[Long + Spreadsheet] Rebalancing Pulsar's Modules

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[Long + Spreadsheet] Rebalancing Pulsar's Modules

Post by Bleet » Sun Jun 12, 2016 2:51 am

Pulsar has seen plenty of updates. New mechanics have been implemented, modifiers added based on the ship, skills change how rapidly certain things play out. But amongst all of these updates, there's one thing that has barely been touched: The modules.

As a way to help visualize and play with the data, I've built this crude but usable spreadsheet that lets you input components + level, and it should return their approximate values currently in the game, and my suggested changes (but you may have to download the spreadsheet to actually change the information around).

EDIT: For those without Excel, I did port the sheet over to Google Sheets here, which is viewable and (mostly) editable by anyone. Anyone can change the ship type, components, component level, core override, and power percentages. If you want to play with changing the actual components (other than how the formulas are set up), then please feel free to either snag a copy for yourself, or grab the proper excel file from the dropbox above.
Please treat it nicely since anyone can use it!

You can modify the components via the [first] Component tab, and modify the power allocation under the Power Use and Ship Stats tab. The cells in yellow are the ones that should be played around with, the rest will autofill (assuming everything went fine!)
Please keep in mind that there may be components missing or information that is incorrect (either through my own calculations, or actual coding mistakes for components currently in Pulsar).

Before tearing apart this discussion, I encourage everyone to clearly label and indicate which component or component type they're discussing. There is a lot of information here, and it'll help further discussion if we can tell which part you're referencing.

This post will discuss in detail my methodology to try to balance the modules in a way that they cater to playstyles, rather than everyone streamlining for "the most OP" option.
In a presentation that Bungie did regarding Halo 3's multiplayer, one quote stuck out to me: "In a perfectly balanced game, everything is overpowered".
This ideology rings true to me, as weapons and tools focused in a playstyle make that playstyle much more potent. That said, a potent playstyle must also have downsides, risks and lost opportunity to prevent it from being a cure-all component.
The one downside that I'm aggressively going to avoid is locking things strictly by cost. Credits are an infinite resource, and balancing components strictly by cost just means it's a gate toward getting something overpowered, rather than a gate that leads to a new shiny but also brings new complications due to newly introduced downsides.

I'll try to avoid introducing massive new mechanics, instead balancing components based on attributes currently in the game. The new mechanics that I will include will be in yellow text to signal that these currently are not in the game, but they should be modestly trivial to introduce considering the effort needed (with some balancing/retweaking needed regarding AI). That said, if these new mechanics are not introduced, then it shouldn't directly interfere with the potential balancing of components.

I also will suggest new components as teal, if they don't require any significant new mechanics to be useful. These components will be aimed for filling gaps that current components just fail to cover in this balance plan.

My analysis and discussion will lead with an overarching thought of how components currently interact with each other in the balance of this game, followed by a breakdown of each separate component worth mentioning, if I feel a specific drilldown is necessary. Leveling is a base starting point and then a linear modifier on top of it. However, since it appears that values are hard coded into the game (please correct me if I'm wrong!), then they can be modified on a level by level basis. They're not set in stone, after all!

The reactor is the heart and soul of the ship. Without a good reactor, ultimately the ship will quickly flounder and lead to an extended, painful death for its crew, because the captain failed to acquire a good reactor, or the engineer failed to watch the temperatures.
That said, later reactors (higher level ones) typically have too much power generation and max temperature capacity that the engineer basically just leaves his station except to charge the warp core. My methodology of balance is by nerfing one factor, but buffing another, which gives each reactor type a certain personality which benefits playstyles and loadouts.

I suggest a new mechanic, tied into the Core Safety Override Switch: Additional total power output, in exchange for rapid heat generation (that high coolant flow can't effectively manage), coupled with radiation at lower temperatures. I mentioned this in another thread, but I feel it would add a new dimension to reactor cores, which allows for engineers to try a new playstyle. An unsafe core that can provide enough power for practically everything, but at a hazard to both the ship (critical core requiring ejection), and the ship crew (radiation), plus outputting double the EM radiation as listed. There is already a radiation mechanic in place if the temperatures are >100%, why not decrease the threshold if the core safety is disengaged?

My main issue regarding EM radiation is that this isn't an exciting balancing possibility in its current form. Sensors desperately need some play to get this to a level where it can be used for balance. Right now, it's just a stat that rarely is useful, but I've yet to use to sway my decision on which component to get.

That said, I do have a slightly new spin on the stat which requires a new mechanic: EM radiation values also introduce a comparable amount of actual radiation when the core is overheating/core safe mode off. In the spreadsheet above, I used 2 EM's worth of EM radation would equal 1 HP's worth of personnel/crew damage per second, and overrides the atrium/Scientist's Bridge Medic skill. This would also be an interesting buff to the Stargazer with its -50% EM radiation stat (and likewise debuff for the Roland), which translates to a core able to run at unsafe levels longer with less detriment to its crew.

