(YET ANOTHER WALL OF TEXT INCOMING!)
This isn’t going to be another argument in favor of replacing security with marines or giving us more events involving boarding or landing operations (even though i would delight in both). Instead, what i am going to argue for is that we look at and rethink the way combat is handled both from the armor and weapons as well as the injuries we sustain. Boarding and landing operations are fairly unsatisfying for all parties involved for several reasons but at it’s core it owes to a fundamental flaw in the way combat was designed, NSV still follows the vanilla SS13 format.
In “Regular” SS13, the theory behind how combat is designed is the assumption that one guy has a weapon and the other guy does NOT. Almost all combat in SS13 (aside from CM) makes this assumption. There IS no real difference between the crappy .38 special and some super high tech laser cannon firing mega death beams because the other guy is just some random dude who, if they spent 30 minutes hunting around the ship MAYBE managed to craft a switchblade and has no way of getting ahold of armor short of robbing security. This design philosophy is why combat is so quick in almost every server, SS13 becomes about being the first to either stun your enemy (combat ends immediately) or deal enough damage to slow their movement, making follow-up shots easy (combat ends ALMOST immediately).
This makes ALOT of sense for regular SS13, the idea is that it’s just some random place full of civilians who fuck around with each other and the very idea of combat of ANY variety is treated as this weird exception that was never supposed to come up. Because DIRECT threats to the crew are treated as these rare, extraordinary things, you will never need anything more than the regular security officers who, if they can’t fight the enemy off, it’s no biggie anyways because it’s still just going to be one guy or one random thing or whatever, who cares.
NSV however, is a warship, the risk of being boarded by hostile entities is something that can come up EVERY round, especially if you don’t have enough pilots or gunners for adequate point defense. The ship was designed around the very INTENT of entering into live combat scenarios with large groups of enemy forces. Despite that, the combat experience is unchanged from regular SS13, if the ship DOES get boarded the only people who can even TRY to do anything about it are security and regardless of what those boarders are trying to do, your only choices are to either run, hide or call the shuttle. If you think it’s going to be any better when you put them all on a planet and take them to take a fortified syndie base, you are absolutely delusional even IF the fighters support them.
I feel this could be resolved, or at least improved upon, if the following changes were be made
1 - All armor values for every single set of armor which is actually supposed to provide protection in a combat scenario, along with all objects which are intended to be used AS WEAPONS, would be tweaked. Combat would be balanced around the concept of players being able to survive multiple hits before going into crit.
2 - The medical system, if possible, would be tweaked to ensure injuries of a wide array of types resulting from combat are more common. Combat would take longer but the impacts of combat, even if you win, would be more severe.
3 - The availability of armor, medical supplies and weapons both for the crew and our enemies would all be modified. The fact that this is a warship should be reflected both in the threats we are facing as well as the way those threats seek to overcome us.
4 - Research and Development would have different options for developing armor and weapon systems for the whole crew compared to the way it is now in which only security benefits, there is little real variety in the choices and people hardly ever make use of them anyways.
I’ll be covering the above sections one by one but the gist of the aimed intent is to drag combat out abit while increasing both the impact of combat and the capacity for the crew to overcome threats.
1. Armor (or at the least, “Starting” armor) would either be much more targeted, only being any use against one or two damage types at a time or protecting against all equally but at very low rates. For example, the starting security armor might be really good against bullets and offer a little bit of protection against fire and lasers but be effectively worthless against a knife. The amount of protection an armor provides against a given damage type should likewise count towards reducing the chances of being injured in combat (see below). Damage across the board would likewise be decreased for weapons. For example, a normal crewman might have a semi-automatic handgun which deals 10 damage per hit, requiring 10 hits to put a target with no armor in crit. However, ammunition would be plentiful and cheap, since it is a semi-automatic you could fire it very rapidly. You could instead opt to take a revolver which dealt 20 damage per shot, enabling you to drop the same target with 5 shots, but would fire more slowly, need to reload more often and have a more expensive, less common ammunition type. (for comparison, most revolvers currently do 60 damage, putting most of their victims in crit with only 2 hits, and can fire as fast as you can click)
The goal behind the above changes, aside from dragging combat out, is to make the crew want to upgrade their equipment. Superior armor and weapons can either be developed by R&D then manufactured by the crew, or purchased from cargo (which means you need to work harder at making money to BUY them, for example, you could buy handguns which did 15 damage instead of 10, but wouldn’t be free and require it’s own ammunition type). Armor types made or researched by the crew will protect against a wider array of damage types at once or simply be better ar what they already do. In addition, this would make it easier for enemies to follow given “Themes”, encouraging players to change tactics or strategies against given enemy types to greater effect. Pirates for example might have armor which is strong against melee weapons and energy but relatively weak to bullets whereas syndies might be strong against both bullets and energy but be fairly weak to melee and fire.
