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Ramalina's Slightly Comprehensive Set of GSF Balance Suggestions.


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Ben Irving's open letter inspired a bit of irrational hope in me that maybe eventually GSF will get a bit more attention at some point.


I've posted a lot of fairly strong opinions on what handicaps strike class ships suffer from because I love flying strikes, but really the issues that affect them affect half the ships in GSF.

The Bloodmark/Spearpoint, Cometbreaker/Dustmaker, and Decimus/Sledgehammer join the strikes in uncompetitive purgatory, and for the same set of mechanical issues. So instead of trying a crude patch that makes strikes a bit more effective despite the mechanics, why not just fix the mechanics?


As long as I'm being irrationally optimistic, I figure I might as well be ambitious about it. The goal, all 12 ship types, "in the meta."


So here's my take on what's wrong with GSF balance, and the sorts of changes that might fix it.






GSF has a lot of good attributes as a game. It's fun, it has tactical depth in play, many varied playstyles, interesting game piece customization, and a pretty good UI for the hardware it is meant to run on.


However, game balance has never been a strong point of GSF. The current state of balance is as good as GSF's balance has ever been, and as a practical matter 50% of the game pieces are so poorly balanced that a rational player who wants to win a challenging game, is never going to pick them (except for the first few seconds of a Domination game in the case of a T3 scout). This means that the tactical depth, playstyle variants, customization options, and even the fun of a very large portion of GSF is severely devalued.



GSF balance has a large element of rock-paper-scissors to both the ship design and component design. It's not absolute to the point of gearing or ship choice guaranteeing outcomes, but it's enough to tilt the playing field pretty steeply. Call it "soft" R-P-S balance.


It's not entirely clear if this rock-paper-scissors style was an intentional design choice, but it's strong enough that I'm taking the postion that in the absence of any other clear balance scheme in GSF as it currently exists, the most practical route to good balance means taking the soft R-P-S style and making it work.


Soft R-P-S is fine as a design philosophy, and it produces a lot of the interesting play of GSF. The execution leaves a lot to be desired though. If you give a game piece in a R-P-S balance scheme the traits: wins against scissors, wins against paper, ties against rock then the R-P-S balance breaks down. The same is true of assigning the attributes: loses to scissors, loses to paper, ties with the weaker rocks. Unfortunately, the combat mechanics of the components in GSF have a lot of this sort of imbalance.


Some design rules for successful soft R-P-S balancing:

  • A customizable component should have a balanced profile of advantage:tie:disadvantage traits.
  • A game piece should have a balanced profile of advantage:tie:disadvantage traits.
  • Traits and counter-traits should be distributed in a fashion that promotes balance.
  • Traits and counter-traits should be distributed in a fashion where choice of game piece and choice of customization involves interesting tradeoffs in performance against other game pieces or configurations.
  • Follow the balancing rules, if you start piling up exceptions the system breaks.


Goals when applying soft R-P-S balance to GSF:

  • Keep the working portions of soft R-P-S style of balance that currently exist in GSF.
  • Try to preserve characteristic playstyles of current ships, especially in areas that match their conceptual themes.
  • Assume that ships retain all of their current components, but don't get access to additional components unless there's a really compelling reason.
  • Define clear roles for components and identify the attributes they need to excel in those roles.
  • Apply buffs and nerfs in a manner that leaves components the best in their defined role, but clearly surpassed by competing components in other roles.
  • Identify clear roles for each ship type, and make sure that the components available are capable of allowing the ship to excel in those roles.


A list of GSF combat table traits and their counters:


Evasion : Accuracy, high rate of fire, guided missiles/torpedoes.

Shields : High raw damage, bonus shield damage, shield pierce/ignore.

Armor : Armor piercing/ignore.




There's an important point about the mechanical nature of the three defenses I'd like to point out, which is that shields work in a fundamentally different way than evasion and armor, and this is probably a contributing reason that ships built with purely shield based defensive components suffer slightly in competitive environments.



When incoming damage is working against evasion or armor the math looks approximately like this:


[incoming_damage]*[1.0 - defensive_stat]= damage_done.


Typically that means damage done is between 0.8 and 0.66 of incoming damage for passive armor or evasion, and between 0.5 and 0.01 during evasion or armor cooldowns, unless an offensive counter-trait negates the defense.


When incoming damage is working against shields the math looks like this:


[incoming_damage] = damage_done.


In compensation, the ship tends to have a few hundred points more shield heath.



In comparison to passive armor and evasion, shields tend to be competitive or superior. Shield damage is self healing rather than persistent. For small amounts of damage over a long period of time that tends to be more effective than a low magnitude multiplicative defense.


Compared to active evasion and armor cooldowns when dealing with burst damage, shields get completely blown away. The additive nature of their benefits just can't compete with the multiplicative nature of high values of evasion or armor unless shield values are adjusted up to the point where they are fairly ridiculous (and even then make unimpressive defenses, as shown by Fortress Shield and Overcharged Shield).


From a mechanical balance point of view, it would be a decent idea to add a multiplicative defensive attribute to the non-evasion/non-armor shields. Call it something like shield hardness or shield modulation and make it be countered 100% by ion and emp weapons. The piercing portion of damage from weapons with shield piercing would also ignore shield hardness. Assign the values to be less than are found on evasion and armor components to balance the superior traits of shields as a passive defense. I'd ballpark something like 10 - 25% for Fortress and Overcharged, and 5-15% for Quick Charge, Directional, and Shield Projector.


Some of the raw shield amounts might have to be dialed back a bit if this were done, but making all three defensive categories on the combat table have a multiplicative element would make tuning balance finely a bit easier than trying to balance two strongly multiplicative defenses against one purely additive defense.




In addition to balance mechanics for combat rolls there are positional balance traits, which are more of a flight combat style of balance. In general, the rule for positional balance is that there should be an advantaged position for any game piece, and the ability to get to and fight in their preferred advantageous position should be fairly even among all the game pieces.


In GSF boost endurance, turn rate, weapon range, firing arc, tracking penalties, area denial tools, and need for cover figure into this. In general the positional balance of GSF is a lot better than the combat table balance. Currently strikes are somewhat distressed in terms of positional strength, but if all the crippling combat table issues were fixed they might get by with a very small positional buff, or perhaps even no buff.


