[Mod][WIP] So I'm having a go at buffing the Empire...


#1

So there I am, having bought GSB all that time ago, fighting battles to unlock the faction with those awesome jet black, disc-shaped warships. Finally, I have the points, I unlock the race and start fitting up ship designs.
Then I actually try using them.
Oh dear.
Fast forward and I start thinking: this is one of the most beautifully moddable games I own, why can’t I try doing something about it myself?
A lot of experimentation and messing around later and this is the result.

It’s a pale shadow of what others on this forum can do, so I don’t expect it to be popular (or even particularly liked) but I just really want some opinions from better players/modders on the balance side.


The disclaimer:
I’m an utter amateur at modding, and not exactly top of the competitive ladder at playing this game. Draw conclusions from that how you will.


The aim:
To make the Empire a competitive faction, as well as more unique modules to set it apart from the other vanilla races. This also applies to their downsides - they should not be OP in the same mould as the Tribe or Outcast, and should have specific exploitable weaknesses.

Also the Imperial Beam Laser needs to be green. Seriously. Just look at it.


The concept:
Strengths

  • Strongest shields of any race.
  • Superior power output over a number of ships.
  • Strong mid-range ability in the form of advanced laser weaponry.
  • Fighters with powerful anti-capital ship weapons.

Weaknesses

  • Dogfighters are mediocre at best.
  • Shield bubbles are still large and unwieldy, which coupled with the poor dogfighters makes them quite vulnerable to fighter swarms and ion-rush attack frigates.
  • Very few armour bonused ships.

Diversity

  • A revamped Imperial Weapons Platform which provides new tactical options.
  • New anti-capital ship weaponry for fighters
  • More specific roles for each hull, giving (hopefully) all of them a purpose.

So onto the changes.

Fighters
The immediate conclusion the Imperial Naval Investigation Committee came to was that two of the three fighter designs currently in service essentially had no niche at all, and were in need of a rework to fit their relative strengths.

Ballista
Tried to make it into a slightly better all-rounder, an upgrade over the Phalanx but it pays for it.

  • Slot layout changed to 2 hardpoint 2 standard
  • Bonuses changed to speed and hull
  • Cost increased slightly

Phalanx
Why fix what isn’t broken? The Phalanx is a cheap dogfighter/rocket fighter and works fine in that role.

  • Unchanged.

Javelin
Now a heavy bomber. I doubt it’s amazingly viable right now but coupled with the new weaponry it could be interesting. Frankly, I just wasn’t sure what other niche this could fill.

  • Bonus changed to power output.
  • Base power increased.
  • Slot layout 3 hardpoint 2 standard.
  • Cost increased.
  • Size increased.

Frigates
The naval review committee took one look at the Imperial frigate lineup and, to their credit, only executed twelve of the designers. The result of their drastic overhaul is below:

Gladius
Designed to be a capable if unexceptional rush frigate, cheap and cheerful.

  • Bonuses changed to speed, power and cost.
  • Shrunk to 100m.

Cohort
Designed to be more heavily armed than the other frigates (barring the weapon platform) and generally very middle of the road.

  • One standard slot changed to a hardpoint.
  • Bonus changed to shield and power.
  • Shrunk to 120m.

Gladius
The heavy defensive frigate, this one has the most slots and one of the two armour bonuses in the entire faction but pays for it in mobility.

  • Bonuses changed to shield, armour and a penalty to speed.
  • Shrunk to 135m.

Imperial Weapons Platform
Has received a radical revamp, this hull is now specialised to carry IWP-specific support weaponry.

  • Bonuses changed to shield and a large penalty to speed.
  • One hardpoint removed.
  • Can now carry any one of the following.
    • Cruise missile silo: a very long ranged missile. This one is actually a bit shit at the moment so I’m considering changes or even removing it.
    • EMP torpedo silo: a very long ranged slow firing EMP missile.
    • Heavy shield support beam: a long range shield support module.

Cruisers
The investigation committe was fairly charitable on the matter of the navy’s cruisers, having only three of the engineers shot. They recognised that they all had potential strengths if they were just tweaked a bit…
Legion
This ship is now a light cruiser in a similar mould to the Rebel Fenrir, and is very much like a big brother to the Gladius.

