- POWER 3.0 - make Stabilizers great (again?)

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    So, where to start?

    I suppose I should start with the beginning of this whole calamity, that was Power 2.0.
    A system with good intentions, but also many flaws. I am not going to recount the many ways in which it was broken, and just state that it made many players hate Stabilizers and the concept of Stabilizer distance. Personally, however, I still believe that it could have been something great, and I have spent the last 2 weeks creating a whole new system, taking the concept of Stabilizer distance and building a completely new set of game mechanics around it.


    why go through all of this effort?

    The traditional "spaghetti" reactors, as well as the current "post 2.0" ones, create a meta around ship building that is centered around using any available volume for combat systems, in order to keep maneuverability and armor at a maximum while reducing the target profile. This has negative effects on creative builds, since any hull cutout or fancy hull shape, any hallway, interior room or hangar bay comes with a penalty in performance.
    It seems that opinions split around this topic, but I personally believe that Starmade is first and foremost a game about worldbuilding and creativity, and I believe that Stabilizers and the limiting of systems by hull size are an invaluable part in bringing crativity and competitiveness closer together.


    Remember

    I just crafted all of this in theory, there is absolutely no game testing to back these mechanics up. Also that I am alone and probably overlooked a bunch of stuff. So please, if you find any potential exploits or inbalances, feel free to point them out.
    Also, I have left out some of the finer details, as I feel that these need to be figured out with playtesting.



    1. NEW REACTORS

    First, an overlook over the new basic reactor design. I have gotten rid of different symmetries, since these were way too rigid. Instead, you´ll now have to use x6 symmetry by default. But there is a twist ! Stabilizers don´t need to be placed at a fixed distance away from the reactor, instead the total distance from all 6 groups is added up to determine if they are far enough away.
    This way you can place some groups closer, some other groups farther away, and use different hull shapes more efficiently in general.

    presentation 1c.png



    2. NEW STABILIZERS

    But that´s not all! I also advocate to change Stabilizers themselves, to get rid of advantages regarding diagonal placement and the whole "reactor align" weirdness.
    Stabilizers should have a special side pointed towards the reactor, which determines the respective side of the reactor that they are stabilizing. The distance to the reactor should be measured only in the direction that they are pointing, again to make diagonal builds less op.

    Players will have to place these down correctly by themselves, so some UI refresh to give clear info on what´s wrong may be vital to teaching the function of this block to new players.

    presentation 2.png



    3. Advantages of Power 3.0


    This new reactor design is adaptable to all kinds of different hull shapes, and allows it´s components to be freely placed. A big step forward from the overly rigid symmetry reactors of Power 2.0.

    presentation 3.png



    4. Houston, we have a problem!

    There is one cheesy ship desing that I caught on myself, and it is of the "fragmented" type. These ships split the up, down, left, and right Stablizers from the main hull and place them in their own, free floating pods. This gives them the advantages of having all 6 Stabilizers at an equal distance, which minimizes boxdim and therefore increases maneuverability, while simultaneously keeping a pretty narrow profile. Suffice to say, the advantage of such ships may be great enough to overpower any conventional hull design.
    Power 2.0 had similar problems, which were attemted to be fixed with Stabilizer Beams, but those turned out to be ineffective.

    presentation 4.png

    So, how do we deal with these?


    4.1. Do nothing
    It´s fine I guess. 🤷‍♀️


    4.2. mild nerfs
    These are easy to implement, but don´t quite fix the problem.

    -1. rework maneuverability mechanics, so that ships with 3 equal dimensions have less of an advantage over long "stick" ships

    -3. "spicy" stabilizers; essentially making damage to stabilizers critical, so that people will be incentivised to shoot them when the opportunity presents itself.
    This may force players to hide the location of their Stabilizers within the hull instead of carrying them all out in the open.

    Disadvantages:
    A: shields exist.
    B: may lead to frustration due to lucky shots disabling normal vessels.
    C: possible counter-strat: instead of 4 separate pods, build a hollow ring around the ship and hide the stabilizers somewhere within the ring.

    I do consider this a last ditch measure, that should be implemented in a mild manner, in case some other balancing measure isn´t 100% effective.


    4.3. pysical shields
    This could be a proper fix, and breathe some more depth into the game. However I doubt that it would be easy to implement.

