Well done on the game. I have dreamt about such a game for 15 years, and even coded up (myself and friends) various options and prototypes. But your actual game is much better than I had imagined it. The graphics are fantastic. The balance is great. Everything works crisply and quickly. Awesome job.
I have some suggestions to make it more interesting, but as you know, suggestions are easy, coding them is difficult.
To my way of thinking, this is a great tactical engine, which could be used as a resolver for a great strategy game. Rather like Dominions, or other games, a multiplayer turn-based game could result in battles which are resolved by the pre-programmed actions in GSB. So long as that game is designed on the right parameters, it should also be possible to have AI players at both the Strategic and Tactical levels. I would love to see the two go together, but I know that it is a difficult task, and I have tried myself a similar thing.
On the tactical game, some suggestions are:
Conditional orders. Establish some conditions (If , then move from the current orders to order type #2). For example, if the number of fighters falls to less than half the original, fall back to an escort role on this particular ship. If the shields on a ship go down, move to a different attack order. The idea is that just as orders can be programmed now, this could be done multiple times, with conditions establishing which orders should be followed, depending on the circumstance. Basically, give some of the programming choice to the player, but always with a simple UI, just as it has now.
In a multi battle game, Experience. Allow pilots to move from Rookie to Experienced, Veteran and Ace (or whatever) and each time get a bonus, randomly selected from a range. Some will become crack shots with improved hit chance, others will turn quicker, move faster, avoid damage better, etc. Bonuses achieved will stack.
Admirals. A fleet leader who, while their flagship is ok, provides a range of bonuses to the whole fleet.
Settable parameter for keeping a certain distance from other ships. Ships should ‘flock’ taking into account that they need to keep a certain distance from other ships in the same fleet. The player should set this. At the moment, there are great advantages to having ships mutually overlapping, basically sitting on top of one another. The disadvantages of this need to be increased. One way is to do much more damage when ships explode at the end. This can only work though if the player can have at least done something to avoid the overlapping (by setting a large separation parameter).
Space Stations. Already possible, but apart from the 1 Empire hull, not really catered for by appropriate hull types.
Area of Effect weapons. Partly to penalise the overlapping thing again, some explodiness that catches out ships in too dense a formation. I don’t mean fighters here, which are not really a problem.
Fighter formations. Attempts by the fighter squadrons to stay in a rough flock, maybe a shape that you choose from or set. That way you could organise bombers in particular to stay focused on a particular target, rather than each fighter taking individual action. Would simply be a matter of a squadron leader behaving normally, and everyone else trying to stay in formation with him.
But I think the most important thing is some kind of metagame that allows exploration, challenge and progress. A multiplayer game, no matter how simple, with this as the resolver, would be awesome.
OK, get started on that and I will dream up some more stuff tomorrow
Cheers and congratulations,