When designing challenges, it seems like there is a strong incentive to make ships with near-zero speed, ensuring that they will have as much room as possible for armor, shields, and weaponry. If the challenger does the same, to fight on approximate parity in terms of available space for firepower, then they’re forced to wait for a half hour while their ships cross the screen.
In terms of having the online challenges be fun and playable, this sucks
I’m not sure what the best solution to this is. I think part of the problem is that the two long range weapons in the game - plasma and missiles, also are respectable all-around damage dealers. The difference in damage per second between these weapons and the more powerful close range weapons doesn’t seem to be enough to balance out the “home base advantage” of being able to park your ships engineless on your own side of the map, loaded up with armor and shields. A few potential ideas though:
Nerf plasma. I’m not sure by how much, there seems to be plenty of debate on this on the forums…
Add a new weapon that outranges plasma and missiles, but at a steep damage penalty. Challenge missions with stationary tanks will still be boring as heck, but at least they won’t be rewarded by being the most difficult to beat. The damage penalty would have to be sufficient that fast ships with closer range weapons still tend to win (otherwise it just becomes the new plasma).
Add a minimum ship speed requirement for challenges (draconian and heavy handed, but doesn’t interfere with the single player).
Comments welcome. I’m curious if other people are finding the same thing, or if I just haven’t hit upon the appropriate counter yet.