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Starsector => General Discussion => Topic started by: Megas on August 12, 2018, 10:42:10 PM



Title: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on August 12, 2018, 10:42:10 PM
One of my recurring complaints in the 0.8 era is it is hard for max level player to have as many skills as a max level officer.  After thinking about this more and checking some things, I can see why...

Max level player has 42 skill points.  Officers have 21 skill points, enough for seven max skills.  If we want to match officers at their game, then we really have 33 skill points because we spend nine points for max Combat, Leadership, and Technology aptitudes for unfettered access to skills like officers have.  If we want to spend as many points as officers, that is 21 out of 33 points gone, which leaves 12 left.

Enemy fleet commanders can have points in the following skills:  Fleet Logistics, Coordinated Maneuvers, Fighter Doctrine, and Electronic Warfare.  I do not know how many points they can spend, but if they can have all four maxed, that is 12 points.  We do not need all of those skills maxed.  Eight points will be enough for us.  Fleet Logistics will be at 3, to match max CR of the enemy and prevent them from winning by endurance, not to mention the other perks are great.  Fighter Doctrine should be at 3, so that fighters are durable enough later in the game, and Converted Hangar at 2 is the easiest way to get that hullmod.  Coordinated Maneuvers at 1 is enough to make Nav objectives obsolete, and Electronic Warfare at 1 is enough to defend against ECM from enemy fleet commander (or make Sensor objectives obsolete if enemy does not have ECM).  Now we have four skill points left.

Loadout Design 3 is one of the best perks for everyone.  Three more points spent, one point left.

What to do with that last point?  Well, if you want more combat power, better to spend that last point in Officer Management to get two more guys with 21 skill points each.

For this max level character, we spent all of our skill points, all but four points into skills NPCs use.  No more for Navigation, anything in Industry, or more in Officer Management for more guys and skills.  If we want any of that stuff, we need to take points away from our share of pilot-only skills.  Actually, it is probably a good idea to take two points away from one of your pilot only skills and max Officer Management.  By making our commander weaker than max level officer in personal combat, he has four more max level officers to beat things up for him.  Probably a great bargain.  If we want exploration stuff or fleetwide buffs in Industry, we cut even more out of our personal skill budget to get that stuff.

Bottom line, if we spend points like NPCs, we have very few points left for anything else.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Linnis on August 13, 2018, 01:25:14 AM
I always end up editing the max level higher.

Personally I wouldn't mind if there was some sort of seperation between combat and other skills.

Either have players gain point a point in combat and other at the same time. Or maybe players don't get combat skills, instead the assigned captain's stats are considered in combat, this way players can play both carrier and other ships equally effectively in the same play through.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Midnight Kitsune on August 13, 2018, 07:26:36 AM
I too agree that we need separate the combat and fleet skills from each other. Or somehow allow the player to have access to combat skills of other officers. Otherwise the player can screw themselves by taking combat focused skills. This would not be so bad if we could respec. However we can't and taking the wrong skills can make or break a build


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on August 13, 2018, 12:11:39 PM
Being able to respec pilot-only skills would be nice, since pilot would not be locked into a small subset of ships if he takes niche skills.  For example, if I take all three pilot-only carrier skills, then I am probably locked into Astral or other carrier by endgame, and there is not much variety of carriers in the game.  If I want to pilot Onslaught, Paragon, or any other warship instead, I have three useless carrier skills I cannot get rid of.  That is another reason why more Officer Management is a smart idea; train specialists then fire them for replacements if you tire of them.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Shrugger on August 13, 2018, 12:21:15 PM
But then you'll want to re-spec every time you switch ships to whatever is ideal for that ship.

IMO skills don't fit the game at all.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on August 13, 2018, 01:59:03 PM
There is a wider variety of warships and one carrier (Legion) doubles as a powerful warship, so building to be good primarily with warships is not a problem since it applies to many ships.  Dedicated combat carriers that are good can be counted on one hand.

Plus, there are generalist pilot-only skills like Combat Endurance and various defensive skills that (nearly) any ship can benefit from.  The highly specialized skills are the three pilot-only carrier skills and possibly Missile Specialization, since not every ship can or wants to use missiles.  Aside, Missile Specialization (and its fighter counterpart, Strike Command) are lame skills, the perk at 3 is good, but the perks before that are junk, or at least better reserved for officers because the bonuses are frivolous for their cost.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Seth on August 13, 2018, 09:07:50 PM
Technically you can just increase levelcap (that's what I did in some of my runs) to be more like a jack-of-all-trades and not be locked in single ship class. It's band aid, but it works. Like I really do enjoy piloting carriers, thus usually start investing for it early on, but later I might get bored and want some brawler, non-combat type or anything else. It just helps to have one campaign instead of 3-5 with different skill sets in case you're looking for something fresh.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on August 13, 2018, 10:09:09 PM
Until Alex does another skills tweak, raising level cap from 40 to 50 seems like a quick and dirty fix.  XP gain does not slow down much until level 50.  I reach level 40 while still taking out mid-level fleets with recovered pirate cruisers.  I probably can earn few more levels worth of XP before I finally get a capital and a fleet strong enough to take on endgame fleets.

Actually, with colony skills coming and no other skill changes, raising the cap to 50 just so player will not be a combat gimp seems like a good idea.

I did not realize that enemy fleets may have Officer Management.  They need to if their endgame fleet has more than five officers (one fleet commander plus four henchmen).  Seems like player might match NPC fleets if he gives up Loadout Design 3 (no way given how powerful that one perk is to everyone).  Otherwise, player needs to give up combat or fleet power he should have if he wants anything else.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Nbirdsallxp123 on August 13, 2018, 11:01:20 PM
Any thoughts on a feature enabling the player to keep more officers and only be able to field X amount? Then they could be kitted out like your ships!


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: fededevi on August 27, 2018, 11:04:57 AM
I think I and other people in the past suggested about the separation of fleet-wide skills and 'ship' skill which would also solve this problem.
http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=12350
http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=12176

I think the player should be considered something like the admiral of the fleet and should only be able to get fleet-wide skills. While officers should have only ship/combat related skills.

When the players control a ship it should inherit the skills of the officer piloting the ship.
This would solve the aforementioned problem and also means that you can easily switch ships without making your ship/weapon specific skills useless (e.g. carrier skills or rocket, missile skills). How many times you skipped on a ship because it did not work well with the skills you had chosen?

Basically this would separate piloting skills from other skills, and the system is already in place since there are officers.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Gothars on August 27, 2018, 06:05:54 PM
I think this would only be a problem in a competitive mutiplayer game or an extremely hard game. It's OK if skills are unbalanced as long as the weaker ones still allow you to overcome the challenges the game provides, which is the case. You can even succeed without any skills at all. I think the main function of skills is to provide a varied gameplay experience from run to run and to allow for roleplaying.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Momaw on August 27, 2018, 07:30:37 PM
Isn't it kind of a good thing if skills are good enough that you *want* them all but can't do everything at the same time?  Doesn't that lead to meaningful build variety, and replayability?

I'd argue that the real problem is that a "non-combat" admiral has very little to actually do during combat. They won't have the skills to be as good a front line fighter as their combat-specced officers, and most of the other stuff is numeric or systemic buffs rather than a button you can press during combat.

Would be awesome to have in-combat equivalents of the map level stuff like emergency burn, dark mode, etc, abilities on a cooldown that come from investing in fleet support abilities...   ECM commander?  All missiles and fighters currently in flight have a chance of having their guidance system friend. Logistics commander? Relief shipment, restores some combat readiness to your ships based on how many ships you left in reserve...


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on August 27, 2018, 10:07:06 PM
I think this would only be a problem in a competitive mutiplayer game or an extremely hard game. It's OK if skills are unbalanced as long as the weaker ones still allow you to overcome the challenges the game provides, which is the case. You can even succeed without any skills at all. I think the main function of skills is to provide a varied gameplay experience from run to run and to allow for roleplaying.
It is a competitive game... against NPCs, and max level NPC fleet commanders have a skill advantage, no dead aptitude tax, 21 in personal skills, and for fleet commander, (maybe) up to 15 for fleetwide skills.  This is more than the 33 points players get (42 minus 9).  Even mere officers are doing well.  Effective 30 points (21 points and no aptitude tax for a 9 point discount), they are only up to four skills less than you or NPC fleet commander (who gets some among Officer Management, Coordinated Maneuvers, Fleet Logistics, Fighter Doctrine, and Electronic Warfare.)

Why spend three points leveling up one pilot-only skill when I can spend one in Officer Management and get two officers with (up to) 21 skill points (or 7 max skills) each?

My character is the only one who can take fleet or campaign skills.  My officers can only take pilot-only skills.  It is like officers are telling player "We need a healbot for our balanced party, and only you can do it, so you take those support skills and like it while we take all of the combat glory, har har!  You dare not weaken our fleet by trying to become one of us, slave!"