In a truly well balanced GSF, you could have a random ship function for the hangar, similar to the random mount fuction, and the prospect of using it during a Super Serious event would be fun instead of making you cringe.

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So here's an approximation of what I think GSF components might look like if good soft R-P-S balancing rules were consistently applied to them. I didn't do enough math to claim that this is a fine tuned balance, it just tries to fix the badly broken mechanical issues to the point where the prospect of fine tuning is actually realistic. There's nothing to say that other fixes couldn't work, but this is what I came up with when trying to be consistent in design principle, to improve balance enough to get all the ships competitive, and preserving the existing flavor of the game as much as possible.



A note about armor piercing:

In the examples below, I assume that armor piercing can be dialed to any value between 0 and 100%. The basis for this is an assumption that it's coded similarly to how shields and evasion work, and the 20% armor piercing that exists on the Plasma Railgun debuff as evidence that this is the case. In the event that this assumption is incorrect, I'd recommend that the developers go back and fix armor and armor piercing to be adjustable instead of binary, but could live with having all the components with recommendations for nerfing AP getting nerfed down to 0% AP, and the components with AP additions recommended getting buffed to 100% AP.



Key to color coding and symbols

:sy_lightside: Critical fix. Has a large and important effect on balance.

Orange: Difficult fixes that require serious modification of existing mechanics or coding of new ones.

Green: Stuff the Devs got completely right (as far as I can tell).




Ion Railgun

Role: Shield damage and disrupting stacked ships or deployables.

Role Attributes: Highest shield damage for a railgun, AOE splash damage to shields and deployables.

Competing components surpass: hull damage, armor piercing

Changes: Update the tier 5 tooltips to reflect the current in game values. Optionally, increase shield damage a bit and decrease energy drain a bit. Not more than 200 damage buff and 5 energy drain nerf.

Comments: At present I think that Ion Railgun is an example of GSF balance done pretty well. It's strong, has a specific role, has meaningful tradeoffs/weaknesses, and combines well with other components for deeper tactical play.



:sy_lightside:Slug Railgun

Role: Currently the railgun that's so good you don't need another railgun.

Proposed role: anti-evasion and raw damage railgun.

Role attributes: higher rate of fire and high accuracy

Competing components surpass: Armor damage, Shield damage, Debuffs.

Changes: Remove armor piercing tier 3, move 3% accuracy and 5% tracking bonus to tier 3.

Tier 4 left side: 6% accuracy and 5% damage,

Tier 4 right side: 10% less power consumption becomes 15% less power consumption and 10% reduction in charge time.

Comments: In terms of game mechanics, Ion is the obvious anti-shield railgun, Plasma looks like a very good canidate for the anti-armor railgun, leaving Slug as the anti-evasion railgun which is a role where it already excels.




:sy_lightside:Plasma Railgun.

Role: Currently the "lol DOTs" railgun.

Proposed role: Anti-armor railgun and single target defense debuffs.

Role attributes: armor piercing damage, armor debuff with DOT

Competing components surpass: shield damage, anti-evasion, raw DPS.


Tier 3: Reduced power draw replaced with 100% armor penetration.

Tier 4: Melt armor debuff increased from ignore 20% damage reduction to ignore 40% damage reduction. Melt thrusters debuff increased to 15% evasion penalty.

Comment: Gets a clear role as the anti-armor railgun and hopefully becomes an interesting choice in competition with Slug and Ion.






:sy_lightside:Burst Laser Cannon

Role: Currently, "short range cannon to end all short range cannons."

Proposed role: Bursty ultimate short range dogfighting cannon against unarmored targets.

Role attributes: High accuracy at short range, low tracking penalty, low rate of fire/high burst damage.

Competitors surpass: Raw damage output, armor piercing, shield specific damage, rate of fire.


Tier 4 left side: Reduce Ignore Armor from 100% to 10%, if this is not possible then change to something like 6% accuracy increase.

Comments: Keeps it the ultimate cannon for close range turning fights against unarmored opponents. The loss of armor piercing gives an opportunity for other 4 km range cannons to have a reason for existing other than, "because they didn't put BLCs on this ship."


Ion Cannon

Role: Short range cannon for demolishing shields with ludicrous speed, even through evasion.

Role attributes: High shield damage, high accuracy, high rate of fire, low tracking penalties.

Competitors surpass: hull damage by a giant margin, armor damage.

Changes: None needed.



:sy_lightside:Rapid Fire Laser Cannon

Role: Currently the worst available primary weapon.

Proposed role: Beginner friendly anti-armor short range cannon.

Role attributes: High rate of fire, low tracking penalty, low energy draw, moderate armor piercing.

Competitors surpass: Raw damage, dogfighting suitability, burst damage.


Tier 2: Replace Reduced Power Cost with 50% armor penetration, or 100% if AP has to be binary.

Comments: Spray and pray offerings from default ships now are also sent to the altar of the gods of armor penetration. The preferred 50% AP is mostly from a feeling that the ships with RFLs should want to think twice about taking on a CP bomber and that with TT or BO and Frequency Capacitor scouts might be a little too good at point blank bomber killing if RFLs had 100% AP.


Light Laser Cannon

Role: The raw damage output short range lasers.

Role attributes: Very high raw damage, high rate of fire.

Competitors surpass: Shield specific damage, armor piercing, dogfighting suitability.


Increase tier 1 damage boost from 5% to 10%

Increase tier 3 firing rate upgrade from 8% to 10%

Comments: Damage adjusted up to compensate for difficulty in hitting targets compared to other short range blasters.


Quad Laser Cannons

Role: Medium range cannon on ships that don't have Laser Cannons.

Role attributes: Medium range, good accuracy, high damage.

Competitors surpass: Power efficiency by a small margin, effectively interchangeable with Laser Cannons.

Changes: None proposed.


Laser Cannons

Role: Medium range cannon on ships that don't have Quad Laser Cannons.

Role attributes: Medium range, good accuracy, good damage.

Competitors surpass: Raw damage by a small margin, effectively interchangeable with Quads.

Changes: None proposed.


Heavy Laser Cannon

Role: Medium-Long range anti-armor laser cannon

Role attributes: Long range, high accuracy at range, armor piercing

Competitors surpass: Raw damage, short range usability.