    Power 2.0 already reworked shields and gave us the shield bubble, an imaginary volume in which all blocks are protected. But what if the bubble itself was catching incoming fire on it´s surface? Then breaking your ship up into many smaller pieces won´t give you the same advantage on target profile, since your shield bubble would have to span over all the empty space, therefore increasing it´s surface area by a lot.

    presentation 5.png

    There are 2 more rules different to the current system, that are required to make it work:

    1. only one bubble per ship

    2. players should be able to influence the shape of the bubble, either by specific block placement or sliders, to elongate or squish it into ellyptical shape.
    Going with spherical bubbles only would actually strengthen fragment ships, since they fill the spherical shape quite efficiently as opposed to, for example, a long and thin vessel, that would be penalized the same way in target profile, without having nearly as much reactor output.



    And this was me vomiting my ideas out. All of these changes will probably require a lot of work to implement , but I think it´s worth it.

    Until then, or whatever happens: fly safe o7
     

    Crashmaster

    I got N64 problems but a bitch ain't one
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    Questions;

    1: How many meta ships have you built in power 2.0? Have you dissected any?

    2: If you make sweeping changes to the game -again- to force ships of a similar volume (pointing out -again- mass is the superior metric) to be more equally competitive. What happens when one ship is better because it's slightly more massive than the other?
    My point being that you can't ever guarantee ships facing off against each other will have similar base stats whether that's volume, mass or build effort so why try to force more rules on people when you could just choose to build your ships the way you want or do you feel compelled to system-stuff and just want rules so that if no-one can you won't feel forced to? I thought system- stuffing was the way to go untill I leaned the benefits of intenal empty spaces.
     
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    Questions;

    1: How many meta ships have you built in power 2.0? Have you dissected any?

    2: If you make sweeping changes to the game -again- to force ships of a similar volume (pointing out -again- mass is the superior metric) to be more equally competitive. What happens when one ship is better because it's slightly more massive than the other?
    My point being that you can't ever guarantee ships facing off against each other will have similar base stats whether that's volume, mass or build effort so why try to force more rules on people when you could just choose to build your ships the way you want or do you feel compelled to system-stuff and just want rules so that if no-one can you won't feel forced to? I thought system- stuffing was the way to go untill I leaned the benefits of intenal empty spaces.
    1. Some. I have stuck to my singleplayer world after a while, but I had experienced both the 3x "Vertisticks" as someone called them, and the 6x pancakes, which I preferred. I also made a version 201.337 install in preparation of this post to refresh my memory and test some stuff.

    2. nobody will ever be able to guarantee that random encounters will be 100% equal, and that´s not the point. Neither is it to take candies away from other people.(even though you really tried to frame it as if this was my intent)

    This system is actually supposed to give builders more options when it comes to constructing ships. Because volume is still an important metric, even though pvpers measure their encounters by mass. It governs maneuverability, target profile, armor density, and also component spacing.
    This leaves a direct incentive to "stuff" (with spacing) everything into a blob. For example you can´t build too thin (like a flying wing) or else you will have crap maneuverability, and your armor will be spread out all over the place.

    Limiting by volume would allow people to build with shapes that would otherwise not have worked, simply because they have the space available anyways. A good example of this would probably be the Star Trek Enterprise. It´s a well known ship, a great deal of people would probably want to fly around in a replica, but it´s just bad under the current system. Thin Hull sections separated by spindly arms and a lot of empty space in between don´t make for good hull design, and never will. But, under this proposed system, it would come a lot closer to other designs.
     

    Crashmaster

    I got N64 problems but a bitch ain't one
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    This system is actually supposed to give builders more options when it comes to constructing ships.
    Limiting by volume would allow people to build with shapes that would otherwise not have worked,
    For example you can´t build too thin (like a flying wing) or else you will have crap maneuverability, and your armor will be spread out all over the place.
    Adding more limits does not give builders more options nor open up more shapes. It only removes a choice or compromise available to the sandbox player.
    It looks like your proposal actually removes options and renders hull shapes (eg. flying wing) more unusable than Enterprises are in the current system.

    tldr: IMHO classic engineering: a well- crafted complex solution for a problem that doesn't exist.
     
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    It looks like your proposal actually removes options and renders hull shapes (eg. flying wing) more unusable than Enterprises are in the current system.

    tldr: IMHO classic engineering: a well- crafted complex solution for a problem that doesn't exist.
    Do you have any factual arguments to back those claims up? Why would a flying wing be worse under this system than the current one?
     
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    First, it would be P4.0 since the actual power if often referred as P3.0 (since stab distance and stab beam deletion iirc).

    If you made this proposal during P2.0 shitstorm time (the first iteration) then I'd be all for it.
    But now (actual P3.0) with a system which don't force you to place stabs a specific way / distance we can actually build something without having to worry about stabs messing it all. You just have to plan how many stabs you'll need and some empty space for them.

    IMO we won't make them useful by making the same mistakes than P2.0. We have to find a real use for them.
     