Yes, I can make due with no skills, but being stuck with a stock ship while NPC officers get overtuned ships is no fun.  However, if I try to match NPCs, I probably end up gimping the fleet due to lack of points.

My point is if you try to match NPCs in skills spent, you have none left for anything else.  No Loadout Design 3, no Navigation, nothing in Industry.  This is not mentioning that 21 points dedicated to pilot-only skills is not enough to get all such skills.  Officers cannot get everything.  There are more than enough pilot-only skills that you cannot get them all even if you sink everything into as many as you can.

And we will get more skills for colonies, but maybe no more skill points.  We are already squeezed enough, and it will only get worse if we get no relief.

Isn't it kind of a good thing if skills are good enough that you *want* them all but can't do everything at the same time?  Doesn't that lead to meaningful build variety, and replayability?
Not really, especially if NPCs have more skills than you.  Or that NPCs have nearly or as many skills as you, but they can only take the fun personal stuff while you are forced to take fleetwide or campaign stuff to make everyone better, and if you try to emulate your fellow officers, you gimp your fleet because you do not have enough skill points to branch out a little.

You are strongly pushed toward "non-combat" admiral, if you want to have the strongest fleet.  If you try to be as competent as a max level officer, you spend all of your skill points doing so and have nothing left... and probably gimp your fleet because you had the audacity to get to their level and have no points left to get the fleetwide/campaign/exploration skills.

P.S.  You can fire officers and train replacements if you do not need their skills anymore.  You cannot fire yourself (short of a starting a new game).  Want to be the best Astral pilot?  You get all of the carriers skills.  What, you tired of playing carrier and want to pilot Paragon now?  Sorry, you have useless skills, you will like being a carrier pilot for the rest of your game.  You should have taken general-purpose skills for yourself and trained an officer for the job of piloting a carrier instead.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Retry on August 27, 2018, 10:33:42 PM
I have to agree with Momaw, actual meaningful choices would lead to more build variety of gameplay.  While perhaps "OK" if skills are unbalanced, it'd be preferable if they were.

While not a *big* problem it's still something worth looking at.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Momaw on August 28, 2018, 01:49:07 AM
How overpowered would it be if you could ride tandom with an Officer? Maybe only on bigger ships. Like Cruisers and Capital scale ships, if they have an Operations Center module, you can assign an Officer but ALSO use it as your personal flagship. Skillset used is the highest rank that either of you has.

(Though I still personally really like the idea of giving in-combat clickies to non-combat skills.)


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: fededevi on August 29, 2018, 06:51:26 AM
How overpowered would it be if you could ride tandom with an Officer? [...]

If you remove piloting skills from the player you solve the problem, Officer would work like a "swappable" set of piloting skills which you choose based on the ship you want to pilot. Obviously the player should have less points than now to spend on the remaining skills.

This would make many ship & loadouts much more viable for the player because you will be able to specialize officers for e.g. missile ships, carriers, shield-less ships and so on.. And then choose or level the officer based on the ships/weapons you find.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Shrugger on August 29, 2018, 07:36:46 AM
I like that idea. Would put players VS enemy fleet commanders on equal footing, would solve the issue of players needing to decide between fleet meta or fun piloting...but then again, it would make officers even more critical.

Besides, it's too fundamental a change and won't happen.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: heskey30 on August 31, 2018, 12:45:56 AM
Well it seems to me like we've already got the best combat skill from the very beginning of the game. Is anyone here really getting regularly trashed by high skilled npc commanders lategame? Sure they're dangerous, but a skilled player will still beat them even with fewer ingame skills. I think that's a good balance - letting the player be godlike in battle and also an amazing fleet commander is good wish fulfillment but ultimately you're just going to be steamrolling everything and bored.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on August 31, 2018, 01:28:08 AM
What combat skill is that?  If the skill is not offered by the game, it does not count.

I do not get bored steamrolling enemy - it is fun.  I do not like fighting comparable enemy with weaker tools, even if I can win against AI by exploiting vulnerabilities.  I do not like being outnumbered, fleet to fleet, 40+ to 25 during the 0.7 era, even though I could solo more than 100 ships (combined from several fleets) with a max skills Onslaught back then.  Today, I do not like being outskilled by the AI if I do not dedicated all of my points into as many skills max level AI can take.

Also, it is no fun if taking the fun stuff means I am significantly weaker than one who takes the effective stuff, even if unskilled can kill the enemy.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Steel Threat on September 01, 2018, 02:00:01 AM
Megas is, as usual, largely on the money with his assessment.

Some of the problems with the skill system at the moment are:

1) Many skills have 'dead' levels - where the bonuses are insignificant or insulting, particularly based on build - which combined with aptitudes often feels punishing. Putting your one skill point a level into getting something later feels mediocre.
2) Certain skills are standouts and feel absolutely mandatory regardless of build. Looking at you, 10% OP. I'm not even sure what the first two ranks of that skill line give, from memory, and I don't care. They could be blank, and it'd still be one of the best skills in the game. Others just feel mediocre. I understand the logic behind say reduced HE damage to shields, it's just completely worthless and nobody cares. Or about increased damage to, what was it, fighters and missiles? Others still feel like taxes - oh, you didn't take ECM? Enjoy your range penalty.
3) 'Group Buff' skills often are on the same level as or otherwise outclass 'Solo Combat' skills. This was particularly noticeable in earlier versions where there was a carrier command that affected all fighters in your fleet, and one that just affected your own. Even now - would you like 25% increased CR for your ship or, for, uh... everyone's... ship?
4) Taking all combat skills doesn't particularly make you feel great, especially given most AI officers can just do the same thing. It doesn't feel rewarding, especially when they get those skill ranks easier than you in a sense, and it feels punishing in that you're deliberately giving up 'command' buffs (which are by and large superior mathematically with even a small fleet, and outrageously better with a large one compared to the often similarish combat bonuses) to do so - you're the only one who can take those, but any pilot in your fleet can take combat skills... taking them just puts you on their level, it doesn't make you feel strong.

I've seen ideas of allowing the player to pilot their own officers ships with their bonuses, or being able to recruit fleet leaders, but I don't think those are the best approach. What I'd recommend is giving all flagship commanders - the player, as well as the leaders of any opponent fleets they encounter - their own, separate buffed up variant of combat that is superior to the regular officer combat tree.

This means rather than feeling like you have to choose between very powerful fleetwide buffs that are mathematically superior, or being actually as compotent in combat as your fleet officers (but not much more), you can instead pick between reasonably okayish with very good officers (high leadership boosts - which also affect you), as competent or slightly more with a buffed fleet (mixing between them), or by being an absolute combat monster and mostly eschewing leadership skills (all combat). You don't feel like you're giving up something unique only you can have (leadership buffs, in a sense) to just be... on par.

In addition, it means you'll be likely to face the occasional 'supership', lead by an high level flagship opponent who took combat skills instead of leadership skills.

The real biggest problem with the system is the perception that you're suffering taxes, that you're being punished by taking the optimal approach (leadership) by being worse than your officers, and that even if you do spec into the mathematically inferior combat tree, you don't really feel as rewarded as you do in the old days where it really made you a combat monster. Buffing leadership was necessary, but I feel that combat - particularly for the player - needs some changes and buffs, as well as making the player feel more unique rather than that they're giving up extremely good fleetwide bonuses to be... on the same level as the AI.

I know I exaggerate a little here, but we're talking perception, and I know I'm not alone in feeling this way. Maxing combat should make you feel powerful, not like you're paying a tax.

It'd be nice to see the 'lone wolf' style of the old days a little more playable than it is currently, too. I know it's not really the design intent, but it was absolutely one of the most enjoyable ways to play for me and I really do miss it.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Thaago on September 01, 2018, 06:12:49 AM
Tldr; taking combat skills flattens the difficulty curve and makes gameplay both more enjoyable and also easier at the stages where there is still risk. But it feels bad (not being sarcastic, it really does).

it feels bad that the "optimal" route is to take leadership/tech skills and to be worse in combat than the officers, and I do think the skills need to be tweaked to compensate. I like Steel Threat's idea of officers just inherently having weaker skills than commanders. (I am also in favor of their being multiple experience tracks and doing away with aptitudes.)

However, despite being not 'end game optimal', the game is easier at every stage that matters when the player takes some combat skills. This is because of how huge a force multiplier player targeting and piloting is. I don't think every combat skill is needed or good, but picking up a few has a dramatic impact.

Early game: Combat skills let your Hammerhead confidently kill many pirate destroyers or frigates with ease. If you  can fly (not a given for new players) you should make more supplies than you spend on every battle where things don't go wrong (which happens). Named bounties are big paydays on top, and you can comfortably build a buffer or expand your fleet with the starting Jangala bounty.