  • Shrunk to 160m.
  • Slot layout changed to 5/10 hardpoint/standard.
  • Bonuses changed to speed and cost.

Centurion
Modified to be a plasma/beam laser based heavy weapons cruiser, with an additional hardpoint and high power.

  • Bonuses changed to shield and power.
  • Shrunk to 190m.
  • Changed one standard slot to a hardpoint
  • Hardpoints moved to the frontmost positions.

Imperator
Upgraded to better fill the obviously intended role of a heavy weapons cruiser, the Imperator is more optimised towards missiles with generous hardpoints but low power.

  • One standard slot changed to a hardpoint.
  • Bonuse changed to shield.
  • Hardpoints moved to the frontmost positions.

Praetorian
It’s a lump of shield and armour meant to protect more fragile ships behind it. Only minor changes made here.

  • Bonuses changed to shield, armour and a penalty to speed.

Modules

  • Imperial shield generator: combines the benefits of reflective and fast recharge shields, but with higher cost and requirements than either.
  • Imperial beam laser: not new, per se, but reworked. Now has exceptional range (960) and a green beam. Power requirements raised accordingly.
  • Fighter beam laser: a new anti-capital ship weapon for fighters. DPS and tracking is roughly on par with torpedoes, power and weight requirements about the same as a fighter laser
  • Three new weapon platform modules, see above.
  • Shield support beam: has received a slight buff.
  • Fighter Plasma Torpedoes: WIP, strictly experimental and subject to change/removal, this weapon has very low weight and power requirements, but adds a fair bit to the cost of the ship and has a rate of fire so low that it is strictly a secondary weapon. These were specifically designed for use with the Javelin, making it an extremely dangerous (albeit expensive) heavy bomber. They can also be used to add a bit of extra punch to the Ballista if you can spare the credits.

#2

First up, before I say anything else, AYE to green beams.

I always found the Empire awkward to play (the Alliance as well, but that’s a different story) but never quite figured out a good way to modify them. Shields are great, being able to retain full strength until they fall. Making the shield too powerful will prevent beam lasers from piercing, but making them too weak is dumb as well.

I like the fighter modifications, seeing how they give the fighter hulls a viable use. The high cost is neat, IMO an expensive but good fighter sounds great. I mean, they are the Empire after all, and they should have the resources to churn out such fighters. And of course, retaining an option for a cheap fighter is good too. I’m also supportive of keeping their dogfighting capabilities the way they are (more or less). I can’t imagine fighter-based beam lasers killing fighters.

As for cruisers… I use the Imperator hull for a couple of designs: a MWM backliner and a rush cruiser (with cruiser lasers). If memory serves it’s also my anti-fighter cruiser. I’m not sure what to make of the increased cost, but I do like it to be somewhat more like the Tribe’s Utopia cruiser or the Swarm’s Sekhmet: small and deadly. The speed boost is welcome too: I see the Empire as a fleet that favours beams and lasers, not missiles. When I design cruisers using the Imperator, I don’t approach it the way I would for the Alliance’s Python or the Order’s Trinity. It’s just my personal preference.

I’ll love to have an armour bonus on the Praetorian. Though in all honesty, based on appearances alone, I can’t see how Imperial ships can have decent armour. They just look fragile.

I do have some ideas for modifying Imperial cruisers, though I’m not sure about the feasibility. I see them as powerful and expensive vessels, sort of the antithesis of the Swarm. Perhaps a larger number of slots and hardpoints might work (though the Praetorian already has 20). Alternatively, much higher bonuses and an increased price tag might work out, along with more powerful Imperial-specific weaponry (read: more power/crew requirements as well).

As for a play style… I see the Empire as the antithesis of the Tribe and the Swarm. Both of these races are fully capable of charging headlong into heavy fire and wage what is essentially a war of attrition. The Empire could go with smaller fleets of powerful ships, absorbing damage with their superior shield systems and blasting the opposition into oblivion with beams once they close in. But not too close, of course. The Empire won’t want to get their hands dirty with close-ranged combat.


#3

To be honest beam lasers are very much an anti-armour weapon, and not really meant to be used on their own, otherwise they’d be the only weapon anyone ever used in this game.

