Since I promised to port @NightBall06
's Hellcat concept in Freelancer, I've went back to the mod and am adding some further features. The release being targeted is an open-ended sandbox, so without the original game's campaign (due to a couple hard incompatibilities between the carriers and the campaign progression, plus the way equipment progress is balanced for the campaign). I've added a small chance for military-grade equipment to drop from destroyed military fighters, with the understanding that the player will not be allowed to buy them in any circumstance whatsoever and they are the absolute top of the line gear in the game, thus providing a long-term end-game goal rather than quickly becoming utterly overpowered.
The other thing I am working on right now is capital ship patrols, destroyers and corvettes that will patrol core sectors for each faction and protect major jump points. These will be dangerous
, attacking a Confed DD up front being suicidal without torpedoes and a very good fighter. Game design-wise, the intent is to make piracy in core sectors a stressful activity as well as give a raison d'être
to the hidden jump points around the sectors. In the original game, the Most Wanted Pirate of the colonies could use the normal trade lanes like a regular Joe, which feels a bit off when it comes to immersion. If there's a destroyer squadron waiting at the borders and in key areas with the firepower pictured below waiting for you? I suppose alternative routes might be in order.
For reference, the anti-matter bolts will one-shoot most fighters on impact, like in the original games, and each laser projectile is more powerful than the military-grade equivalents mounted on military fighters. If you fight the law, the law wins, as goes the song. :-P
Right now, the capital ships are finished and can be spawned in squadrons in the desired areas. I've established simple protective forces around major planets, border gates and at the entry of each capital sector, now harmonizing mission difficulty over the map with a sounder logic than the one dictated by the original game's plot, will work later on establishing patrol routes and defensive areas for them, and possibly special ops missions from one faction's military to hit a DD or a corvette from another faction.
Also, since the multi-tiering of equipment can be a bit complex (remember the Excel spreadsheets in previous pages), the descriptions are being updated to explicitely say which categories the item watched is superior to and what "improved" versions mean in terms of performance. Though, not gonna lie, the build is still pretty unstable.
Further edit: playtesting the thing using my weapon/equipment reconfiguration reminded me of the difficulties. TLDR, the gameplay kinda sucks and I'll probably have to rethink the entire balance and design before even considering doing beta releases for testing.