This is how I worked around with the reactors:

Null Point A/B Reactors: The lore around this reactor (and its current stats) implies to me that this Model A was first gen technology, and model B was a retrofit but still keeping in line with the general tendencies of the original Model A. This was at a time where engineers were initially unsure of the capabilities of reactors, combined with a lack of understanding on the intricacies on how far they can push the envelope yet somehow had a massive power output with significant thermal overload protections.
Continuing that train of thought, I feel it would be interesting to balance it in line with the general vibe of MAX BASE POWER, but with a strong offset of an extremely low temperature tolerance, almost-lethal amounts of radiation, and an excessively long emergency shutdown. This will force players to practically forfeit the core overload except for brief moments in absolute emergencies, as it’ll spell death for your crew in usually under 12 seconds.

CU Reactors Mk1, Mk2, Mk3: I would consider this the workman's reactor. Jack of all trades, master of none. There would be a slight bias toward max reactor temperatures for the higher Mk2, Mk3 levels, at the degradation of a higher heat output and more EM radiation. This cater's toward switching playstyles as needed based on the situation and being very fluid in opportunities but prevents it being a cure-all component as more focused reactors can achieve a similar result.

Fluffy Biscuit Reactor: The FB Reactor I feel would be interesting to have it well on the high end of max temperatures, modest but low EM radiation, and a low but managable power output. An in between between the CU reactors and Quiet Cupcake/Pyrotechnic reactor. The quick 3 second emergency cooldown and low heat output means that the ship could fend for itself if the engineer isn’t present, but the crippling low power means that it’s truly for the understaffed, as it just can’t keep up with a full workload.

GTC Quiet Cupcake: I consider these a super focus on max temperature and minimalize EM radiation. Using the mechanics I introduced above, this will basically lead to engineers specializing in core safety override to bring out the best of this core, or leaving it on max with the core safety on, which doesn't require much in the way of babysitting. Perfect for extra power when you can babysit it, but enough heat tolerance if the crew needs to leave the core alone for boarding actions.

Pyrotechnic Reactor: I know this is in the game and is purchasable via the exotic stores. That said, I balanced it as a super version of the GTC Quiet Cupcake. Practically no power base, but with such a super high thermal capacity and low EM signature, this is a hyper focused core-override, set and forget reactor. The lackluster power output balances out the excessively high thermal tolerance, so it's by no means a cure-all, but the extreme "master of one" ability should allow players that need that micro managing playstyle to get it. Keep in mind that the typical player would get this component at a higher level (I expect level 3-4), so disregard the base line stats and adjust expectations accordingly. Also, the super long emergency cooldown is daunting and would practically spell death if the ship is already under perilous attack. High risk, high reward.
With the new core heat output statistic, I had the pyrotechnic reactor starting at 250% and going up by 15% each step. There is a significant high thermal head but coolant would only postpone, not mitigate like other reactors would.
That said, I could see these stats tied into the GTC Quiet Cupcake if the Pyrotechnic lore doesn't match the vibe from this component's new stats. (I’ll admit it’s been a while since I saw the component detail)

ThermoCore Reactor: I’m not sure what the rampup/max is, so I took a stab at estimating the baseline stats. I made it start slightly worse than the Null Point Reactor, but with a much higher thermal overhead but also a massive heat generation to offset it. It’s a core that’ll require babysitting to get the best out of it, but this can be a high level core if you can treat it right. I did radically increase the EM signature since 8 is way too low.
I may have gone overkill to 25 EM Radiation, but this would basically prevent this core from ever being used in core safety override using the mechanics I detailed above. I also coupled it with a deadly 25 second emergency cooldown. Pretty much the polar opposite of the Pyrotechnic reactor above.

Roland Reactor: As much as I'd hate to suggest it, I feel it would be best if we completely ditched the Roland Reactor component. Since the Roland ship is such a power hungry monster (especially with engineering and auto turrets for a lesser extent), I feel it would be better to tie a +50% power generation into the Roland's hull/ship modifier (as an easier solution). The Roland engineering subsystem already gets double the HP (and is in a massive room); I could justify it lore-wise that it's because there's something the C.U. developed that's amplifying the core's abilities.
For the spreadsheet above, I did include a 50% power bonus to the Roland for experimentation purposes, but it might be a bit overkill. Either way, still worth toying with anyway.
Only other alternative I can suggest is let it mount two reactors, but that brings forth a massive complication on how to control the penalties and bonuses of each.

Note: This discussion mentions the Deflection stat that was included up to Beta 9, and my spreadsheet references this old statistic. It’s unclear if the Deflection stat will be making a return or is just a UI oversight. I’ll keep the deflection stat in my worksheet in case if it returns. That said, it's preferable that it is no longer a factor, as Integrity and Recharge are sufficient stats in this suggested rebalancing. Yhe deflection values I’ve listed aren’t exceptionally solid in its current form, and only there for illustrative purposes in that specific situation since they don’t translate well to how much damage mitigation occurs in game.

