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01.20.2021 , 11:17 PM | #5
Hi, I'm Despon.

You may remember me from such YouTube Channels as GSF School and... GSF School.

I've returned to this forum today to offer you my thoughts on a few aspects of GSF which I strongly feel have hurt the game in the post-5.5 era. You may already suspect that one of the topics I'll choose to address is Remote Slicing. If you did, you're right! However, there is a broader topic of concern which encompasses RS and the EMP weapons. The underlying issues are inextricably linked. We'll get into them in a moment. First, I wanted to address a post from the petition thread, and felt that this was a more appropriate place to do so. If you want to skip to the Remote Slicing stuff, find the heading below.


Quote: Originally Posted by Enticy View Post
The devs arenít going to completely alter part of a game just because of one thread full of people sheepishly agreeing with one personís opinion.
There are a lot of reasons the dev(s) might not alter part of a game, and some reasons they potentially would, if indeed they still allot any time to GSF related concerns. I think it is unfair to characterize the support of the petition as 'sheepish,' implying that those who agree are simply moving with a herd. I know from extensive personal experience that many of my peers who have been in GSF a long time believe that RS is too effective. The degree to which it should be altered has been widely and extensively debated, but the vast majority of experienced pilots that I have spoken to feel it is too powerful. Sure, I'm speaking anecdotally and I don't have anything like a... signed petition... to back me up. So take it as you will. But I strongly disagree that this is 'sheepish' herd behavior.

Quote: Originally Posted by Enticy View Post
Remote Slicing is absolutely fine, and thereís no need to nerf it. The ship itís on isnít particularly maneuverable or fast. Other than that one neat party trick, the T3 strike doesnít hit very hard unless youíre really accurate with light lasers. Once you run out of protorps, or the ability goes on cooldown, congrats on being a poor manís Rycer/Starguard.
I disagree strongly with pretty much everything you've argued here. We'll skip over the direct contention that RS is 'fine' for a moment to address the T3F. All of its primary weapons are good and can lay out plenty of damage, particularly to a disabled target. Protorps offer plenty of ammo, and getting more is quite possible. The T3F can field Power Dive, giving it an excellent tool to escape difficult engagements and extended mobility at no engine power cost. RS is also far from a 'party trick.' Used by a solo pilot, it delivers very powerful control especially when combined with various copilot abilities. Used by a coordinated team, it is devastating. While the T3F doesn't have the raw offensive output of a few other ships, it is very lethal and is a fully viable ship in all situations.

Quote: Originally Posted by Enticy View Post
If youíre smart about using LoS, or staying close enough to the ship that the pilot canít fire a missile, all that slicing will have been for naught. The counters to this are many, as they are for every ship in GSF.
Again, I disagree. The RS effect will at the very least nullify the target's capacity to take much meaningful action for the duration of the debuffs. Even assuming that the target is skilled or lucky enough to get under cover before the protorp lock finishes, you have taken them out of the game for a period of time. Depending on who that target is, that can swing the balance of a match. The 'counters' to RS are a subject I'll address later in this post.

Quote: Originally Posted by Enticy View Post
People just have to learn the skills needed to play the game, rather than gnash their teeth, cry, and demand that things be nerfed or taken out left and right.
I agree that people need to learn the skills needed to play the game. However, this is irrelevant to whether the game is in a balanced and healthy state. I strongly disagree with your characterization of those who find RS to be detrimental to the game. Reasonable and well thought-out arguments can be made justifying a call to alter RS.

Game balance is a tricky thing, and requires a lot of work. The work done in the now-ancient update that set the current state of the game was not completed. While many things were improved, and greater balance was achieved, some changes were not thoroughly tested and their impact became more evident over the course of time. I'll get into that now.


Remote Slicing, EMP Field, and EMP Missile all fall into a class of 'control' weapons. Each of these, in addition to applying various debuffs, locks out the player's capacity to use certain systems. Naturally, this is a very powerful effect, because the target can no longer use vital components of their ship and is rendered vulnerable to attack.

Prior to the massive game update several years ago, each of the aforementioned components were niche-oriented choices and had limited use. While the control elements of these weapons were powerful, they were fielded very rarely and had drawbacks or shortcomings which meant they were not often seen. The massive updates, however, changed things dramatically.

The short version of what happened is:
  1. Missiles on the whole became much stronger and harder to counter
  2. Strike Fighters received massive boosts to nearly all of their capabilities
  3. RS, EMPf, and EMPm all received significant boosts
  4. Proton Torpedoes were massively improved

GSF went from a state where 'control' abilities were niche choices on underpowered platforms (T2F, T3F, T1S) to a state where both the delivery platforms and weapons fielding 'control' abilities were much more powerful and desirable to fly. Ultimately, this resulted in matches where it was not uncommon for anyone near the action to be frequently hit with both targeted and unavoidable AoE 'control' effects that removed 2-3 of your primary control buttons for large stretches of the game, in addition to other debuffs.