2. Medical would ideally see a way for players bones to be broken and for those bones to be repairable, all combat weapons should likewise have a chance to damage the body in a manner which requires surgery. For example, point blank buckshot should either damage internal organs or blow off a limb, all swords or large two handed cutting weapons should likewise have good chances of lopping off body parts. Bleeding from injuries should be made MUCH more common. Any part of the body which can be removed or replaced via surgery, should be capable of being damaged or destroyed outright from your injuries. Speaking personally, it’d be extremely cool if, when the canopy of my fighter is blown from combat, there was a chance of the round puncturing the hull and hitting ME, forcing me to either rush back and get to medbay, or if i stay too long, forcing the crew to pick me up in a saber.
The main goal here is to increase the severity of combat while making armor of any type more desirable, currently i could get shot a thousand times but as long as i have enough bruise packs there’s no REAL consequence. THEORETICALLY i could bleed out but because getting attacked doesn’t itself seem to consume any of my blood, that’s extremely unlikely, even if i get chopped up by an E-Sword multiple times, as long as i didn’t die, i can walk into medbay and the little wheeled robot someone always makes will inject me and then im good to go. Docs never perform surgery because they never HAVE to, chemistry never needs to make beneficial chems because at most one or two will get you going. Because wounds can never have an impact neither does combat and we’re back to everything revolving around critting the other guy first, one health is identical to a hundred health so the only thing that matters is to make them stop moving whereas if we’re each getting injured over the course of a fight we may need to run and hide long enough to actually bandage ourselves, shoot chems or whatever.
3. Because NSV follows the traditional SS13 method of handling combat, it’s very much a “only SOME people get to have fun” kind of deal. No matter who shows up i can’t defend myself and when the captain tells me my only option is to run and hide, it doesn’t feel like a proper warship unless i get to be the fighter pilot or munitions tech no matter how many announcements you make. I would expand the availability of options in the following areas.
Normal Crew - all members of the crew would have SOME degree of access to weapons at all times, but these would in a serious way be deficient or inferior to anything security has. Literally everyone should have access to knives and basic sidearms as these would give the crew options for self defense in the event of boarding operations while still being undergunned compared to security (who would likewise have armor which is very good at defense against these sidearms). In the event of a major emergency where the captain REALLY needs the crew to pull together, they would be able to open up access to special armories that would pop out of the floors, these armories would be capable of arming the crew with longarm choices that are superior to anything they already have, yet still inferior to security’s starting gear. This would be an emergency choice in that, the captain understands, no matter what he does it is going to be next to impossible for him to get the crew to give up these guns once he has armed them, but the threat posed to the ship is great enough that it is worth the risk AND the price. The last two methods for normal crew to get weapons would be that they could spend their hard earned funds buying some deficient, civilian grade gear via cargo (for example, a lever action rifle that uses revolver rounds, better than the base pistol but WAY worse than anything anyone else has), or, utilizing mined or farmed materials, they would be able to craft actual weapons. No more of the junky glass-shard spears that made sense in TG but no sense on a warship, but proper crossbows, trench clubs or swords.
Security - In addition to their existing melee arsenal, security should have a vendor which supplies all their starting weapons, which should come in an array of choices, enabling them to choose the best fit for the tactical situation such as assault rifles, shotguns, and so on. Security would be able to choose from standard or rubber bullets to start with but all existing energy weapons (such as tasers) would be removed and require development in R&D as tasers currently instant win all engagements in the event of a successful hit. This vendor would likewise include some degree of equipment enabling them to lightly fortify the ship in preparation for boarding parties. Security would be heavily impacted by changes to R&D (see below) with most of their best shit requiring research.