If the reactor is the heart of the ship, then the shields are the skin. Without a good shield, a ship won't last the first battle, much less the later ones. There are currently four ways to balance it, but in its current form, the thought process essentially goes Integrity, Charge Rate, Deflection [Now Min Integrity], Power Usage in order of importance. It's why most of my playthroughs end up going toward the CU Mk 3 shield, as it is just clearly the superior option in the long run.

There are three small mechanics I'd like to introduce directly tied into the shield module, two of which are closely paired together: Idle power consumption and shield discharge rates. The shields would consume 10-20% of it's maximum power consumption at idle to maintain the shields and the current integrity (My sheet uses 20%, but 10% is quite reasonable if it's overkill).
However, if the ship is unable to maintain the idle shield percentage, then shields will deplete at a flat percentage multiplied against the power shortfall needed for the shield maintenance. If power is cut entirely to the shields (engineer manipulation of the shield slider, or emergency reactor cooldown), then the shields will discharge at 3% of its max integrity per second (100% loss at ~33 seconds). This way, the high power usage of shields becomes a liability during low power, instead of solely a neutral(/positive) option.

Lastly, one new shield mechanic that could be interesting is a shield recharge pause induced when the shields are impacted by enemy fire, if it exceeds a certain threshold worth of damage. Ships with a faster recharge rate would have a faster recovery from the pause, down to maybe a minimum of 0.25 or 0.5 seconds, and up to a max of 3 seconds. This would help bring in a dimension of alpha damage protection vs faster recovery.

The new minimum integrity values are definitely interesting, and I tried to tweak them in a way that I feel would add further character to each module. That said, I disagree with each level decreasing the minimum integrity, since each level up increases both the recharge rate and the integrity. In all (except “Second Hull”), I made it increase to allow for a larger window of damage when your shields go offline.

Here's my thoughts on some of the individual shield components:

Tactical/Heavy Tactical Holoscreen: The cheapest and weakest shield by far, I think an interesting balancing point would be to drop the power requirements down to practically nothing (I use 1500/2250 MW). The base charge rate isn't terrible but doesn't improve that dramatically. What makes this shield interesting is that the lower power requirements means that it can usually take full advantage of any co-processors equipped on the ship (more on that later), vs other shields that are mostly solid out of the box but have a significantly higher power upkeep.

G.T.C. Blue Goose: A solid midline component, with modest integrity, modestly high power requirements, and exceptional charge rate. The power requirements and minimal integrity increases would prevent it from being a cure-all (and most alpha damage would go straight to the hull). That said, if the pilot can get some distance from their target, the shields would be back up and running before even turning around. Low integrity and a comparatively high power usage keeps this ship focused but not overpowered.

W.D. Corp Particle Shield/Upgraded: I consider these the mainstay shields. Modest integrity, modest power requirements, acceptable charge rat. Nothing special... but nothing bad either. Upgraded version slightly improves integrity and charge rate, but at a cost of higher power.

C.G.F. Heavy Shield Generator: The big guns. Amazing integrity, low but usable charge rate, and exceptionally high power requirements. Custom version changes some integrity for a better charge rate but even higher power requirements. It'll take an amazing engineer (or a power use light/power generation heavy setup) to fully utilize these shields to their fullest potential, doubly so with co-processors.

C.G.F. Light Shield Generator: I put this as an inbetween the tactical holoscreens and the other shields. It has a decent starting integrity but the lower power consumption allows for more play with co-processors to allow new upgrades.

Superior Beam Shields: These are a worthwhile addition in Beta 9. I’m digging the absurd power requirement, but I felt that was a bit overkill. I dropped the power requirement to only 35,000 ( with the 20% minimum power requirement, it means that the ship will need 7,000 MW of power to maintain its integrity).
Also, I did drop its overall integrity down a bit, and dropped its charge rate too. This is a hyper focused component with a unique ability to negate laser damage. It needs to have some more downsides other than just the power requirement.
(This does beg the question: what about a kinetic version? )

Second Hull (Shield): First off, this desperately needs a new name. I prefer “Fortress Shield” instead, as “Second Hull” sounds rather confusing at a glance.
This is the only component that I included a negative modifier for minimum integrity at higher levels, to compensate for the abysmally low recharge rate. I went against the grain and had a lower minimum integrity, but I also included a higher power consumption, more shield integrity, and the same abysmal charge rate.

The hull of the ship is the last line of defense. If things go south and the shields get taken out, the hull is the last thing to stop a quick yet painful death. My main issue with the hull [note: pre beta 9]is that it's far too easy to be instakilled when you have a weak hull, and there's very little differentiation between each hull type.

Ideally, each hull could have a radically different mass (CCG Light Hull is lighter than CCG Military Hull, but I feel that a change that drastic wouldn't be a fair balancing mechanic for this review of components.

I copy/pasted the hull stats for each, as I feel it does need a balance patch, but they can be balanced in a vacuum since they don't draw power or require crew intervention outside of the inital purchase/repair.

