A re-envisoning of module grades

First, a disclaimer: I know that at this point, my proposal will have rippling effects, especially due to engineering. I don't think this will be such a huge problem. Engineering itself could use some re-envisioning, but that's for another topic. Onward!

This proposal aims to address the variety of module grades we have and the fact that so many modules are sitting in stations collecting dust. Our current module grade system is one of two things, depending on the module--either A: a purely vertical climb with virtually no reason to use anything other than A-grade materials except in highly specific ships, or B: purely a way to delineate two completely different versions of a weapon. I aim to change that. Let's look at what we're TOLD we have and what we ACTUALLY have, followed but what we COULD have:

What we're told:

E: economy
D: lightweight
C: balanced
B: armored
A: performance

What we ACTUALLY have:

E: free crap that comes with the ship but is the worst in all ways so you want to replace it before you even take off (seriously, why are ships even FITTED with this?)

D: lightweight parts that you pick for stuff you don't care about or when you're building purely for speed (in other words, sensors and life support for most of us.)

C: average stuff that's neither lightweight nor high performance, so you basically never pick it unless you HAVE to save power for your build to function (in most cases, this means your build doesn't make much sense.)

B: heavy stuff that you basically never pick because it's better than C grade but heavy as hell and you can stand to wait for A grade (some parts don't even have any more integrity than C or A grade. Why would we willingly pick this?)

A: What you actually want.


Not much of a spread, is it? Three grades we basically NEVER want to use because A grade is better in every way and one grade we only use because it's not worth adding extra weight. That seems a terrible waste of a system if you ask me. If we incorporate a couple factors more heavily, however, we can create a more robust system that makes all grades a bit more viable for different reasons. Firstly, module malfunction chance should be a variable. As it is, my understanding is that for every %health a module loses, it has that percent chance to start malfunctioning. If we added a bigger or smaller multiplier to certain grades, we now have another tuning lever. Secondly, maintenance costs are another thing that could be scaled more heavily per grade. The cost of buying a module is already quite ramped from E to A, but what about maintenance? Once you can afford the gear you want, the maintenance is almost a drop in the bucket. If we moved THAT slider a bit, we could create a very real reason to think twice about A-rated gear and give the other grades some screentime. So, bearing those things in mind, here's...

What we COULD have:

E: Dirt cheap, fairly durable, low performance but reliable and has a very low malfunction chance (say, like .3% per integrity% lost as opposed to the flat 1/1% ratio we have now.) It's old and outdated tech, but it's simple and keeps working under abuse. Because it's so cheap to manufacture and maintain, this is there for commanders on a budget who just want a simple ship that can stand some punishment and still get the job done.

D: Lightweight, lower power drain version of E tech, but is a little more modernized, a fair bit more costly and isn't QUITE as tough because it's been crammed and stripped and shaved down, etc. Say, ~15% less module integrity than E and malfunctions at about a .5 multiplier because now it has less layers protecting it. It's main draw is not big performance but efficiency. As a modern retrofitting and simple upgrade of old tech, this is for commanders who want their modules to be less of a drag and can afford a little more for it, but don't really care about "keeping up with the Joneses."

C: Modern gear, fairly reliable, markedly improved performance, but a little heavier and quite higher price maintenance than D. Has probably 20% more health than E but malfunctions at the normal 1:1 rate. Designed for the average modern commander who's making enough income to take his career a little more seriously, use some well-balanced equipment and start getting his craft up to modern standards and start really getting things done.

B: Military purposed with modern performance standards, thickly reinforced, not that much more expensive or better than C grade, very resistant to malfunction, but heavy as hell. Like, 20-40% heavier but with about 50-60% more health and a .4 malfunction multiplier. While the malfunction rate is higher than E, the much higher integrity means this stuff is still designed to take a serious beating and keep working at all costs, power and weight be damned, making it the primary choice for endurance.

A: Bleeding edge tech, ultra high specs, only a little heavier than C grade, maybe 15% or so, but unstable and delicate. Requires crazy high maintenance costs, has about 15% less health than a C-grade but can malfunction at a 1.5 rate. This is the tightly-tuned, professional-grade, balanced-on-a-needle-point stuff you get when it's time to push the envelope and risk it all for pure performance. Just be sure you never run into stuff or get hit, or your sexy beast could turn into a very expensive junk heap VERY quickly.


