Many experienced players are aware of this exploit/loophole/appropriate-noun, but it does not yet have the attention it deserves. @scole if I could annoy you one last time regarding an issue of balancing/bug-fixing importance, it would be this.
Build queue shuffling lets players stagger the construction of different ships (need 2 at least to avoid merging queues for same ships) to accumulate significant construction progress and allow several ships to complete and launch within seconds of each other.
Why is this an issue? Because players can effectively use this mechanic to turn carriers/shipyards into “clown-cars” full of frigates/capital ships and jump them on top of an enemy. You can essentially queue an infinite amount of ships with 99% construction progress for incredible force projection from carriers/shipyards and avoid the hyperspacing cost associated with jumping each individual ship - you are still limited by unit cap however.
Another potential use of this tactic is to almost artificially inflate the unit cap of very limited ships by keeping several replacements ready e.g. having 3 of 3 BCs out in a default-cap game and another 3 queued at 95% construction ready to replace them upon their destruction (yes I realise these are extreme examples however they are not improbable in team games).
The only balancing “upside” to build queue shuffling for infinite construction progress is that it can be done with every race but this is not sufficient justification to keep it in the game. While it is cool from a metagaming perspective, it bypasses intended balancing mechanics and doesn’t give players time to react when they are on the receiving end. If a player wants to amass a flanking strikeforce of frigates, it should be done the hard way - hyperspace behind their lines, out of sensor sight and begin amassing the fleet one ship at a time.
Showing the steps to reproduce it with HW1 carriers:
Showing the final effect with a HW1 carrier:
3 gravity wells hypespacing in simultaneously while 8-10 frigates pop out one by one.
Using it in conjunction with another bug to create carrier “piñatas”:
I finish the production of 6 heavy missile frigates and 6 infiltrator frigates from a Vaygr carrier within seconds and then I save time by scuttling said carrier and letting them eject all at once.
The video above also highlights another bug (which I will refer to as the ejection bug). Ships that are caught in the ethereal state between, “launched” and actually spawning in the game world from its respective production ship, are not affected by the ship’s destruction. They are instantly ejected with full HP.
Only ships that can permanently dock, and appear as such in the Launch manager (which include strikecraft and certain utility ships), will be destroyed upon destruction of its parent ship. However if a player tells 10 squadrons of fighters to launch just seconds before the destruction of the parent ship, they will all be ejected and survive regardless if only one actually physically flew out before the moment of destruction. This is a cheap way to avoid the loss of stored assets. Frigates and capital ships cannot dock so as soon as they are built, they are also caught in this “ethereal state” where they are neither launched nor docked and will survive without consequence.
First of all, the ejection bug needs to be fixed. Ships that are docked or are in the ethereal state between docked and physically launched need to be destroyed no matter what upon destruction of the launcher.
As for the build queue shuffle mechanic, there are a couple of potential solutions to minimise its abuse without impinging on its original intended purpose of allowing players to put something on hold and build something else that the situation calls for:
- (a): Implement a cap on the total number of ships in the build queue that can simultaneously have any level of construction progress accumulated.
- (b): Implement a cap on total construction progress accumulated (using % as the metric because it scales equally with every ship).
Example for option (a):
Let’s say the cap is 3 ships so only 3 ships at any given time from the same carrier/MS/shipyard can have any construction progress greater than 0%.
I have a carrier and I decide to build queue shuffle 4 ships. I get 3 of those ships to +95% construction each like so:
Upon beginning construction of the 4th ship (the torpedo frigate), the construction progress of the ship at the very end of the build queue (flak frigate) is instantly reset to 0% and the RUs for whatever progress I had on it is refunded:
HW1 race might need +1 extra ship to this cap.
Example for option (b):
Let’s say the cap is 250% so I can only have 250% of total construction progress accumulated from the same carrier/MS/shipyard across various ships in the build queue.
I have a shipyard and I decide to build queue shuffle 5 ships. I get all 5 of those ships to 50% construction each (totaling 250%):
Upon reaching the cap, every extra % on the ship currently being built is subtracted from the accumulated progress that the ship at the very end of the build queue has. So as the current ship approaches 100% construction (the defense field frigate), the ship at the end of the queue (flak frigate) approaches 0% construction (RUs are refunded accordingly):
Note that with both of these suggestions, you can still queue as many ships as you want, you just can’t accumulate as much construction progress simultaneously across many ships to use for frigate swarms, carrier piñatas etc.
EDIT: Fixed videos, working properly now.