Before we get into the meat up this update, we want to first thank everyone for their fantastic support so far through the first round of Mod of the Year. With your support, we have made it into the top 100 with not one, not two, but all three of our current projects. If you would like to vote for any of our mods in the final round of voting, you can do so by clicking on the appropriate button below, which will take you to the voting page. There you just click the "VOTE" button next to the mod's name. You can vote for as many mods as you like in this round, too. Again, we appreciate all the support!
As usual, this update has a text and a video version. The contents are the same, it's just a matter of which medium you prefer. The video version can be seen here:
Over the development of 2.2, we've done several updates talking about new content and content changes, and while there's plenty of documentation in both text and video form of the mod as it changes, we haven't really taken an update to talk about the more structural changes to how the mod works, or addressing what we and other people have seen as the weaker points of the mod in previous versions, so that's what we'll be doing today. Some of these things we've touched on in some ways before, and some reaches forward a bit more into 2.3, but it's good to have it all in one place. This will be divided into a few different points/categories.
1. The number of projectiles (and some other factors) in the mod make it feel arcade-y/reduce the visual quality of the mod.
We definitely agree with this in 2.1. Essentially, the projectile counts in 2.1 were meant to most easily and clearly represent the canon armaments of ships, however while it made it more clear in one sense, it made the game less readable in other ways. While we are keeping the representative armament system in the mod, the total amount of projectiles is significantly lower. Even SSDs, while they put out a lot of firepower, won't be covering your screen in sheets of lasers. Health has also been proportionally increased across the mod, making ships feel a lot more solid.
2. Lack of abilities and similar ranges contribute to a feeling that there's not as much unit diversity in the mod in terms of actual role as there could be. Also, why are Praetor's weapons so long-ranged? And TIE Defender spam?
To address the second last part first, the reason Praetors and other larger ships have such high ranges is because we were attempting to mitigate the tendency for ships to spin when they can't use as many weapons as they'd like. We've since found other, better ways to do this, and frankly the benefits aren't worth the tradeoff of the Praetor being so powerful, so that particular change has been removed. Praetors are meant to be damage sinks, not snipers, and their new range will reflect that. In general, ships will have a broader... well, range of ranges helping to contribute to their ability to fill different roles. There's also going to be a split in the Concussion Missile weapon type, with one anti fighter type (which is what is currently in the mod), and an anti-ship variant, the kind you'll find on ships like the VSD, which will help them become more dedicated capital ship killers. A lot of the changes in weapon types, among other things, are to help smaller ships become more viable in general. In addition to the weapon changes, there have been changes to population cap to help some units feel less clustered near the bottom, and make super ships like the Executor feel like more of an investment. The new space cap is 60 instead of 40, with the cost of mainline capital ships brought up to 6 from 4, which provides us with extra space to distribute some of the smaller ships. In the case of the top-of-the-line fighters like TIE Defenders and Furions, their pop cap value has been increased to 2, meaning only 30 squadrons can be fielded at once instead of 40, and they have also been nerfed in other ways.
Abilities have also been given another look in the mod- we've never liked the idea of just renaming Power to Weapons a couple times, slapping it everywhere, and calling it a day, so while the base game abilities will be making more of an appearance than before, we've also added in some fully-custom abilities to flesh units out even more. In the mod right now are the new single-unit retreat and microjump abilities, as well as boarding abilities, the ability to rotate space stations on command, and in future versions we will continue to flesh out this list with more abilities. Some more general, others specifically tailored to individual units.
3. AI Improvements
In previous versions, we didn't edit the AI from the base game much beyond adding in the necessary tags for the AI to use our new units, and that sort of thing. There are a few technical reasons for this which I won't go into, but in 2.2 this has changed, so in 2.2 and beyond you can expect to see some significant changes to AI behaviour. A lot of the reworking will come in 2.3, but we've already implemented or at least started to implement certain behavioural changes which should make the AI's actions make way more sense and remove some of their more exploitable tendencies. For one, units will no longer idle below allied space stations and allow themselves to be picked off. While they will still prefer to hang out near their stations, their ships will now move out to meet approaching enemies (prioritized by type, though that's fairly rudimentary so far). This also applies to ground unit behaviour, which should no longer exclusively hang out around bases either. The other major space tactical change for 2.2 is that the AI will no longer use corvettes and fighters to randomly scout the map, and this is a fairly impactful change. Instead, they will focus on actually fulfilling their roles. Which brings us to...
4. SSDs are just too powerful, and too common. It's too easy to win once you get one.
When you fight an SSD, or use an SSD, it's supposed to feel somewhat rare and cool. In 2.15, they were everywhere, and once you got them, you essentially could win any engagement. Once you knew how to handle them, they could still be beaten by the player but the AI couldn't really handle them. We've made several changes to address this, as well. First, build limits are significantly reduced. The typical cap for SSDs is 1 at a time, and a lifetime max of 3. The exception are Bellators, which are a lifetime cap of 4, and a current limit of 3. We've also made it so their weaknesses are more pronounced, making them easier to take down with proper tactics, and as importantly, easier to lose. They have become significantly more vulnerable to bombers (which combined with the AI's proper usage of bombers, makes it so you need to defend them a lot more and can't drop them in haphazardly), and have the oft-requested engine hardpoint to help stop them from escaping with 5 turbolasers left, which was incredibly annoying in previous versions. No longer does an SSD mean victory, it just means you have an powerful ship which excels in its niche against capital ships, as it should, but with especially pronounced weaknesses where it struggles against groups of smaller targets.
5. The era-system is lacking in some ways story-wise, and it's not always clear that higher era doesn't necessarily mean better tech for the Remnant players.
We wanted to bring this up to acknowledge it, but the next news post will be specifically about the multi-era GCs and the changes to era progression, so we'll hold off on that discussion until then.
6. Everything moves really fast in ground battles, and it feels weird.
Our attitude towards ground battles in previous versions was that they were bad, and they weren't entirely fixable, so we weren't even gonna try- we were just gonna make them as painless as possible, and move on. This was the wrong attitude, and is certainly a valid criticism of existing versions. However, this won't be an issue we tackle all at once. There's a few key things we've done in 2.2, namely infantry firing while running and trying to add a bit of variety within them, removing the worse and larger ground maps, working on a better distribution of ground maps so it feels less repetitive (there's now generally at most 2, in a few rare cases 3 planets using any given map between 250 planets in the mod, so you shouldn't notice as much repetition), and some balance changes, along with reverting the aforementioned pacing change. In 2.3, we want to do a more thorough retooling of some ground systems, so we'll talk more about that when the time comes and we've fleshed it out even more.
So that's obviously not an exhaustive change list, but hopefully it's assuaged some concerns for people, or convinced people who may not have been as keen on 2.15 to give 2.2 a shot. We're always looking to improve the mod, so we're always happy to hear feedback both during development and afterwards for the next version. So far, we're very happy with the direction we're going so far with 2.2 and into 2.3, so we hope all of you enjoy it as well.