    Crashmaster

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    Do you have any factual arguments to back those claims up? Why would a flying wing be worse under this system than the current one?
    No, I was wrong there about the hull shapes.
    Edit
    Perhaps I was misinterpreted the intent of your idea as well. Could you restate the purpose of these changes?

    Because:

    create a meta around ship building that is centered around using any available volume for combat systems, in order to keep maneuverability and armor at a maximum while reducing the target profile. This has negative effects on creative builds, since any hull cutout or fancy hull shape, any hallway, interior room or hangar bay comes with a penalty in performance.
    If you consider armor; if one ship has interior space, the same ship with all interior space filled with some sort of armor will be objectively better in some aspects of performance. Do we need rules to control how people place armor?
     
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    First, it would be P4.0 since the actual power if often referred as P3.0 (since stab distance and stab beam deletion iirc).

    If you made this proposal during P2.0 shitstorm time (the first iteration) then I'd be all for it.
    But now (actual P3.0) with a system which don't force you to place stabs a specific way / distance we can actually build something without having to worry about stabs messing it all. You just have to plan how many stabs you'll need and some empty space for them.

    IMO we won't make them useful by making the same mistakes than P2.0. We have to find a real use for them.
    Agreed. Most of my roleplay ships barely functioned when there was P2.0 Stabilizer distance, and if they required stabilizers on all sides would be impossible.

    Perhaps this proposal is useful to regulate meta ships, (but seeing as I have zero knowledge on this,) I'm just putting my 2 cents in as someone who builds ships strictly for roleplay and rail features, I enjoy being able to also have system-wise functional ships due to the lack of stabilizer distance completely. (Which I found incredibly difficult under the original P2.0, and even hard with P1.0)
     
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    Agreed. Most of my roleplay ships barely functioned when there was P2.0 Stabilizer distance, and if they required stabilizers on all sides would be impossible.

    Perhaps this proposal is useful to regulate meta ships, (but seeing as I have zero knowledge on this,) I'm just putting my 2 cents in as someone who builds ships strictly for roleplay and rail features, I enjoy being able to also have system-wise functional ships due to the lack of stabilizer distance completely. (Which I found incredibly difficult under the original P2.0, and even hard with P1.0)
    Well crap, for you it would actually be difficult. I´d imagine it being less difficult than Power 2.0 though.

    Perhaps you haven´t quite wrapped your head around the whole concept, or maybe I´m just bad at explaining. (scratch the "maybe", I am.) So, let me try to get some stuff straight:

    For starters, it can´t be that much more difficult than 2.0 because you can recreate 2.0 reactors in this new system. If, for example, you place 5 out of the 6 Stabilizers right next to the reactor, and only place one at a distance, then you have essentially recreated a 1x reactor from 2.0, that will have the exact same power output for size as a P2.0 1x.

    One bonus point for you is that the one distanced Stabilizer group is only 1/6th the size of the Stabilizers on the P2.0 1x, which would make it a lot easier to hide in some corner than before.

    The second improvement is that you can absolutely make use of other little compartments scattered troughout the ship. Unlike in P2.0, where you absolutely had to put Stabilizers some distance away from the reactor before they started working, you can make gains out of every additional meter.

    I can understand that you want to stay with the current system though, since I can aboslutely relate to the pain of wanting to build something cool just to find out that it´s absolutely useless.

    You´ve built some nice ships btw. I´ll have to take a closer look at the slave 1 at some point.
     
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    No, I was wrong there about the hull shapes.
    Edit
    Perhaps I was misinterpreted the intent of your idea as well. Could you restate the purpose of these changes?

    Because:



    If you consider armor; if one ship has interior space, the same ship with all interior space filled with some sort of armor will be objectively better in some aspects of performance. Do we need rules to control how people place armor?
    Look, I probably don´t get to answer your questions today since I´d like to take some time thinking about stuff, and I don´t have time right now. In the meantime, could you elaborate your second question? I am not sure if I understand them correctly. Are you asking about how armor placement is affected in my proposal?
     
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    No, I was wrong there about the hull shapes.
    Edit
    Perhaps I was misinterpreted the intent of your idea as well. Could you restate the purpose of these changes?

    Because:



    If you consider armor; if one ship has interior space, the same ship with all interior space filled with some sort of armor will be objectively better in some aspects of performance. Do we need rules to control how people place armor?
    Actually I think I get it now.

    Also I just realized that I may have caused some confusion because I replied with the term "limiting by volume" which is actually similar but wrong, and is precisely what I didn´t want to happen. ( I had considered some other models that limited by volume, and they didn´t seem to work) So I´m sorry for that. I also may have focused too hard on the "creative vs. meta" aspect, but that´s because I myself sit in the "semi-competitive art"-corner.