Now, with a spread like that, it's a little easier to envision all grades of equipment being used more purposefully. The E grade is still the "economy" grade, but isn't strictly a bad choice because it keeps on truckin' and is dirt cheap even if you do break it. The D grade goes from the "lightweight" grade to "getting the most bang for the least buck." It should be a considerable step up in costs from E, but a D grade piece should be a great way to fill a slot without pushing your power draw or jump range. C grade becomes the standard to which everything else is compared, because it's stable, doesn't sacrifice a ton of reliability and gives a noticeable boost. B grade is for combat junkies who intend to be in the thick of things with their gunboats, duking it out for their faction and coming back for more. A grade is for the hot rodder flyboys who want to leave their mark on the galaxy and aren't afraid to risk a small (or large!) fortune with every hit they take.

Naturally, engineering would appear to play havoc with some of these stats, but with the differing thresholds for module damage and the rethought costs of gear, I think that phenomenon will correct itself fairly easily. We'd likely see more people using C and B equipment and we'd very likely see mixed grade ships that want different specs out of different modules. A fully A-grade ship would be a little more rare simply because most pilots might not want to risk their last week's worth of credits on a rebuy and because some modules would just make more sense as a B or C grade in a lot of cases.

Obviously, this doesn't cover every single module type and some modules just might not care about the new grading system, but I think that's more a symptom of module design than the system itself. By and large, however, I think this would lend a bit more purpose to the five grades and give us a meaningful choice when gearing up, rather than just "a-rating" everything out of habit.
 
did a breakdown like this too with coefficient examples for FSD/thrusters
https://i.imgur.com/rBMHfWg.jpg


the novelty was

B) overclocked & buff but dirty & massive - [experimental|military grade]
C) most efficient for power consumption to output and lowest heat - [pirate|silent|recon specialists]
D) under powered - massively stripped down - [exploration|economists choice]

A sits between B|C
E sits between C|D
 
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I guess it would be fair and provide some perspective to understand where my thinking is coming from. First, the negative side of it: I see where ED is going and I don't like it. The powercreep is real, the endless repetition is real, the theme park attraction-style events are real and the devs' attempts to artificially slow our progress with illogical tasks and senseless, unimmersive busywork are absolutely real. It's becoming an MMO in space and not in the best of ways. I don't want to sit by and see the wonderful parts of ED get buried by bad design choices and feature implementations that are, as I saw it so wonderfully put in another thread, "tone deaf to actual play."

Now, the positive side to my train(wreck) of thought: I come from a varied gaming background. I've been playing since the Atari 2600 when I was less than 5 years old so one can say I've quite literally grown up with the video game industry. When I look at Elite Dangerous, I see elements of great simulation games like Gran Turismo and Armored Core, as well as flight games like Freespace or Ace Combat (the old ones, not that Assault garbage.) I see a galaxy with the potential for such verisimilitude and purpose, a game world so ripe with potential I can almost taste it...but with every patch I see something great being pushed aside for something mediocre and wasteful. I keep trying to provide creative solutions to problems and offer replacement features that can not only be implemented, but sit alongside what we have now, so the devs don't even have to throw away what they've worked so hard on.

The 5 grade module system (which is really more like twelve grades since we've got I and H grades for some specific modules--I mean is that) has the potential to be an intriguing, delicately balanced juggling act that always has us deciding what grade of gear is best for us, but in the end it ends up being akin to the level grind: the real game doesn't start until you hit the cap. I find that vertical progression as a design philosophy wasteful and insulting and I'm an advocate for its destruction and replacement. Hence, ideas like this.
 
Perhaps not exactly as you have written (unreliable is very unhealthy for gameplay for instance) but definitely the options today give very little actual variety in end designs. I support.
 
Perhaps not exactly as you have written (unreliable is very unhealthy for gameplay for instance) but definitely the options today give very little actual variety in end designs. I support.
I was thinking the same. But the whole reliability thing wouldn't even matter when you are at 100% integrity anyway if I understand what was suggested.

+support in general because tradeoffs would be good for game balance

Like for example with power plants: Why would anyone choose E over D? I can't think of any.
But, what if we swapped the power output? D is still lightweight, but it would have the negative of less power output.

Why choose C over A? None once rebuy cost isn't an issue (and it isn't at end-game).
What if we made C the "cool" running powerplant and shifted the other values (A would be 2nd best heat)?

