Proposal for More Versatile Outfitting (No Engineering!)

“In the lawless regions of space, there has long been a silent battle to crack the Pilots Federation's iron hand on outfitting restrictions in ships. Through the increased acceptance of engineered modules, these restrictions have lessened to the point that illegal ship tuning is now possible. Thus rapidly becoming common practice.”
Summary:

This proposal is about the principle of converting hardpoint slots to optional internal module slots. This allows an increase in the number of optional internals a ship can carry (= versatility/functionality), at the cost of firepower.

Example of conversion rates:

Small Hardpoint = Size 1 Optional Module (Restricted*)
Medium Hardpoint = Size 1 Optional Module
Large Hardpoint = Size 2 Optional Module
Huge Hardpoint = Size 3 Optional Module

* restricted to advanced discovery scanner, detailed surface scanner, hull reinforcement package, module reinforcement package, limpet controllers, shield cell banks

Benefits to the game:

- eliminate the waste of internal space in non-combat oriented ships (explorers, traders, passenger liners, miners)
- allow for further variation among all ship builds, by balancing versatility through choice of firepower vs durability vs usability (instead of simply adding more optional internal slots)
- reduce the need and desire for additional dedicated non-combat/civilian ships and variants (such as explorers & traders) through more efficient module usage of existing ships
(- add significance to anarchy systems by offering conversions and free illegal outfitting services; see implementation below)
(- add optional significance to minor faction reputation; see implementation below)

Possible implementation (simplified):

Outfitting at a starport within an anarchy system would enable the player to select one of their hardpoints and convert it to an appropriate module slot (see list above). This hardpoint slot would then be labeled converted and allow the use of either a module or a hardpoint.

Possible implementation (with additional complexity/impact):

After the conversion, a player can then outfit any appropriate optional internal module in said slot for free at an any anarchy starport offering outfitting. Any non-anarchy starport will do so for an additional fee (= bribe), which must be paid upfront after selecting the outfitting screen. The player will have the option to cancel the use of the outfitting service and return to station services if they cannot afford or refuse to pay the bribe.

Forms of bribes:
1) "One-time use", requiring the player to pay the fee again after having exited the outfitting screen.
2) “Lifetime pass”, costing a substantial one-time fee for indefinite free outfitting services in the future at that starport for any ship (requires at least friendly reputation with controlling faction at the time of acquisition).

An empty converted slot can be converted back to equip only hardpoints at any starport offering outfitting. All starports will do this for free, as you will already have paid a bribe at said starport to access the outfitting service in the first place.

Additional notes:

The advantage of this system in general is that no modules are altered and no changes are necessary to any ship builds within the current game to enable such a feature (in contrast to changing discovery scanners to utility modules for example).

The example of "additional complexity" above depicts a detailed and complex system that focuses on a balanced and lore-friendly approach. It is certainly subject to change/simplification and by no means “the only way” or “perfect”.


Interested in everyone’s thoughts on this!


P.S.: For those of you thinking, but that makes a HUGE difference to what is currently possible, especially with large ships! Yes, you are right. A large enough difference that it actually has a significant and logical impact on the functionality of a non-combat build vs a combat one, as well as the risk involved flying a larger ship. On the other hand, small ships also become more interesting (for exploration)...
 
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Less min-maxing is needed, not more.
Personally, I quite enjoy the limitations small ships have to offer, as it provides a nice challenge. That said...

We are getting more and more modules with each update, each necessary to make use of the new content being implemented (in particular limpet controllers). Ships are getting buffed with additional slots (recently the Type 9, Type 7, rumours of the Asp Scout in the future). Makes little sense, as those buffs are just outright additions, rather than consequential options.

Admittedly, the proposal is quite a radical change to outfitting, but perhaps a necessary one?
 
Personally, I quite enjoy the limitations small ships have to offer, as it provides a nice challenge. That said...

We are getting more and more modules with each update, each necessary to make use of the new content being implemented (in particular limpet controllers). Ships are getting buffed with additional slots (recently the Type 9, Type 7, rumours of the Asp Scout in the future). Makes little sense, as those buffs are just outright additions, rather than consequential options.

Admittedly, the proposal is quite a radical change to outfitting, but perhaps a necessary one?
The fact that we're still constantly getting minor balancing tweaks even this far into the game suggests to me that absolutely the LAST thing we need is a radical outfitting change. I personally don't want to spend the next four years waiting for FDev to get outfitting back to a mostly stable state.
 
The fact that we're still constantly getting minor balancing tweaks even this far into the game suggests to me that absolutely the LAST thing we need is a radical outfitting change. I personally don't want to spend the next four years waiting for FDev to get outfitting back to a mostly stable state.
Understandable view point. Does that fact not also indicate the constant "minor balancing tweaks" might just be "beating around the bush"? Or is it really just fine tuning the current system?

Balancing outfitting is a tough job, most certainly. Implement a feature like engineering and you can basically start afresh. (Which was probably even the goal: to enable/push for change and variety within ship load outs.)

That development was just about min-maxing the modules themselves. The proposed system is about varying the number of modules you can use simultaneously. Therefore increasing what can actually do with the ship in general rather than simply how well the ship performs. However, this is at the cost of hardpoints with zero change to the actual number of internals as well (in terms of volume).

Such a system would at least appear to align with the current focus of new features: being interactive gameplay mechanics (new types of limpets or scanners for example). An easy solution here is to just increase the number of module slots available, but that also lacks any consequence. The proposed system aims to balance that by making the difference between a utilitarian ship build significantly different to a combat focused one, or even a stripped down exploration ship.

Just as a side note: I'm currently flying a sidewinder to Colonia for the Outlander Challenge using an alt account that doesn't even have horizons. Having a blast doing that, despite all the restrictions and limited jump range. Slow and steady wins the race, right? But fact is, we now have horizons and everything that's come with it, which includes a radical shift in balance. Perhaps an equally radical change is required to counter-balance that?
 
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