Tagada, removing upgrade options and leaving only presets is actually quite easy. I can create a mod to do that if you want to see what is it like.
The SCU Rebalance
I’m a shitty 1k Global. Any balance or gameplay suggestions should be understood or taken as such.
Project Head and current Owner/Manager of SCTA Project
Regarding the suggestion of removing the upgrades altogether and having only presets, I think it's an interesting idea however I am not sure if it's even possible, I will add it as an experimental idea to the doc.
It is not difficult at all to add a unit to FAF. This change would be almost as simple as making a "super-heavy pillar" and adding it to the UEF lineup just by copying the pillar's lua files, changing the name, tweaking the stats (20% extra hp and damage?), and adding it to a list of units that UEF t2 land facs can build.
Here, you would just be adding something like 4 new units per faction (support SACU, gun SACU, engineer SACU, RAS SACU), removing 1 unit (the existing SACU), updating the quantum gateway build list, and then making small tweaks to the 3 new units (you could remove the upgrades entirely and update their stats to reflect their diverse new abilities).
With no shared upgrade path, we wouldn't have to worry about balancing upgrades between types. The engineering SACU, if it can get upgrades at all, would have completely different ones available from the gun SACU. We wouldn't have to worry about whether the gun upgrade is on the same arm as the engineering upgrade. And it would allow the gun SACU to have upgrades that make it very different from an engineering SACU with upgrades.
Having completely separate units would mean no shared upgrade path, it would also mean you could make big changes between the unit types, like having different base movement speed. It would allow for things like: engineering SACU has no main gun at all; gun SACU only has t2 build suite--those in particular are probably very bad ideas. I'm just saying you could make these SACUs very different from each other in ways that are currently not possible, or at least, at the moment very difficult to do. It would be complicated now to have the upgrade paths for SACUs affect things like movement speed and the size of the death explosion but if they are 3 separate units with completely separate lua files/blueprints, it would be very easy to do.
The hardest part would be getting unique 3D models to work for each type of SACU. This would also open the opportunity to have significantly-different models for each type of SACU. Maybe some of the SACUs shouldn't even be shaped like humanoids. Seraphim could have some weird alien shape, Cybran could have a bug SACU, or Aeon could get a hover SACU. In the short term, we could stick with the existing 3D models (the SACU models + their upgrades) but in the future we could replace them with brand new models, which would open up opportunities for diverse new artwork in FAF.
Maybe make RAS an upgrade that only engineering SACUs can get. So you could use assistance on the upgrading engineer SACU (and it would already have enough build power to complete its RAS upgrade in a decent time). It's not like the bad old days where you had to click on each SACU separately to upgrade to RAS. Here you could double-click to select all engineer SACUs and give one command to upgrade them all to RAS. People generally keep RAS SACUs safe anyway, so their main use apart from generating resources is for build power.
Remove the ability to assist the gateway. That is lore-friendly (gateways are not like factories, you can assist a factory, you can't assist a transfer through the quantum realm) and would balance things better.
Having them as separate unit types would allow us to de-designate gun SACUs as "engineers" (so when you select combat units, they would be included). A lot of good things could come from this proposal.
It would also simplify the game. Right now there is almost nothing like the SACU (other than the ACU itself) in terms of being able to upgrade it in completely different directions. If you have 3 distinct types of SACUs that can but don't need to be upgraded after they are first built, it would in a way make the game simpler.
Having 3 distinct unit types would also make it easier to do something that Farms and other players want, which is to give them toggleable abilities that require more APM to use. E.g. cloaking but it only works for 30 seconds and then needs 2 minutes to recharge.
Idea for a Seraphim 4th SACU type: "artillery." They can manufacture and store one "missile" at a time, except they have multiple launch buttons. One launch button would send a long-range high-damage TML, maybe it has an extra 50% range 50% damage (9k damage) and 50% health (takes extra TMD shots to stop). Another launch button would simultaneously launch 2 regular tac missiles at a single target. Another launch button would send out a "cluster" missile that breaks open and does area damage (it would look like a mercy except once it opened, the individual warheads would spread over a wider area). I don't like the idea of a seraphim SACU that fires missiles non-stop because then there is no element of surprise and much less control over it.
