Hero Flagships and Fleet Builder improvements

The current iteration of the fleet builder has accessibility and learning issues for newer players who are looking to jump into multiplayer games. I wanted to share how I may have designed the system, and the problem it tries to address. This is not a demand that the system be made this way but some suggestions to help start a discussion.

Core Goals

  • Allow for strong fleet identity that teaches a play style
  • Make each choice clear and meaningful
  • Still allow variety and creativity for experimenting players

I want to make sure a player with little to no meta knowledge can still have an enjoyable multiplayer match. The immediate differences between ships when selecting them should be more apparent. After building their fleet the player also should have an idea of how to play it. The main deciding factor of a match should be the player's skill at commanding their fleet and not the ability to decipher which ships will be the most cost-effective.

To this end is my proposed system using Hero Flagships:

In this system a player in the multiplayer lobby does the following:

Select a race
Select a subfaction (The fact that this is mostly cosmetic should be communicated better)
Select a flagship
Build a fleet (Add one decent default fleet per flagship)
Select abilities (can be done in-game as well)

Hero Flagships

The flagship is such an important part of the gameplay that it should be a unique choice that the fleet is built around. In this system, the traits that the fleet gets are dependent on the flagship selected and cannot be individually selected. This helps with the amount of hidden information in the game since a player only needs to learn the flagships to know what hidden bonuses the enemy fleet will have. This does restrict the play styles available but allows the team to focus on balancing on making just a few viable tactics for each race.

Choosing a flagship also gives the player an immediate idea of what ships to pick and what their game plan is. It also forces the player to take some escorts which an integral part of the game and should be automatic. There is also the potential for expanding the game with a progression system for each flagship to unlock new loadouts, escort choices, or skills. Future flagship choices can also be monetized with DLC or an in game currency progression system.

0_1550862913980_lobbyadmirals.jpg
Mockup of the flagship selection screen.

Fleet Builder

Once a flagship is selected the player can now build a fleet for it with their remaining points. This is where I'd look at all the ships in the game again, cut out any that feel unnecessary and give each ship a clear strength and role. More ships can be added back into the game as new flagships are added to support them but for now I would focus on making sure there are good choices that support the flagships. I won't go through each choice for the sake of brevity but I would stress the following:

Make sure you can describe to someone in one line the strengths and weaknesses of each line ship when compared to others. For example: "The Avenger is a durable grand cruiser that sacrifices versatility in order to have overwhelming broadside macro firepower"

I would also add small icons next to ships that show if a certain ship benefits from flagship traits, so that new players can have some obvious choices to get them started, like so:

0_1550863008837_avengrrrr.png
Small icons showing an avenger benefits from AP ammo and Ramming Spurs from the Retribution flagship

Conclusion

If you got it this far thanks for reading. I'd like to say it again that I am not demanding that the system be built exactly like this. The current fleet builder is daunting and confusing but I am not privy to the inner workings of Tindalos and I don't know if there are licensing issues surrounding modifying ships and designing new ships. For me this is practice communicating my ideas on a game I am passionate about so more people can enjoy it.

Comments and discussion welcome.

last edited by Shadez

Awfull idea. Its bad from start to finish.

last edited by Plushanubka

So... the idea is to strictly LIMIT fleet diversity? Why?? And then proposing pay to win monetization is the cherry on top...

@shadez Complete garbage. Certified wack.

I'm a bit confused by this, so essentially you are proposing removing all skill and upgrade choice from players and forcing them to use presets, which can be purchased for real $$??
To be honest all it seems this does is reduce variety and lock playstyles behind a paywall.

@dire_venom Flagships don't have to be behind a paywall, it's just an option. They could just as easily be released for free. And yes, the traits of a fleet would be locked to the flagship but the abilities are not.

@shadez I think your suggestions would be an improvement to the status quo. at the moment you have between one or two more or less competitive builds for each fleet with an equally narrow set of must-have upgrades and skills. on top of that, there is a clear power gap between fleets.

if you start out with multiplayer, it is not obvious that most of the ship choices are traps. it is not obvious, that the pre-made fleets don't work and should not be used as a templates for list building either.

having a more restrictive design would make it much more easier to keep on top of things (for players and devs).

last edited by Fosil

@fosil I agree, although there is a lot of choice in the current fleet builder the number of fleet compositions that are viable per race isn't that high and you could make a template for each style of play.

I appreciate the support, I am not sure my method is the best way but I know that some more restrictive and clear design here will be beneficial.

last edited by Shadez

If the goal is to make the game more accessible, this could be done with a much more simplistic solutions as opposed to trying to create an entirely new system.

  1. All abilities are unlocked at level 1, or at least the most powerful ones are and high levels unlock niche abilities.

  2. The default fleets are updated to show currently strong builds.

  3. Abilities can be assigned to fleets so the default fleets require no guess work.

  4. The tool-tip description of what each preset fleet does to win could be a bit more elaborate and accurate. Instead of listing a fleet as "Easy-to-handle with few weapon skills to manage. A good assortment of the most reliable ships" the description should indicate what the fleet does. The above is just pure fluff and really doesn't help at all.

  • An IN fleet with a Retribution and several cruisers would come with Probe, MWJ, Short Burn and Power Ram. The fleet description says it functions by harassing the enemy at long range with Melta Torps. After doing that, the goal is to closes the gap as quickly as possible for some close range torps and then ram the enemy fleet. Enemy engines should be the priority target so they can't avoid torpedoes or ramming easily. The Retribution should be used for its long range damage until the rest of the IN fleet is close to the enemy, then the Retribution can use MWJ to nearly instantly close the gap, torp, ram and board the enemy.
  1. A short tool-tip for each ship and its purpose could be included. E.g. IN cruisers would state they are strong torpedo and ramming ships with weak weapons.
    IN BCs would state that they are more expensive torpedo ships with strong rams, but come with extra lances that give them minor long range weapons to help chase down fleeing opponents.
last edited by CowGoMoo

@cowgomoo

I agree with all of these and support a solution like that. The current progression of unlocking skills is more frustrating than rewarding, the default fleets need to be a good starting point for players, traits and abilities should come with the fleet because of how impactful they are, and both those fleets and individual ships could use way better tool-tips.

My idea being over complicated is a valid criticism. Something about the current traits system still doesn't sit right with me. They are incredibly powerful abilities in multiplayer but it's hidden information from the other player except for a little icon on the loading screen.

last edited by Shadez