By “high cost” I’d like to mention I mean by the standards of other races, they’re more expensive than Phalanxes but you’ll find the same is true of their equivilents of other races (except possibly Swarm.)
And yeah given I’m buffing other areas I really didn’t want to make the Empire much better at dogfighting, and just for the record fighter beam lasers track roughly as well as fighter torpedoes and are heavier than a regular laser, so beam fighters will get torn apart by dedicated dogfighters any day of the week. They’re just intended as an anti-capital ship weapon which doesn’t cripple your fighter like fitting torpedoes does.

Then you’ll be happy to know its role is basically unchanged, it’s just better at it, more on par with the likes of the Alliance Python or Federation Panther (if I remembered the names right, the ones with lots more hardpoints?)

I feel exactly the same, but in this case it’s very much gameplay and story segregation. It’d be great if shields were a substitute for armour, but they’re just not, so they need at least one decent armoured cruiser.

One thing I’m going for in a big way here is that their focus is kinda on the long range side. They’ve got the longest range beam lasers in the game with this mod, but their optimal is also kinda far out there and the minimum range is a bit bigger than most. Also they’re green.
They do however synergise very, very well with plasma weapons, which I felt fitted rather well :slight_smile:

Do you have any criticisms of the ideas I threw up there?


#4

I’m currently working on a kind of general balance mod. One of my plans is to improve balance among the different races, however I only have a very poor idea of how weak the Empire is or how they should be improved. Once you are done, would it be okay if you let me add your mod to my balance compilation? It would help out a lot.

As for your changes so far, I’d like to know more about what your goal is when changing the fighter bonuses around. It’s best to leave things vanilla as much as possible, so that way your mod plays nice with unmodded ship designs. For example, if anyone made a Ballista ship that makes use of it’s current power bonus, then that ship will no longer be valid when you apply your mod. Any time you were to face a challenge or campaign battle against that ship, it would disappear from the map. So if that sort of thing matters to you, you would not want to decrease any power outputs or increase any power or crew costs.

Well I think the 80+ armor tank cruiser metagame completely sucks, so the first thing I did for my mod was change all beam weapons to have about 250 armor piercing. Elegant? Watching once-invincible tanks get torn to shreds seems very elegant to me. :slight_smile:

Adding a new module isn’t really helpful for balance because unmodded designs and fleets can’t take advantage of it when you fight against them. If you just upped the shield bonuses on Empire ships, then they can take advantage of them.

For your Imperial beam laser, as said before, you should not change the power or crew requirements or current ship and fleet designs might break. Finally your fighter beam laser is an interesting idea but I doubt it would really help balance. Feel free to add it to your mod if you want another green beam, but my mod is purely editing instead of adding so I won’t want it.

Hope I helped a tiny bit, and I look forward to seeing where you go with this.


#5

About the beam lasers and the shields… that was a typo. I meant cruiser laser, not beam laser. (Though, come to think of it, a CL spam would break any shields now, wouldn’t it?)

I’m pretty happy with all that you’ve suggested =)

The problem with the Ballista is that only two weapons (the fighter lasers) would benefit from the power bonus, but you’ll end up with too much excess power even with a single power generator. In contrast, a speed bonus is far more useful. Apart from the visual aspect and personal preference, I don’t really see any reason why the Ballista would be used at all.

Shield tanks exist as well. But I don’t see any reason to improve anti-shield weapons to take them down. At any rate, armoured tanks aren’t invincible. In the event where it’s difficult to destroy them, there are ways to convince the AI to target the right ships. (Admittedly though, if you’re the defending side in a challenge, you won’t be able to do that.)

A very valid point. I admit I didn’t think of that when I responded to Capt.

At the very least, fighter beam lasers are immune to missile point defence systems. I see it more as ‘flavour’ than balance actually.


#6

I just did some tests with the Ballista and found that there are zero possible setups that could use the power bonus. None. Everything that works now will still work if you take the power bonus away. Right now, it’s as if Ballista has no bonus.

So forget what I said, go right ahead and change its bonus to something else if you want.