Worth mentioning regarding the doubling of hull values added in version 9, I’m concerned about destroying a ship’s subsystems through weapons fire, but just not having enough firepower to kill the hull itself like in earlier betas of the game. It might be worthwhile to add a new mechanic that makes a ship “bleed” (hull damage over time) if 80-100% of its overall subsystems are taken out, either through boarding actions, or ship-to-ship weaponry.

Only other thing I want to specifically mention is that the Nano Active Hull desperately needs its repair ability buffed significantly. At higher levels, the repair increments only by a few HP per jump. I feel that it could benefit from a much larger increase (which I note a 100[+75 per lvl] repair rate in the spreadsheet).

Jump Modules:
The jump module is in an interesting position. I feel that they are relatively balanced in their current form, but there is of course room for improvement.
A simple but gamechanging mechanic for the jump module could be used for the program recharge. Instead of a program recharging instantaneously upon fuel capsule usage, there could be either a 4-5 second chargeup period, or equal to 5% of the jump module's typical chargeup period. Power use could also be included into this, but for lore reasons, they could be power-less, instead using latent capacitor power from the last jump/power generated from the new fuel cell to charge programs.
Inducing a wait for the chargeup time allows for the possibility of using other warp drives to provide enough program recharges in a fight (to support a program happy scientist)

I won't discuss every individual component as I feel most are already in a reasonable state. However, there is one notable exception that desperately needs a rebalancing:

Long-Range Warp Drive: This tends to be the go-to warp drive. The base stats have a superior jump range (as expected), but also reasonable charge times and especially fuel recharges. I've rebalanced it to have abysmal fuel recharges, a lower charge rate, and even more EM radiation (plus an exceptionally high power requirement). There should be a detriment to using a warp drive that is superior in one area (jump range). In its current state, there really isn't a downside.

I also applied a suitable nerf to the Ludicrous Range Warp Drive as well.

This is by far one of the most understated components. Right now, there are only three components: Shield co-processor, Cyber Defense, and Jump computers. It's been my experience in this current form that it's just getting one jump computer, stacking as many shield co-processors as you can carry, and the occasional cyber defense computer if you happen to find some and you have the spare slot. Rather dull and one dimensional.

I visualize that these co-processors become quasi-passive bonuses based on playstyle and components. I hesitantly use "quasi-passive" as I still include a power consumption cost to actually use them to their full benefit. That said, it can help mitigate the cons of some modules, or make the quality of something strong, even stronger. It will encourage variation amongst different builds, which hopefully lead to a more diverse collective of components toward the end of the game.

I do have a recommendation for a new processor type that enhances the offensive abilities of your programs, but I don't feel comfortable discussing that at this time since it is such a touchy subject and I don't know if there will be other minigame-esque things that the scientist will have to use to launch a virus. I might detail my thoughts in another thread as a potential co-processor, but I'm going to avoid the subject now, instead focusing on modifiers for stats already visible in the game

Here's my thoughts on the co-processors currently in the game as they stand. I also add in two new components: A co-processor for shield recharge rates and weapon recharge rates.

ARX-CD: The Cyber Defense module is in a reasonable shape right now. Solid power consumption, but necessary as a hard counter against some enemy types. I'd be hesitant to play with the CD processors other than minor tweaks. It could be improved (like the local ship/inherent ship CD via the aux reactor acting like a multiplier of CD processors instead of a flat 0.5 CD increase), but I'd feel comfortable leaving it in its current state.

ARX-JP: As for the jump computers, I think it would be interesting new mechanic that after (for example) 20 JP processing, it would give a slight % boost to overall jump range for each point above that minimum point. Right now, there's really no point getting anything over a single level 2 jump computer, as the warp drive module tends to be the bottleneck. This allows for a possibility to equip more jump computers and have an appreciable gain, but at a loss of other potential co-processors.
Lorewise, it could be discussed as a jump computer detecting a better path-of-least-resistance for the warp drive, thus increasing its effective range for the same drive ability.

ARX-SCP: Oh, I have a lot of discussion against the Shield Co-Processor in its current form. As it stands, there is zero downside to using them. Despite whichever level you equip, they all consume just 1 MW of power. There is practically no downside to them. They just increase shield integrity with no appreciable loss anywhere else (other than potentially a loss of credits or losing slots for Cyber Defense), making them the go-to option for any spare processor slots. This desperately needs a balance pass.
The quick bandaid fix would be to apply a massive power increase. I'm imagining 1000 MW base + 375 MW for the next level at the current integrity levels (so a level 1 would be 750 MW @ 50 HP, level 2 is 1375 MW @ 75 HP, level 4 is 2125 MW @ 125 HP, etc). I would also make them have a power draw equal to the rated total. This is a rapid change that makes SCP's useful but at an exceptional risk of overburdening your reactor.
I'd suggest taking it a step further, as a potential new mechanic: If the ARX-SCP component loses its power, then it should also instantly decrease the integrity of the shields up to a max of the SCP's additive worth. I'd be hesitant to make the penalty greater than that, as the additional burden of recharging shields once the SCP is back online would be enough of a demand against the engineer.

