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Topics - rabbistern

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General Discussion / The S-mod slippery slope, SP vs OP balancing
« on: November 16, 2021, 07:27:30 PM »
I have recently discovered a mod by the name of "better deserved S-mods", (bless you Jackie, this is huge) and have today finished off my second campaign with it. Both lightly modded (no nex, some generic SWPs, ghetto-rigged BRDY, spindle & tahlan, osiris alliance, however i practically only used vanilla and OA ships, which are roughly low-midtech at roughly vanilla OP capacities), tried plenty of different doctrines and playstyles, up until erasing star fortresses and ordos feels boring.
For those who have not tried it, the mod basically enhances sub-max-OP hullmods when built in, and quite mildly at that, that is to say, "i would likely not use this on my ship if these effects cost the hull-size price equivalent of HA/HSh etc in OP instead of SP". sometimes its a minor reduction of the penalties like for CH, sometimes its a little buff to the numbers of a hullmod itself like RFC or AccS or RB or AWM, with the numeric/percentile bonus respectively being larger the less OP the hullmod would have cost, and sometimes its also buffing something else thematically adjacent to it, like ATG, ARU, or ExS do.

I have not built in either HA or HSh a single time. was better off without. Way more properly specialized builds are possible, and more efficient than the alternative of "slap on the most expensive hullmod for an SP2 in combat, for example shield-flickering with S-AccS worked out better for me than using HSh, and for armored lads i was always better off with ARU or AWM or RFC rather than HA.
This has made me realize the way i, and id think most likely many others as well, have been kitting ships since 0.95: always knock on HA or HSh without thinking, as theyre simply the strongest mods in vanilla when you are thinking in terms of "per SP" instead of "per OP", and this is a giant issue, as this kills the granularity of ships.

Generally speaking, this granularity is at the core of starsectors ships, you dont have an amount of "slots" in which you put hullmods or weapons or fighters at the cost of "1 per" each, rather its finely granular, and you can balance your OP to your desire, use weaker weapons or forgo some weapons entirely in favor of having a better, more expensive hullmod, or do the opposite, these possibilities are what makes me keep playing SS year after year without getting bored.

Hardened shields getting downsized in combination with the unique experience of this brilliant mod makes me think were on a slippery slope here, and it should have been apparent from the start really: when you think in a granularity of 1/hullmod instead of hullmod effectiveness/OP, youre naturally inclined to just slap on the most expensive mod; weve seen it with SO, now HSh is getting the bat, and heres whats going to happen next: heavy armor will be the most expensive one and everyone will build in that, so then it will get reduced, then it will be expanded missile racks, then it will be ITU, then it will be RB, etc etc ad finitum you get the idea. eventually this would leave us with all hullmods costing the same amount of OP and an aspect of the ship customization granularity being cut out since you dont have to consider the balance of mod OP vs weapons/caps/vents OP anymore when all mods will inevitably cost the same.

The issue seems to be endemic to the concept of Story point mods, which is something that i and safe to say everyone enjoys, as it gives ships just more "soul" and makes them more a valued asset in your fleet rather than renewable, disposable, mass-produced flying metal. so what could the solution be?
The most trivial solution would be to just transpose adding story points to a ship as a direct OP increase, say 7/14/21/28 per SP perhaps, but this in my opinion would just cause even more issues, as while it would maintain the hullmod/OP granularity, it would also disproportionally affect different ships because OP are already a balance measure on their own, and would also enable powercreep due to those OP being usable for high-tier weapons as well, so this obviously cant be a solution at all, OP must be maintained at all times.

Is there a way to make use of the SP-built-in-mod system in a way different or better than it is now other than as its implemented in said mod? are there even any others in the SS playerbase who see the SP-granularity as a problem or is it just me being overly reactionary?

As for me, BDHM does seem like a good and vanilla-ish way to both maintain OP granularity and the SP-competitiveness of hullmods, but it doesnt have to be the only solution.
Since it is a Space game forum after all, id think most reading this probably know of Elite:Dangerous. ED has a system where rare resources (read: SP) can be used to have engineers upgrade parts of your ship, highly parallel to the way we have it in SS.
we could, for example, instead of having built-in hullmods with SP, have "local lore-based upgrades", that is to say, specific upgrades by local engineers; - think for example of effects like salvage gantry and ARU being built in by local engineers at a mining colony, or slightly increased ballistic range and rof engineered into your ship at a hegemony military planet, or slight energy damage reduction and maneuverability boosts at sindria, or improved shield damage and arc at X and shield speed and upkeep at Y, you get the idea.
 this would satisfy all 3 facets of:
  • several competitive options for SP upgrades, rather than one being "the best"
  • OP granularity and balance between existing hullmods remains maintained
  • ships get personalized flair and objective improvements through SP investment
though this is probably too far fetched for SS, its just food for thought to reflect on the weaknesses introduced by the current SP upgrade system.

I would like to hear from people who have played with the BDHM mod, do you see vanilla or the mod as more balanced? do you build in "OP-cheap" mods more often than not?
and respectively from vanilla players: do you have any builds in which you build in any hullmod which isnt the just most expensive one available?

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