First off, this is a HUGE post. Sorry for that, but we're talking about a version 2 of a great game, here. ;)
In the suggestion box I dropped a note about an ordering system that would allow you to simply purchase the whole GSB product line with a single click and call that product "Gratuitous Space Battles - Complete." This idea, along with fixing a few of the AI tweaks, would not constitute a GSB2 to me, but rather the completed, up to date version of GSB1.
What would I wish for GSB2? It's odd to answer, as I have honestly only played the demo of GSB (only yesterday did I happen upon the addition of the added direct control feature, which was the one thing I really wanted in the game because of my history with Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain). This would be some of what I would suggest (they are not NEEDS), because these are features that what would cement me to purchase the game:
1) Serious Mode - while the humorous aspect of the game is quite fun, I would love a mode that replaced silly ship names and screen comments with more serious ones. I'm sure much of that would be a matter of pointing GSB to simply look at a different data file, replacing a "Frothing Mutha" named cruiser with a "Firestorm" name.
2) Ship naming - Back in the day, playing Pax, I would update my starship technology multiple times just to have individual names for my ships. In that game, for instance, you would label your ship class, not the name: "Bismark" could be your battleship name, but all ships of that class would be "Bismark". I would love to be able to click on a ship and simply rename it, so if I had 3 "Bismark" CLASS ships, I could name them "Bismark", "Yamato", and "Arizona" if I wanted. I believe there is a way to edit a .txt document to randomize a list of name you choose, correct? This would simply be an on-the-fly feature.
3) Custom Race - In Pax the player could create races from lists of features and these would alter greatly how the game was played. Because the player had 10 points to spend between all features (some cost 1 point, others cost 5 points) the game was always balanced, and Pax was also playable between human opponents online. You could even choose from the library of some 50 alien species pics, 50+ flags, and a dozen ship designs to represent your unique faction. I'm not saying GSB should BE Pax, but the ability to create your own is almost always welcome in the strategy game world. This leads to...
4) Drag-and-Drop custom GFX - now, I love the idea of modding stuff, but I have never had the time to really dig into modding. Obviously modders have been able to do remarkable things with the engine, but not everyone is so skilled or has the time. This feature is primarily COSMETIC for players that just want to appear unique... quick and dirty. For every game since DOOM I have wished for the ability to say, "just let me replace X with Y and use that!"
It would be fun to be able to have a feature that lets the player be able to have a menu of ship hull images, guns, etc. for their custom species. Ship maps would have specific image sizes and such (as they exist now) but the pointing method would allow a player to click on a class, open a dialogue box, click on a hull image (it could even be approved with a quick 50% or more pixel content calculation, so players don't attempt a 5-pixel frigate). Ta-dah! A unique looking ship.
For the system boxes, have templates pre-made with different numbers of boxes based on cost. The player can drag these around over the top of the hull graphics to uniquely place them... the mechanic of the ship remains the same, but the player gets the satisfaction of having a unique hull with all the guns in the desired places. Again, a routine can check to make sure that the center point on any given box does not reside on a 100% alpha space, so weapons are not just floating around the hull. To create batteries rather than single guns, a player can right click a box and simply select "battery" and how many sub-boxes (2 to 4, or some such) they can place around the blueprint.
Oh, drag and drop sound effects would be nice, too. Just right click on a turret and choose "image" for the gun and "sound", then choose anything from your personal directories.
5) Researched technologies. I'm not proposing all systems in the game require research, but rather that a player could exchange points or cash to buy into a "tech lottery" of sorts, where scientists could draw up some unique or rare items... perhaps you discover a special field generator that can only be equipped on a single ship, or a super cannon that takes a LONG time to charge and sucks up your energy but delivers a Cruiser-killing shot (and draws the attention of every enemy ship left on the map!) If these techs were expensive enough that one could only hope to discover 1 or 2 of them in the course of a race's campaign, and there was a list of 50 of them, players could even use them on each other with a high probability of that delightful, "what the hell was THAT?!" effect.
It might even be possible for a player to create their own super weapon using a check and slider system, so, again, it would be balance. The player could select different visual effects or sounds from a list, possibly with control over basic color or sound pitch, to add to that, "this is MY weapon" feel.
So, those would be some of the major features I would love to play. What are some staples I would think of adding to the basic game?
- Mines - drop 'em and watch the fireworks. Ships can use defense guns to blow them up.
- ECM/wild weasel units that mess with enemy targeting
- "Ramming Speed!" Allow my to crash my damaged Frigate into the enemy's last Cruiser or to use kamikaze fighters
- "The needs of the many..." similarly, allow me to detonate my Frigate in the middle of the enemy's fleet
- Ship damage sectors - rather than a ship being 1 piece, track damage to bow, stern, port, starboard, and core... ships can alter vectors to protect weak sides
- Shield/screen/deflector options; similar to above, but rather than a 360-degree shield sphere have some ships able to have enhanced stopping power but limited to 1 direction at a time... shields are at 100% strength when attacked only from the bow, but to protect against a 4-way attack the screens are reduced to 25% per direction. Or, they only draw power to defend an actively attacked direction, so a ship only attacked from the bow is only drawing 25% shield power.
- Deflectors - can send a percentage of energy back at the originating ship if at very close range.
- Absorbers - allow your systems to recharge by absorbing a percentage of energy weapon damage.
- Combiners/Splitters - a Cruiser that breaks into multiple frigates when a percentage of damage is reached. Why? Why not? :P
- Corrosive damage effects - Call it acid, nanotechnology, techno-phage, whatever, but the gift that keeps on giving, even for a few seconds.