Skill in GSF is applied to a significant degree by being able to efficiently utilize your 1, 2, 3, and 4 keys, activating your system, shield, engine maneuver or copilot ability to positive effect. While the copilot skill cannot be disabled, all three of the others can be, and frequently are. This removal of player agency and nullification of learned skill would be acceptable in small doses, as a punishing deterrent on a select number of platforms. When it is present on a large number of platforms, and is frequently seen in widespread use, it presents an unhealthy decrease in player agency and diminishes the role of skill in gameplay. The changes to the meta brewed a perfect storm where this environment of decreased player agency is common.


In my opinion, a powerful effect should require skill to successfully affect its target, and the target should have mechanisms with which to counter it.

Remote Slicing applies several powerful effects, and yet the only requirement to successfully land it on the target is being in range and pressing '1.' No lock-on is required. Line of Sight does not need to be established. Aiming is not required. You don't even need to face the target. This extremely powerful suite of effects is instantly and unavoidably applied, and there is no mechanical counter to it. Complicating matters, several very powerful copilot abilities can be coupled with Remote Slicing and they also require no LoS, no lock-on, and have no mechanical counter. There is no skill necessary to apply these effects beyond the most rudimentary gameplay of being able to fly in range of your opponent.

It is bad game design to enable players with no skill to easily land powerful effects on players with much greater skill. It removes the incentive to become skilled in the first place.

I have heard the argument that the 'counterplay' against RS is to fly very cautiously, scrupulously manage engine power, and fly with a group so you have teammates that can back you up when you inevitably get hit with it. I can't deny that these are effective at mitigating the damage RS does, but from a personal standpoint, it leads to a style of gameplay I don't enjoy and I feel it unduly punishes solo-queue players who prefer not to group - more on that in a moment. When well-known veteran pilots do decide to group queue, the usual response from the opposing players is that it is unfair of them, or they are somehow cowardly for being 'in a premade.' In the words of WOPR: "The only winning move is not to play."


My strongest argument against Remote Slicing is that it is very easily deployed as a means to grief specific players. As a well-known player, I've dealt with this frequently. On many occasions, a particular player on the opposing team will decide it is their life's mission to fly within 5k of me, use RS and whatever co-pilot debuff they have, and keep doing it over and over for that match, the next match, the next match, etc. They do not care if they ever land a kill, do damage, die ten times, or what so long as they keep on RSing me over and over. During most of my playing 'career' I solo queued nearly all the time. I could not call on backup or hope for my teammates to peel for me. So, on a great many occasions, I faced one or more players who chain-sliced me every match.

The 'counterplay' to this is... to run away from them. This only works for so long, it prevents me from taking any meaningful action in the game other than trying to avoid them, and in general it makes for a miserable gameplay experience. In some matches, it resulted in a lot of deaths from being constantly disabled. In others when they were not able to follow up with killing me, I was forced to fly around without half my ship's abilities or much engine power for the whole match. And on those occasions when the same players kept chain-slicing me match after match, it was a waste of my time to bother playing.

I guess if you want to consider this last argument 'crying,' go ahead. But I certainly will not spend my time playing a game where just by virtue of being a known player, I am continually griefed by an unstoppable, crippling effect that nullifies the skill I practiced to develop which itself takes no skill to apply.

There have been many matches where I had plenty of deaths at the hands of a good shooter or a well coordinated team. I don't like being outplayed, but in those cases, my opponents earned their success... and I had tools to use in the game to counter their approach. Griefing someone with RS takes no skill, and the game offers no tools to counter it within the game mechanics.


My preferred method would be: remove it from the game entirely. I do like the idea of shifting some/most of its effects onto Ion Missile, which currently is useless. Ion Missile has a warning tone, a lock-on time, and mechanical counters within the game. It would be a powerful weapon that people had a fair chance to avoid.

My preferred 'tweak some numbers' method would be to significantly reduce the Engine drain and limit the button lockout to only one of either System, Shield, or Engine, with a reduced debuff time. I would also set it to require LoS in order to apply.

If we were in a world where GSF was in active development, I'd suggest possible alternate changes like:
  • make RS channeled, requiring LoS for the duration of the effect... or
  • reduce the range to 3k, add a warning tone and a 1.5s 'hacking in progress' stage before the effect is applied.
  • add a copliot ability 'Reboot' that reactivates any disabled systems
  • add an Armor component that reduces the duration of debuffs

...but we're not in that world.

RS is a badly designed component that does far too much for far too little effort.

I guess I could have just said that instead of this dissertation, echoing what some others said, but I wouldn't want to be 'sheepish.'

- Despon