Take back the guts of our game.
Natural selection is a game that is for the players by the players. We have a lot of say in this game. We have a voice and the community and players know the game best. After all, we spend hundreds and thousands of hours playing these games so we better know a little about how it should be played. The developers, while extremely talented and intelligent, simply don't have the time to play the games as much as we do. They need our feedback and right now I am angry with how the game is going. I paid for this product and want to see it prove it's worth and right now the game is slipping downhill with every new patch. I don't understand why this is happening but heres my theory.
The adding of powernodes and infestation is ruining Natural Selection 2 for the creative players. There are too many rules in NS2, I assume this is to make the game more understandable for the masses. That may sound harsh but I for one believe it to be true. I will now get into the gritty details of why these gameplay elements hinder this game and actually over-complicate it even more. The main reasons are that power nodes and infestation are mostly an aesthetic implementation to show off the game engine. Their actual use in game is overstated and overcomplicated when they should purely be there for what they were made for... effects.
The reason NS1 was so breakthrough is because aliens and marines had freedom to build anywhere they see fit. So many ways to play... so many fun clever ways to win. Now you have to have power in a room and infestation which makes things tedious and really slows the gameplay. It also forces each team to play in an extremely LINEAR fashion. Power packs are not the answer. In classic NS the marines could place a comm chair and any structure at ANY point of the map. This makes the game 100 times more tactical and creative. It raises the skill ceiling 10 fold which is what this game needs right now. It is starting to turn into another generic rule bound shooter game that just wants to show off graphics. If you know all the rules and limitations of the game you know how the game has to be played out. Reminds me of counter-strike where the game is played the same every round. It starts to get very redundant. I don't think the developers intended it to be this way, and they are trying to fix it now somewhat with changes to alien commander and powerpacks. This is a bandaid for the problem and I think the developers know it. The only restricted build area should be tech points for alien hives. This simply adds a little more structure to the game while not killing the creative fun factor. It also makes for interesting ways for mappers to design levels... making fun choke points and etc.
I've come to realize that powernodes and infestation are almost purely eye candy because in over a years time of playing this game I have yet to see a practical reason for having them in the game. It has only hindered my playability. I am extremely glad people are working on NS1 balancing mods. This is what the community really needs right now. We need hardcore gamers who are true to the NS concept who have played the game for thousands of hours and really know what true balance and freedom of play is. I know this sounds dangerous as splitting the community this early in development could be very bad. I, however, will not sit back and watch what should be the core gameplay be stripped from this title.
I say leave infestation in the game but make it purely for hive sight, healing and as a visual marker of who controls what area of the map. It should not effect the gameplay any further. Leave the powernodes in but have them only effect the lighting and atmosphere. Perhaps make it so power on in any room will make it easier for the commander to spot enemies on the minimap. You still get to keep the visual effects and all the hard work that went into programming these features, but you will give back the power to the players. It isn't realistic to think the space marines wouldn't have self powering structures by the time they are flying around in space. Structures only being able to be built on the infestation does however make sense but really hurts the gameplay. Instead, each structure placed should have its own small ring of infestation grow out from it... which can be connected to the hives infestation if the structure wants to be healed automatically. This would now leave a purpose for the infestation but not make it the focal point of alien map control.
By unrestricting where teams can build, you open up a huge tactical element to the game. This gives balance back to the marines whose main piece of technology is the phase gate. You should be able to drop one anywhere and not have to worry about walking 100 feet around the corner and into infestation to get the power up. It's extremely frustrating and imbalanced to build a stealth phase only to have 1 skulk kill the power that was around the corner out of view. This makes it too easy for aliens to simply cut off the marines power and dominate all their structures (And all the res put into making all of them). Changing how structures are built on aliens also takes a few aliens out of the early game for gorging, making it an essential unit once again. Gorges should have to "build" the structures that the commander drops. It's overpowered to have self building structures. There is simply too many fighters out on the field right now for the aliens. Now the commander and gorges need to work together like in old builds. Now teamwork is important on aliens again.
I know the developers are creative people and have lots of creative ideas for how powernodes and infestation should be implemented. However, although their ideas may be creative it doesn't make the gameplay any more creative. In fact it kills it.
I hope the developers read this and take it into consideration so that the community isn't split in two. I would be down for no alien commander and giving all power back to the gorges. Makes a whole lot more sense at this point. Mods will be released to counter-act the way this game has been balanced. They are being made right now and these mods are going to become even more prevalent in the coming builds if these design flaws aren't looked at from a practical point of view. I 100% support the mods but would rather just have the game balanced so well that there are no need for these mods. There is an easy way to cater to both sides of the equation here. I think my ideas are an elegant solution to the balancing and linear gameplay.