If I understand the previous discussions correctly the main concern about battleships and other capital ships can be broken down to 2 main issues.
1. Cap ships are too vulnerable to fighters.
2. There is a general lack of need to use these kinds of ships.
At this point I of course could be wrong and there are more issues to discuss about this topic but that's why we have this discussion..
1) I thought about the topic some time now and the technical options are limited.
Especially if I consider that boosting the combat strength of cap ships and/or their general stats could easy lead to the situation that they end up overpowered and rich players start using cap ships to bully others. That is a situation we should try to avoid.
I already shared an initial idea to balance weapons and shield efficiency instead.
In FL every weapon can be set to cause a specific hull damage and some energy damage to shields. This would be a value we can play with.
However, more important in my eyes is the fact that every weapon causes a specific damage type e.g. laser, photon, tachyon etc. At the same time every shield in the game belongs to an type of shields e.g. molecular, graviton, positron.
Probably most of you did not care about this little detail but you all have been affected by it.
A tachyon weapon causes lets say 500 damage (based on its stats). Against a molecular type shield a tachyon weapon causes 20% bonus damage (with other words a total of 600 damage). Against a positron shield it causes 20% less damage (a total of 400). Tachyon vs graviton is +/-0 (500 damage).
We are talking here about a 40% efficiency fluctuation depending on which weapon is used against which shields. This is the current state and if you did not know yet, now you know.
This applies to all weapons and shields in the game, NPCs and also your PVP performance.
What I have in mind is to use this mechanic to separate small ship combat from cap ship combat a bit.
Fighter weapons will be less effective against cap ship shields while cap ships weapons wont instantly blow every small fighter out of the skies.
At the same time fighter vs fighter and cap ship vs cap ship remains as effective as it used to be.
At this point I need to mention that this only works on shields, damage to hull remains the same (there is no technical way to use this mechanic on hulls).
I don't know how much we have to apply a damage reduction. It might be enough to have 50%, maybe we need 80%... maybe a different value. That has to be tested and carefully balanced.
It is not supposed to be to make combat between fighter and cap ships impossible but to make it harder.
In the end fighters should be efficiently be used against other fighters and cap ships against other cap ships.
2) This leads me to the point where we need to think how cap ships remain or maybe even become an important gameplay option. The stuff I explained above could have a negative impact since the mod is very much focused on fighter gameplay and if using cap ships against fighters is a hard task people simply wont use battleships etc.
This needs to be avoided by giving these big ships a new purpose.
I might have a solution to that.
As announced with for the Blackstar update I want to introduce more dynamic content into CF. One part of this dynamic content is an invading fleet.
My idea here is to make it hard to stop this fleet if you only use fighters.
I want the battleships of that invasion to be extremely hard to kill if you are using only fighters. Player owned Battleships or other cap ships on the other hand are supposed to be able to kill enemy battleships much more efficiently.
Just like in point 1) we can achieve this by balancing weapons and shields. But this time we do it a little bit different.
Enemy fighters will do bonus damage against player cap ships.
Enemy cap ships will do bonus damage on player fighters.
This in theory would force players to team up when attacking the enemy fleet. A mix of fighters and cap ships would be required.
The player fighters will have to take down the NPC fighters while the player cap ships need to take care of the enemy cap ships.
Enemy ships will drop loot that makes it worth to attack the invading fleet.
These are my ideas so far.
What I don't now yet is how the final balancing needs to look like. It is something we need to test.
For that purpose I probably will create a test system on the server (locked away from public access) where the different ship types can be tested under real conditions.