Changes: Give it a 1 km base range increase.




Role: Anti-armor secondary weapon, ammo limited.

Role attributes: Armor piercing, shield piercing, no damage fall-off with range, no lock warning.

Competitors surpass: Anti-evasion (guided missiles), ammo supply endurance.

Changes: none.





Cluster Missile

Role: Slightly bursty short range dogfighting missile.

Role attributes: Short lock time, wide firing arc, short reload, moderate-high damage.

Competitors surpass: Debuffs, armor piercing, max damage.

Changes: Increase base reload time to 3.5 seconds.


Interdiction Missile

Role: Modest dps, and keep target from fleeing a dogfight.

Role attributes: Short lock, wide arc, snare effect, turning debuff.

Competitors surpass: Damage, rate of fire, debuff strength.

Changes: None.


Sabotage Probe

Role: Turning rate disable missile.

Role attributes: Disables maneuvering, short range, wide arc, medium lock.

Competitors surpass: Damage, range, non-maneuvering related debuffs.

Changes: Fix tier five bug that breaks maneuvering disable, reduce reload to 8 sec.


Ion Missile

Role: Anti-shield and minor engine debuff.

Role attributes: Massive damage to shields, slow/drain debuffs.

Competitors surpass: Hull damage by large margin, debuffs to non-shield traits.

Changes: Increase base damage to 1800 shield/225 hull, reduce reload time to 6 sec.


EMP Missile

Role: Clear/neutralize mines and drones, ship system lockouts.

Role attributes: AOE anti-deployable effects, system debuff.

Competitors surpass: Shield and hull damage.

Changes: Reduce reload time to 6 sec, increase base radius to 4000 m, T4 increase range bonus to 20% and ammo to 5.

Thanks to Despon for catching that this looked a bit off, in the course of editing a couple of the recommended buffs got left out. They are now back in.




Concussion Missile

Role: General purpose medium range damage missile.

Role attributes: High damage, medium lock time, shield and armor piercing, medium firing arc.

Competitors surpass: Range, firing arc, lock time, debuffs.

Changes: None.



:sy_lightside:Proton Torpedo

Role: Low rate of fire armor and shield piercing missile, anti-bomber weapon.

Role attributes:Armor piercing, shield piercing, high damage.

Competitors surpass: Maximum damage, debuff.

Changes: increase base damage to 975, decrease base lock time to 3.5, decrease reload time to 9 sec.

Comments: It's possible that a 3.5 sec base lock-on period would be too spammy for torpedoes, tuning to 3.6 or 3.7 base lock-on might be called for based on play test results.



:sy_lightside:Thermite Torpedo

Role: Anti-armor and anti-shield debuff missile, anti-bomber weapon.

Role attributes: High damage, armor piercing, debuff.

Competitors surpass: Burst damage, shield piercing.

Changes: Increase base damage to 1350, decrease base lock-on time to 3.5 -3.7, decrease reload time to 9 sec.






Seeker Mine

Role: Area denial against unarmored ships with short range weapons.

Role attributes: Anti-evasion, high damage, trigger range.

Competitors surpass: Shield piercing damage, debuffs.

Changes: None.


Seismic Mine

Role: Area denial within satellite activation range.

Role attributes: Shield piercing, moderate damage, movement debuff.

Competitors surpass: Range, raw damage, number deployed.

Changes: None.


Interdiction Mine

Role: Short range snare with moderate damage, evens dogfights for bombers.

Role attributes: Powerful snare.

Competitors surpass: Raw damage, piercing damage, number deployed.

Changes: None.


Concussion Mine

Role: Raw damage short range mine.

Role attributes: High damage, shield piercing

Competitors surpass: Debuffs.

Changes: None.


Ion Mine

Role: Anti-shield and debuff short range mine

Role attributes: Shield damage, debuffs.

Competitors surpass: Hull damage, movement debuffs.

Changes: Increase shield damage to 1350.


Railgun Drone

Role: large area denial, primarily against scouts

Role attributes: Ignores evasion, 10 km range, shield piercing

Competitors surpass: DPS, debuffs.

Changes: None.


Interdiction Drone

Role: Under satellite snare, moderate dps

Role attributes: Powerful snare effect.

Competitors surpass: Raw damage, range, piercing and anti-evasion effects

Changes: None.


Missile Sentry Drone

Role: Medium range DPS, anti-evasion

Role attributes: Missile system, range, DPS.

Competitors surpass: Max range, debuffs.

Changes: Increase cannon range to 6 km.




Barrel Roll

Role: Defensive cooldown with missile break, forward movement, evasion boost.

Role attributes: Movement, missile break, evasion.

Competitors surpass: Shorter cooldown, alternative movement choice.

Changes: No change.

Comments: Simplest movement type to learn, moves the greatest distance per use.



Power Dive

Role: Defensive cooldown with missile break, inverted dive movement, evasion boost.

Role attributes: Movement, missile break, evasion.

Competitors surpass: Ease of avoiding being splattered across the face of an asteroid.

Changes: No change.

Comments: Shortest cooldown missile break maneuver, but somewhat crash prone.


Retro Thrusters :

Role: Defensive cooldown with missile break, backward movement, evasion boost.

Role attributes: Reposition for offensive opportunites, missile break, evasion.

Competitors surpass: Shorter cooldown, alternative movement choice.

Changes: No change.

Comments: Missile break engine move that has offensive utility.



Koigran Turn : No change.

Role: Defensive cooldown with missile break, 180 vertical turn movement, evasion boost.

Role attributes: Reverses heading in a space efficient maneuver, missile break, evasion.

Competitors surpass: Shorter cooldown, alternative movement choice.

Changes: No change.

Comments: Missile break engine move for use near obstacles.


Snap Turn

Role: Defensive cooldown with missile break, 180 horizontal turn movement, evasion boost.

Role attributes: Reverses heading in a space efficient maneuver, missile break, evasion.

Competitors surpass: Shorter cooldown, alternative movement choice.

Changes: No change.

Comments: Missile break engine move for use near obstacles.



Hyperspace Beacon

Role: Team travel utility for respawns.

Role attributes: Deployable temporary spawnpoint for team.

