balance mod” made challenge. However you can play current challenges with balance mod and still get destroyed (just did a few SAC5…). I’m not sure whether anything else can be done…
That would be great if we could restrict new modules to new races. I’m not sure it’s doable, so for the moment i suppose it’s just easier to use a backup GSB folder and a package file. I have very little experience as a GSB modder, so i’m open to any suggestion that would make the mod easier to install and handle.
True. There’s no “ultimate fleet” - and that’s good. Still, there are a lot of shitty modules, and a lot of unused tactical options.
Excellent points. I should have been more clear in my introductory post [and i’ve now edited it]. I have two major objectives with this mod :
Make “dead-wood” modules (as Archduke calls them ) usable even if they don’t bring new tactics to the game. AND
Introduce new tactics by making current modules usable as they were intended (ex : torpedoes, target boosters)
It’s true that boosting PD to the point doesn’t add much to the game tactics. Thanks for the point, it helped clarify my thoughts. On the other hand, I think the mod introduce a few new tactics (on the fighter front). I didn’t wanted to do anything too radical for a first version.
Thanks. As 123stw pointed out, some changes are just “redundancy”, however many changes create new potential tactics. I’ve streamlined my introductory post to try to extract the most important changes
I certainly hope so. Some people are mostly interested in new tactics and others like to have options. Personally, i want both :-). They are not conflicting objectives. We just need to cooperate to achieve a better game for everyone.
I think the issue then isn’t that the quantum blaster doesn’t have a role, it’s that the pulse laser takes every role available to it. That suggests a rebalancing of the pulse laser to give it a very well defined purpose, with the quantum blaster filling a role that the pulse laser is no longer sufficient for.
Indeed it is. Thanks for taking the time of reading everything.
Actually, id doesn’t slow them down enough to make them vulnerable to frigates. They still rape them good. However, they are now killable by fighters. Moreover, now that armor is used by fighters, they are more versatile (you can use them to kill heavily armored torpedo bombers).
Well, maybe you missed that i reduced damage from 6 to 3. Pulse laser now has much lower DPS than laser cannon, so it’s useful mostly against fast fighters. You can destroy cruisers and frigates with them, just not as efficiently than the laser cannon. However it’s true that it mixes pretty well with rockets.
Not quite right, as explained above pulse laser DPS is no good. Moreover, it’s easy to get 4 armor on your fighters, and 4 armor + laser cannon absolutely destroy pulse laser fighters - and are still useful to hunt cruisers.
Atually, it’s trivial to get to > 4 armor (protects against pulse laser) or > 6 (antifighter missiles). And it really helps. Faster tracking anti-fighters weapons means that speed is no longer the only way to achieve fighter survival. Both options (speed and armor) are now usable in different tactical setups. Try torpedo bombers with 10+ armor, they really hold their own against cruisers and resist pretty well to other fighters (but get destroyed against frigates). They’re by no way perfect, but will definetely give trouble to the unprepared fleet.
Point taken. Back to drawing board.
My idea for the Phasor cannon was to make it a good and cheap short range anti-frigate weapon. Ion cannon is still better, but not in every way. Phasor cannon still has lower DPS and can’t break reflective, however it has much higher armor penetration and is cheaper in every way (cost, crew and power). I don’t think it makes sense to give it cruiser shield breaking ability - it would just become another ion cannon. Maybe lower weight and higher tracking speed to give it the edge against ion cannon frigates ?
Right. Which is why i said it was a “meek attempt”’ :). I don’t think we should give it decoys - it would just become an other missile.
Let’s try harder to make those torpedoes useful :
x Very long range (1400/1500), slightly faster missiles (around 0.16, slightly higher than cruiser missiles)
x Same range, significantly increased damage (+20/30%), increased missile speed
Comments ? Other ideas ?
Well actually, after reading your comments on redundancy, i realise this might be right in terms of balance, but it doesn’t really brings new tactics to the game, right ?
How about boosting resistance to 11 (protects against smallbeam), and increasing cost by 20/30 points ?
I feel it’s a very significant change to allow frigate missile to break cruiser shields. On the other hand it’s correct that they’re still not really usable. Moreover, if we give them 27, they just become essentially the same weapon than the cruiser one, but fitted on a different hull…
One idea could be to reduce range, increase DPS, and give 27 shield penetration. Would really be a different weapon then.
Other suggestions ? I don’t have very definite ideas on this weapon.
I’m painfully aware of this. The changes i made to fighters make carrier bays marginally more useful. But still not good enough. There are only two ways to really impact this module :
Better fighter survavibility
Faster repair rate
To be honest i’m not sure that carrier bays can be made desireable. Won’t prevent me from trying
Actually i didn’t really buffed lightweight. I reduced its HPs (they were too high compared to other engines), and reduced weight to give something back. Overall pretty neutral
Regarding Mk1, it was a bit “too good” for its costs. And let’s be honest, most of the time, when you use Mk1, you don’t care that much about speed, right ?