Aeon gun SACU could get a special "shield-killer" toggled ability, like an "overcharge" but it fires an absolver shot. These things are basically not possible in the framework of having a shared upgrade path but they become much easier to do if the SACUs are completely separate units. Perhaps the Aeon gun SACU should be a hovering unit. That takes away some stealth and fits with the faction.
Teleportation should be nerfed for SACUs, e.g. limit the range so you have to get closer to the enemy to pull it off, and not all types should have it, or teleport SACUs should be a "fourth type" that can't do much else very well. Maybe a "scouting SACU" type that can teleport over short distance and provide intel which you could use to scout and expand but not really to break enemy bases/snipe SMDs. They would have less firepower, build power, and weaker death explosions but they would have a very specific role and could still be used for example to set up a stealthy TML base. Not all factions would need to have teleportation for their scout SACU.
Teleport doesn't need a nerf, you just need to build t1 pd on your SMD and layer your shields properly.
You need 2-3 SACU just to attempt a tele-snipe on an SMD and that alone is a 50k + investment on Sera only. Aeon would need 4 SACU.
Removing the ability to convert or upgrade SACU and having only certain presets, is restrictive and doesn't add to gameplay, it only reduces it.
If you want different movespeed then incorporate it into certain upgrades, and if you want to avoid OP stuff, then shove upgrades into the same compartment so they can't be upgraded together.
The BP of the gateway was already increased (although obviously not as much as you suggested) to bring the SCU production time in line with that of t3 units. The BP of the Gateway is 180 compared to that of t3 land HQ which is 90. [Basic SACU and T3 land build time is similar] but it's much harder to assist the Gateways compared to factories.
I'd buff the build speed of Gateways even further. Even with the buff they're even less build power/mass efficient than T3 land factories, and given the higher cost of SACUs they don't suffer rolloff time issues nearly as hard. For these two reasons it's still easier and more efficient to assist gateways than factories.
I'm in favor of encouraging building more gateways instead of the 50 engineers/10 hives assisting one that we see all too often.
one of the main mechanics is being able to swich assist around and making quick tech/strategy swiches that way, especially because scus should also be an offensive option making them unassistable will be a pointless nerf for 1v1, while on sth like setons you might spam a few gates with mex adjacency and some fab adjacency
In my earlier post I suggested removing all upgrades completely, but it seems some people have interprited what I said as haveing different themed SACUs each with their own set of upgrades. For example, a 'base engineering' SACU with low hp, low damage and no combat upgrades, but is cheap, has high BP and upgrades for things like faster build speed, longer build range, RAS, extra mass/energy storage.
And I have to say, I like that idea more. A lot more.
By giving players the ability to build for example a 'base combat' SACU at the gateway that has stats compareable to t3 units but then can be upgraded furthur as needed still gives players some freedom to customize SACUs while still maintaing most of the upsides mentioned before.
Now ontop some other points I desire to be clarified if possible.
Seeing as all SACUs (at least currently(ignoreing the engie drones)) are land units, are there any plans on expanding their impact in air and naval play? Other than spambuilding SAMs/HARMS and reclaiming they really serve nearly no purpose for either.
What is the high end of strength to be expected for SACUs? The low end has been clearly set as to around t3 land, but how much stronger will they get after that with full upgrades, will we start see SACUs 1V1 GCs and winning? David meet Goliath.
Are gateways intended to only a lategame option, or will gateway rushing become a viable strategy to deplay? For example, suppose a player went T1 and T2 land but skipped T3 and went right to building combat and combat-support SACUs to use as the heavy land units.
I think the ultimate goal should be for SCUs to be used as support units in small numbers in the mid-late T3 stage. I don't think there should ever be a transition to "full" SCU production over T3 units.
If you make Quantum Gateways assistable, the Quantum Gateway in effect becomes an HQ, because you pay a lot for the initial building but then subsequent BP from engies is much cheaper. That would make scaling BP into SCUs much easier (and allow for bigger transitions into SCUs).