Competitors surpass: Defensive utility, personal movement utility.

Changes: None.


Shield Power Converter

Role: Rapid replenishment of shields using engine power.

Role attributes: Converts engine pool to shield pool.

Competitors surpass: Missile defenses, evasion boost, mobility.

Changes: Add 20% shield regeneration for 6 seconds after use.

Comments: A damage sponge can feel pretty squishy if someone is shooting at you, even if it's a big sponge.



Interdiction Drive

Role: Chiefly looks like a tool for getting a bomber safely to a neighboring satellite in a domination match, with minor side benefits for dogfighting.

Role attributes: Speed increase, snare.

Competitors surpass: Missile break, evasion.

Changes: Possibly add a 10 to 15 second cooldown reduction to the tier one upgrade (on top of cost reduction).

Comments: Even if it does its job superbly well Interdiction is competing against some of the strongest engine abilites and is likely to have limited appeal.



Rotational Thrusters

Role: Help a gunship use railguns as a point blank range defense?

Role attributes: Orient ship at currently selected target, improve chances of railgun hits at very short ranges.

Competitors surpass: Defensive and movement utility.

Changes: I'll defer to more expert gunship pilots with better ideas for what this needs, but maybe a giant reduction in tracking penalty (as far as to 0%?) for 3 or 4 seconds after activation?

Comments: Haven't used it personally, but seems like the engine you'd want to use after using Barrel Roll, ideal for those double engine gunships. ;) Recommended tracking penalty removal rather than accuracy buff on the basis that it seems like this is supposed to be more of a defensive maneuver than an offensive tool. So a buff that's strongest at short ranges seemed appropriate.



Weapon Power Converter

Role: Sacrifice significant defensive and positional advantages for weapon power you could have gotten by shifting to power to weapons or picking up a yellow TDM power-up.

Proposed Role: Weaker but more generalized version of Blaster Overcharge.

Role attributes: Increase weapon damage output.

Competitors surpass: Defensive and mobility utilities.

Changes:Base ability changed to consume 20% of engine power to increase weapon damage by 15% for 4 seconds.

Tier three upgrade changed to: Left side option, Increase blaster rate of fire 15% and decrease railgun charge time by 10% or Right side option, Increase engine power regeneration by 15%.

Comments: For better or worse, in GSF magnitude/burst of DPS is much more important than duration of continuous DPS. The change tries to reflect that.





Targeting Telemetry

Role: Increase offensive and/or defensive power of a ship.

Role attributes: Bonuses to crit, crit damage, accuracy, evasion and weapon range. High uptime.

Competitors surpass: Primary weapon damage boost, movement utility.

Changes: None.

Comments: The uncloak function is a historical vestige, but TT is strong enough that having an efffectively empty upgrade doesn't hurt it.


Blaster Overcharge

Role: Pew! Pew-pew-pew! Er, increase primary weapon DPS, a lot.

Role attributes: Increases blaster rate of fire, crit, range, and damage.

Competitors surpass: Any effect that doesn't relate to primary weapon DPS.

Changes: Increase tier 3 duration upgrade from 3 seconds to 5.

Comments: Could stand to be a little more competitive as a choice against targeting telemetry.



Booster Recharge :

Role: Boost endurance buff, on a massive scale.

Role attributes: Massive increase in engine power regeneration when triggered.

Competitors surpass: Damage buffs, healing buffs, debuffs.

Changes: None.


Tensor Field

Role: Team boost endurance, speed, and maneuvering buff.

Role attributes: AOE speed, engine regeneration, and maneuvering buffs.

Competitors surpass: Damage buffs, healing buffs, debuffs.

Changes: None.


Repair Drone

Role: Deployable heals and ammo refill.

Role attributes: AOE heal, ammo refill.

Competitors surpass: Damage buffs, maneuverability buffs, resistance to shootdown.

Changes: None.



Repair Probes

Role: Heal and ammo refill.

Role attributes: AOE heal, ammo refill, unable be terminated by opponents.

Competitors surpass: Max potential heal, duration, damage buffs, maneuver buffs, debuffs.

Changes: None.


Combat Command

Role: Team offensive buff.

Role attributes: Accuracy and crit AOE buffs

Competitors surpass: Maneuver buffs, healing, utility buffs.

Changes: Decrease base cooldown to 60 seconds and base duration to 10 seconds.

Tier 3, increase duration extension to 5 seconds. Tier 4 left side change to increase primary weapon rate of fire by 5% for all ships affected by Combat Command.

Comments: Increases frequency with which ability can be used and replaces maximum weapon power buff with something useful. Slightly increases average uptime.



EMP Field

Role: Anti-minefield/drone utility.

Role attributes: Mine and drone disable, debuffs.

Competitors surpass: Offensive buffs, maneuver buffs, healing.

Changes: Increase base range to 5000 m.

Comments: Ease of use buff for less experienced players or those on laggy connections.


Sensor Beacon

Role: Really unimpressive map awareness utility.

Proposed Role: Map awareness utility that's strong enough to maybe be slightly useful.

Role attributes: Sensor range, debuffs.

Competitors surpass: Pretty much everything except map visibility enhancement.

Changes: Decrease base cooldown to 60 seconds, increase tier 2 sensor range extension from 5000 m to 15,000 m.

Comments: Might now have enough strength to be situationally useful for skilled teams in coordinated play.


Remote Slicing

Role: Single target debuff.

Role attributes: System, shield, and engine disables, energy drains and debuffs.

Competitors surpass: Mobility buffs, damage buffs, healing, other utilites.

Changes: Increase base shield drain to 50 per second.

Tier 4 left: Change to," Drain 20 engine power and decrease engine power regeneration 25% while ability is active."

Tier 4 right: Change to, "Drain 20 weapon power and decrease weapon power regeneration 25% for the duration of the ability."

Comments: Not sure if that's enough of a buff, might also require a bigger cooldown reduction. Perhaps increase the tier 1 upgrade to 25 or 30 seconds?







:sy_lightside:Distortion Field

Role: Pre-emptive evasion based defensive cooldown.

Role attributes: Passive and active evasion boosts, missile break.

Competitors surpass: Shield strength, armor strength.

