From the moment you use different kinds of weapons with different stats, you have trouble to balance. How more you have stats, how more you have sources of modificator, how more it will be tricky to balance but on the other hand brings depth to the system.
Do you think bringing more discrimination between weapon types with your defense system rework (what I like) won't bring more difficulties to understand and balance weapons that what firing rate already does?
Your example with 1.5 sec to acquire and track new target is wrong because if I keep the same target (do not spend time to acquire and track a new one), with your normalized firing rate, a kinectic weapon would be as slow as fire a missile. The normalization could be accepted imagining that a kinetic weapon shoots in bursts of projectiles. But once again, you lose reactivity you have currently.
Here is the idea:
Currently, in GC space battles, ships are defined by their:
- distance from ennemy's ships (in range/out of range);
- role (giving first and second priority targets);
- hull size (giving HP);
- tactical speed (how fast they're to reach the opponent's ships. Impacted by hull size and modules);
- dodge (no relation with tactical speed or hull size);
- weapons on board (giving range, rate of fire, accuracy and damage for each of them);
- defense types in a one-to-one relation with a weapon type (acting as additionnal HP against related type of damage).
Bonuses from modules can apply modificators on many of these aspects writen above (decreasing ennemies' tactical speed, providing shield to the fleet, increasing range of a weapon type...).
Identical modules can be found as well on board smallest ship as on board tallest ones.
Each ship deals all its damages to one target in range for this kind of weapon.
What could be changed:
1. in range/out of range, nothing to say.
2. Ship role could lean on three aspects: own ship role automatically given by modules used on board or manually given, a target priority list predefined by your own ship role or manually set similarly to civ's priorities list and finally, a balance between "opportunity" and "threat" overriden by an "absolute priority" marker in the target priority list.
A. I've got a ship with target priority list (1. support - 2. interceptor - 3. assault - 4. escort - 5. guardian - 6. capital), in front of three ships, one support, two assaults. the support and an assault ships are in range of my ship, they are "opportunities". The last assault (out of range) is not an opportinity. My ship is in range of the assault ship but not of the support one. Then, the assault ship is a threat in addition to be an opportunity. In this case, my ship will first shoot on the assault that can shoot on me instead of the support even if this last is higher in my priority list.
B. Same configuration but support has an "absolute priority" in addition in my list. So my ship will ignore the threat in the person of the assault ship and will focus his weapons against the support, even if it's not a threat.
C. We can imagine an deeper "absolute priority". Here the two assaults are in range of mine and mine is in range of them. The support one stays out of my range. Because I defined in my priority list support being "absolute absolute priority" and because there's an support ship in the battle space, even out of range, my ship will shoot on its ennemies in range but keeping moving to its main target and will focus its weapons on it as soon as it reach it. A behaviour interresting for ship with high dodge value, for example or to create a diversion.
A last point about ship role. It could be nice to have possibility to assign order to stay out of range or close of some other ships for some roles like support or guardian, for example.
3. About hull size nothing to say expect that for me, the number of modules (in GC4) or mass (in GC3) would define the hull size. The contents define the container, not the opposite. We invent and produce containers for specific contents, and not produce random containers because maybe we'll need these kinds of containers in the future. Maybe it could help with the problem that AI doesn't get big hulls techs if hull size doesn't depend of techs.
4. tactical speed is a little bit tricky because, currently, small ships are faster than big ones. This way, small ships rush first letting big ones behind, in place to stay in formation and start to rush when big ships are close or already able to shoot and bring fire support.
You'd think you're watching a Game of Thrones battle here.
5. as tactical speed is already affected by hull size and modules on board, we can imagine to use it to define a basic dodge value (making smallest ships having the biggest basic dodge value) which could be still affected by events, civilization's traits, techs, support modules and so on.
6. About weapons, Halicide wrote: "My first idea was to make two versions of every weapon. One that targets tiny/small hulls and one that does more damage to large/huge hulls. In retrospect this doesn't really help and drastically increases the amount of customization the player and the A.I. do so it wasn't a great idea." In my opinion, it was a good idea, just it has to be adapted to be easy to implement and use. So here is the solution: scale the weapons in relation with hull size. Only one version of each weapon with (some) specs scaled. For example, tiny module factor 1, small factor 1.2, medium 1.5, large 2, huge 2.5.
Do you think possible to find the same weapon on any hull size like if we could mount a 76mm canon on a speedboat or launch a Tomahawk missile from a jet ski? Or see a frigate only equiped with .50 machine guns?
7. Something similar to what you wrote Basilisk83, with a scale factor like for weapons.
We can also imagine that weapons and defenses are dimmed in relation with hull state. How more ship is damaged, how less operational and effective are weapons and defenses.
About one target system, Halicide wrote also about that: each onboard weapon would have to be able to select independently a target. It's already partly true. With a ship with a mix of weapons, weapon types are activated dependently to its own range.
To go further, it requires to discriminate each weapon module, check the range for each type of them (as already done) and attribute enough of those activated modules to reach hull points of the target (or HP + x%) following the priority list with "opportunity-threat" balance.
I have a ship with 5 modules (3 missiles, 2 kinetic) each dealing 6 damages. Against me, three ships, all in range of my 5 weapons, each of them with 10 HP and considered as threats.
First threat. At range of all my weapons. I need 10 +50% => 15 Damages => 3 weapons: 1 missile + 1 kinetic (because with Basilisk83's defense system mixing type of damages is more efficient) + 1 missile (because more missiles left available than kinetics).
Second threat. At range of all my weapons. I need 10+50% => 15 damages => not enough weapons: I use all the rest available.
Voilà for the space battle. I've got more about ships, hull size and so on, but it's for another thread.
Have a good day
Looking forward to diving in GC4 when it will be released on Steam