ARX-SRCP (Shield Recharge Co-Processor): As a potential sidegrade to the Shield Co-Processor, I suggest the Shield Recharge Co-Processor. These are a low risk, low gain component that only increases the recharge rate of shields. Since it does not aid in integrity, it will not prevent shields from absorbing an alpha attack, but let it recover from it faster. Also, if it utilizes the recharge pause mechanic mentioned under shields earlier, then this acts like a debuff against it. Power consumption could either be a flat rate increase, or act as a % modifier to both shield recharge rate and the shield recharge power consumption.
I opted for a percentage increase in power usage for shield recharge power consumption, but a flat rate to the actual charge rate itself may also be useful. This allows either aid to minimize the penalty of some shield types, or radically improving an already fast recharge. Decisions, decisions.
That said, the QDI-RCG might infringe on this a bit, but this I feel that they are distinct enough that they both could be implemented. (Instant shield replenishment vs persistant passive recharge rate so long that both co-processors and shields are powered)

ARX-ARP (Faster Weapon Fire Rate): An interesting new component would be the Armament Recharge Processor. These would grant a 6% increase of weapon recharge rate (+3% for each level), at a base cost of 500 MW (+ 125 MW for each ARX-ARP level). However, this gain is not without a downside. The additional recharge is not free with those power, but rather allows the engineer to allocate more weapon power above the current maximum noted by the component.
Small footnote, I went with ARP instead of WRP (Weapon Recharge Processor), as WRP may imply WaRP ie: jump range. Also, ARP is something you can say as a single syllable. Kinda sounds like a noise a seal makes. Just sayin'.
Also, I'd be hesitant to add a chip that directly increases damage. This is much more difficult to balance, and fire rate is a more fun mechanic to both balance and have the engineer/weapon crew members deal with.

QDI-RCG: The new processor is definitely interesting. I’ve slightly tweaked it by having higher level versions add 3% shield strength vs just 1% that’s listed. However, to continue my trend of downsides, I suggest that this is nerfed in three ways: 1) Introducing a massive power cost to equip the processor, 2) if the power demand isn’t met, then the effect is diminished accordingly to the power shortfall for the QDI-RCG processors, and 3) the total max gain of shield strength per program is capped to 20% shield replenishment (2x level 3 QDI-RCG) and the effect is limited to once every 15 seconds.
It’s potentially a great “get out of jail free card”, but there have to be downsides to use it, even if that downside just means planning ahead and compensating for the issues with the component.

Where to begin... The weapons in the game are barebones but decently balanced, all things considered. One mechanic I'd like to implement are weapons (either abilities or unique turrets) that can partially/completely negate the shield deflection [if still in the game] and armor stat. This leads to a new and interesting hard counter against excessive deflection/armor stats, meaning that a person can't fully invest in deflection and armor, and still be safe/invincible. These could be signified by a different laser or projectile color.

As for the overarching weapon types...:

Nuclear Weapons:
Nukes are an underdeveloped tool in the game, and I feel that (glitches notwithstanding), they are due to three separate issues: Utility, Commonality, and Cost.

Commonality is an easy option to fix: just make it slightly more often drop more often from fights or quest rewards! If people have it more often, then they're apt to use it more often too, instead of being that "super special ammo that you hold onto just in case" and then never use because it's too rare and sacred.

Cost is also relatively easy, but I'm going to approach it in another method: Decrease the purchase price by ~25%, but dramatically decrease selling price down to just 5% of the new buy value. Right now, a WD Large Nuke sells for 17,500cr. I know I'd never use it myself just for up to 8k damage once, if I can get an amazing turret or a new shiny shield. That same WD Large Nuke would only net me 1,312cr (if full purchase price is 26,250cr).
At that price, I'd be much more willing to hold onto it, instead of pawning it off for pennies. Lore wise, it could be described as most shops are afraid to take on something that dangerous onto a station, and shopowners are afraid that they'll never sell it as there are massive nuclear weapon tarrifs imposed from a galatic convention to discourage rampant stockpiling.

Utility is a harder factor to work with. The mechanic of launching and detonating a nuke are definitely usable in its current form (although could use tweaking). However, I suggest a new mechanic for the nukes: Stripping all armor/deflection from hull/shield, and removing/pausing the health regeneration of enemies that regen health (infected carrier, etc). That way, even if a nuclear weapon's target outclasses its hull strength for the nuke's damage, it's still a useful tool to debuff enemies that practically are invincible.
Additionally, it could incurr radiation damage to personnel on board the target for some time, so it's as dangerous for the people as it is for the ship.

I won't delve deep into the individual nuclear weapons, as they are all too similar to each other. Since this is such a niche area and not an overarching gameplay mechanic, I doubt a further analysis between each weapon is worth it to truly differentiate each in its current form.