Changes: Change missile break to only affect missiles during the lock on process, not break lock on already fired missiles. Could gain 3 second lock immunity similar to after use effect of engine maneuvers.

Comments: Yes, involves coding, possibly inconvenient and difficult coding. Do it anyway. Makes the missile break portion and the evasion portion both share the requirement, "hit the cooldown before they fire at you." Makes ideal employment combined with engine missile breaks a bit more sophisticated, DF before launch, engine maneuver after launch.




Directional Shield

Role: Resource re-allocation based shield.

Role attributes: Shield strength transfer between arcs.

Competitors surpass: Evasion, armor, regeneration, ease of use.

Changes: Gain 5% shield hardness for 3 seconds after activation, if shield hardness is implemented.

Comments: The best of the purely shield based shields.



Feedback Shield

Role: Reflective damage shield.

Role attributes: Damage reflection.

Competitors surpass: Shield strength, evasion, armor.

Changes: Gain 5% shield hardness for 5 seconds on activation if shield hardness is implemented.


Fortress Shield

Role: Allows ship to cower behind defenses that will be promptly destroyed.

Proposed Role: Allow ship to cower behind formidable defenses.

Role attributes: High shield amount, ideally including multiplicative damage reduction mechanic.

Competitors surpass: Mobility while defending, armor, evasion.

Changes: Gain 25% shield hardness for 15 seconds after activation.

Comments: Change makes it hard to deal with without anti-shield traits, but also somewhat discourages continuous deployment due to hardness duration being less than shield boost duration. Depending on playtest results, duration of shield hardness might be reduced to 10 or even 5 seconds.



Overcharged Shield

Role: Big shield that gets bigger on cooldown.

Role attributes: Base shield increase, cooldown max shield increase.

Competitors surpass: Armor, evasion, utilites, regeneration.

Changes: Add 10% shield hardness for 10 seconds on activation if shield hardness is implemented.

Comments: Competes against very strong shields, likely to remain niche.




Quick Charge Shield

Role: Shield with regeneration for utility shields and engines.

Role attributes: Quick repair of shield, regeneration buffs.

Competitors surpass: Shield strength, armor, evasion, other utilites.

Changes: Reduce base shield penalty to 15%, add 5% shield hardness for 5 seconds on activation if shield hardness is implemented.

Comments: No longer gives up too much shield strength for the amount of utility gained.


Charged Plating :

Role: Armor buff shield

Role attributes: Base shield buff, armor boost on cooldown.

Competitors surpass: Shield strength, shield regeneration, evasion, other utilites.

Changes: None.


Engine Power Converter

Role: Boost endurance buff.

Role attributes: Convert shield energy to engine engergy at a favorable rate.

Competitors surpass: Shield strength, armor, evasion.

Changes: None.




Shield Projector

Role: Team shield regeneration buff shield.

Role attributes: Regeneration rate increase, AOE buff.

Competitors surpass: Shield strength, armor, evasion, other utilites.

Changes: Increase base regeration rates from 30 to 35, increase base range to 4500 m, reduce base shield penalty to 15%. Gain 5% shield hardness for 6 seconds after activation if hardness is implemented.





Large Reactor

Role: Maxium initial protection reactor

Role attributes: Large boost to max shield points.

Competitors surpass: Regeneration rate, regeneration delay reduction.

Changes: None.


Regeneration Reactor

Role: Best regeneration rate reactor.

Role attributes: highest regeneration and recently consumed regeneration.

Competitors surpass: Max shield points, full regen delay.

Changes: increase rates from 8/4/4/4% to 12/6/6/6%


Turbo Reactor

Role: Shortest delay to full regen rate reactor.

Role attributes: Significantly reduces shield regen delay

Competitors surpass: Max shield points, recently consumed regeneration.

Changes: Increase reductions from 24/12/12/12% to 25/14/14/14 %.




Astonishingly, all are fine as they are. Well done Devs.




Regeneration Extender

Role: Increase weapon power regeration rate.

Role attributes: Increase weapon power regeneration.

Competitors surpass: Ammo increase, max weapon pool.

Changes: None.



Munitions Capacity Extender

Role: Increase amount of available ammo for missile weapons.

Role attributes: Increase available missiles, torpedoes, and rockets.

Competitors surpass: Weapon rengen, max weapon power pool.

Changes: None.

Comments: A bit weak at present, but should gain power if missiles are more usable.


Power Pool Extender

Role: Increase maximum weapon energy pool.

Role attributes: Energy pool increase.

Competitors surpass: Sustained contribution to DPS.

Changes: None.

Comments: Could maybe be buffed to 12/6/6/6 %. It's a bit lacklustre at present.




A bit weak as a category, but at present all are ok with respect to balance, so no changes recommended. If the stealth ship idea is ever resurrected then they might warrant a reexamination.



Reinforced Armor : Additive effect, and therefore weaker than the other armors, but no change proposed.


Lightweight Armor : No change.


Deflection Armor: No change.




Power Thrusters

Role: Increase max engine pool.

Role attributes: Engine pool size increase.

Competitors surpass: Regeneration, speed, turning.

Changes: Increase to 12/6/6/6% increase to max engine power.

Comments: The most underperforming thruster at present.


Regeneration Thrusters: No change.


Speed Thrusters

Role: Increase base ship speed.

Role attributes: Base speed increase.

Competitors surpass: Rgeneration, max energy, turning rate.

Changes: Increase from 4/2/2/2 % buff to 6/3/3/3% buff.

Comments: Slightly on the weak side at present.


Turning Thrusters : No change.





Not at all needed, but there are some obvious gaps in the mechanics that could be filled. Here are fillers for two of them.




Auto reloader

Role: Increase missile average DPS.

Role attributes: Reload time reduction.

Competitors surpass: Weapon energy effects, ammo capacity.

Changes: Reduce reload time of missiles and torpedoes by 4/2/2/2%

Comments: A bit more variety for missile damage buffs. Could also be made to apply to mines.





Conductive Armor

Role: Anti engine drain, slow, and interdiction armor.

Role attributes: Engine drain reduction, snare reduction.

Competitors surpass: Ability to survive incoming damage.

Changes: Reduces engine power drain, slow, and interdiction effects by 20/10/10/10%.

Comments: If people would rather take damage than be snared, why not let them?