Mid game: People have said that there is a spike in the difficulty of bounties at this stage - its not there if you have a decent combat build and pick up a big ship for yourself. Dominator + skills will comfortably take out multiple AI capitals (in succession - 2 at once is doable but tricky). If you've scraped together the cash, player Onslaught + reasonable escort (say 3 destroyers + 2 destroyer carriers) should wipe the floor with the mid level, several hundred k bounties.

End game: This is where you suddenly feel a bit weaker, as its impossible to have all the best support skills. Except... this part of the game is easy, so it doesn't matter. Mods are a bit of a different story, as their endgame challenges are much more powerful (10 times as powerful at least).


Side note: when playing with mods that use heavy fighters or missiles (Diable, Imperium, and Templar in my current playthrough) the +50% damage to missiles and fighters is a gamechanging skill. Heck, even in the base game it lets your PD confidently stop Reapers or Sabots in the brief window before they go second stage.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: intrinsic_parity on September 01, 2018, 09:00:55 AM
It seems to me like the player is forced to decide between making the combat layer easier and more enjoyable, or the campaign layer easier and more enjoyable. I don't like that I have to choose which part of the game to be more enjoyable, I want it all to be more enjoyable. That's my main problem with the system. I usually choose too make the campaign layer more enjoyable because I can compensate for increased difficulty in combat with my own skill and my fleet, but I can't really compensate for campaign annoyances/difficulties that are alleviated by skills.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Gothars on September 01, 2018, 10:57:01 AM
Just gifting combat skills to the player/fleet commanders would result in power creep. If power levels rise too high game mechanics and tactics stop to matter as every opposition is just smashed with brute force. That might be what Megas wants, but for me it would ruin the game.

I'm totally OK with not necessarily being the best in direct combat, by the way. What leader in history was ever the best fighter/pilot/shiphandler of his army? I'm not leading some orc tribe where the fiercest fighter becomes chief.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 01, 2018, 12:53:51 PM
Just gifting combat skills to the player/fleet commanders would result in power creep. If power levels rise too high game mechanics and tactics stop to matter as every opposition is just smashed with brute force. That might be what Megas wants, but for me it would ruin the game.

I'm totally OK with not necessarily being the best in direct combat, by the way. What leader in history was ever the best fighter/pilot/shiphandler of his army? I'm not leading some orc tribe where the fiercest fighter becomes chief.
Not really.  If I spend all of my points to match the NPCs, I have no points left for anything else.  And most pilot-only skills are too weak to justify spending more than a few points there.

Also, it is silly for me to put three points in frivolous pilot-only skill like Strike Command or Advanced Countermeasures when I can put one point in Officer Management and get two more guys with up to seven or so skills.  If playership is so great, better for playership to stay unskilled while backed up by two elite wingmen.  This is optimal, but not fun for me because I feel like a slave to my wingmen.

I do not necessarily have a problem with player choosing to specialize in non-combat skills and be weaker in combat.  I have a problem that I need all of my skill points just to keep up with NPCs.  I should not have to totally specialize in what NPCs take just to keep up.

Steel Threat articulated my complaints of the skill system very well.  You spend points in combat not to be an ace, but to keep up with the AI.  And you need to spend all of your points to do it.  Paying taxes as he said.

Re: Power levels.  I liked the stronger power level of pre-0.8 more.  (Also, I did not need to raise game speed to 2f back then either, thanks to stronger skills and Augmented Engines)  If ships and weapons were not so hard to replace back then, I would have tolerated ships dying left-and-right instead of soloing every fight to avoid casualties.

And intrinsic_parity is right.  "the player is forced to decide between making the combat layer easier and more enjoyable, or the campaign layer easier and more enjoyable."  I like to make combat more enjoyable, because direct combat is what the game is all about.  But if I do that, I gimp the fleet and/or I have nothing left for non-combat, since you do not have enough points to grab everything for combat.  I am fine not being able to get everything for combat.  I am not fine being only able to grab enough to keep up with NPCs and nothing else.

@ Thaago: When level scaling was at its worst, I could not get a big ship in time before my fleet was overwhelmed.  Just when I get a few destroyers, all of the bounties were having two or three cruisers plus more smaller ships than the rest of my fleet combined.  After I finish tutorial in Galatica, the first bounty fleet already has significantly more ships than my starter fleet (but they were junk, worse than mine), and winning that was not easy, and it only got worse from there, when more bounties upgraded faster than I could.  Trying no tutorial start was not any better.  First two or three fleets were easy enough due to being low level, but afterwards thanks to my levels climbing fast - much faster than my fleet and assets, the big armadas of death appeared before I could take them.  Had I wanted to play more, I would have needed to put my fleet in storage and do exploration/contact missions with a solo Dram or Dram/Wolf duo and grind for cash for a while.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Thaago on September 01, 2018, 06:15:40 PM
@Megas
If the starting bounties are too hard, you may want to turn your game speed back to 1, or invest in combat skills. Taking on pirate cruisers in that beat up old Hammerhead is perfectly doable. (Though when the enemy has multiple pristine Mora's - those fights I avoid.)

Quote
Also, it is silly for me to put three points in frivolous pilot-only skill like Strike Command or Advanced Countermeasures when I can put one point in Officer Management and get two more guys with up to seven or so skills.  If playership is so great, better for playership to stay unskilled while backed up by two elite wingmen.  This is optimal, but not fun for me because I feel like a slave to my wingmen.

This is a fallacy - the player piloting is a multiplier on whatever the skills give. I agree that the player skill is not worth ten officers, so late game total power suffers. But I would say that the player is worth 5 officers, and in the early/mid game where you can afford to have a bigger flagship, that is a huge boost in power.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 01, 2018, 07:16:34 PM
It is multiple cruisers, on every bounty, worth from 100K to 150K each.  I could probably deal with one cruiser.  I cannot deal with two or three, among Falcon, Eagle, Dominator, and/or Mora, plus more destroyers and frigates - and fighters - than my entire fleet, among them multiple Condors... and my best ship is one among Drover, Medusa, Hammerhead, or Condor along with a fleet of maybe one or two other destroyers, my starter Wolf and Shepherd, (D) mod Hounds and Lashers, and less fighters than the enemy.  And enemies probably have better weapons than I do.  I am outnumbered and outclassed.  I cannot tell exactly what fleet the bounty uses.  It gives you the enemy flagship, but not its escorts, and sometimes, the escorts are as powerful as (or even stronger than) the flagship.  My character level might have been around in the mid teens or at least under twenty.

I did not have a problem with bounties until level scaling was introduced.  I have not played the latest version where the level scaling was delayed by a few more levels (from 4x to 10+3x), but considering I do not have an endgame fleet by level 40, it just delays the problem from early-game to mid-game.

I have skills, but mostly the ones everyone should take - some among Combat Endurance 1, Loadout Design 3, Electronic Warfare 1, Fleet Logistics 3, and probably Fighter Doctrine.  With empty aptitudes, that takes a lot of points, probably require high teens to get, if I get that far.  During the time of level scaling, I doubt I reached level 20.  I could if I really wanted to, but since I was in no mood to grind for more of the same until 0.9, I just quit and did other things.

Also, in 0.8, pirates that are not named bounties are rarer than they used to be, enough that system bounties is not a reliable income method like in early versions of Starsector.  You pick off maybe one or two fleets for the entire month.  So far, main income sources are named bounties or missions.  If the named bounties become too strong, that leaves missions.

Quote
This is a fallacy - the player piloting is a multiplier on whatever the skills give. I agree that the player skill is not worth ten officers, so late game total power suffers. But I would say that the player is worth 5 officers, and in the early/mid game where you can afford to have a bigger flagship, that is a huge boost in power.
I disagree that it is a fallacy.  I am sure the player is worth multiple officers with or without pilot-only skills, but since pilot-only skills does not uplift the player much, better for him to be unskilled while more of his fleet is elite.  I do not like that trying to be on par with NPCs with skills gimps the fleet and gives you no campaign stuff.

