New players have it tough already, and I propose that new players start with only a special ship , instead of a starter fleet from Empire. This ship should have enough special abilities and uses to make it worth-while in early game modes, and strong enough to make it a formidable opponent. It should also be a unique class ship that can be ranked up as the player grows , to allow it to be used further on in the future, much like how players can level up their Salyut-ST and Object NY18 , except this ship would start at Rank 1, and move up to Rank 17.
All new players should start with the ship , and maybe those players who have joined up to 4 months before its release. Vets and old players should not get the ship without some ultra tedious task such as recruiting 20 players or owning all the normal ships in the game or something. It should start out looking ragged and old, but be able to unlock new “skins” like the Thar’Ga that changes its appearance to a newer, more modern look. The increased ranks for the ship should be tied to the clearance level of the player , and get to 17 at clearance rank 20 or something similar. It should also be the ship used in the tutorial mission to make it seem like the player “discovered” the game universe via some crazy time warp or something in that ship. Shouldn’t have special abilities in the tutorial mission. Should maybe look like a futuristic Alcubierre drive ship that has been severely damaged. (See example image)
Tl;dr: starter ship good for balance and good for player retention.
Here are some baseline suggestions for the ship:
Type: Unique Fighter (Unclassified)
Ranks: 1-17 (through upgrade system like NY18)
Passive bonuses: Will be unlocked with increased ship ranks through the technology tree.
Primary Weapon (Starter) : Sequential Railguns
Function: Identical to the tutorial weapon. A normal kinetic gun.
Special module (Starter) : A-Type Force Generator
Function: Upon activation, stops energy and shield regeneration and makes the ship invulnerable for 2 seconds to store up energy. After this time, the ship instantly travels 6,000m towards the crosshairs and gains 20% extra damage for 5 seconds. If the destination is occupied by a ship, both ships take instant 50% hull damage on arrival due to the warp distortion.
Special module (Rank 9) : Subspace Wormhole
Function: Upon activation, makes the ship invisible and increases maximum speed by 150% for 15 seconds. Upon exiting cloak or running out of time, a wormhole is established between the points that allows the user to travel back to the start point once by entering the wormhole.
Special module (Rank 15) : Improbability Generator
Function: Upon activation, picks a random function from the list:
1: Creates several holograms of the user.
2: Teleports the user a great distance.
3: Repairs the user’s hull and shield by a great amount.
4: Makes the user momentarily invulnerable.
5: Switches place with a locked enemy.
6: Drops a large bomb in place.
7: Cloaks the user.
8: Teleports the user to a random ally.
9: Crates a swarm of homing missiles.
10: Creates a swarm of attack drones.
11: Creates a shockwave centered at the user that pushes enemies away.
12: Creates a gravity well centered at the user that pulls enemies in.
13: Creates an explosion centered at the user that deals great damage.
14: Generates a second shield for the user.
15: Greatly boosts all ship parameters.
16: Removes all negative effects.
17: Applies damaging plasma to all nearby enemies.
Active Module (Rank 2) : Exostatic Field
Function: Prepares the crew for long distance travel by emitting a pulse that puts everything within 450m in to stasis for 3 seconds, including the user’s ship. The A-Type Field Generator still works in stasis. All ships caught in the stasis (self or enemies) cannot move or use weapons, but are shielded from damage for the duration.
Active Module (Rank 3) : Subspace Scanner
Function: Reveals all enemy ships and objects to the user for 10 seconds. This information is not shared with allies. (Like Combat Recon Captain)
Active Module (Rank 5) : Repair Drone Bay
Function: Releases a small drone to orbit the ship and make repairs to the hull at a rate of 2% per second. Once the hull is fully repaired, the drone goes in to overdrive and repairs 2,000pts of shield for the user. The drone can be shot down before completing repairs.
Active Module (Rank 7) : Reactor Purge
Function: Upon activation, depletes all of the user’s energy reserves and releases a cloud of damaging radiation that travels away from the ship in the direction the engines are facing. If the ejected reactor material impacts an enemy, it deals heavy thermal damage but dissipates immediately.