Armor - R&D would be capable of developing several series of armor options, mostly this boils down to armors which are extremely good at ONE thing and so-so at a few other things, or a few armor options which are good at several things at once but will never be as good as the specialized model. For example, NBC armor might protect against bullets, bio and rad damage equally, bulletproof armor would protect well against melee, bullet and bomb damage while combat armor would protect against melee, bullets, lasers, energy AND bombs and prettymuch nothing else, but would never be as good at any of those things as NBC and Bulletproof armor would be. The armor types would come in varying grades, each requiring more and more materials or more advanced materials to make but otherwise just be identical to one another save for more or less protection in given categories. The crew should also be given options to craft truly crappy armor which offers abit of protection in given categories, which can be made so long as you have the materials, but are otherwise vastly inferior to R&D armor in some way.
Medical Supplies - Currently, the ship has surprisingly few proper medical supplies on hand even when searching emergency lockers, at most i only ever find a single medkit in tool storage and medbay has a vendor which has three sprays of silver sulf and styptic powder, all of which vanish fast and are long since myth by mid to late game. I would resolve this by making extremely crappy but cheap and common medical supplies very common to the ship. For example, adrenaline injectors that keep you awake in crit at the cost of dealing abit of brute damage every few seconds (meant to keep you conscious long enough to limp to medbay, all the epinephrine does is prevent oxy damage from going up in crit), pills for a very slow hitpoint regen or even bandages to stop bleeding (even if nothing else). As it is, medbay cryos very shortly into the round so your typically screwed unless you get your hands on the ONE medkit, which would make combat scenarios even WORSE.
Ammunition - The maintenance technicians would be able to create boxes of ammunition in their bay much as they do torpedos, this would not be reloading empty casings one by one but making heavy, bulky but large boxes of ammunition which can then be used to refill magazines and so on. Forcing the players to put effort by assembling assorted parts together rather then just printing extremely expensive ammunition at a lathe in low quantities.
4. R&D currently cant actually develop much that we would care about for infantry combat and definitely not anything the REGULAR crew gets to play with, even super sweet laser cannons are pointless because security currently starts with tasers (which instant win all fights). Research focused on improving ground combat should revolve around giving new options. For example, improving security’s existing weapons could come in assorted forms such as converting a pump action security shotgun to semi automatic or replacing the underbarrel tube with magazine fed for greater ease in combat, developing armor piercing or hollowpoint rounds for improved damage or even just straight up unlocking new weapon choices such as stationary heavy machineguns to repel HEAVY boarding forces. Other directions could focus on making laser equivalents for existing weapons, along with batteries that can be swapped out the same as magazines, assorted deployables such as replacing sandbags with temporary deployable shields or even new weapon types such as sci-fi flamers or even guns which function as existing options but deal toxin or rad damage instead. R&D can do alot to improve starfighters but really don’t do much of anything for the guys on the ground, current options are all gimmicks more than tactical choices. The truly amazing stuff is like a laser cannon that has 12 shots? That’s…great i guess? We had weapons with more than a 12 round capacity back in the first world war, and those ones could actually be RELOADED, but i guess it’s okay for a weapon made for use on a warship around the year 3000 or whatever to be inferior to stuff we had in the first world war, i guess it’s more SPORTING this way.
The ultimate goal of this suggestion is about improving what we would consider “normal” combat while also making the ship feel more like a warship, granting the server abit more of a unique identity as opposed to just being “TG with Starfighters”. There’s nothing wrong with being that, but theres nothing wrong with finding your own, unique identity either. As a warship, people looking to destroy the ship from the inside should either be thinking they need to hit fast with overwhelming force, or that they need to emphasize stealth and subterfuge in ways that you just wouldn’t need to bother with in regular “not a warship” SS13. Are we a military or are we just guys who happen to have guns strapped to our mobile home? If we are expected to not only survive being boarded, but board other ships or invade installations ourselves, we need to provide the tools to make that a clean, fun and easy process while keeping combat from being over in two seconds as it is in so many other servers.
i’m not going to lie, this would be a pain in the ass. Aside from making a wide array of new weapons for R&D to make, new weapons for security, the crew, our enemies and so on, this would necessitate going back and tweaking the values for the existing weapons and armor. Far from impossible and probably easier to do than making NEW stuff from scratch but nonetheless tedious. On the upside, adding new weapons shouldn’t be especially complicated from a code perspective unless a given weapon does something special, it would predominantly require an abundance of new sprites.