Captain Personalities, Fleet Control Update

Ship captains (and wing leaders) can now have their own personalities. What exactly is a personality, in game terms? I’m so glad you asked!

For now, we’re concerned with combat-related aspects, so a captain being greedy or corrupt isn’t important – although it will be once you assign him (or her) to run an outpost for you. A personality consists of two parts – an overall bravery rating, and a desire to perform certain types of assignments (if you haven’t yet, check out this post to see what those are).

The following baseline personalities are in the game now:

  • cowardly
  • cautious
  • steady
  • aggressive
  • suicidal
  • fearless

It’s better to think of these as character traits that will later be combined with non-combat traits to make up a complete personality.

So, what do these *really* do?

Bravery
A captain’s bravery affects the immediate combat performance of their ship. A cowardly captain will hang back unless his side greatly outnumbers the enemy – and will be extremely careful to avoid enemy fire. A fearless captain doesn’t care much about being outnumbered (never tell him the odds), and is willing to face down the guns of the biggest battleship in the Sector if that means performing his duty.

In gameplay testing, a brave captain does much better against tough odds than a cowardly one – they’re able to commit to a a particular maneuver and not interrupt it out of fear, which, ironically, often keeps them safer. However, if the odds are too stacked against them, a brave captain’s ship is almost certainly doomed.

A cautious captain is much more likely to keep their ship safe when the odds are bad, but isn’t as useful in an even fight – unless their ship is armed with long-range support weapons, which they can use effectively while feeling safe. A cautious captain is also quite good at harassment, as he won’t force the issue and can keep an enemy tied down in a game of cat and mouse for a long time.

Assignment Affinity
As the fleet commander, you give general assignments to your fleet. For example, you can order your fleet to assault a particular objective, form a carrier group behind your lines, and patrol an area for enemy presence. The ship captains themselves organize to carry these tasks out, and their personality plays an important role in who does what.

An aggressive captain scoffs at the idea of staying out of direct contact with the enemy. They’re likely to join assaults, capture objectives, perform strikes on enemy battleships – but not hang back wih fire support ships, escort a carrier deep in friendly territory, or (gasp) lead a civilian craft to safety. Suicidal ones will outright refuse to perform some of these duties, finding any excuse to attack the enemy.

Cautious and cowardly captains are naturally the opposite. They’ll look for any excuse to avoid joining a direct assault, and will prefer sitting back in support roles whenever possible – and even retreat against your orders, when it’s not.

Thus, knowing their personalities and managing the assignments you create is important to your fleet’s performance. For example, you might want to keep an overly aggressive captain from going off on their own and getting killed – but telling them to defend a location won’t do. Instead, you might assign them to more dangerous-sounding patrol duty… in a safe location. Read the rest of this entry »

Mod Roundup

Starfarer is still fresh out of the gate – but there are already several playable and very promising looking modding efforts under way.

I hope you give these a try, they’re a lot of fun already. Installing a mod is easy - here is a quick guide.

Star Control II: The Ur-Quan Masters
One of several mods by forum member Trylobot. Thread & download link here.

The combat has a vastly different feel to vanilla Starfarer, with some striking similarities to Star Control in how it plays out. It’s till in the early stages, but there are already three ships – the Earthling Cruiser, the Ur-Quan Dreadnought, and the Orz Nemesis.

I’m absolutely loving how this mod is coming together. Being a huge SC2 fan I’m a bit biased, though – so here are a few screenshots so you can see for yourself:

Junk Pirates
A mod by mendonca, thread and download link here.  Features an entirely new faction with 6 new ships and fighters, showcased in a series of 4 missions.

My personal favorite is the Dugong-class destroyer, pictured below. It’s got an amazing amount of firepower concentrated in a broadside, and is fast enough to run circles around anything it can’t flat-out outgun.

More mods in the rest of the post…

Read the rest of this entry »

First Look at Modding

We’re getting close to releasing the alpha, and I’m happy to say that you’ll be able to start modding Starfarer in the very first release.

The entire focus of the alpha is on combat, exposed through a set of missions. In each mission, two fleets face each other in a scenario you’ll run into naturally in the full game. For example, the player might command a freighter fleet during a blockade run, or a small task force ambushing a carrier group inside a nebula.

Missions are the only aspect that will be moddable in the first release, but it’s just a start – we’ll expand modding capabilities to include ships, AI, factions, etc. Technically, I suppose you could add new ships in the first release (and easily tweak existing ones), since they’re all data-driven… but it’s much nicer with an actual editor. (Yes, we’ll release some modding tools.)

Ahem… back to missions!

Each mission is defined with a couple of files you can tweak using a text editor, or copy to use as a baseline for a new mission. To see what a mission is made up of, let’s take a look at a screenshot of the mission selection screen, with the “Turning the Tables” mission selected.

Mission selection screen – click to enlarge

Alright, now, things are about to get technical. And somewhat lengthy. Consider yourself warned.

Read the rest of this entry »

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