Remove tiered tools

Vissery shared this feedback 9 months ago

Let's face it: tiered tools are just another level of tedium. They add absolutely nothing to the game, only slow the player's progress during its early stages - the time when manual tools are needed the most - until they can get their hands on better materials.

Tiered items make sense in many other games, of course, where the difficulty comes from pitting yourself against the environment and other players, when you have to constantly upgrade your arsenal in order to remain competitive in an ongoing race as your foes keep getting more powerful themselves. But it's not the case of the sandbox game like Space Engineers, where there is no real clock or timed obstacles, where there is no actual final goal, where the defining part of gameplay is building new stations and ships and where your real power as the player comes from cleverly applying these things you've built (with the components that aren't tiered, mind you) to defeat possible opponents, gather more resources and create even more things.

Even if the materials needed to manufacture the top-tier, Elite tools were challenging to get - which Cobalt, Silver and even Platinum aren't, not in the infinitesimal quantities required - in this setting, the task of paying one-time resource cost of achieving better hand tools simply shouldn't be set before the players in the first place. Building stuff is fun; building stuff slowly because you haven't yet found a tiny lump of platinum ore is not fun. It is as if your average RPG forced you to purchase mouse speed and game screen resolution with in-game currency; it's just silly!

And, well, a mechanic that serves only as a layer artificial difficulty is just bad game design.

Old tools can be left in the game for worldbuilding purposes, to serve as a lootable reward for players to acquire during missions, but in freeplay they simply serve no purpose and ought to be removed.

Alternatively, they can be made meaningfully different from each other, the way Precision and Rapid-Fire rifles are, as opposed to tools of one tier being completely superior to the tools of previous tier. Some examples I could think off the top of my hat:

1.1) [Regular] Grinder - the way Elite Grinder currently is;

1.2) Accelerated Grinder - has x3 speed of the Regular Grinder (very fast!), but converts about 20% of the components gained into scrap;

1.3) Waterjet Cutter - has x2 speed of the Regular Grinder (fast!) and can be safely used in flammable atmospheres (if/when that gets implemented), but consumes Ice and refined Iron from inventory in equal proportions. Alternatively, the abrasive mix could be a single assemblable resource, but it feels unnecessarily clutterful;

1.4) Precision Grinder - 0.9x speed of the Regular grinder, will not grind blocks below 25% durability (the value is configurable by the user, supposedly in increments of 5% from 0% to 95%). Useful for when you want to create an unfinished block for decorative purposes and don't want to risk over- or under-grinding it.

1.5) Hydraulic Combitool - 0.75x speed of the Regular Grinder and cannot grind blocks that are above 90% of their durability; if a solid steel wall that has no exposed openings or cracks, you have nowhere to insert the spreader into. This one is intended for use in custom maps, for when you want the player to be able to remove some blocks, but not the others.

1.6) Pneumatic Crowbar - lightweight, consumes no suit power, makes little to no sound. 0.4x speed of the Regular grinder; blocks that are above 90% of their durability are broken at 0.1x speed instead. Intended for stealthy sabotage and custom maps.

2.1) [Regular] Welder - the way Elite Welder currently is;

2.2) Superheated Welder - has x3 speed of the Regular Welder, but has 10% chance to waste the supplied component instead of adding it to the welded block;

2.3) Soldering Welder - lightweight, 0.4x speed of the Regular Welder, safe to use in flammable atmospheres (if/when that gets implemented), makes no sound. Mostly intended for custom maps and stealth.

3.1) [Regular] Drill - the way Elite Hand Drill currently is;

3.2) Rapid Drill - 3x as fast as Regular Drill, but 40% of the resources mined are lost. Right-click mining is precisely the same - speed and area alike - as for the Regular Drill.

4.1) [Regular] Rifle - the way Automatic Rifle currently is: 100% Damage, 600 RoF, medium accuracy;

4.2) Rapid Fire Rifle - the way Rapid Fire Automatic Rifle already is: 70% Damage, 1000 RoF, low accuracy. Very fast, but inaccurate - best used against low-armored targets at close to medium range, such as other players, critters and light turretless vehicles;

4.3) Anti-Materiel Rifle - uses 25x184mm ammo with 300% of its Damage, 30 RoF (1 shot per 2 seconds), very loud, heavy, with powerful recoil and perfect accuracy (compared to vanilla Precise Rifle with 140% Damage and 300 RoF). Perfect for sniping all sorts of things, most notably turrets, though it does give away your position.

4.5) Heavy Rifle - uses 25x184mm ammo with 120% of its Damage, 240 RoF, low accuracy. Most useful against fortifications and heavily armored vehicles at close to medium range, and lightly armored vehicles at close to medium range.

4.6) Portable Missile Launcher - 1 missile launched each 4 seconds. Must be reloaded between uses - simply stand still with the launcher in your hands. Looking around is fine, but moving or unwielding the launcher resets the reloading process if it's incomplete.

And then, there's the concept of modular tools, as well...

I don't claim that these designs are all perfect and balanced and should be added as is, of course. They merely stand to illustrate the point: there are better ways to introduce variety of player tools that are fun to play with and do not involve inflicting unnecessary tedium on the players.

Thank you for the reading, and I do hope you find this idea worth considering. :3

Comments (2)


That makes sense. Totally agreee.


I'd agree with the base reasoning here, and many of these tool additions as well. Having similar or identical ship tool variants could also add a lot to gameplay.

The Waterjet Cutter seems a little niche, because you'd have to keep at least one resource on hand at all times and regularly restock for it to be useful. One of the main reasons to be grinding is salvage and every bit of inventory space matters, so it would be at minimum annoying to do so, while in a combat scenario, it's outpaced by the Accelerated Grinder because the reclaimed resources don't matter anyway.

The Precision Grinder is a great idea, but the controls for it might be a little unintuitive to start out. Maybe have it on a component basis? (ex. holding RMB to grind until the next component type is gone or inventory is full)

The Hydraulic Combitool and Soldering Welder don't really add all that much outside of custom maps; it might be better to have a specific mechanic as part of an expansion with custom maps in mind rather than directly adding these and having to change them later.

I think the Pneumatic Crowbar has issues similar to the Hydraulic Combitool, but would be great if there were an update involving more survival elements.

On the other hand, I can't agree with many of the weapon variants. The purpose of the AR is for people to be able to conveniently deal some amount of damage at a distance. Suits in general aren't intended to do much in combat compared to grids. Strong weapons like the AMR and PML seem to encourage the idea of raiding by camping the edge of maximum range and spamming turrets, while the other rifle variants are only minor modifiers to suit firepower that don't add up to much when grids have much more powerful weapons. I think the Portable Missile Launcher is probably worth having if it has significantly shorter range than turrets, because it creates an option vastly different from the AR, but otherwise these options seem to either follow Keen's original "junk content" weapon variations or push SE in a direction that doesn't play to its strengths.


I agree with your remarks wholeheartedly, especially the Precision Grinder one. So simple, yet elegant!

I feel like I should reiterate, though. because apparently my original wording wasn't clear enough - the suggestions for these new tiered tools given in the latter half of my suggestion weren't thought through at all! I literally just wrote down the ideas as they popped into my head, discarding the few that obviously wouldn't work.

They are here merely to illustrate the point: that, if Keen insists on keeping tool variety in the game, there are much better ways to go about it than by keeping the meaningless tiers. And, since players already like these suggestions as they are - barely given any thought at all - imagine how much better the actual replacements can be!