In this post, I’m going to talk about one of the new mechanics we’ve been working on; but first, a little background. Starsector has been designed starting with the combat layer and working up, and this has both up and downsides. We get to work out the combat layer first, and make reasonably polished releases with combat as the centerpiece – that’s a good thing. On the other hand, this means that as the campaign comes into focus, we can either 1) force it to fit in with how combat currently works or 2) adjust the way combat works to make it a better fit for how we want the campaign to work.
Option one is unquestionably faster and easier, but also seems likely to result in a tacked-on campaign because of the compromises that we’d have to accept to make it fit. Option two is more work, but is the one most likely to result in a campaign that’s a game in its own right, on par with combat. Do I even need to say which option I find more appealing? (Hint: it’s the second one.)
Enter combat readiness (“CR” henceforth), a mechanic specifically intended to improve the connection between the campaign and combat layers. There are already mechanics that link the two – for example, the persistent fleet, ship damage & repairs between battles, and character skills. So, we’re not talking about anything radically new; just taking stock of what’s there and cleaning it up, smoothing over the rough edges. While this involves some changes to combat mechanics, the goal is to enable the campaign to exert a greater influence on combat (and vice-versa), rather than to rework combat for its own sake. We’re giving the campaign tools to work with, levels to push, knobs to turn, analogies to abuse.
Conceptually, CR represents weapon and system maintenance and repair, securing the magazines, making sure there are no cargo crates knocking about in the hold, that sort of thing. In-game, it’s presented as a percentage. A good way to think of it is as a “stamina” mechanic on the campaign level.
So, how does it work?