GSB has a good engine for resolving space battles. However, what surrounds the engine is flawed. The basic problem is that GSB can only be played in 2 ways
Playing a scenario
Neither method is ideal. The scenarios are limited in number and variety. The challenges presuppose a best fleet, but given the weapons systems, there is no best fleet, and if there was it would be boring (what do you do next).
What GSB badly needs is more play modes.
Self-Challenge Allow players to quickly assemble fleets to match against themselves. Although it is possible to do this now, it is highly cumbersome.
Quick Battle Have the computer generate a scenario from the stored ships.
Starbases Basically an immobile ship type. Can be faked under the current system, but it should be supported.
Tech Levels Assign a tech level to each module and use it in the scenarios.
Different Scenario Types Every battle is currently a fight to death. Different mission types such as escape, protect a ship or inflict damage would create variety.
Campaign A collection of linked scenarios. If would be more interesting to fight a war. This could be handled simply lik current scenarios, or with explicit rules for ship continuity and reinforcements.
Player-controlled Flagship It would be fun.
Better mod handling In the TripleA program (Axis & Allies style game), all files used in a mod can be consolidated into a single zip file. The program looks for files in the zip first, and if not found, in the regular folders. http://triplea.sourceforge.net/mywiki/TripleA%20%20
My first 4 suggestions would require little coding.
What it is not needed is a strategic game. There are plently of 4X space games around, so why make another. In such games, numbers will always beat sophisticated fleet design.
In a 4X game, strategic decisions which allow you to have a larger fleet are ore important than the actual design of the fleet. There is nothing wrong with that per se, but what makes GSB interesting is that the fine points of fleet design are what is important.
Historical naval warfare is interesting when it involves powers of comparable resources. This could be done in a strategic space game (consider GDW’s classic board game Imperium) but usually is not.
In the end a strategic game is going devolve into a series of scenarios anyhow. Why not skip the strategic game and just have interesting scenarios.
I don’t have a problem with the idea that a fleet of identical ships is better than a mixed fleet. There is historical precedent fot it. Given the logic of the weapons systems in GSB, every fleet can be beaten by another fleet specifically designed to beat it. This is because:
The overall context for the game will change for people who get the campaign version. This makes all the fleet design choices very different.
For one, there is an entirely new restriction in that you don’t have unlimited crew. For another, your fleet may be damaged from earlier battles, and thirdly, your fleet will be designed to combat various foes so the ‘designed purely to beat a specific fleet’ issue totally goes away.
Having said that, the original design of the game, and the game as it stands now is deliberately a sandbox ‘toy’ of a game, where you have no context for the battles. That’s the unique aspect to GSB, it’s all about design, formations and orders, rather than issues of resource management or grand strategy.
That sounds good. I especially like the idea of fleet continuity. Also the lack of an easy self-challenge mode, reduces its value as a sandbox.
But I also like the idea of battles with a context, even a fictional one. It increases emotional involvement and tactical possibilities. Real battles are often fought with non-optimal forces. Is the battle of the Denmark Straits less interesting because the British had an obsolete ship with a design flaw making it vulnerable to instantaneous detonation? Is the Battle of Samar less interesting because carriers designed for ASW work and shore support had to engage an enemy squadron at close range? Are convoy actions uninteresting because of the slow-moving unarmed merchantmen?
(I am already thinking about a Dunkirk scenario. I could handle merchant ships by giving them orders to go to range 999.)
I’d like to see this, but on the other hand I can see why Cliff might not be eager to implement it. If you think about it, you currently need a valid serial to get replay value beyond just replaying the premade scenarios, and although Cliff sells his games DRM-free, incentivizing actual purchases isn’t quite the same thing.
A thousand times yes.
As an option, maybe.
Escape could be cool.
No. I very much dislike the idea of giving players more control over ship behavior. The Break and Attack order I suggested is about as far as I think it would be prudent to go. Much further and I can see problems developing–either it takes hours of careful fiddling with orders to make a competitive challenge or response, or there are a couple of combinations of orders which are used to the exclusion of all others because they concentrate killing power/provide survivability so much better than the rest. Complexity is the enemy of balance.
If we’re going to do a better mod system, why not go all the way and build a real mod manager into the game, so you’re able to pick and choose mods to enable/disable, and mods that don’t conflict can be enabled together.