The idea behind making Quantum Gateways unassistable (whether by increasing the BP/BT significantly or just straight up making it unassistable) is that SCU production doesn't scale. Unlike land/air/navy production, where doubling your BP at a certain tech doesn't cost 2x as much (e.g., you've transitioned to T3 land - the Land HQ costs 5220 mass for 90 BP, but your next 90BP from a support factory only costs 1440 mass), your first 180 BP and next 180 BP for producing SCUs costs exactly the same amount. IMO this is a nerf for bigger teamgames, where you would have the ability to scale SCU production more, rather than 1v1 like you suggested. This means that in 1v1 situations, where the transition is likely to be tight and you won't have too much resources to spare, you can build the Quantum Gateway and have your first few crucial SCUs arrive on the battlefield in reasonable time. This also means that in larger teamgames where there are more resources, you cannot transition into super heavy SCU production as easily.
Unassistable Quantum Gateways are already relatively better for 1v1, but if you want to further make it more useful you can balance other areas, e.g., reduce the time it takes to build SCUs (from like ~60 seconds to ~40).
the goal for SCUs is giving additional options at the T3 stage. One option is using SCUs as a support unit for your army, using either support presets or rambo presets that interact well with your army (like cyb rambo stun helps a brick army with kiting).
in addition to that there should also be the option of using rambo scus as your main combat unit (maybe together with some t3 backup to prevent them getting overrun). considering they all have a pretty low dps/mass it will be a constant drain (over a long time) on apm for those more enjoying single unit micro (where if you fail your micro you will just get run over).
considering that i dont see any reason why gateways should not be assistable, especially since economy scales aswell and high cost SCUs (e.g. oc) would take ages to build.
So i dont see any reason why SCU production should not be scalable. only thing that change would adress is hive ras scu spam which might then just change to adjacency gate spam
I'm against setting SACU presets in stone not for balance reasons but for emotional reasons
They are support-ACU
ACU should have option to upgrade
Why them have more base(unupgraded) hitpoints than ACU? Seems counterintuitive.
They are support-ACU
The Cybran have 1 rambo preset and 2 support presets. The rambo preset is the same as in current balance (AoE stun). The first support preset provides a large stealthfield (it can easily stealth an entire army). The second support preset provides a speed buff field, which increases the movement speed of its surrounding, non experimental, units. Both support presets also have the aa upgrade. Multiple speed buff fields do not stack.
I imagine no one is ever going to use a stealth SCU.
By the time you start building SCUs, stealth is no longer particularly useful. The enemy is going to have T3 spy planes and omni.
Beyond that, if you want stealth, you have other good options in deceivers and MLs. The Stealth SCU seems like it would only make sense when you're forwarding a unit composition through enough splash damage that deceivers are unlikely to survive, but can't yet afford a ML... in the unlikely case that keeping your reasonably late game army stealth really matters to you.
I get why stealth was a natural choice for a Cybran AoE ability. Its thematic... but I don't think its going to be a particularly useful unit. Good on paper, but I doubt it will be useful in practice. Maybe someone will use one to hide a massive drop from time to time on maps large enough for that to be possible...
If the unit is destined to be largely ineffective, it might be better to narrow your focus and just ensure that the speed field works really well. Much better to have a single SCU type with high utility than to have two where one is essentially useless - even if it is thematic.
Beyond that, if a unit just isn't useful, it shouldn't be in the game. No unit should be a "noob trap", a unit that players don't realize doesn't really serve a purpose that they have to learn isn't worth building. Am I correct in my presumption that a stealth SCU would be so useless as to have no purpose whatsoever? I can't sure of that, but I also believe that there won't be many instances where an expensive single SCU is better at providing stealth than several cheap deceivers or a spider.
If we really want to give Cybran two support SCUs, where both of them have a real purpose, trade the stealth for a shield. I know... Cybran's supposed to have crap for shields, and has never had a mobile shield, but maybe it doesn't need to have crap shields that deep into the tech tree.
If you disagree with this assessment, maybe you're right. I haven't used the SCUs. I could be wrong, but please consider this when evaluating the stealth SCU yourself.
TLDR: Either cut the stealth SCU concept because its not going to be useful in late game engagements and just focus on the speed field support SCU, or change the second support unit's AOE ability to something that would actually be useful for Cybran players - like a shield.
Stealth support SCU is not just a huge walking stealth field, it's a support unit that can reclaim, build, can have a SAM built into it and on top of that provides stealth field with a very large radius able to hide a whole t3 army.