Just flat out double integrity of B class. It's pathetic as is.


The outfitting results and preferences would be interesting.
 
I was thinking the same. But the whole reliability thing wouldn't even matter when you are at 100% integrity anyway if I understand what was suggested.

+support in general because tradeoffs would be good for game balance

Like for example with power plants: Why would anyone choose E over D? I can't think of any.
But, what if we swapped the power output? D is still lightweight, but it would have the negative of less power output.

Why choose C over A? None once rebuy cost isn't an issue (and it isn't at end-game).
What if we made C the "cool" running powerplant and shifted the other values (A would be 2nd best heat)?

Just flat out double integrity of B class. It's pathetic as is.


The outfitting results and preferences would be interesting.
Exactly, if we are going to have all these various options, they should serve a purpose and it is not like in the start, where you gradually moved up to A (or stayed at D). Now money is so easy to come by, missions pays tons more compared when game was launched, etc, etc


So make all modules useful, or remove them...I prefer to have use for them. I like the idea for C being the most heat efficient, as this my main reason for going for A today.
 
Well, once rebuys are a non-issue, sure, people would likely just move to A for most purposes...but that's why I suggested ramping maintenance costs, not just rebuys. As it is, the cost of things like fuel and repairs are meaningful to a new players, but after a week of play, they're completely insignificant. I disagree with features designed to become insignificant. They are, as I so eloquently disdained above, wasteful. A grade gear should be breaking the bank when you don't watch how you fly. Keeping the stuff tuned SHOULD be an exorbitant cost that scales more proportionally with ship size and module class. Using A grade stuff should be a fun luxury that one doesn't do all the time, only when one is ready to show off or when they're ready to risk big money for a temporary advantage. If the costs are balanced appropriately, C grade actually becomes the norm and A grade becomes the "fancy" grade, like fine china that you only pull out when it's time to really impress some guests, or the flashy car you only bring out when you want to blow your date away with your style and driving skills. Rebuy should ALWAYS be an issue with A-grade stuff. Besides, the increased chance of malfunction gives you a very good reason to engineer for increased integrity, since that gives you a wider margin before malfunction.

I see possible merit to some of the counter-suggestions, though. Some specific things for specific modules would have to be handled case by case between grades, like the powerplant for example, but the general "feel" of each grade should be thematically consistent. Perhaps we just need to look at more potential parameters on which to base each grade? Seems to me we have more than a few to work with that we can achieve some sort of uniformity in each grade. In the case of powerplants, what about fuel consumption? Perhaps the A grade powerplant combined with A grade thrusters creates a real gas guzzler.
 
What if we made C the "cool" running powerplant and shifted the other values (A would be 2nd best heat)?

Just flat out double integrity of B class.
yes! what? hey that's what I posted! - even made a graphic to share with you all :S
 
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Well, once rebuys are a non-issue, sure, people would likely just move to A for most purposes...but that's why I suggested ramping maintenance costs, not just rebuys.
Maintenance is a concept that would totally change the way Elite is played and for the worse. What would it be paid for - real time, game time, module usage time? Also, why pay for it, are things degrading? Buying good gear usually means LESS problems with maintenance, not more.
What would maintenance mean for exploration? Whom are you paying when you are far away from the bubble? What for? What happens if you're awas for months and your bank account dries out? Will your ship stop working at Beagle point because you're out of bubble money?

I'm all for more costly repairs, but maintenance is not a good concept for this game. I've seen it used really well in strategy games though. Sword of the Stars used space ship maintenance to prevent huge space fleets and made you think twice before building.

As far as prices go, the A.grade modules are very expensive as is. Compared to ship prices. Players with billions don't care but A grading a ship is buying another one or even far more with large ships.
 
Maintenance is a concept that would totally change the way Elite is played and for the worse
i agree - our one time cost associated for developing a ship/armada + re-buy/maintenance is fine imo

though if modules did offer stronger specialization options -- cost differentials becomes almost unnecessary
would just be about what modules fit the role/player
 
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I was thinking the same. But the whole reliability thing wouldn't even matter when you are at 100% integrity anyway if I understand what was suggested.

+support in general because tradeoffs would be good for game balance

Like for example with power plants: Why would anyone choose E over D? I can't think of any.
But, what if we swapped the power output? D is still lightweight, but it would have the negative of less power output.