I am perfectly fine at 2f.  Gameplay is even slightly slow there.  Even Starsector was faster before 0.8 with more powerful skills.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: intrinsic_parity on September 01, 2018, 07:37:43 PM
Sure the player is worth multiple officers, but no combat skill (except officer management obviously) is worth an officer. Sure it's more valuable for the player to have skills than officers to have skills, but that is not the choice that the player is presented with. The choice is for the player to take some marginally valuable skill, or to gain extra officers that can have several max level skills. 1 skill point in officer management is 2 officers who can each get 20 skill points worth of skills. This means that 1 player skill point = 40 officer skill points. I don't think a skill in player hands is on average 40x more valuable than in officer hands. It's just not fair comparison.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Thaago on September 01, 2018, 07:46:41 PM
It is multiple cruisers, on every bounty, worth from 100K to 150K each.  I could probably deal with one cruiser.  I cannot deal with two or three, among Falcon, Eagle, Dominator, and/or Mora, plus more destroyers and frigates - and fighters - than my entire fleet, among them multiple Condors... and my best ship is one among Drover, Medusa, Hammerhead, or Condor along with a fleet of maybe one or two other destroyers, my starter Wolf and Shepherd, (D) mod Hounds and Lashers, and less fighters than the enemy.  And enemies probably have better weapons than I do.  I am outnumbered and outclassed.  I cannot tell exactly what fleet the bounty uses.  It gives you the enemy flagship, but not its escorts, and sometimes, the escorts are as powerful as (or even stronger than) the flagship.  My character level might have been around in the mid teens or at least under twenty.

I did not have a problem with bounties until level scaling was introduced.  I have not played the latest version where the level scaling was delayed by a few more levels (from 4x to 10+3x), but considering I do not have an endgame fleet by level 40, it just delays the problem from early-game to mid-game.

I have skills, but mostly the ones everyone should take - some among Combat Endurance 1, Loadout Design 3, Electronic Warfare 1, Fleet Logistics 3, and probably Fighter Doctrine.  With empty aptitudes, that takes a lot of points, probably require high teens to get, if I get that far.  During the time of level scaling, I doubt I reached level 20.  I could if I really wanted to, but since I was in no mood to grind for more of the same until 0.9, I just quit and did other things.

Also, in 0.8, pirates that are not named bounties are rarer than they used to be, enough that system bounties is not a reliable income method like in early versions of Starsector.  You pick off maybe one or two fleets for the entire month.  So far, main income sources are named bounties or missions.  If the named bounties become too strong, that leaves missions.

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This is a fallacy - the player piloting is a multiplier on whatever the skills give. I agree that the player skill is not worth ten officers, so late game total power suffers. But I would say that the player is worth 5 officers, and in the early/mid game where you can afford to have a bigger flagship, that is a huge boost in power.
I disagree that it is a fallacy.  I am sure the player is worth multiple officers with or without pilot-only skills, but since pilot-only skills does not uplift the player much, better for him to be unskilled while more of his fleet is elite.  I do not like that trying to be on par with NPCs with skills gimps the fleet and gives you no campaign stuff.

I am perfectly fine at 2f.  Gameplay is even slightly slow there.  Even Starsector was faster before 0.8 with more powerful skills.

I don't know what else to say other than you are vastly underrating how powerful (combat skills) x (best ship in fleet) x (player ability) is. The bounties you describe, if they are pirates, are standard fights for the fleet you have and should be winnable with no losses - maybe a few if things go really badly. You've taken a lot of fleet boosting skills with no fleet to boost.

Pilot skills really do uplift the player by a a lot; I'd estimate a factor of 2 or 3, depending on ship.

Sure the player is worth multiple officers, but no combat skill (except officer management obviously) is worth an officer. Sure it's more valuable for the player to have skills than officers to have skills, but that is not the choice that the player is presented with. The choice is for the player to take some marginally valuable skill, or to gain extra officers that can have several max level skills. 1 skill point in officer management is 2 officers who can each get 20 skill points worth of skills. This means that 1 player skill point = 40 officer skill points. I don't think a skill in player hands is on average 40x more valuable than in officer hands. It's just not fair comparison.

This is absolutely true: in the endgame. Where everything is already a cake walk. In the early/mid game, a player is lucky to have 4 officers and they won't be max level. Heck, I've had max level characters with multiple capital ships (ie game over) and still not had a full officer roster. (Also officers have 21 skill points).


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 01, 2018, 08:03:34 PM
From what I have seen, player with lots of pilot-only skills can punch above a skill-less one by a ship class or two, and that's it.  Nothing like soloing a hundred or so ships with an Onslaught with no hull damage and few minutes of peak performance to spare in 0.7.  Even the best maxed out Paragon or Astral flagship today can solo about 60 to 80 ships before peak performance and CR time out.  Admittedly, part of this is due to AI turtling like Spathi from Star Control 2.

Meanwhile, unskilled (big ship and carrier) clunker fleet can steamroll fleets.  If I can steamroll an endgame fleet with an unskilled clunker fleet, but not with merely a flagship with lots of pilot-only skills, why would I want to sink everything into pilot-only skills aside from watching quad-lance Paragon lancing things to death efficiently when it is clearly suboptimal.  Nevermind battlestation if my ship cannot outrange it.

Once I can get a capital (usually Legion given that even pirates use that), things get much easier.  But this does not happen for me until much later in the game.  The last time for me was after I gained enough xp to level up a few times from 40 (back before level scaling).


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Thaago on September 01, 2018, 08:20:09 PM
But punching a class or two above your weight solves literally every problem you say the game's combat has. Bounties too hard in early game? Having a destroyer that can take on cruisers, or a cruiser that can take on capitals, solves the problem. Enemies like to run away? Switch over to a fast flagship for a while and use that fast destroyer that punches like a cruiser to crush them.

Also, nothing about having a super flagship means you have to solo things. Get ships that support your flag. That could be fighter cover, it could be a few tanky ships to make a battle wall, or it could even be a bunch of frigates to split the enemy up and let you defeat them in detail.  You don't need to solo hundreds of ships, ever, so its really not a valid point of balance.

The pursuit of optimization has made the game harder, which begs the question of what exactly you are optimizing for.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 01, 2018, 11:15:28 PM
No, it is a crutch like Surveying and Salvaging, if you do not want the skills.  (Well, I want them to be on par with officers, but not by giving up everything else as per OP.)  If you take the Industry exploration skills, you get the money and some rare stuff and have no need for bounties for a while.

But demanding everyone take pilot-only skills immediately just to have a chance to beat bounties that upgrade faster than you can expects too much, just like expecting everyone to sink nine points into Industry (for Surveying and Salvaging) to get enough money if they are not proficient enough in combat.  Exploration is fun, if it did not gimp combat power.

Bounties were not broken without level scaling.  With level scaling, bounties upgrade too fast, at least it did when progression was 4x.  (I suspect they still level up too fast at 3x+10.)

But 0.9 has toned down level scaling so that problem should not last for much longer.

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But punching a class or two above your weight solves literally every problem you say the game's combat has.
Not every enemy that is not a pirate will be unskilled.  They will have the skill advantage over you unless you pump all points into combat stuff.  Yes, player can exploit AI vulnerabilities to beat the AI with an unfair advantage, but it still does not feel good.

Also, if I put everything into personal combat, punching a class or two over unskilled enemy is not enough.  I expect things like frigates soloing an entire pirate fleet or an unskilled battleship, or a battleship soloing multiple fleets without much difficulty as done before 0.8.  Even Tempest could solo the Hegemony Defense Fleet during 0.6x days, but it was not easy.

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The pursuit of optimization has made the game harder, which begs the question of what exactly you are optimizing for.
Simple.  Maximum power at the end, even if early-game is extremely brutal and unfair.

To clarify:  "pursuit of optimization" might make it harder in the beginning and short-term, but if you survive to the end, you are even stronger than if you did not take the power option.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: intrinsic_parity on September 02, 2018, 04:37:35 AM
I think with the addition of outposts and other late game content, the current end game may become more of the mid game. In other words, the player may spend the majority of a campaign with a full complement of skills and officers. Already, the player and officers level up very fast and reach max level before the player can acquire an end game fleet (in my experience). The players late game ability may very well dictate their ability to be successful in the end game with outposts and faction conflicts and presumably there will also be more and more difficult enemies to face as more late game content gets added.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 02, 2018, 01:13:24 PM
Already, the player and officers level up very fast and reach max level before the player can acquire an end game fleet (in my experience).
This is why level scaling hurts.  At level 40, you fight max level named bounties while you may not have an endgame fleet.  In my case, I still had only pirate cruisers.  When I got my first capital, my level could have been 42 to 45.

I like the fast xp gain.  Enemy bounties upgrading faster than you, not so much.

But, 0.9 should end that nonsense.

If skills stays as they are, aside from colony stuff, for initial 0.9 release, then it would be nice for level cap to be raised to 50.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: FooF on September 03, 2018, 12:28:39 AM
This has come up since 0.8 re-vamped the skills and I don't think much is going to change, to be frank.

I've made it known in the past that "optimal" play usually does take away combat skills from the player and it makes the player ship one of the weakest ships on the battlefield, all other things being equal. I don't think that's "fair" per se but it's also the sacrifice that is made when pursuing optimal play.

I've always though a "support officer" that did that for the player would be best: i.e. an officer you throw on less-optimal ship that has all those fleet-based perks you want. It counts against your officer limit and you may not always get the skills you want (due to RNG) but it lets the player take Combat without gimping you in the end.