And Jacxis, thank you for being the only person who retaliated to my anti-fighter frigate challenge who unticked the parasite and outcast boxes. :slight_smile:


#7

As a Mac player, I don’t have the parasites and the outcasts either, so I get irritated when people don’t uncheck the boxes. Hence I make it a point to uncheck. =)

Frustratingly enough, I don’t have the ‘last stand’ command in my version of GSB from Steam. So I can’t play any challenges with that command. =(


#8

Wow. Thanks for the awesome feedback, I’ll try and address every point:

RushSecond: if you think any of what I’ve done is worth including in your balance mod, then that would be fantastic :smiley: would I get a credit mention? The modified Praetorian doesn’t really fit in with your vision for it but it was a very minor change I made anyway, and frankly I think the unmodified Praetorian has a solid niche anyway.
I acknowlege though that a fair bit of what I’ve done won’t be compatible with your mod for one reason or another though, which is fair enough. The concept for this was pretty much just to circulate it to a few friends or anyone else who wants it, and for it to slot in balance-wise with unmodded GSB.

Changelog since last post:

  • Imperial Beam Laser - range increased to 900, power/crew/cost requirements increased.
  • Imperator-class - Changed one standard slot to a hardpoint, bringing totals to 8/8. Moved all the hardpoints to the forward positions, for more uniform placement of weapons. Bonuses are untouched. This hull is now very much the glass-cannon of the Empire lineup.
  • Ballista-class - Added one standard module slot. Bonuses for hull/speed remain.
    Ok admittedly that’s a bit of a short list, I just haven’t had much time lately.

On the to-do now:

  • Legion and Centurion cruisers. I’d really like some opinions on these, because I’m not quite sure what to do with them.
    The Centurion seems like it fits in as a decent all-round “ship of the line,” and I’ll probably leave it untouched besides moving its weapon hardpoints to the forwardmost positions.
    The Legion on the other hand is, well, odd. It seems like it was intended to be a budget Centurion, being slightly smaller and cheaper and with one less slot. As I see it I have two options for this ship:
    A) Run with what seems to be the intended niche for the hull as a poor-man’s ship of the line. In this case I’d probably reduce its cost a bit more and possibly decrease its capabilities slightly. I don’t like this concept much though because quantity-over-quality is very much the Swarm’s thing and I wanted to keep the Empire distinctive.
    B) Revamp it from the ground up and give it an entirely new purpose. This would be a golden opportunity to really listen to what people would want out of a “new” cruiser and where it could fit in the lineup. Opinions very welcome.

  • Frigates
    Imperial frigates are, let’s be blunt here, garbage. Even worse than their fighters. They’re the size of a small cruiser and the shield support beam is sadly meh. The weapons platform is an interesting idea, but not a practical one.
    So: I really want to do something with these, but I’m very unsure what. New module? New bonuses? What kind of roles do frigates fill in your fleets? (If any.)

Thanks again!


#9

Im glad to know Im not the only one trying to tweak the stock factions :slight_smile:

Im working on a new version of the Rebels. Maybe one day we can pit the new Rebels against your buffed Empire :stuck_out_tongue:


#10

Progress - 29/03/13

Imperial Weapons Platform
One of the few uniquely-Empire units in the game, I’d like this thing to have a niche set distinctly apart from the other frigates.

  • Bonuses changed to 25% shield, -25% speed. It can certainly be capable of moving, but it should not be fast. As a tradeoff for this, it has remarkably solid shields.
  • I’m toying with the idea of a weapon that can be fitted only to this hull, which will have exceptionally long range.
    The end result of these two factors results in the IWP being a hull that is a largely immobile, long range fire support platform at a reasonable cost (ideally somewhere around 1200-1500) which carries a weapon of some sort that other frigates don’t have. Like the rest of this faction, it retains the hideous vulnerability to fighters but I’ll see if this balances it out well.

Major edit: after quite a lot of tweaking and editing, the IWP now has the specific niche of being a long ranged support platform which is capable of mounting any one of the following:

  • Cruise missile silo - a very long range missile about on-par with a cruiser missile in damage. So far this one is a bit crap so very much subject to change.
  • EMP torpedo silo - a very long range but somewhat slow EMP missile.
  • Heavy shield support beam - a long ranged shield support beam.
    The way I made these IWP-specific is a bit crude: they all have power requirements even a cruiser would struggle with (400), but the IWP now starts with 414 power. I don’t see this excessive power bonus as too much of a problem, as most of the fitting problems on this hull come from crew requirements but I could of course be wrong. I’m also about 90% sure you can’t crowbar these onto any other frigate hull, and even if you did it’d be such a mess that you may as well just use the IWP.