Ideally all strikes would have this as an option. Make a ship specific reactor version on the T1 strike?




So what would these component changes do to the ships? Here are the intended effects for each. As a note, nerfs and buff assesments are not a matter of liking or disliking ships, it's just a forecast of what would happen if you followed this as an outline for improving the overall balance of GSF using soft R-P-S as a guiding design principle.




T1 Gunship:


  • Role: Most versatile gunship with strongest support utilities.
  • Mild nerf.
  • Creates interesting choices between railguns instead of simply being, "don't pick Plasma."
  • Instead of a pair of railguns being great against all defenses, a pair of railguns gets to be great against 2 kinds of defenses on the combat table.
  • Becomes weaker against CP builds at short range due to BLC changes, not a huge problem for a standoff ship design.


T2 Gunship:


  • Role: Destroyer of all things armored.
  • Very large buff.
  • Anti-armor capability buffed to be superior to the T3 gunship's, and competitive with or slightly better than the T1's. Between an improved Plasma Railgun, improved Torpedoes, and HLCs, the hope is to strike fear into the hearts of bomber pilots everywhere, and maybe CP builds in general.



T3 Gunship.


  • Role: Mobile dogfighting gunship, specializing in anti-evasion.
  • Large nerf against armored targets.
  • Still the most survivable gunship, still very deadly against all gunships, all scouts, some strikes and some bombers, but likely to struggle with targets running full CP + armor builds. Now a specialist offensive ship instead of a generalist offensive ship, but should be able to perform its specialty competitively in all or almost all GSF matches. Adding RLFs to give it at least some teeth against armored targets would be ok.




T1 Scout.


  • Role: The hit and run scout, utility off-builds.
  • Buffed offensive options.
  • Mild defensive nerf.
  • Very little overall change in place with regard to game balance, but some more variation in what might make a viable build. Distortion builds become more vulnerable to missiles.


T2 Scout.


  • Role: Attack scout with high build variety.
  • Moderate nerf.
  • Quads and pods builds unaltered offensively.
  • BLC builds massively nerfed against targets with CP builds, but still by far the best dogfighters in GSF and with no shortage of targets to dogfight.
  • RFL builds become the option of choice if you want to tackle a bomber under the satellite or one of those charged plating strikes.
  • LLC builds based on Sabotage Probe are still troll builds, but at least they have a better prospect of trolling successfully.
  • Weaker missile defense on Distortion Field, but probably not enough to motivate switching to Directional or Quick Charge.



T3 Scout


  • Support and anti-armor scout.
  • Moderate buff.
  • Becomes a reasonable contender for bomber suppression after that initial Tensor wears off.




The strike chassis could use another 1.5/s engine energy reneration and another 1.5/s recently consumed engine energy regeneration.


T1 Strike.


  • Role:Blaster based generalist offensive strike.
  • Mild buff.
  • Ion - RFL builds become a reasonable short range option, defensively may lose a bit of ground if shield hardness is not implemented. Probably becomes the weakest strike overall, but in a more generally strike friendly environment.
  • Possibly add Power Dive as a defensive option.



T2 Strike

  • Role: Generalist missile based offensive strike, increased potential for utility missile builds.
  • Significant buff.
  • Missiles are more usable and more useful. Charged plating should be more viable as a defensive option with AP moved off of two of GSF's burstiest weapons.


T3 Strike.

  • Role: Systems based strike, particularly strong on the node in Domination, but perhaps also respectable away from cover with systems changes.
  • Moderate Buff.
  • Increase in offensive power, especially against bombers on the node. CP becomes slightly more viable off of the node.







  • Role: Crotchety old bomber that yells, "Get off my satellite you pesky kids," at anything not using Charged Plating and Deflection Armor.
  • Moderate nerf.
  • While the bomber itself isn't changed that much torpedoes become significantly more threatening. Worrying about BLC scouts can be replaced with worrying about RFL scouts, which are likely to be a bit less worrying even with AP on RFLs.


Drone Carrier


  • Role: Make life miserable for any scout, strike, or gunship with poor drone awareness, create refuges for allies in TDMs.
  • Slight nerf.
  • A number of components are buffed, but Torpedoes become a lot more threatening. Drones are frightfully effective against new players, which I why I didn't recommend much in the way of changes for them, but maybe they could be more durable. On the other hand, scouts are a bit weaker against seeker mines and missile drones with the Distortion Field changes. It would call for monitoring the balance with regard to drones.





  • Role: The liberal arts bomber. It thinks maybe it might want to dogfight, but it'll put the final decision off until after grad school.
  • Minor buff.
  • The components aren't that terrible, but the builds are even better than strike builds at not adding up to more than the sum of the parts. At least torpedoes have some oomph now. I'd consider making Seeker Mines available in the system slot. A wierd buff, but it's a wierd bomber and it seems like something that would really fit well with the ship.





So that's it. The answer to, "Ramalina, if you had to fly random ships out of your hangar in Super Serious events every night for the next six months, what would you want GSF balance to look like?"



My very TLDR version of GSF's balance problems would be:

Missiles don't work well enough, giving AP to BLC and Slug made them OP because they counter all combat table defensive traits, and ships with evasion have stronger overall defenses than ships with armor and shields. A short list, but it affects a lot of ships and a lot of components.


If the developers do get a chance to revisit GSF in terms of balance, I hope they'll consider what they have for resources, and preferentially address overall balance issues, and resort to strike specfic buffs only in cases where time crunch leaves them with no other choice, or as a luxury item after general balance is in good shape.

Edited by Ramalina
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T1 GS:

Perfect crippler (5 energy drained isnt that much of a difference)

heavily increased anti-scout capagilities (ion'em, slug'em , finish with BLC)

pretty bad against bombers (cleaning the minefields and crippling but no real damage against CP)


T3 GS.

Good dogfighter (interd missile with nearlysame damage as cluster and nasty slow effect)

Good at close and long range.



T1/T2 strikes buffed a little. A good thing.



T2 scout heavily nerfed - leaving only 1 missile break, with 2nd close to being useless. Removed armor piercing from main weapon (RFL with 50%?...). Good in dogfight again unarmored opponents, assuming they can go close. Useless in domination.

T1 and T3 will hold their niche roles, especially with rapids. EMP field will be much more a




CP bombers= New kings of the gsf.