The thing is, pre-0.8, you could absolutely smash through end game content because of how ridiculously powerful you could get. It's fun for a little while but you might as well have god-mode on. The current system has meaningful choice (I do raise the level cap to 50, though) even if the aptitude points are still incredibly "hollow" when you pick them. It would be nice if aptitude points gave something or if there was another natural way (doesn't use skill points) to raise aptitude level but I don't think those are going to change.

As it is, I've been putting more and more points into Combat lately and haven't found my end-game fleets to be lacking much. They do feel less powerful overall but if I get a ship I like, as Thaago puts it, I really am a force multiplier because I can perform feats the AI could only dream of. It has less to do with my ship's capabilities and more to do with my ability to analyze and exploit positioning. The AI is very poor at that.

All this to say, I think the system could be improved but it's not bad and there's no point where I feel utterly gimped unless I invest a lot in non-combat skills (i.e. surveying or salvage). With 0.9 potentially asking us to invest skills in Industry/Colony Management, we really may be in a pickle regarding skill points.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: TJJ on September 03, 2018, 08:39:07 AM
IMO skills don't fit the game at all.

Perhaps skills would be better implemented in a similar way to one or other of The Elder Scrolls games.
Either:
- Activities directly earn you progression in that activity/skill. (e.g. Survey worlds -> survey skill progresses)
or
- Activities earn you skill points in a particular vocation, which can then be spent on related skills. (e.g. Survey worlds -> earns 'Exploration XP' -> you spend on a 'reduced fuel consumption' skill)

With such an implementation we'd:
- Eliminate the need for level caps entirely
- Increase the 'depth' of each skill (Both the maximum bonus that can be earnt, and the time it takes to earn).
- Make every playthrough different; no cookie-cutter 'builds'. Your character's strengths progress according to how you play the game.
- Feel more rewarding. Level-ups would be more frequent, as you'd be progressing along each of the different skills/vocations in parallel.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Shrugger on September 03, 2018, 08:48:34 AM
Would be neat, but impossible to balance and also kinda hard to fit it to every skill.

Ultimately I'd be happy with better balance (levelling the field between no-brainer meta skills VS useless point sinks) and, more importantly, the ability to re-spec - even if only one skill at a time with a fixed XP interval in between.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: fededevi on September 03, 2018, 10:21:16 AM
Ultimately I'd be happy with better balance (levelling the field between no-brainer meta skills VS useless point sinks) and, more importantly, the ability to re-spec - even if only one skill at a time with a fixed XP interval in between.

It would be nice if you could simply remove an ability and lose a level (or half a level or wathever). Same with officers. Re-spec at the cost of re-leveling.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Midnight Kitsune on September 03, 2018, 10:36:32 AM
IMO skills don't fit the game at all.

Perhaps skills would be better implemented in a similar way to one or other of The Elder Scrolls games.
Either:
- Activities directly earn you progression in that activity/skill. (e.g. Survey worlds -> survey skill progresses)
or
- Activities earn you skill points in a particular vocation, which can then be spent on related skills. (e.g. Survey worlds -> earns 'Exploration XP' -> you spend on a 'reduced fuel consumption' skill)

With such an implementation we'd:
- Eliminate the need for level caps entirely
- Increase the 'depth' of each skill (Both the maximum bonus that can be earnt, and the time it takes to earn).
- Make every playthrough different; no cookie-cutter 'builds'. Your character's strengths progress according to how you play the game.
- Feel more rewarding. Level-ups would be more frequent, as you'd be progressing along each of the different skills/vocations in parallel.
I'm about 95% sure that Alex has stated that he specifically DOES NOT want an ES style skills system because then you get things were people do stupid, grindy things to level up (Like standing on a fire trap while constantly casting heal)


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 03, 2018, 12:37:38 PM
Quote
It has less to do with my ship's capabilities and more to do with my ability to analyze and exploit positioning. The AI is very poor at that.
Player does not need skills and perks for that.  And since Combat does not uplift the player enough, better to boost the fleet if you want power (or unlock exploration options), even if it feels bad.  AI is good enough being a beatstick and exploiting openings your (unskilled) ship creates.

I played enough games where the computer cheats because the player is human that can exploit A.I. vulnerabilities (and in case of arcade games, force the player to pump more coins into the machine).  Even if I can win, it feels bad.  Some games, the harder difficulty only means AI cheats more.  In those games, I pick the easiest difficulty because the AI cheats the least.

I'm about 95% sure that Alex has stated that he specifically DOES NOT want an ES style skills system because then you get things were people do stupid, grindy things to level up (Like standing on a fire trap while constantly casting heal)
I remember Alex posting something to that effect, and I would do stupid grindy things like "standing on a fire trap while constantly casting heal".

People will optimize the fun out of games if it is easy and rewarding enough, or if competition (not necessarily in-game) is involved.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Seth on September 03, 2018, 01:43:16 PM
I'd say if we could get 2 points per level, one for combat and one for industry, it would make things better IMO, especially since new update supposed to widen non-combat stuff (like building outposts), thus there should be extra skills for that.

In that case you will still have to choose between particular combat style you prefer (either brawler/leader/carrier pilot/mix) and civil role you'd like to roleplay (either trader/builder/explorer/mix). I do not think forcing player to choose between being a civil pilot or combat one makes sense because not only combat aspect is absolutely amazing in this game, it is also pretty mandatory thing anyone would have to get into sooner or later. But then again, having civil role would definitely spice things up so you can take a break from fighting, which would be very welcome.

That being said, I think fleet wide buff skills are somewhat OP and are must to pick, along few other combat ones that have been highlighted in this convo. Yeah, it's a headache to balance it all, and since game is singleplayer in general, it isn't really a priority, but would be better experience nonetheless.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: TJJ on September 03, 2018, 05:40:54 PM
I'm about 95% sure that Alex has stated that he specifically DOES NOT want an ES style skills system because then you get things were people do stupid, grindy things to level up (Like standing on a fire trap while constantly casting heal)

Yeah, I seem to remember the same.

Though I'm not convinced the flaw you highlight is a fundamental problem with such systems as a whole, rather it's a specific instance of poor balance or an unaccounted for exploit.
You could, for example, solve it by simply inhibiting XP gain proportionally to XP gain in other vocations. Approximating the psychological state of 'burnout'.
Intentionally focusing on levelling just 1 or 2 skills will thus be significantly less efficient than levelling a half-dozen or more skills.

Done properly I think such a system could work really well.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: intrinsic_parity on September 03, 2018, 07:43:05 PM
Though I'm not convinced the flaw you highlight is a fundamental problem with such systems as a whole, rather it's a specific instance of poor balance or an unaccounted for exploit.

I agree. In this game we already gain xp for doing stuff (surveying trading combat salvaging), all you would need to do is make xp from a certain task only expendable on certain skills. Any grindy exploits are independent of what you can spend the xp on once you get it. If there were xp grind problems, they would already exist in the game currently and changing the system for spending xp would not change that.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Shuka on September 06, 2018, 01:05:08 PM
Technically the assessment is true, the player and the AI are not on "equal footing" when it comes to skill point attribution. I disagree with the whole idea that it has to be fair. In some cases we're talking about percentage points here, like 3%-10% faster, longer range, etc. There is no such thing as a fair fight, especially so when the game has a strategic map. Which is emulating a politically chaotic galaxy.

As to the whole playstyle debate, its an arcadey space combat game with an interesting worldbuilding layer to it. The most tedious aspects of the game do not have to be rewarding because they are tedious. Its also in the late stages of development, features are tweaked not rebuilt.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 06, 2018, 01:30:12 PM
As to the whole playstyle debate, its an arcadey space combat game with an interesting worldbuilding layer to it. The most tedious aspects of the game do not have to be rewarding because they are tedious. Its also in the late stages of development, features are tweaked not rebuilt.
All the more reason player should be able to match NPCs without giving up everything else.  Especially when some of "everything else" is better overall than some of the more fun personal skills.

A problem is when tedious aspects are more rewarding than other options, and people gravitate toward them, possibly on instinct, even if it sucks the fun out of the game, because being the best is more important.

Skills do not necessarily need a complete overhaul.  Just replace or boost the perks with joke or insulting bonuses (or merge some of skills), maybe reconsider universal must-have skills, and either remove dead aptitudes or crank up the level cap by at least ten, especially with colony skills coming and possibly another skill rebalance being deferred for after 0.9.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Goumindong on September 10, 2018, 07:42:26 AM
There is, generally, a whole lot of power lost from players not deciding “what ship do I want to fly” and then figuring what they need to fly it. Some ships, like the Odyssey, which seem like pigs, become right hilarious with the right combat skills.

