So I really like the ship design system, especially the "offset" option. It's pretty slick.
But I was surprised that the actual gameplay mechanics are nearly identical to GC2. The only difference I could notice was that individual componets now have upkeep costs rather than the whole ship depending on whether or not it's "civilian" or "military". Which is really nice, I like it a lot.
But anyways, here is something that I've been thinking would be nice to have to make the ship design system better. (at least in my opinion)
Specifically, one of the things that has been a minor annoyance for me in GC2 was that non-combat vessels had literally no combat ability.
From a historic perspective, non-combat vessels usually had some cannons on board. Caravels used for exploration usually had at least 5 cannons on board. Even very small ships such as Pinnaces often had 2 cannons on board.
From a Science Fiction perspective, in series such as Star Trek all the scout ships and science vessels usually had some sort of weapon on board even if it didn't make them "combat worthy".
I see no reason for Galactic Civilizations not to be the same.
So I've been thinking about a way to change this in a way that I think would be applicable to all ship types, evenly balanced, interesting, fun, and also importantly, not take a lot of work to implement.
My idea is to remove all the base stats except hitpoints from ships, such as movement speed, life support range and sensor range then make it so that on the ship design screen instead of having 25 capacity to put components on you'd have a variety of capacity bars, most of which are dedicated to specific components.
So for a tiny ship you currently have:
3 free movement.
15 free life support range
3 free sensor range.
I'd like to change it to something like this:
0/25 Universal Capacity
And instead of the free stats you'd have:
0/25 Engine Capacity
0/25 Life Support Capacity
0/25 Sensor Capacity
Then throw on:
0/15 Weapons Capacity
0/15 Defense Capacity
That way when designing a ship, you're guaranteed to have space for every important stat, and then would have some excess space that you can use for anything. (ie: specialization) I'd set it up so that whenever you put a component on it uses all the dedicated space it can then switches to using universal space. If you have 1 engine that takes 16 space, then putting a second on would max out the engine bar (25) then take 7 space from the Universal Capacity from the spill-over.
A dedicated combat ship for example would have a lot of firepower and armour, while a scout ship would be designed with life support, engines and sensors in mind. In the end the scout ship would still be able to put on weapons without compromising it's scouting ability, but an early scout would probably have only 4 attack (a single missile pod in the 15 dedicated weapons space, none in it's universal space because that's being used for life support, etc.) while the same sized early combat vessel would have 12 (three missile pods from the 40 space, a combination of the dedicated weapons space and the universal space).
So building combat vessels would still be important, especially during a war, but if you get caught off-guard your scout ships could double as "reserve light fighters" with only 1/3 the combat ability during war time.
When building disposable ships such as constructors and colony ships I think players would forgo putting weapons on anyways, as it'd increase the cost and upkeep of a ship that's not going to exist for a long time. Mining vessels and trade ships on the other hand could have some weapons put on so they aren't totally venerable.
I also think that the system would cut down on players rushing early combat ships as they wouldn't be able to completely "lock down" another civ as easily. The civ under attack would be able to put of some kind of minor defence with whatever civilian ships they had on hand.
...so basically I'd like to give players and the AI a lot more incentive to arm their secondary ships to a small extent by providing them with space that can't be used for anything else.
Anyways, I thought I'd throw that out there.
Edit: Completely reworded some areas because I din't explain it well.