Upgrades should always improve the ship! (Burst is a bit broken)


I see the reason behind the consequences of the upgrades and I appreciate that you took the time and effort to think about all of the minute details. However, seeing as most people either don't like this or can't grasp the concept, it may be wise to have an "easy" mode where upgrades do no harm to the weapons, and a realistic mode, where upgrades penalize other aspects of the weapon.


The issue is not that some upgrades have consequences that degrade some aspects of the weapon. As you point out this kind of trade off is good design that forces the player to think! The problem is that the negative aspects of most upgrades are SO strong that they actually make the weapon worse. It's not that they curb the weapons power a little, they actually make it hands down worse than if it hadn't received additional upgrades at all, while also wasting upgrade points.

As an example lets look at the Projectile Cannon (just the easiest example, if anyone is curious I am happy to produce math for other weapons). If I put three points into recharge time the weapon does 60 dps with decent accuracy and range. This is 30 damage / 0.5s = 60dps. If I then put a point into burst, the weapon fires two shots, each doing 30 damage, and has a rof of 1.5s. Now the weapon does 2x 30 damage / 1.5s = 40dps. Yes only 40dps, it also has worse range AND reduced accuracy. It is in NO way better after this upgrade. This doesn't create interesting choices for the player, it only creates frustration.

Hopefully this example is helpful. I don't mean to be rude about the weapon design. I just want to point out that tradeoffs are good, but choices that are undeniably wrong only hurt the game.


Fleet Admiral Hood, I would agree with you, if this were a case of incautious upgrades causing a weapon to no longer suit a play style. That is a strategic decision gone wrong, and strategic decisions are good. THIS would be a case where you could ignore people that "don't grasp the concept".

Upgrades cannot be a strategic decision if there are 'correct' choices. When this happens, upgrades become no more than a formula to a player, with no strategy or decision involved because they always know how to achieve the best outcome. Right now, players learn a path through a minefield, and learn that straying from that path either doesn't help much, or sets them back.

This doesn't just hurt upgrades, either. This hurts the loot frenzy. Some of the most awesome celestial weapons I've found have been quite literally unusable, because they came with downgrades that made them worse than the cheap basic guns I can build myself. I know these guns are meant to be really cool. I know getting a flak cannon from an enemy is supposed to make me thrill with excitement. Right now it causes a little fearful trepidation, because there's about a 60% chance that its upgrades will cripple it.


I should probably add that crippling the loot frenzy contributes to what I call monofleets - fleets that are 100% projectile cannons, and one energy cannon, or fleets that are all bolter fighters, and only incidentally happen to have other weapons as well. Because the weapons the enemy drops are often crippled, and only rarely better than what I can build myself, I often find myself building an entire fleet on a single concept without any regard for drops - gatling energy cannons will get recycled into that concept, instead of finding a way to build a ship or a fleet around this awesome rare weapon.


Draikan, I do see what you mean and although I haven't done the math on paper, I've thought about the dps before I make upgrades before. Your point as well as Lurkily's points have made me understand your side better. That being said, it's just a matter of re-balancing the benefits and penalties of the upgrades. But I still think we should have some penalties, because it creates specialized weapons. Like you said, dps should never decrease (unless the benefits of the upgrade adequately outweigh the loss), but upgrades should still require strategy and thought. I shouldn't just be able to fully upgrade my projectile cannon and have the best projectile cannon in the game, because then you're turning this great game into a twist on tower defense games. Perhaps each weapon should have two upgrade paths that the player can find through trial and error (long vs. short range or fast vs. slow fire rate), still leaving the player with strategic choices to make early on in the game.


100% agree, penalties are a useful balancing tool IF applied properly. As you said, the weapons need a rebalance, they do NOT need all the penalties completely removed.

I'm not sure I would limit what the player can upgrade using different upgrade paths. I think the increasing upgrade cost does this well already. It would probably be too wasteful to try to just max everything.

The behavior you describe where everything is technically an upgrade, but the player still has to think about how they want the weapon to work is exactly what I would like to see happen. For example, again using the projectile cannon: If the player upgrades randomly the weapon would be better than the base version but it wouldn't be great at anything. However if they had put all those same upgrade points into close range damage, or long range and accuracy, they could turn the weapon into something that excels in different roles. This is what I'd like to see.


Penalties are necessary for things like burst - even the minimum benefit from burst (+1) outright doubles the effectiveness of most weapons, without other penalties.

Generally, what I've seen done in game design, is for a developer to assign a point value corresponding to the 'benefit' of a point in every possible area. (Even in things that aren't directly a part of the numbers, like how anti-hull weapons have a smaller target than anti-shield weapons.) This is rarely a perfect representation of benefit-per-point, but it gives you a good starting point in determining how much damage one upgrade in damage should convey, vs one point in range. And in highly effective upgrades like burst, it gives you a starting point for how much to scale other factors back so that the weapon still gains a certain amount of benefit, despite the setbacks you put in place.

I don't think anybody will fully upgrade most weapons - the exponentially rising costs take care of that. You may be able to obtain the Best Projectile Cannon Ever - but you will have a much weaker fleet.


You're right, the cost of fully upgrading anything in the game is an arm and a leg. However, it's not impossible. I've fully upgraded a squad of bolter drones, however it caused a glitch where only 4 drones would spawn, so I never did this again. My point is that if someone does the grinding to accumulate enough upgrade points, they will end up with an op weapon. Then any idea of pvp in the future is already corrupted because of the ridiculous power provided by one weapon alone. Add 4 more weapons, and several drone squads and then what? It would just cause problems in my opinion, but my opinion very well could be flawed.


You are right, they would have one op weapon. But they would only get that by spending way fewer points on all their other items. Because of the way upgrade costs increase, it generally makes your fleet weaker to concentrate all your upgrade points.


You don't run out of upgrade points as long as you continue grinding. Therefore anyone can have as many op weapons as their fleet can support. That's what I think we should avoid.
Lurkily said he disliked having a set formula for winning the campaign. If they make upgrade paths for the weapons, it adds challenge and variety. If they make a fully upgraded weapon the most powerful variant of the weapon, what do you think everyone will do every time? You've got another formula which is even easier to figure out than the one you use now.

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