Megas, you’re letting your perceived notion of optimal get in the way of what actually is. Combat skills enough to propel your ship into individual power are valuable in multiple ways beyond the raw numbers. Besides the player having agency with regards to how they build their ship (so they can make things strong via skill optimization) the player having a particularly powerful ship means that they do not have to deploy as many ships in order to win. Replacement ships not fielded don’t matter if they don’t have officers if they tip the balance of engagement towards the players fleet.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 10, 2018, 01:27:23 PM
@ Goumindong: Uplifting a single ship that can punch above an unskilled but otherwise equal ship by a class or two is not enough.  I tried it, and it does not affect strategic play enough.  A skilled ship may kill a few more ships or die a bit slower, but the end result is generally the same as an unskilled character.  This is unlike pre-0.8 where your single ship can destroy fleets.  You cannot do that anymore (except maybe with quad lance Paragon, but still nowhere near pre-0.8 performance) even if you dump all points into combat.  The enemy AI of 0.8 is still a bunch of dirty stinking cowards, and many ships have difficulty overcoming that on their own, with or without skills.

Actually, putting a few points into Electronic Warfare 1 and Loadout Design 3 is more effective than putting everything that is a pilot-only skill.  Maybe Fleet Logistics 3 is important too for the max CR boost to last a little longer before CR times out in an overwhelming fight.  (In the campaign, some fleets can have Fleet Logistics 3, and you want that so they do not outlast you!)

If an unskilled clunker fleet can outperform a flagship that puts (nearly) everything into personal power, why burn my points there instead of elsewhere that can boost either my fleet power or exploration options.  Before 0.8, you could either solo everything (slow), or you match or mob the enemy with your fleet (fast).  Today, player usually needs a fleet for the best results.


But that was not the point of my OP.  I want to be able to spend as many points into Combat stuff as a max level NPC, and enough fleetwide stuff to match NPC fleet commander, without giving up everything else.  So far, player needs to spend everything into skills max level NPC fleet commander can use (and three dead aptitudes to access the skills) to match him.  Do all of these capable commanders have no other non-combat skills on the side (like Industry stuff they cannot possibly use due to their main job as a policeman)?  If you want to get Loadout Design 3 (NPCs do not use that, but you are a fool not to get it), other fleetwide stuff, or any exploration stuff, you need to sack another skill to get it, and pilot-only skills are the most expendable to sacrifice, partially because they are generally weak, and partially because officers use them.  Especially if the choice is one level in a pilot-only skill for you, or one more in Officer Management.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Thaago on September 10, 2018, 05:55:11 PM
@ Goumindong: Uplifting a single ship that can punch above an unskilled but otherwise equal ship by a class or two is not enough.  I tried it, and it does not affect strategic play enough.  A skilled ship may kill a few more ships or die a bit slower, but the end result is generally the same as an unskilled character.  This is unlike pre-0.8 where your single ship can destroy fleets.  You cannot do that anymore (except maybe with quad lance Paragon, but still nowhere near pre-0.8 performance) even if you dump all points into combat.  The enemy AI of 0.8 is still a bunch of dirty stinking cowards, and many ships have difficulty overcoming that on their own, with or without skills.

Actually, putting a few points into Electronic Warfare 1 and Loadout Design 3 is more effective than putting everything that is a pilot-only skill.  Maybe Fleet Logistics 3 is important too for the max CR boost to last a little longer before CR times out in an overwhelming fight.  (In the campaign, some fleets can have Fleet Logistics 3, and you want that so they do not outlast you!)

If an unskilled clunker fleet can outperform a flagship that puts (nearly) everything into personal power, why burn my points there instead of elsewhere that can boost either my fleet power or exploration options.  Before 0.8, you could either solo everything (slow), or you match or mob the enemy with your fleet (fast).  Today, player usually needs a fleet for the best results.


But that was not the point of my OP.  I want to be able to spend as many points into Combat stuff as a max level NPC, and enough fleetwide stuff to match NPC fleet commander, without giving up everything else.  So far, player needs to spend everything into skills max level NPC fleet commander can use (and three dead aptitudes to access the skills) to match him.  Do all of these capable commanders have no other non-combat skills on the side (like Industry stuff they cannot possibly use due to their main job as a policeman)?  If you want to get Loadout Design 3 (NPCs do not use that, but you are a fool not to get it), other fleetwide stuff, or any exploration stuff, you need to sack another skill to get it, and pilot-only skills are the most expendable to sacrifice, partially because they are generally weak, and partially because officers use them.  Especially if the choice is one level in a pilot-only skill for you, or one more in Officer Management.

I agree with the premise because it feels bad as a player; I think there should be a dual track system for experience.

However, I strongly disagree when you say the combat skills do not effect strategic gameplay, or are ineffective.
  • Bounties become easy, even if you deliberately advance the progressions as fast as possible and take the largest fleets every time.
  • Supply costs are much lower, making every fight profitable even without bounties (randomly being attacked by pirates is a nice fuel, supply, and credit boost).
  • Fuel costs are much lower - even with my endgame (vanilla) fleet that can take on the remnant station or any bounty I wanted, I only need 2 drams to get to the rim. Until I got an Onslaught (fuel hog) one dram was fine even for far targets. I get more fuel from killing the bounty than I spent getting out to it, without any salvage skills.
  • Enemy frigates that try to run are easily caught, as your weapons do more damage and you move much faster (+50 speed if using well designed long ranged guns).
  • Bad situations that threaten the player ship, like missile spam from a dying ship, overloads from a player mistake, or getting surrounded, are no longer deadly. This is especially helpful in the early game, where a mistake with an unskilled ship can prove fatal. Making multiple serious errors in a fight might still lead to death, but making multiple errors is a much lower probability event than making 1 error.

I just don't see how you can say that a skilled and unskilled ship lead to the same result - its like we are playing different games. I recently did a player boosting run, not taking a single point in leadership or industry, to see how it was to play. It felt awkward to only have 4 officers and not have +15% CR, but it was my easiest playthrough yet. Money and supplies were streaming in, piloting was more fun, and I consistently stayed ahead of the level vs bounty difficulty curve.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Cyan Leader on September 10, 2018, 06:04:40 PM
I'm curious, where will you spend your points now that the cap has been raised to 50? Assuming the skills are the same.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 10, 2018, 06:36:54 PM
@ Thaago: What I meant about skilled and unskilled (flagship) being much the same is if I try to solo enemies, my (individual flagship) performance is not much better than unskilled.  Sure, I live a bit longer, and kill a bit more, but it seems like all I need to do to get that performance is bring few more cheap or easily replaceable clunkers.  In fleet context where you can have a bunch a guys with Combat skills, it probably make more difference.  What hurts more is the AI.  The enemy cowers much.  Having all of this extra personal combat power means little if the enemy ship can still hover beyond my attack range until enough of its friends can surround and overwhelm my ship.  (I do take Helmsmanship and Evasive Maneuvers 1, so my flagship has enhanced mobility.)  This is not the old skill days when Onslaught can be surrounded and still kill everyone without taking hull damage due to sheer power.

I guess buying cheap fuel from Sindria kind of helps the big fleet of clunkers.  I do not even get Navigation at all even though the fuel discount at 2 would be very handy.

[EDIT]  I probably should try another game to see what you mean Thaago, but do not feel motivated to do so partly because 0.9 release seems close, and, for now, I have less time available for gaming than before.

@ Cyan Leader:  I do not know yet.  I do know that since Helmsmanship 3 will be gutted for carriers, I may not have anymore incentive to get Combat 3.  I probably will get Combat 2 for Helmsmanship 2 and few other combat skills I like to get.  I probably will get Surveying 1 so I can colonize some planets.  If Decivilized will add to hazard rating, I will need Surveying if I find a choice Terran planet with ruins or lots of resources (because they tend to have Decivilized), or if I need to survey a faction planet after I sat bomb it to the ground before I can take it over.

Also, since we will need to pay salaries, having a smaller overhead may be more of an advantage than today.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Goumindong on September 11, 2018, 09:26:55 AM
The difference between a skilled and unskilled flag ship, especially an SO high tech murder machine, is night and day. I can’t quite solo lategame bounties with an aurora but that is only because I get lazy and don’t get enough backing fleets to modify the enemies maximum command points down and so end up having them all onscreen at once


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 11, 2018, 02:29:49 PM
Assuming skill difference between skilled and unskilled meant all pilot-only skills, not a mix of pilot-only and fleetwide, I cannot agree with that for most ships, especially if some critical perks like Loadout Design 3 are passed over in favor of more pilot-only skills.  The only flagships I see helped much are carriers, and the enabling perk, Helmsmanship 3, will not work for them anymore in 0.9.  For nearly everyone else, the difference seems more like noon and afternoon.  Night and day would be closer to pre-0.8 performance.  I do not deny skills help, just not enough to be worth it over more powerful skills like those that boost the whole fleet, including your ship. 