Seeker mines heavily boosted, especially in domination (no real break against them, except for EMP field)

Two weapons that (still) have armor piercing are either heavily inaccurate at close range (HLC) or have their AP lowered to 50% (RFL). So a tick bomber will have even more survivability.

Seismic/interdiction mines unchanged with long lived snare and slow (possibly stopping the ship making it a sitting duck for 3 seconds).


All-winning tactics:

Domination: Bomberball with some scouts at start for fast capping.

TDM: Bomberball with rail drones, with some gunships to kill enemy drones .

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Ramalina, I love the time and thought you put into this. I think this is the first time in discussion around any game's mechanics that I've actually agreed with pretty much all the proposals someone else has made. The changes you've proposed here take into account all sorts of observations and thoughts that have jumped out at me as well, over the years of playing GSF.


It's sort of uncanny how closely your perspective here mirrors my own, particularly around AP. I've long felt that the most unbalancing factor in the game was the 100% AP on BLC, which destroys any semblance of balance in the primary weapons category and consequently gives the few ships that can equip them an edge in almost all situations that seems at times to work counter to their concept (i.e., a scout, to me, seems to have been intended as the more fragile but speedier and more agile option for getting somewhere faster and outmaneuvering opponents, not something that was meant to also be the superior choice in firepower - because then, as we've seen, why would you ever choose anything else?). I really like your proposal to reduce or remove AP on BLC and a few other components in favor of making AP a specialty element of Plasma Railgun (and to a lesser degree HLC); I think this both makes Plasma Railgun a viable and interesting choice (adding color & options) and brings all of the various primary weapons into closer balance.


Your idea for shield hardening sounds interesting. I see your intention, and if the math in application bore out the idea behind your proposal, I think it would be great. As you pointed out, it would leave Ion Railgun as a crucial counter, and would also give added oomph to the role Ion Cannon can play, while giving the ships with larger shield pools (such as, crucially, Strikes) an additional survivability edge that further defines their role. That being said, I think shields as they are work fairly well, and while the math clearly favors evasion over shields when up against direct damage, I think there's a strong argument to be made that retaining that degree of evasion advantage for (primarily) scouts is a large part of what defines that ship thematically as well as defining their role. Basically, I would be very curious to see how your shield hardening proposal would play out, but of all the changes you proposed I think this one might be the least urgent.


That being said, I'm extremely intrigued by your proposal to make DF only break a missile lock prior to launch. If that sort of change wouldn't break the coding behind the component, I'd love to see it. Right now DF, like BLC, seems too much the superior-in-almost-all-situations component because it does two crucial things so well. I don't mind leaving scouts with this second missile lock break (again, they are meant to be wily), but in practice it stacks all sorts of advantages in a way that does feel a little unbalanced. I think most experienced pilots learn to time their DF for once a missile is in flight, at which point you not only gained that advantage but you are now also gaining evasion for a few more crucial seconds versus cannons as your attacker is (usually) moving in to engage with primary weapons after their missile launch. Forcing you to pop DF prior to missile launch would narrow the window between toggling between your engine maneuver lock-break and your component lock-break, which I think would indirectly buff missiles at least a smidge.


I'm sure I'll be reading your post again more thoroughly later (just gave it a quick read-through this time), but on first glance the only thing I think I might propose adding would be around EMP Missiles. As someone who has desperately tried to make these work (because I love the idea so much), I feel that what is really crucially missing here is for the EMP field effect to have a larger radius. I like your suggested changes, but I would definitely add at least an additional 500-1000m to the radius. As it is right now, it often can't even capture the full radius of a bomber field around a sat.

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I just skimmed all this, so I can't make any kind of overall assessment, but I did want to offer some thoughts on a couple items:



I don't like the idea of making these anti-armor. A while back, someone (might have been Paloga) proposed that RFL ought to be anti-Evasion blasters. Like, they just don't miss. Their range is short enough and their damage non-bursty enough that even having them ignore Evasion entirely (and maybe removing their Tracking Penalty) would not be overpowered and would give them a viable niche. Having them be 'anti-scout' lasers would be an interesting function that the rest of the arsenal doesn't cover. It would also make them new-pilot friendly if they never missed within their range, if aimed properly.


Ion Cannon

I really think it needs greater range to be properly useful. Keeping these short range ensures they fail utterly at pairing up with any of the other useful laser choices. With HLC or Quads, you'll already have stripped the shields from your target by the time Ion Cannon is in range... and when you're fighting at close range appropriate to Ion Cannon, you're too close to really use Quads or HLC well. If RFL had a niche, as above, it'd be a little more sensible.


EMP Missile

These things should be as spammable as cluster missiles. Same reload time as Clusters, too. Alternatively, giving them a significantly longer range would be appropriate.


It's kind of sad that this forum has invested probably 100x more thought into balance changes than the developers have been allowed to.


- Despon

Edited by caederon
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I don't like the idea of making these anti-armor. A while back, someone (might have been Paloga) proposed that RFL ought to be anti-Evasion blasters. Like, they just don't miss. Their range is short enough and their damage non-bursty enough that even having them ignore Evasion entirely (and maybe removing their Tracking Penalty) would not be overpowered and would give them a viable niche. Having them be 'anti-scout' lasers would be an interesting function that the rest of the arsenal doesn't cover. It would also make them new-pilot friendly if they never missed within their range, if aimed properly.


Ion Cannon

I really think it needs greater range to be properly useful. Keeping these short range ensures they fail utterly at pairing up with any of the other useful laser choices. With HLC or Quads, you'll already have stripped the shields from your target by the time Ion Cannon is in range... and when you're fighting at close range appropriate to Ion Cannon, you're too close to really use Quads or HLC well. If RFL had a niche, as above, it'd be a little more sensible.


I did read all of Ramalina's points, which is super-comprehensive and deserves a read by the devs even if they don't implement a single suggestion, but I feel like the presence of HLC and RFL on one of the two starter ships really translates into HLC's being the premiere anti-armor weapon and RFL being the anti-evasion weapon. So I tend to agree with Despon on both of his points.

Edited by phalczen
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Well, the choice of AP for RFLs had a bunch of factors that I thought favored it.


