I fully expect this to get next to no support.
This idea came from this video by Penny Arcade:
The concept is fairly simple: currently each weapon and passive module upgrade is increasingly more powerful with almost no downsides. Thus, despite the stat upgrades between each Mk upgrade being rather small, the overall difference between Mk1 and Mk5 is quite large, making pilots who have just reached a new tier unable to hold their own against veterans.
So here’s my suggestion:
- Keep the DPS between all weapon upgrades constant, and make the difference come from stat changes that revolve around an “ideal” statistics setup (Which would be at Mk3).
- Make Passive Modules also revolve around an “ideal” statistic setup (Mk3) but allow players to skew the statistics in favor of certain bonuses at the cost of increased negative effects (malus).
- Make upgraded Active Modules more powerful, but also take longer to recharge as they are upgraded. Make low level Active Modules less effective, but faster to recharge.
WEAPON EXAMPLE: Make the Mk1 Assault Railgun have a very fast Rate of Fire, but very low Bullet Damage, and greater Spread. As you upgrade the gun from Mk1 to Mk2, the Rate of Fire decreases while Bullet Damage increases, and Spread also decreases slightly.
Mk3 would be the median point where all stats are relatively average and the gun is at its most ‘balanced’. Rate of Fire and Damage per Bullet are both average, with a relatively low Spread.
By the time you hit Mk 5, the guns Rate of Fire is quite slow, but with massive Damage per Bullet, and almost no Spread.
The key is, DPS between all those weapons remains the same, so no one weapon is definitively ‘better’ than another.
This would make the Mk1 weapons easy to use for players new to the Tier, as it gives them more chances to hit the enemy and makes them feel more powerful. Mk3 weapons are the prime balancing point where the weapon is good all-around, and Mk5 caters to high-skill players, as it is more costly to miss a shot, but very rewarding if you connect with every single bullet.
PASSIVE MODULE EXAMPLE: Make Armored Hull boost overall armor volume only slightly, while it’s impact on ship speed is also relatively low at Mk1. As the module is upgraded to further increase the amount by which it boosts the ship’s armor, make it also further hinder ship speed.
ACTIVE MODULE EXAMPLE: Make Liquid Metal Injector restore less armor, but recharge much faster at Mk1. At MK4, Liquid Metal Injector restores a lot of armor, but recharges much slower.
Think of the above suggestions in relation to a car game in which you can “tune” your car’s performance with sliders. You may want more acceleration in your transmission, but that will cost you some top speed. You may want to increase your car’s turning response, but that will cost you some stability at higher speeds.
This is essentially, suggesting that ship upgrades stop being purely about adding more power, and start functioning as aftermarket ‘tuning’ parts with benefits and negative effects.