Ohhh nice. What sort of stuff have you done?
Have to say though the Rebels never really stood out to me as a race that needed a revamp, they have a lot of major strengths and are highly competitive as they are. Still, always interesting to see what other people are doing balance-wise, it might give me some ideas :smiley:


#11

Presently, it’s entirely possible to equip the standard IWP with 8 EMP missiles, though my setup lacks shields. As far as I can tell, these IWPs are decent, though the range of possible setups that can capitalize on the high amount of hardpoints is quite limited due to the power and crew requirements. So these new options for the IWP sound great. I’m not sure about the high power requirement… it might make it possible to spam other low crew requirement weapons.


#12

I personally don’t consider using the bonus to spam regular weapons a huge concern, such a setup would still be something of a glass cannon and would be inherently limited by the fact they’re frigate sized weapons on an extremely slow platform. If it were a cruiser I’d be significantly more worried. I did consider it important though to keep the specialised weaponry one-per-ship, as the idea of an eight cruise missile 1000 credit IWP makes me want to uninstall the game and run out of my door screaming.

Of course, there could be overpowered setups I’ve not forseen, but I have contingency plans in place already should that problem arise.

Right now I’m running the balance of this hull based on one question: “Is a fleet of nothing but the new IWPs viable against a competent enemy under most circumstances?”
If the answer to that question is “no”, then I’m happy. I envisaged them as a useful support ship, not something you deploy 30 of and then giggle to yourself.

Edit: what setups in particular does functionally unlimited power allow that you can think of that might be problematic balance-wise?


#13

Adding in some new weapons, new modules, and new ships.

Im even having a go at adding in “Battle Stations” in for each team. Praetors is currently coding the Rebel Hull. Im working on the Graphics for a Federation Battlestation :3


#14

Maybe instead of an armor bonus you could make a shield module that adds a “reflective/absorbative surface/something” to the ship’s hull, reducing beam laser damage. Knowing that much about tech and lasers, I think Imperials could do that. This would solve the tank problem while remaining true to lore and rather balanced since pulse lasers, missiles and other energy weapons would still be effective.

Another hi-tech module that would remain true to lore would be a radiation-damage EMP weapon.

What about a teleportation device? Does the engine support such a thing? In any case, a high-efficiency cloaking device (MKII) could do the same trick. Instead of using speed to get in close, the Empire uses technology.

Another technology that could be just the kind of stuff a galactic empire would do, would be a EMP-weapon that not only shuts down the ship but controls it for a period of time. It would then start firing against its fellow ships for a while until the crew could fight back control of its systems. A virus-beam with low shield penetration and slow fire rate, plus success rate should be relatively low?


#15

All interesting ideas, but on the whole hideously overpowered ones. Also quite a bit outside my ability in a lot of places, and indeed quite possibly outside the scope of GSB modding in general.

Massive game breaker, and I’m not even sure that’s doable with the parts of the game modders can change.

Which does what? Like an EMP with added DoT? Seems a bit unnessecary. EMP is already a very powerful weapon, something like this would be spammed harder than multiple warhead missiles.

Massive game breaker. And besides, they really aren’t a “rush” race. Their hulls are just really kinda optimized for it and to be honest I don’t actually see a problem with this state of affairs. Some races just aren’t that good at certain playstyles.

Game breaker that goes to the pieces of the game, smashes them up a bit more and then pisses on the remains. Horrendously overpowered and I’m pretty confident that with just a handful of that weapon I could destroy a good sized fleet. Hilarious, but more OP than the Tribe and Outcast put together.

I’m trying to bring them up to par with the average-good tier races. If I wanted to enact some karmic revenge on the Tribe and Outcast then I’d download the Classic Dreadnoughts mod and deploy a dozen Senators with support cruisers and frigates.
Oh wait I already did that. And giggled to myself throughout.