The missiles launched by the Main Cannon are quite fun in it's current form. The only balance I would suggest is a way to fabricate/pick up more missiles from scrap, and improvements to damage/carrying capacity at higher levels (plus ways to purchase/acquire higher level missiles). Other than that, I'd be comfortable leaving them as is!
The only other suggestion I can offer is another missile type that either induces radiation on the target crew, or a subsystem killer that could two-shot internals, even with low shield integrity, but doesn't do much in the way of actual hull damage.

The automated (unmannable) turrets desperately need some love. Right now in its current form, there are just a single level, railgun based turret that can ever be purchased. This could be such an interesting and useful mechanic if it's properly fleshed out by allowing purchasable upgrades or further variants (short-pulse laser, etc).

This would bring out the uniqueness of the W.D. Destroyer and the Roland, but in its current form, they're only eye candy, and only few HP worth of damage on a target.

Automated Railgun turret: I've rebalanced this by doubling the base damage (to 60), and upped the power consumption base to 3,500 MW (from 2,000 MW). A bit more damage, a bit higher cost to use. Since damage itself doesn't increase that dramatically with higher levels, there is only a minor gain in MW usage. Alternatively, you can increase the MW usage further, but add in a NEGATIVE charge time modifier (ie: decreasing the length of time between each shot). My only concern is that it might lead to rapid fire turrets at higher level like a full auto burst turret, coupled with the potential for lag.

Automated Laser Turret: This was a notable ommission, but it's perfectly understandable why. This is such a tricky weapon to balance, especially when mounted on the Roland. I took an interesting approach to balance this. Modest damage, and a modest power consumption. However, power usage increases faster per level, plus an increased time between each shot.

Just a side note, I'm still rather uncomfortable with the auto turrets on the bottom of the Roland. I feel they could be much more useful on the lower angled sides (kinda similar to the WD Destroyer). It's a more usable arc, and plus you'll see them shoot from the windows... but still prevents them from shooting at targets directly above. Granted, this discussion is primarily regarding modules themselves, but I wanted to mention this as an aside. Weapon placement is almost as integral as the weapons themselves!

Manned turrets: This could feasibly get a post of its own! Turrets could use a bit of love, or really weapons play in general. I do feel this warrants a complete discussion, but I don't want to drift too far from discussion on modules (ie: the specific turrets themselves).

Spreadshot Turret: The spreadshot turret is by far the most unique of the lot. It's a space shotgun, how cool is that? Unfortunately, it doesn't play out nearly as well in game. I'd recommend widening the spread, but dramatically increasing the damage (potentially coupled with 'ablative' projectile damage dropoff). This weapon should make you run for the hills if the enemy has one, or make you feel like a god when you charge in close enough to ram your target. Furthermore, higher level versions should be more readily available from stores. However, higher level components should also come with increased power load too.
The spreadshoot is a unique weapon, why not make it situationally useful too?

Laser Turret: The laser is the bread and butter weapon. It doesn't do tons on its own, but it's painful without it, because of the lack of shield stripping from most physical weapons. Modest power, low damage, pinpoint accurate. It's just a laser, what do you want?
Ok, what I do want is radically increased power draw with higher levels. Since it's pinpoint accurate, it should be annoying for the engineer to keep up with the power draw.

Focused laser Turret: The focused laser has a niche in more alpha damage at a cost of longer recharge.
For a balance pass, I'd suggest that the focused laser fires for even longer (maybe 2.5-3 seconds) at its current per-'hit' of damage (ie: more damage per actual shot). However, it would have a much higher power cost, almost in line with the initial version back in Beta 1 with the Roland.

Railgun Turret: This is an incredibly fun weapon. This makes you feel like using a massive railgun, and is amazingly satisfying when you hit the target from 8 km out. The proj. target indicator was well needed, and definitely increased the usability of the weapon.
As for balance, my only concern is the lack of extra power on higher level components. I wish it would have more physical damage when the shields are out, but otherwise it's a mainstay on most of my ships.

Burst Turret: If the railgun was fun, the burst turret is your own personal bouncy-castle. I wish this would come stock on a certain ship. It changes up the flow the railgun for such a simple modification. I'd like it if it was more ubiquitous, or found on more hostile ships (other than the Grim Cutlass). It's an interesting weapon to use and fight against, why not see more of it?

The thrusters are an underutilized component, especially considering their significant power draw! They're decently balanced as modules, but the game mechanics only really utilize the inertial thrusters, to aim your ship at the enemy. While I feel the weapon play should attempt to favor getting up close and personal (stronger scattershot, damage falloff/"ablative" ammo for weaker damage at distance, etc), there is really no need to get within 1KM of your target.

That said, the modules themselves could use a bit of love.

Main Thrusters: The main thruster system is relatively balanced as is on a component basis. It's good to see an efficient/balanced/performance system of power consumption/power. I've used that as influence for adding a similar tiered setup to the other thruster types.
I buffed the Standard Vector Thruster significantly to be more in line with the other three thruster types (base power of 10 instead of 3).