BLCs already pretty much own combat against high evasion targets. Their mechanics are just about perfect for it. So the serious anti-evasion job is already taken.


Ion and LLC are both heavy hitters against shields. Ion in a more niche way than LLCs.


For mechanics, that leaves AP for RFLs.



Then if you look at the 4 km blasters you have:

BLCs - the anti-evasion knife fighter

Ion - Vanishing shields magic act

RFL - Always useful, never spectacular, not a trap anymore.

LLC - Raw damage monster (and perhaps could be more monstrous, in an earlier draft I had its buffs a few percent higher).


All of them have distinct jobs with clear tradeoffs.


This is the, "Slightly Comprehensive," balance thread. So full math modelling of everything, every cool component or change I might wish for, and assorted other goodies are not included. Being conservative with changes was part of the general design overview. That shows up in a lot of places as a, "minimum plausible buff or nerf," approach.


So yes, RFLs could get some more accuracy, or lower tracking penalties, and Ion cannon could get some more range. Those are even changes that I'd be happy with. They're just not changes I think are really critical to getting all twelve ship types into a competitive state. In general the approach leaves most ships with more specific preferences for game conditions than say the T1 gunship or T2 batttlescout currently have.


I've been slightly daring with things like AP transfer from some weapons to others, with the Distortion changes, with the idea of shield hardness, and to a certain extent with missile changes (I think they might turn out scarier than the numbers might seem at first glance). On the whole though, the list of changes is almost a bit timid. It's much less of a reset for mechanics than the ground game has seen in either of the past two expansions. That's deliberate though, it's much more of a, "I wish they had gotten this right on the first try," than a full-on reboot in terms of the end goals.


A bit of reboot might be fun, it's just not what I'm aiming for. More like a sketch of a map showing a route to better GSF balance. There are many ways you could go, this one focuses on being fairly short and easy to follow, and aims to get, "close enough." The hope is that Devs see it, and at least think hard about the issues brought up when making fixes (remember, we're being irrationally optimistic here) even if they ultimately choose to take another path.


If I were GSF lead designer for a week this would be about what my roadmap would look like, and I would be really hoping that the coding is well enough organized and documented so that just the Critical Fixes could get done. The rest would be gravy. Things beyond that would be like, I don't know, pulling off a moon landing with a retired space shuttle?



The EMP missile looks like you caught a copy and paste error where a section of the first draft made it into the final (I went through 3 drafts of this). Based on the missile profile it's a Concussion mirror, and the reload should have been 6 seconds in the final draft. I believe I also had a radius increase to 4000 meters base. Thanks for the catch, I'll go update it.




Edit: The comment about RFL brought up another thought. Evasion is very much a core mechanic in GSF, and a primary that completely ignores it doesn't really help teach dealing with it. It did inspire an idea for a GSF luxury wishlist item.


A UI element that visually represents current hit chance. I'd do it like a range indicating gunnery pipper in a modern fighter, with a circle around the reticle. For range finding the line of the circle grows or recedes based on range, so you start out with a full circle at max range, 270 degrees at 75% range, half circle at 50% range etc. For GSF with hit probability you'd do a full circle for 100% hit chance, half circle for 50% hit etc. Due to lag issues you'd have to make it based on what the shooter's client thinks the current hit chance is. Calculate it maybe 10 - 20 times per second to update the graphic. It would be a great learning tool for knowing when to shoot or not. Of course if the UI tells you, then you don't need to figure it out yourself, but it's very much the sort of pilot aid that you might see on a modern fighter's HUD if the engineers thought the sensors could reliably get the info needed to calculate it.


Technically our fighters in GSF wouldn't have all the sensor info needed to calculate valid hit probability, but GSF isn't very sim like so whatever, if we're ignoring physics lets keep the trend. Even a graphical indication summing target chassis baseline evasion, tracking penalty, range based weapon accuracy, and any buffs or debuffs on ship or target (info ship sensors should have based on what we get in the UI) and comparing to a 100% marker would be a big help in terms of deciding when to shoot or not, particularly for beginners.


In a way it would dumb down GSF a bit, but I think you'd see new flyers get competent at gunnery in GSF much, much faster than is currently typical.


That's crazy pie in the sky type stuff though, and kinda off topic.


I could start a GSF DARPA thread for insane blue-sky GSF theorycrafting if people think that would be a fun discussion.

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@ phalczen


Well, if I were really out to give some serious help to beginners with RFL changes, I'd change the RFL accuracy drop-off to be similar to the Ion cannon drop-off. Max range accuracy of around 95% to 105%. That's enough to turn a high rate of fire gun into a monster against stacks of evasion.


There is more thought put into some of the bigger changes than might be apparent though.


When a T1 strike exits hyperspace what is the default selected primary weapon of the stock build?

How much requisition does unlocking tier 2 RFLs take?

How much requisition does unlocking tier 4 HLCs take?


On some of these changes I didn't just drill down deep when thinking about changes, I hydrofracked some of the suckers. Some of the changes are simple, some of them have around 7 - 12 reasons or considerations that went into them. RFLs were deeper than average.


With all that said, helping beginners was really a secondary goal of the RFL recommendation. The main aim was to keep AP on one of the 4 km guns and make sure that BLCs were not the one. Helping beginners and shoring up RFLs from a state of excessive weakness were big factors in why they got AP instead of LLCs getting it.



GSF balance is sort of like charting out a trophic network in ecology, everything is connected to a whole bunch of other stuff, and if you mess with keystone species (or components) you really have to start thinking hard about tracking all the connections. I'm sure I missed stuff, but I made an effort to examine closely on the bigger changes.


On the whole increased beginner friendliness from these suggestions is a byproduct of better overall balance. The target design goal after all, is to make a random ship hangar option be a reasonable prospect for a Super Serious Night. Not exactly a beginner friendly scenario.


One of the big things I'd do for beginners is change the default builds for stock ships. There's a lot of making trap components less cruel in this thread, but beginner optimized default ship builds would do a lot more, and is enough of a subject for a whole thread of its own. It might worth making a change list for that too. If they ever muck around with GSF they might as well try to get it right. GSF has a stable endgame, so if you get it right, it's right permanently or until a patch to the ground game breaks something.

Edited by Ramalina
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