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regarding progression:

Perhaps something like cs where you get kind of a fixed amount every round but if you performed well you get slightly more and the points you spend are lost. I just remember the early gameplay when all you had was weenie ships the best.

Flare:

The flare was powerful but avoidable. We mostly used it to block pursuit and to lock off spawning points which was useful against spawn campers.

Lastly I miss the teddy bear and that satisfying ship hit clank.