Active Module (Rank 9) : Escape Pod
Function: The control module is ejected from the front of the ship and can be used to travel to safety. The control ship has no primary weapons, but has the following parameters:
Maximum speed: 700m/s
Special Module : Insurance claim : The main ship returns, but a repair penalty must be paid after battle.
Active Module : Modulated Shielding : The shields stop regenerating, but the user is hidden from radars.
Active Module : Emergency Jump : The ship enters an unstable warp for 2,500m. Taking damage while warping will disable warp. If the ship reaches the end of the warp, it gains a temporary shield with 3,500pts and no resistance.
Active Module (Rank 11) : Catalyst Torpedo
Function: Launches a small warhead straight forwards. If it detonates on its own, the damage will be very minor. If it contacts radiation it will create a secondary explosion that is extremely large and powerful.
Active Module (Rank 13) : Enhanced Subspace Scanner
Function: Reveals all enemy ships and objects to the user for 10 seconds. This information is shared with allies. (Similar to Combat Recon Captain)
Active Module (Rank 15) : Iridium Catalyst Torpedo
Function: Launches a small warhead straight forwards. If it detonates on its own, the damage will be very minor. If it impacts a destroyer or Ellydium ship, the explosion will be much larger and more powerful. If it impacts an alien ship it will deal incredible damage (instakill normal ships).
Active Module (Rank 17) : Remote Station
Function: Deploys a small autonomous station that can be upgraded by the user. When first deployed, it will not have weapons, and only acts as a return point for the user if they activate the module again from greater than 2,500m. (With an interval of 30 seconds.)
Upgrades: Each stage takes 10 seconds to construct, and makes the station slightly larger to accommodate the upgrades.
Gatling Turrets : Constructs kinetic weapons on the platform that have a rapid rate of fire and low range.
PDT system : Enemy drones and missiles that come close to the station are destroyed with an interval of 1 second.
Mesh Networking : The user and nearby allies gain boosts to several parameters: +Radar range, -Lock time, +Maneuvering speed, +Rate of fire, -Module reload. The more allies that are under this effect, the stronger it grows.
Shield Coupler : The station gains a shield with 6,000pts of volume and 300pts/s of regeneration. The station will siphon shields to the user or nearby damaged allies at a high rate.
Fortifier System : The station will gain 75pts of hull resistance to all damage and 150pts of hull regeneration. The user and nearby allies also benefit from this effect in a small radius.
Lazarus Module : If the user or an ally is about to be destroyed, they gain 1 second of invulnerability and are teleported to the station with an interval of 25 seconds.
Docking Pad : Constructs a docking pad on the station that can be used by the user or allies. It provides strong shield and hull resistance and boosts user weapon range and power.
Hive Bay : Constructs a drone factory that deploys small autonomous drones to hunt down enemies at an interval of 20 seconds.
Torpedo Silo : Constructs a large torpedo tube on the platform that fires long range homing torpedoes at enemies.
Each ship rank upgrade would cost only credits, but with very high costs at high ranks. Each upgrade would allow the user to increase the ship rank, and also unlock simple module blueprints in the Workshop.
When the pilot unlocks Clearance Level 5, they unlock the ability to upgrade the ship with further technology:
Clearance Level-Ship rank max: 5-2, 6-3, 7-4, 8-5, 9-6, 10-7, 11-8, 12-9, 13-10, 14-11, 15-12, 16-13, 17-14, 18-15, 19-16, 20-17
This leveling system would promote the user to level up other normal ships as well, and to gather other items and unique things, as a pilot would be unable to reach Clearance Level 20 without doing so. The ship is designed to be very useful at the start, but continue to be useful later in the game as the player progresses, growing with them as they advance in the game.
Really rough example, including example ship design and some module/rank branches. Node placement is not indicative of the final proposed upgrade tree. (For example: expanding to R17, including active modules, special modules, and passives)