#16

Hehe yeah, I understand that if these modules did those things efficiently, they would be overpowered. I think it is possible to balance them, though. The problem with modding the current GSB races is that the things these ships do is very limited and there is therefore a lack of tangible differences between them. This is why Tribe is so overpowered - their bonuses are the most extreme ones and it ties directly into one of the two major strategies in the game: Either you stand still and spam, or you rush in and wage a war of attrition. The Tribe does the latter excellently. Sure, there are other ways but on the whole they tie more into (my) sense of exploration than anything else.

Adding the option of going undetected, or the option of pinning down while doing long-term damage, or a -50% damage reduction to five different weapon modules (the laser beam ones)… that would change things up a bit more than the usual speed/armor/shield/hull bonuses. I simply wanted to point you to the area outside the box!


#17

To begin with, beam lasers won’t even touch shields. And about the OP part that Capt has already addressed, perhaps a weak shield that has the ability to restore itself after collapsing?

I’ll prefer to see it as a beam laser that has weak piercing values, but a very small chance to shock the target. In this case it might work.

Not sure what the limits of modding are, considering I only started taking a look at how it’s done. Based on pure appearances alone they look like a stand-and-shoot type, with a strong preference for mid-range combat. The existing speed bonuses could work nicely: Imperial ships can move into range more quickly against a long ranged fleet, as well as kite when speedy fleets get into their minimum range. As I mentioned earlier, a mid range anti-shield beam (i.e. similar to what the Swarm has) might be a neater solution.


#18

And they were very interesting ideas (not to mention how funny the friend-foe reverser beam would’ve been.)

But yeah, the thing is with all the expansions that have appeared power creep has set in quite badly. The vanilla races just don’t stand out as much because their unique weapons don’t really vary the playstyle enough. Contrast this with races like the Outcast or Parasites, where their custom modules open up entire new fleet doctrines and strategies. In that regard: I 100% agree with you that with a lot of the races there isn’t much difference.

Regarding your point on pinning down the enemy: that is actually possible with the new weapon platforms I’ve implemented, namely the ones capable of firing extreme range EMP missiles and praying that no fighters so much as look at them funny.
Sorry if I was rude to you at all, that was not my intention, out of the box is good, but for now I want to work within existing mechanics. Adding in whole new systems adds variables to the balance equation, so for the moment at least I want to keep it simple to avoid major headaches in future.


#19

Update

Frigates
Gladius

  • Size reduced to 100
  • Bonuses changed to speed and power
    This one is intended to be the fast gunship. It’s not great compared to the ion frigates of other races but at least it’s a viable role now.

Cohort

  • Size reduced to 125
    Not exactly sure what else to do with this hull. Leaning towards power and shield, making it quite versatile, but I’m really not sure frankly. Input welcome.

Hasta

  • Size reduced to 140
  • Bonuses changed to shield, armour and a penalty to speed
    This hull is meant to be the heavy support frigate, fairly durable but slow and rather large relegating it to defensive/support roles within the main cruiser formation.

Cruisers
Legion

  • Reduced size to 175
  • Reduced cost
  • Bonus is unchanged
    This ship is now a light cruiser, in a similar style to the rebel Fenrir. Low cost, lower slots, smaller size. Not sure exactly how well this concept will pan out though and would really love some feedback. Going to be releasing this for public download soon, so that’ll help.

Centurion
Haven’t actually changed a thing so far. I think this cruiser is pretty good how it is - quite well rounded in general and I see it as very much a “ship of the line”. The reason I’m mentioning it here is basically to ask “am I wrong?” and if so, how can I improve it?


#20

If anyone is still watching this thread, I could really use some opinions. In short: I decided what to do with the Centurion.

The Centurion-class cruiser is now the Centurion-class battleship: 7 hardpoints, 14 standard, shield bonus only slightly lower than a Praetorian but it’s about as large (and I’m considering making it larger…) and isn’t cheap.
I know it’s a bit off the wall, but frankly the old Centurion just didn’t fit in anywhere. It was a master of none; the Imperator has more firepower, the Praetorian has better defences, the Legion is cheaper, and the changes I’ve made have only widened these gaps. Why not make it a polar opposite to the Legion?

Given the pricetag I doubt it’d be particularly OP (with a comprehensive weapon and defense layout it comes to a good 4k credits) but generally I was kinda out of ideas for the niche it would fill. Thoughts on what I’ve done?