Certainly I admit, the player selectable weapons felt underwhelming to the stuff I grew used to in my own mod (Which has some rather over the top missiles and a wide set of primaries). Compared with retail FS2 the weapons in WiH do pretty well. (And no, please do not take this as a 'I think my mod is better then yours!' kinda thing (because its not intended as such). I only replied to this because Bats brought it up.)
Actually I think your mod is way better than WiH in that respect, and I will heap praise on Dawn for its creative and awesome gameplay elements.
We definitely want to open up the sandbox in R2, I think. I have a few non-standard elements in mind that I've talked with you about on IRC.
I had a moment of "Why bother with the small fry?" back then. Because capships can handle themselves quite well in WiH. (In Retail, fighters can be quite dangerous because capships have such pathetic AA)
Go play the m07 opening, or the 2v4 dogfight in The Intervention. Now consider that the AI levels on those fighters...aren't actually extraordinarily high.
Now think about some of those big battle missions with whole squadrons of fighters using that AI, and imagine what they'd be like without
the Karunas to serve as a base of fire! Our whole concept with the Karuna was to expand the interaction between players and warships by creating a 'warship buddy' for fighter pilots that they could use as anti-Trebuchet cover and a place to run to when they were in trouble. (The fluff makes it specific that UEF fighter pilots are drilled heavily on working closely with their frigates, whereas the GTVA pilot corps has a problem with being trained to stand well clear due to the problem of beam friendly fire.)
So yes, Karunas eat fighters alive; but if they didn't you'd have a whole different kind of gameplay problem. It's not perfect, but it was the direction we chose to experiment in, and stuff like the opening dogfight in Aristeia attests to the fighters still being a fairly real threat.
Thus the excellent flak screen.
Also one of our design goals was to reduce the Alpha 1 Effect. Which I will admit does not always produce player-centric, agentic gameplay, which is a problem we worried about a lot during development.
I don't particularly like this GTVA, though. They definitely aren't the same GTVA as in FS2, they use too many 'dirty tricks' and attack civilians.
Well...consider that they feel they're fighting for the survival of all humanity. You can read up on their motivations on the techroom, but basically they believe that Ubuntu and the Federation that supports it are dangerous, delusional ideologies that will render mankind defenseless.
Thus the decision to adopt a total war stance against the Federation. (They're also a bit more desperate than the FS2 GTVA, coming off an 18-year depression that they survived only because of the unifying power of the dream of a return to Earth.)
You'll note they only attack civilians as collateral damage in the pursuit of war-critical targets, too.
And I don't feel like I understand the ultimate aim of the UEF in this war.
They think the destruction of the Carthage will immediately turn public opinion in the GTVA against the war? Sounds pretty delusional.
You can certainly accuse the 2nd and 3rd Fleet elements of the UEF Navy of optimism in that regard. More likely their aim was to get Admiral Steele relieved of command and yet another admiral shuttled in to get better results - the failure of Steele's risky tactics would have undercut his political backing. Think of the relief of the initial US commander in Iraq, or the Union generals in the US Civil War.
Also bear in mind that that plan didn't come from the Elders, it came from Netreba and Byrne.