Why choose C over A? None once rebuy cost isn't an issue (and it isn't at end-game).
What if we made C the "cool" running powerplant and shifted the other values (A would be 2nd best heat)?

Just flat out double integrity of B class. It's pathetic as is.


The outfitting results and preferences would be interesting.
I'm not too sure about your first suggestion, although I can definitely see where you are coming from. D-rated power plants are the most useless things in the game considering that the A-rated plant a class lower has:
  • Less mass
  • Better integrity
  • Better power output
  • Better thermal efficiency
I would say that the last thing D-rated power plants need is to be made even more obsolete (although to be fair, E-rated plants have it even worse). Maybe E and D rated power plants need to be buffed?

I really like the second idea. Knowing FDev, they will not be willing to nerf the A-rated power plant, so what if the C-rated power plant got a buff to its thermal efficiency (say, 0.35 or better)? That should be enough to give people a viable option for ships and tasks that are rather heat-sensitive.

I agree that the integrity of B-rated modules is currently not worth the trade-off. ~10% more integrity isn't worth 60% more mass and not having the extra ~10% power output.

Of course if this were to happen, it would need to come with a balance pass on all module prices....
 
Perhaps I should rephrase myself for clarity: when I say "maintenance" I must have unknowingly switched between repairs, refueling and rebuys in my mind. My fault.

As of now, repair costs are negligible at every level of the game. I've never even blinked at repair costs, even when I fix a ship at less than 5% hull remaining and busted modules all over the place. Repairs are simply insignificant, no matter the ship or gear, mainly because of the way repair costs scale very charitably and reward per mission/bounty scales ridiculously with rank. I think that precise fact is something ELSE that should be changed, because getting paid many times more for precisely the same effort is just kind of dumb, but that's another topic for another thread.

Bringing this balance back into line would make the cost of repairs and/or refueling an actual consideration, such that flying the latest and greatest and banging it up carelessly has actual CONSEQUENCES. Being rich shouldn't alleviate all responsibility for your ship and pushing your performance to the absolute limits of the game should be a risky, exhausting decision, much like using your most biggest, most devastating haymakers repeatedly in a fistfight or running flat out in a race. It's never without risk or cost; I would like to apply that logic here. It makes sense for high performance thrusters to consume more fuel, just like it makes sense for higher powered lasers to suck down a lot more power. It's partly an internal consistency issue when you look at it that way.

I hear what people think about real maintenance costs being "unhealthy" for the game, but my experience leads me to disagree and I have at least one example to demonstrate. Firefall, during it's beta stage, had gear of varying quality grades on a 1000 point scale. Obviously you wanted big numbers for better performance. The catch was that every piece of gear had a finite set of durability and once it ran out, that was it; the gear broke permanently and had to be recycled. Naturally, many people decried having their epic quality gear disappear, but what they didn't notice was the real effect: it provided not only a constant motivator to seek new resources and craft new gear, but it provided a reason to be very discerning about what gear you brought for any session. If you were just going out to mine for some basic resources out in the fields, there was no need to bring your 975 quality purple grenade launcher of absolute nuclear annihilation; your 560 quality one would do just fine, allowing you to save your good stuff for the REAL challenges, like chasing down and stopping a melding tornado during a Chosen invasion happening right next to your buddy's T5 group thumper spawning dozens of epic level mobs. THAT was a good reason to use your quality gear. The system, while a bit strict, had profound effects on the way people played the game. It broke it out of the typical mold and provided a focus for players at all levels. I would have liked having a method to extend the overall lifespan of gear in order to fight the inevitable, but to me it was actually important that it was something that HAD to be accounted for.

In Elite, we don't have any phenomenon like that. I'm not recommending we have gear that permanently breaks; that felt draconian even to me. What I'm suggesting is that if we had stiff consequences for using the best stuff, we would be pushed to make choices about using what's NEEDED so we don't blow all our resources showing off our prize craft...and getting it blown up. Again, there are probably other parameters we could turn into tuning levers in order to give each grade of gear more purpose, but the COST of using extravagant gear is a self-correcting feature that makes gear power a bell curve, rather than a vertical one. It helps actively fight to keep powercreep in check, gives more purpose to examining the whole curve and opens up design space for both stronger AND weaker gear to exist in future content, because we know it will ALL be used to some degree.

As opposed to now, where we have three grades we ignore, one we only grudgingly use, and only one we actually want.
 
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