Maybe SO Aurora is one of the lucky ships that is helped much, like carriers are.  Other warships I have tried with all pilot-only skills, such as Eagle or other Mario/Jack ships merely punch above their weight by one (or maybe two at best) class, not solo fleets like a death machine as in pre-0.8.  This means smaller ship fighting unskilled enemy capital is still either a challenging or difficult fight, not a speed bump.

P.S.  Back in early 0.7 era, when Aurora had large missile mount, it was powerful enough with max skills to nearly solo the simulator.  Nearly because Paragon (even without Advanced Targeting Core) was nearly unbeatable for Aurora.  Aurora could kill everyone else, except Paragon with only a minute or so left before CR decays to malfunction level.  Dominator was barely powerful enough to solo the simulator.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: TaLaR on September 11, 2018, 02:45:06 PM
The difference between a skilled and unskilled flag ship, especially an SO high tech murder machine, is night and day. I can’t quite solo lategame bounties with an aurora but that is only because I get lazy and don’t get enough backing fleets to modify the enemies maximum command points down and so end up having them all onscreen at once

Is it really solo if you have to bring huge fleet (rather than just few chain-flagships + cargo/tankers)? You are still paying full fuel and over-time supply costs.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: lethargie on September 11, 2018, 02:46:47 PM
hum, hello? I started the game a couple of weeks ago and I have been putting off contributing on the forum since i didn't know where to start.
I have been playing pretty intensely, with mods and without them. Killed several [REDACTED] big base and other stuff added by mod. About 6 or 7 full play-through I'd say. I love the game.

I just wanted to say that the ability system is really not bad for combat. The only Abilities I never skip is loadout design 3, the one that make sustained burn have +5 and electronic warfare 1. I like combat abilities more than fleet abilities because while theoretically my captain should be as good as me, in practice they never do what I would with the ship I give them. I don't like fighter though, so while i did a full fighter play with all abilities I find skipping on all related skill not to be a big loss. (A couple fighter is usefull, but I don't find them really good unless all my fleet is carrier, and even then I don't feel its much stronger than dedicated combat ship)

With a dedicated combat loadout, I can take the onslaught and pretty much take the brunt of everything the enemy throw at me while my fleet clean the side. Without those my armor is way too flimsy and I cant do much. You really have to be flying capitals to get the best bang for your buck. I even flew a shield bypass Onslaught to kill a battle-station once. It actually worked pretty well. My fleet is usually cruiser and capital heavy, so having only 4 or 6 captain seems fine. In fact only one point in leadership is usually what i do, for the 2 more captain and the free +10% speed. Helmsmanship 3 is really useful on capitals as you can shoot long range gun while keeping the speed bonus.

Mod do help a lot the feeling of dedicated combat, more guns and more ship gives more occasions to shine.

It does feel miserable to take surveying and salvaging skills, the fun is in battle, not making money. And by the end of a game, these skills feel like dead-weight.

I did increase the max lvl for me, mostly so I could have some QoL goal while playing longer.


Anyway, that was my first post so w/e but I think the skills are really not bad even if improvement could be made.



Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Megas on September 11, 2018, 02:54:50 PM
@ lethargie: If you increase max level, you have more skill points and you can probably afford a few skills on the side beyond the skills a max level NPC is expected to have.  Loadout Design 3 is huge, powerful enough to sack one or two pilot-only skills.  Many ships are OP hungry and need Loadout Design 3 to afford more than a basic, no-frills loadout (and few ships cannot even afford that).

It appears you play with other mods.  There is no shield bypass mod in the standard game, although that would be nice for the likes of Onslaught, especially if it increases speed (since Makeshift Shield lowers speed now).

For 0.9, Alex posted he raised the cap to 50, no doubt due to additional skills for colony management.  At least this mostly offsets the dead aptitude problem.

Is it really solo if you have to bring huge fleet (rather than just few chain-flagships + cargo/tankers)? You are still paying full fuel and over-time supply costs.
Depends what he brought a fleet for.  In 0.7.2, I brought a fleet as a toolbox and had officers as bench warmers.  I will not deploy Paragon against a fleet that my Eagle or Medusa could solo.  Paragon was to solo greater-than-simulator sized battles.

That said, I agree bringing a fleet of 1UPs to chain-flagship is not really soloing.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: lethargie on September 11, 2018, 03:26:40 PM
I might have badly explained myself, I did both modless and mod play-throught and all observation are made with the 40 skillcap.

I do increase the skillcap now, mostly because it give me something to do once I maxed. I also observed that mod improves the experience somewhat.

But honestly, a full modless combat invested playthrough (no fighter) is superfun and I never thought to myself "i should have taken some other fleetwide boost". That was my second playthrough actually

The only exception being loadout design 3 (for obvious reason), the sustained burn speed +5 (otherwise i find my fleet unbearably slow) and electronic warfare 1.

Shield bypass come from SWP, it remove shield and improve flux dissipation by about 300 on the onslaught


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Goumindong on September 11, 2018, 10:53:47 PM
The difference between a skilled and unskilled flag ship, especially an SO high tech murder machine, is night and day. I can’t quite solo lategame bounties with an aurora but that is only because I get lazy and don’t get enough backing fleets to modify the enemies maximum command points down and so end up having them all onscreen at once

Is it really solo if you have to bring huge fleet (rather than just few chain-flagships + cargo/tankers)? You are still paying full fuel and over-time supply costs.

I mean... maybe not technically but i still have 4 officers base and i don't see why you "must" be solo if you have a primarily combat skill focus.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: TaLaR on September 12, 2018, 04:15:50 AM
The difference between a skilled and unskilled flag ship, especially an SO high tech murder machine, is night and day. I can’t quite solo lategame bounties with an aurora but that is only because I get lazy and don’t get enough backing fleets to modify the enemies maximum command points down and so end up having them all onscreen at once

Is it really solo if you have to bring huge fleet (rather than just few chain-flagships + cargo/tankers)? You are still paying full fuel and over-time supply costs.

I mean... maybe not technically but i still have 4 officers base and i don't see why you "must" be solo if you have a primarily combat skill focus.

There doesn't seem to be much point to not deploying these officers, since you are paying most maintenance costs anyway (which must be quite high to skew deployment point distribution in your favor).


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Goumindong on September 12, 2018, 12:46:58 PM
Yeah, my point was that just because I primarily went with combat skills doesn’t mean I have to avoid using the rest of my fleet.

I am trying something different this time as well. A mix of combat, tech (mainly because I don’t need all the points and OP/tracking is nice) and industry. My officers may get nice ships but the rest of the fleet is going to be clunkers on top of the “deployment reduction applies to maintenance” skill. That allows me to have a huge backing fleet without paying huge backing fleet maintenance. (Also looking to pick up ships with high DP/fuel ratios)

I have been mainly salvaging and am now lvl 20 (I can’t deal with many bounties but this is mainly a factor of not having any heavy blasters drop and I haven’t found an Eagle to make things work either. Had to take a tri-tach commission to have a chance at getting HBs, a single Medusa sporting phase lances does not cut it for taking down Mora based bounties).

So as soon as I am friendly I can spend my 1.3 Million credit warchest. (Goes up fast when you only spend 12 supplies per deployment)


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: TaLaR on September 12, 2018, 02:00:28 PM
rest of the fleet is going to be clunkers on top of the “deployment reduction applies to maintenance” skill. That allows me to have a huge backing fleet without paying huge backing fleet maintenance. (Also looking to pick up ships with high DP/fuel ratios)

Interesting approach, but wouldn't pristine ships work not any worse here? If I understand correctly deployment cost reduction also reduces their contribution to battlesize distribution. Either way you pay for example 10 supplies/month for 10 supplies worth of DP. And there is no fuel cost reduction for clunkers, so DP/fuel-wise you are actually inefficient.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Thaago on September 12, 2018, 05:45:41 PM
@lethargie

I agree completely - a combat based gunship playthrough really fun, easy, and gives you a fleet capable of tackling any challenge in the game without large problems.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Goumindong on September 12, 2018, 06:42:31 PM
rest of the fleet is going to be clunkers on top of the “deployment reduction applies to maintenance” skill. That allows me to have a huge backing fleet without paying huge backing fleet maintenance. (Also looking to pick up ships with high DP/fuel ratios)

Interesting approach, but wouldn't pristine ships work not any worse here? If I understand correctly deployment cost reduction also reduces their contribution to battlesize distribution. Either way you pay for example 10 supplies/month for 10 supplies worth of DP. And there is no fuel cost reduction for clunkers, so DP/fuel-wise you are actually inefficient.