    Note: >semi< competitive. I am not trying to fully equalize art and meta builds, that would be certified lunacy. In fact, I have seen the Robocraft devs try to push similar changes and fail miserably, and Robocraft is a far simpler game with a far more limited scope than Starmade. This is also why I´d reply to the question "do we need rules to control how people place armor" with a hard no. This would just impose unnecessary limitations and open the door for exploits. Some rebalancing may need to happen to regain shield vs. armor balance on PVP ships, but that comes down to basic number changes.

    Indeed, I have also gone with this system because of it´s implications on more hardcore PVP. I just dropped that point under the table for a bit because I just came back from a long hiatus and am really rusty in terms of ship building, and wantend people to give feedback on the raw mechanics instead of being influeced or gaining a false picture because of my view on the whole thing.

    But, before I go into specifics, let´s get a really detailed overview of the whole thing:

    This system is designed to give players a budget of free space that they can do whatever they want with. This budget should be measured with the reactor being laid out within a cube. Why? because again, this is NOT limiting by volume. the reactor dimensions are added together, while volume is calculated by multiplying! A cube simply has the most volume for it´s dimensions, and therefore the most empty space after you have placed all systems in. This makes the cube a logical starting point for our considerations.

    From there, the Player may choose how to spend that volume. they could for example:

    1. create a ship with different base dimensions. (because long streched or flat shapes like sticks or pancakes have less volume for their exterior dimensions, you´ll lose empty space the more you try to strech or squish your ship)

    2. crate cutouts on the hull or otherwise just shape it in a way that takes volume away.

    3. make interiors

    4. space their components further apart

    5. indeed, create internal spaced armor


    What would the effects of this system be?

    Well, for creative builds, again, I don´t want them to be super good. I just want to really widen the range of ships that would be considered "good enough" to be useful on a day-to-day basis. You´d still not be a match in terms of maneuverability or armor, but at least you can more easily keep a full complement of systems.

    For combat ships, There would be a whole lot more descision making and tradeoffs, and I hope that it would crate a more diverse meta, where people can more deeply specialize on certain advantages to suit the situation or their playstyle. We can, for example, go with your own idea of internal armor.

    Starting off, a cube has the most space available, but also has a pretty large frontal area. So you would need a ton of blocks to make a full wall. If you try to make the ship narrower, you will decrease the frontal area and therefore your penalty on blocks and mass to crate an additional layer, but you will also decrease the amount of space available for these layers. This creates a tradeoff with diminishing returns on either extreme.

    This is a clinical example of course, there are tons more factors and possibilities that come in to play here. This is also where the topic becomes more subjective.

    See, I am a loose nutcase whose perception of game design has been tainted by over a decade of Battletech and EVE online. I enjoy these complex relations and the expermentation and engineering that goes with them. But, game complexity is a matter of taste, and I can understand and respect anyone who prefers the current reactors for their simplicity. I can also not blame the devs for not wanting to touch my creation for balance concerns, All these interlinked relations make these new ships exponentially harder to balance than the current ones.

    Speaking of devs, I have been scrolling through the deserted news section, and In the last post schema mentioned that there would be no more major changes to ship design, so I guess that this post is dead in the water anyways. Still, the musings have been fun.
     

    DrTarDIS

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    First, it would be P4.0 since the actual power if often referred as P3.0 (since stab distance and stab beam deletion iirc).
    Power 1: Volumetric stick power. Had only 1 type of block, the generator. They gained power up to around 700k/sec exponentially with adding to the "total dimensions" x+y+z while adding a fixed x/sec per block a well. Diminishing returns on exponential power after 700k/sec and reduced to the same as individual blocks after around 1.2 mil/sec. Any ship using more than 1.2mil/sec under this system may as well use the current "blob of blocks" style, unless they used "docked power" with power transfer beams to bypass the reduction of dimensional efficiency.

    power 2: added the now defunct "explosive" reactor type. Can't remember the name. Essentially a slightly more efficient reactor by mass, but would chain-react if damaged. Never widely used since soft-cap style was "safer" and the mass/volume savings weren't worth it's self-destruction on a single pen-hit.

    Power 3: Oof. Blobs and stabilizers with distance efficiency gradient. Ugly snake(can be hidden inside blocks with careful planning). weird "haha my pen-shot hit your snake so you lose all power generation" mechanic. Snake mechanic reworked a bit a couple times.

    Power 4: Blobs and stabilizers, distance penalty but no snake.

    Power 5: Blobs and Stabilizers no real distance penalty.