However, I shifted the efficient thruster to the new "Fluffy Biscuit Canele Thruster" (Canele being a type of pastry). Light weight, low power. Highly efficent but not exactly amazing when it comes to actual thruster delivery.
(As an alternative name, I'm also a fan of the "FB Shortcrust Thruster", to start their food naming theme. Alternatively, to match the "FB Jumbo Reactor", it could be called the "Mini Thruster" or "Funsize Thruster", but I'll continue using Canele Thruster for this discussion).

Inertia Thrusters: This is by far the most important thruster in the game. Since the turrets are mounted on the top of the ship (Roland/WD Destroyer autoturrets notwithstanding), it's paramount to constantly pitch the ship to a passable angle for the weapons. Since it's such a critical component to how games play out, I've also massively increased the MW draw to encourage engineer attention and moderation on behalf of the pilot, and also increased power draw for higher level components.

However, to help ease the demand of the upgraded components (doubled with more customization), I've added three more inertial thrusters: Performance, Adeliade, and F.B. Canele.
To help balance higher level components, I added a power draw modifier for higher levels, much like the thrusters.

Maneuvering Thrusters: Very similar to the Inertia Thrusters, but without the power requirement nerf. They're not as critical and the lesser power requirement could encourage pilots to circle around enemy ships instead of just sitting in one place and pivoting.
Much like the Inertia Thrusters, I've included three new manenvering thrusters for balance/customization: Performance, Adeliade, and F.B. Canele.

I find most of the programs balanced decently in theory. Practice may be a different situation, but that may just be the current mechanics in play and not much that a simple tweak can fix (other than potentially adding a co-processor that increases infection attempt/success rates). That said, I feel that these programs could use a bit of attention or worth noting:

OverCharge(sic): With the core override mechanic I mentioned above, it may be worthwhile to drop this program entirely, since the program offers additional reactor power but without any downside, other than fuel consumption for future use.

Capacitor: This is a fun program and would be interesting to have this stock on a new cyber warfare ship. This would especially be practical if there is a wait time induced for using fuel capsules to manually recharge programs.

Shield Booster: AKA the “Things have gone south and we need to stay alive” button. I appreciate that the +450 shield recharge rate is tied into power usage (much like my balancing noted above).
However, I offer an interesting but extremely simple tweak: Instead of +450 shield recharge rate flat, make it a 15x or 20x the charge rate. That way, the shield booster acts like an amplifier for the shield (+SRCP’s) on board, instead of a simple additive number.
I would also suggest either increasing the pips required to 3, or slightly decreasing the duration to 9 seconds, since it’s a bit too easy to continually pop fuel cells. A manual fuel cell recharge delay between activation and availability would also act as an indirect nerf for what is 60+% of what the scientist does in the late game.

Sitting Duck: Awesome program, and a bit underrated. That said, I would like to see an adjustment to this program. If Sitting Duck is active on phase drones, it could prevent (or reduce) the phase drones ability from skipping/warping through space. They can be very annoying enemies, and this virus can act as a hard counter against them.
That said, if it’s a bit too overpowered, it could be nerfed by killing forward/reverse and maneuvering thrust, but still keeping 25% of inertia/rotational thrust. That way, a target that’s infected doesn’t become inert if you get into its blindspot, but will definitely struggle to put up a fight.

Life Support:
In an earlier devlog, Life Support was discussed about getting an overhaul. Granted, it can be avoided by having your crew wear exosuits (with a mobility debuff of course). While an overhaul would be worthwhile and add a dimension to boarding parties, I suggest this new component as a temporary measure:

RadScrubber Life Support: As the name implies, this component would scrub out some radiation from the ship, making core-override gameplay less lethal. This reduction would only potentially reach up to the radiation decrease of the exosuit and would not stack (since the exosuit has it’s own complete support system).
But, it’ll of course come with a downside. If the life support is disabled (weapon fire or turned off on aux reactor), then the oxygen in the ship plummets twice as fast compared to the stock system, and only inches up at 10% of the stock life support system.

That's definitely a lot to look through, and I commend anyone that took the time to read through it, doubly so if take the time to respond! The only thing I ask is to try to keep any responses/suggestions to mechanics already in the game or could easily be implemented. Deployable drones, virus minigames, PvP, etc... are all good ideas, but I'm hoping to keep a discussion regarding mechanics or tweaking values for stats already in the game.

I know I'm far from the only one here who has their own view and perspective on how Pulsar can grow and become even better, so I'm quite curious on what you all have to say about it!

tl;dr: Increased power requirements especially at higher levels, made components more specialized. Google doc sheet here.
Last edited by Bleet on Thu Jun 16, 2016 11:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Mr n
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Re: [Long + Spreadsheet] Rebalancing Pulsar's Modules

Post by Mr n » Fri Jun 17, 2016 2:28 pm

I read the whole thing through; as you mentioned buffing one parameter while nerfing another, something immediately popped into my mind.

Experimental shield co-processor with a bonus shield integrity (+50%? +100%?) as in the same-level normal shield co-processor, but with a penalty of increased minimum shield integrity (maybe based on the current minimum shield integrity - including other experimental shield co-processors as well).