All these cruiser engines are more “fit” modifications (i like when the characteristics to fit the description), i don’t think they will affect gameplay much (if at all)
I’m not sure to get your point. You mean it doesn’t protect enough ? Almost 90% chance to avoid an ECM hit seems pretty fine to me. Or maybe you mean you’d rather have the ECM beam than the shield ?
True. I think the way to make them useful is to restor balance between the different missile types. Probably not by changing MWM, but by boosting others.
For the four core races, definitely. I was afraid that increasing this module too much would give an undue advantage to the Tribe. Not much experience with them.
Any ideas ? Can we push this further without giving an unfair advantage to the Tribe ?
You mean without other boosts ?
I do believe it. I was one of those :-). But only on only if i didn’t have enough power/ crew to put a basic shield. You get so much fore a measly 20 points… Light shield was poorer than all other shields in all ratios (shield strength per cost, per weight, per power), while having a very low resistance.
However, there should be a premium just to own a shield. Probably will increase back the cost a little bit.
I have two main qualms with tanks
They are boring - make battle last forever
Off course you can bypass them (smart placement, retaliate order - maybe other ways i don’t know of), but even in those cases it’s a small investment that usually pays back.
Besides, even with this change tanks will still be used. By having just one tank, you can push your opponent to take a Proton Beam, which is an inferior weapon in terms of damage potential. Seems like a pretty good investment to me.
True. Taking suggestions
Well, i suppose that the 25% increase in DPS is not enough. Gives it 30.7 DPS vs 22.5 for MWM. But megaton still suffers from their low range and slow missiles.
How about bringing missile speed to par with normal Cruiser missiles (0.09 to 0.15). Would this start to be usable ?
I actually laughed when i read that
Increased range (1300 ? 1350?) with similar other characteristics
More damage (36 ? 38?)
Other ideas ?
You mean using micro crews as a way to increase ship HPs ?? Never thought about this…
So you suggest reducing micro crew HPs ?
True. I suppose the best way to handle this situation is to make other armor cheaper rather than Ultraheavy more expensive.
You see, you simply cannot afford to use slow laser fighters given the pulse lasers high tracking. Offensive laser will no longer be variable because they will be slaughter by pulse fighters.
As for frigate spam, most of them will have max count fighters. And with pulse laser slaughtering those dual rockets it is no longer as variable of an option.
Most importantly, armor can be dealt with by mixing in a small percentage of armor breaker (rockets, frigate AA missile, cruiser pulse lasers) on rescuer/retaliate. So even with armor > 4 they will get slaughter by pulse fighters. The Tribe rocket/pulse hybrid will probably remain the best universal fighter in the game.
You need to mix in a small amount of armor breakers on rescuer/retaliate. It’s like how 20 armor does absolutely nothing to stop a CL rush if people simply put cruiser pulse laser here and there.
As both the beam laser or the ion cannon has no problem hitting other frigates, frigates just don’t need an anti frigate.
There are 2 ways you can go with it. Either have it higher tracking (between 2.6 to 3) so it works as a semi anti air, or go low tracking (below 1) but give it sufficient armor/shield penetration.
Or you can give it high damage so when it hits it really hurts. With a very small minimum range (30) so it can hit by parking right next to enemy cruisers.
Na it’s fine. Small beam isn’t a problem for frigates anyway. That 20/30 point will just make it more expensive than it needs to be.
Well, frigate and cruiser functions very differently and also has very different weaknesses. So even if they turn out to be the same as cruiser the strategy will be different.
Not entirely. Engine 1 has higher HP/cost than other engines, so sometimes you want to use multiple of them.
But you are right, it doesn’t make enough difference to affect much.
ECM shield is only useful against frigate spams. Not that there’s a problem with that, I just don’t see myself finding a use for it.
Well people argue that Fast missile is just as good, and while I disagree that is what they claim. Still better than before I guess.
Tribe repair isn’t a variable option anyway. Repair rate can not keep up with co-op fire for more than a few seconds. Camouflage/repair is not a variable strategy as every-time your ship cloak you simultaneously stop firing, it hurts you more than it helps because camouflage fires randomly.
Your changes are fine.
It’s fine either way. I am not seeing anything game breaking in either the current shield stats or your modified stats.
spend 2500+ credit to force the enemy to use 2 95 credit weapons in the whole fleet? I won’t call that a variable tradeoff… You only need enough Proton to bring armor down to 70 armor to finish off.
They only make missile spam vs missile spam last forever. CL rushing or Plasma/beam should never have problem crushing armor tanks with the co-op tag.
Don’t know what to do with quantum blast.
How about bringing missile speed to par with normal Cruiser missiles (0.09 to 0.15). Would this start to be usable ?
Slow means it cannot make use of the decrease cooldown due to the “1 missile out per launcher” limit.
Therefore, speed boost will increase it’s DPS significantly.
Again, when dealing with missile always consider the 1 active missile per launcher limit. It has terrible DPS because it is slow, only about 1/2 than of MWM.
I don’t see the imbalance in crew. It’s the one thing where every one of them gets used. So I don’t think it needs changing.
I don’t know how to make anything other than the strongest armor usable, given both the stack penalty and the module penalty for armor.