I am an avid Homeworld fan. I am also an avid StarCraft fan. I am posting this because I believe it is something that needs to be addressed early on, because if it is said in a later stage of multiplayer development, it could be too late.
If anyone knows much about StarCraft, they know that StarCraft 1/Brood War are much different than StarCraft 2.
Some things in StarCraft 2 were improvements – unit pathing, graphics, sound quality, and so on. However, many people do not consider it to live up to its predecessor, despite these improvements.
This is due not necessarily to bad asymmetric balance, if you define balance as the equal opportunity for each race to win – the non-mirror matchups are usually pretty close to 50%. Rather, it is due to design. Broodwar was an incredibly designed game, with various distinct strategies and tactics for each unique race to choose from, and player skill often being noticeable with lots of things scaling with skill.
StarCraft 2 is still fun for many, but there are some design flaws within it – sometimes you’re forced to just sit there and mass units while defending for a big, powerful army, some units are virtually unusable because other units that exist counter them so hard despite the counters to those counters, some units were really hard to control compared to the things they were meant to combat, some things did not scale much with player skill, some things were balanced around “kill them before they get there,” etc. The expansion coming out hopes to solve some of these problems by tackling the core design of the game, but such effort for reworking and making huge changes would not be such a difficult thing had the game been designed well in the first place.
What made it a poorly designed game (in many people’s opinions) compared to its predecessor? Well, part of it seems to be not tackling the design problems early on, rather trying to use what many people call “band-aids” to keep the game balanced while not bothering with the fundamental design issues before many patches have been based upon the flawed design.
So how does this relate to Homeworld? Well, similarly, Homeworld 1 was an amazingly-designed game, despite its lesser graphics. There were many different strategies and tactics to choose from, there was plenty of room for player skill to have an impact on the game, etc. Homeworld 2, however, is deemed by many to be inferior (though still a great game). Subsystems, HW2 tactics, and the new research system were all great additions, but RNG weapons, the loss of tactics that scaled with player skill (formations, HW1 tactics), and things like “rush to Battlecruiser or kill them before BC” were disappointments.
Homeworld 2 was balanced. It had better graphics, and some interesting additions. However, its design was considered by many to be inferior, and therefore many players considered it to be the inferior game.
Now, I realize that HW:RM Multiplayer can most likely be balanced with the 4 races. However, I do want to stress that the most important thing initially will be to ensure that the design is good. Give us many strategies and tactics to choose from. Give us things to scale well with our skill. Make each ship have a role to play, depending on the strategies used. This is my plea to the developers.
My plea to the community is to be persistent on these design matters as the first priority. The StarCraft 2 community is riddled with balance complaints amidst those who knew about the design issues – this is partially what led to fixes to the design being so delayed, and instead just tweaks to units for the sake of winrates taking the first priority. Balance is important, but please, focus on the game being balanced around a good design, not designed around a good balance.