As for the turrets upgrades/sidegrades (I usually play as Weapons' Officer) - a sidegrade Main Cannon/CU Long Range/Laser Turrets with longer burst. Now it's a delayed-hitscan type of weapon (not totally unlike rail guns from some other games). What I would like would be to be able to spread the listed damage over a longer span of time than lower than a second as now.
Pros: a miss ("dammit, pilot, why turn NOW?!") may not be a total miss;
Cons: you have to - accurately track the target a bit longer (a second instead of a hitscan?).

About life support - why not make different oxygen generators as well? Parameters they could have:
• upkeep power cost (i.e. how much power does it take to keep the current (both >0% or 100%) oxygenation level
• +1% of oxygen additional power cost (may be interesting to have
• speed of pumping up that 1%
• maybe numerical "capacity" so those 1%'s are different on the same ship when you have different generators?

It would be nice if the ship's total internal volume and fires actually mattered in terms of oxygen, smaller ships (Intrepid) would have to have a better generator not to suffocate when components are on fire, larger ships (Roland) could use cheaper ones as they have huge internal volume (btw. which is incredibly inconvenient for shipmaking, you want to constrain the thing, not make it both a bigger target and have 10m ceilings in a flat cargo zone).

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Re: [Long + Spreadsheet] Rebalancing Pulsar's Modules

Post by Bleet » Sat Jun 18, 2016 8:20 pm

Mr n wrote:I read the whole thing through; as you mentioned buffing one parameter while nerfing another, something immediately popped into my mind.

Experimental shield co-processor with a bonus shield integrity (+50%? +100%?) as in the same-level normal shield co-processor, but with a penalty of increased minimum shield integrity (maybe based on the current minimum shield integrity - including other experimental shield co-processors as well).
I like the concept! The Minimum Shield Integrity is a rather new stat (which I think needs to be trended upward for most shield components), so it would be interesting to see it as a modifiable component via co-processors.
Mr n wrote:As for the turrets upgrades/sidegrades (I usually play as Weapons' Officer) - a sidegrade Main Cannon/CU Long Range/Laser Turrets with longer burst. Now it's a delayed-hitscan type of weapon (not totally unlike rail guns from some other games). What I would like would be to be able to spread the listed damage over a longer span of time than lower than a second as now.
Pros: a miss ("dammit, pilot, why turn NOW?!") may not be a total miss;
Cons: you have to - accurately track the target a bit longer (a second instead of a hitscan?).
I thought it would be fitting for the focused laser mannable turret to have a longer duration beam compared to the stock laser beam, but maybe it would also make sense to just have longer duration shot for the main turrets too. The mechanics are mostly already in the game, the only thing that would readily have to change is the knockback/recoil will have to be applied over time instead of instantaneously after the shot's fired (like it is currently).

Then again, there could just be more weapons in general. Even a rapid fire burst railgun weapon for the main turret slot would be quite intimidating (separate from the burst turret but higher damaging/more projectiles/faster fire rate by comparison)
Mr n wrote:About life support - why not make different oxygen generators as well? Parameters they could have:
• upkeep power cost (i.e. how much power does it take to keep the current (both >0% or 100%) oxygenation level
• +1% of oxygen additional power cost (may be interesting to have
• speed of pumping up that 1%
• maybe numerical "capacity" so those 1%'s are different on the same ship when you have different generators?
Life Support is a little bit trickier to balance in the current game in its current form, at least in regards to power consumption. Right now, they always consume power via the aux. reactor, but then let you "return" power back to the main power grid by disabling them. I feel that in its current form, it makes pretty reasonable sense to keep it using similar mechanics, since it allows the engineer to trade life support for a bit more power easily by hitting an easy to reach switch.

If we're going to keep the mechanics the same, then what would power consumption actually change? Would it reduce your total reactor capacity by the power overage, but when life support is turned off, it releases that plus the stock power? This also brings us to a catch 22 when a core is ejected, would life support fail as well, or just severely degrade and barely keep pace with oxygen needs?

Alternatively, would each life support module variant come with a latent power 'generation' for the aux reactor, so it doesn't affect the reactor?
It's rather tricky to find a nice balance, but the life support system definitely could use some love.

As for the 0-100% oxygen generation, it might be a nice touch, but I'm a bit unsure if it would practically mean much (plus I would imagine life support systems would always run 100% just in case if there's an issue, at least lore wise), but it might be worth considering just to have additional options to balance on.

Mr n wrote:It would be nice if the ship's total internal volume and fires actually mattered in terms of oxygen, smaller ships (Intrepid) would have to have a better generator not to suffocate when components are on fire, larger ships (Roland) could use cheaper ones as they have huge internal volume (btw. which is incredibly inconvenient for shipmaking, you want to constrain the thing, not make it both a bigger target and have 10m ceilings in a flat cargo zone).
That's actually a pretty good suggestion! I completely forgot about considering the internal area for oxygen as a balancing point for ships (plus would be an interesting... buff? nerf? for the Roland and the WD Cruiser).

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