Deployment cost reduction does not reduce their contribution to battle size. All it does is reduce the amount of CR that you lose each battle. But if you check the values for "how much DP do i have left" it goes down the normal amount for the normal ship size. That makes sense from a design perspective (battle size is more about saving your CPU/GPU than it is about making fights even) even if it doesn't feel great from a player perspective. But at the same time if deployment cost actually reduced contribution to battle size then D-mod'd ships would be strictly better than non. Since you could get 2x the ship for about 90% of the ship quality. I once had that notion and then was like "I am going to rule with my clunker army" and then found out that I didn't have a deployment advantage

Edit: So you end up paying about 50% of the maintenance cost for DP. If you couple that with high DP/Fuel ships you're doing pretty well.

Edit: My ideal backing fleet is like... 10 hella busted Doom's. You can get to almost -70% reduction in maintenance due to damage so this will cost 30 fuel/ly... and have a deployment value of 350... and use 105 Supplies


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: TaLaR on September 13, 2018, 03:01:17 AM
Deployment cost reduction does not reduce their contribution to battle size.

I see, didn't know.

My ideal backing fleet is like... 10 hella busted Doom's. You can get to almost -70% reduction in maintenance due to damage so this will cost 30 fuel/ly... and have a deployment value of 350... and use 105 Supplies

30 fuel is enough for a capital-led fleet of decent size though. Considering that Aurora alone is only 3, that's serious amount of overhead.
Well, as long as it works for you.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Goumindong on September 13, 2018, 05:33:34 AM
It worked ok? Not great. It is hard to find enough high quality wrecks to make it work. Having fuel was never the issue even when I had relatively huge fleets because a red beacon fills you up anyway.

The main problem was finding high quality wrecks. You end up buying most of your ships anyway because the rate at which you can acquire good wrecks is super low even with skills.

But in terms of kill power I had no problem taking out high level bounties. I wasn’t big enough to deal with a redacted redacted though... I could barely even deploy one ship let alone me and my four officers.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Lucax on September 17, 2018, 12:50:46 PM
My opinion since officers exist is we need officers with (boring) fleetwide skills so we can afford the (fun) combat skills.

In a similar way, we need to have a combat skill that buffs (fun) frigates, or at least anything smaller than a cruiser, so we can leave the (boring) capital carriers of slow but certain Doom to the AI without feeling penalized for it.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: lethargie on September 19, 2018, 01:58:03 PM
Fighting with capital can be a lot of fun, you need to plan where you will be, you need to selectively activate your weapon, you need to decide when to put shield on or off. If you can multitask you can even engage 2 target at the same time. For me frigate are pretty boring, as there's not much to do: find an angle, go in, go out, vent and repeat.

There's no way to keep the game balanced and to make a single frigate influence the battle as much as a capital anyway. You can get 6-8 frigates for the battle point cost of an onslaught.

Investing in combat stats have some really good boost that influence frigate (the flat armor and percentage based speed boost are probly better on frigate actually). On some fight I'd deploy mostly capitals and cruiser and personally pilot a frigate/destroyer to hunt early enemy frigates, then I'd order it to retreat and switch to the bigger target.

As I've said before, pretty much all of the leadership skills can be skipped, or kept at 1. Industry skills can be skipped entirely. This allow you to max a lot of combat and technology skills.
Spend 3 points to get 6 officers, +!0% speed bonus on all ship,
Spend 6 point to max combat and technology
Spend 7 point to get loadout design, electronic warfare 1 and sustained burn+5


That leaves you with 27 points to spend in combat and technology as you want. This is 9 maxed skills, compared to the seven your officers get. For 6 point you can get the lvl 3 fleetwide fighter skills and 2 more officers, leaving you with 7 maxed "combat skills" just as an officer.

Now why would you try to get more combat skills than an officer rather than going for fleetwide skills? Because you can pilot your ship a lot better, you are where you are needed when you are needed. You can solo gigantic fleet with only a Paragon, an Aurora and some support cruiser/carrier. You don't need the additional CR because you can plow through the enemy, retreat and clean the riff raff with fast ship in big engagement. Honestly, CR is only a problem in the early game, when you don't have much ship and in the endgame when you fight fleet that are several time the size of your own. And the latter can be ignored if you cycle your ships.

The real problem is industry skills, they are generally very useless unless maxed, and even then are mostly equivalent to having more money.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Lucax on September 19, 2018, 03:17:10 PM
I don't know, frigates are pretty fun to me, especially when you start picking up speed and maneuvering skills. Then you can dodge plasma cannon shots and feel like a god on a bike. This is the gameplay I always go for now, when I mod the game for myself.

When I started playing, I was all about getting the biggest, strongest beast to steamroll opposition with. Then after a while, I learned to pilot a bit better and dodge important shots, and the Hyperion became my favorite ship. This was before skills, officers and CR existed, there was no downside to it, just let the AI do exactly what you've been doing, give them orders once in a while to position them correctly, while you flank and distract their ships. Now it's terribly frustrating and ineffective as a player ship, since you want to stack combat skills on an already powerful ship. You just need the advantage, otherwise you'll just gimp your fleet and get shredded by enemy officers.

Which is why I like the Extra System mod. It's not perfect, but it allows me to have fun with combat in the endgame, unlike vanilla.

I've already made a topic about fleet wide skills officers, but basically, I think this game should take the Mount & Blade approach eventually.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: lethargie on September 21, 2018, 03:01:33 PM
Mount and blade was pretty fun, but if I remember well, the skill system made it so the best and most efficient way to build you char was to pump all the army-wide skills at the expense of those combat related.
It was a combination of leader-only skill (like leadership) and the fact your follower could boost your own skill if they had it too. So that doesn't look like what you would like.

Frigate flying does seem like missing out a lot of power for those that enjoy it (even if I dont). However I do not think it is ability related. Even if you had more combat skills, they would "feel" more useful on the big ship rather than the small ship. Changing the way abilities function does nothing to alleviate the problem you have. In fact you would have the same problem on a game where there is absolutely no ability.

What could help you would be a faster "transfer command option" so you could more easily switch between your deployed frigate/destroyer and your cruiser/capitals. That way you could play with the faster ship more often while your capitals are moving from one place to another. Of course, I don't know how much that could help you. Maybe you could look at mod who makes more ships like the aurora, a decent compromise between the speed of the smaller ships and the concentrated power of a bigger/slower one.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: TaLaR on September 21, 2018, 04:58:36 PM
Mount and blade was pretty fun, but if I remember well, the skill system made it so the best and most efficient way to build you char was to pump all the army-wide skills at the expense of those combat related.
It was a combination of leader-only skill (like leadership) and the fact your follower could boost your own skill if they had it too. So that doesn't look like what you would like.

Yeah, don't know about that. Killing 100+ enemies as solo horse archer was also possible. Bow + 3 quivers + more quivers in item box and enough riding skill to make armored horse fast (unarmored is likely to get shot eventually). Main problem was remembering where the god damn box is (since there is no minimap or anything like that)...


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: Lucax on September 22, 2018, 02:32:56 PM
Adding a skill that buffs small ships wouldn't do much by itself. I see value in it for RPing, and it would be a step in the right direction, but things would be seriously imbalanced if you could bring a frigate to the power of a capital simply through skills.

What the mod I mentioned does is add the possibility to upgrade a ship. Again, it's not perfect but it has the potential to really change the impact of a frigate and make it worthwhile to pilot. The biggest flaw is it doesn't increase the deployment cost or anything like that, only the upgrade itself has a cost. When I mod a frigate I give it the maintenance cost of a typical cruiser, so the battles scale properly. But this is not what this thread is about.

In m&b, you have to take a few charisma skills to make your army bigger, but the rest of the skills can be taken by companions. If you don't invest in intelligence, you'll have plenty of points to spend in combat skills, without gimping your army, because companions. Plus there is no level cap, but leveling takes much longer than in Starsector. The result is balanced, with the exception of the bow + riding combo of course, it's unbalanced no matter your skill build.

On the other hand, a skill maxed out at 10 on the player character gives a +4 bonus so it's actually 14, which is a huge deal and is why army-wide skills are a very viable option on the pc. In Starsector this could work as additional perks on fleet wide skills that only the player could unlock.


Title: Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
Post by: TaLaR on September 22, 2018, 03:10:24 PM
Adding a skill that buffs small ships wouldn't do much by itself. I see value in it for RPing, and it would be a step in the right direction, but things would be seriously imbalanced if you could bring a frigate to the power of a capital simply through skills.

Afflictor can already delete any Capital in matter of seconds with 4x Reapers + extended missile racks, without needing any special skills to do so (removing Quantum Disruptor from Afflictor in next release won't stop this, though landing Reapers will become much harder). Then you just swap to other ship and retreat the empty Afflictor (there is no penalty for this, so why not?).
Hyperion/Shade or AM-based Afflictor with just 1-2 Reapers can defeat any Capital too, though it's not as easy or fast. Landing Reapers from Hyperion against omni-shields is especially tricky part.