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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Blog post: Painting the Stars (02/07/20)

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Messages - xenoargh

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1
Wow, the rx5700 is really problematic, driver-wise, thus far.  Not just Linux; several games on Steam mention pretty severe issues / crashes.  Looks like AMD will need to patch those drivers asap.

2
Suggestions / Re: Ambush Bickering
« on: February 12, 2020, 03:38:30 AM »
Quote
How are you supposed to perform or get ambushed on the strategic layer? The distance between fleets on the map represents several hours or even days of burn travel. It doesn't make sense for an ambushing action to happen in open space.

If the ambushing setup is something like "hide inside an asteroid field and wait for prey", how is the player meant to ever accomplish such a maneuver?
A couple of ideas:

1.  Make it a Skill:  Prepare Ambush
Acts like Going Dark, but even better, but:
A.  Your movement speed is basically zero.
B.  You get bonuses to hiding if in an asteroid belt, Hyperspace cloud, etc.
C.  When in Ambush Mode, you can intercept nearby fleets with a much wider radius than usual, simulating how you'd "leap out of hiding".  Should probably cost a little bit of Fuel and CR.  Radius would have to be drawn.

Give said skill to the AI.  Now Pirates, instead of chasing people, go to good ambush spots and hide.  More realistic and much more interesting.

2.  Make it a contextual thing.  We have the ability to interact with practically any TokenAPI objects.  Why not give a special dialogue / option for good hiding spots?  This is a bit of an issue to do with AI, as it would be a whole new subsystem for them and the player that didn't interact.

3.  Another Skill idea:  "ECM Dump".  Primary usage:  rapidly conceals player from view from anything in between an area (where said ECM is deployed by drones or whatever) and other fleets.  Stays in place for a few hours.  Does not block all view of the player, just LOS.
If player is in the ECM and a fleet enters, player can engage in an ambush.
Give same Skill to AI; let them use it when player is attempting to chase their fleets down and has a higher speed.  Lets AI use Ambush tactical choice to, perhaps, damage player's logistics badly-enough to stop pursuit.


Other thoughts:  In general, the game needs ways for Pirates, especially, to hide and surprise the player.  I'm much less concerned with making these Skills wonderful for the player, but giving players additional tools (and in this case, things to give the game another distinct playstyle, as well as enhancing smuggler builds, traders trying to avoid trouble, etc. is just icing on the cake).  As it is, Going Dark is useful for avoidance of enemies, but has practically zero use as an offensive ability; this would add offensive layers to "being hidden" as well as defensive benefits (ambushers get the choice of what type of engagement to do).

3
3.0.0-alpha-7

  - Implement customize json object output order. The objects in ship/variant/weapon files now list in more human-readable orders.
Oh, thank you very much!  I look forward to testing this when I get the chance.

4
Suggestions / Re: Ambush Bickering
« on: February 11, 2020, 03:27:15 AM »
Quote
What purpose would ambush mechanic serve other than frustrating the player with constant ambushes?
It'd add real risk to Travel (which is one of the major problems with the game design, as things stand).  Small fleets of fast-movers might have a point against your lumbering all-capship fleet; if you don't have escorts, you could lose your logistics ships.  Sure, most players in regular mode will F9, but for players in Iron Mode, it'll be a really meaningful mechanic and change play style, and not in a bad way.

Quote
AI logistics ships are just for show, destroying them gains you nothing
This has always bothered me.  We destroy fleets of transports and fuel tankers; we cannot get them to surrender and we cannot get the goods they were hauling in reasonable amounts.  This is just one of those areas of the game that should get polished up at some point.  I get that it's not a high priority item vs. the big stuff Alex is working on now, but surrendering should definitely be a thing.

5
Discussions / Re: this game has ruined mechwarrior for me
« on: February 11, 2020, 03:13:46 AM »
I still occasionally fire up Wolfman-X's version of MechCommander 2, which I contributed a little source to at one point. 

I think MechCommander 2 is kind of... meh code under the hood (if you weren't aware, the source for it is available for free) and relies on a magical 32-bit DLL that no source is available for (heck, the company that made it is long-dead as well, so probably nobody on Earth has the source).  I at one point looked at the 32-bit-to-64-bit wrappers for that problem, as one of the biggest problems with MW2 is that it's shockingly memory-starved, but frankly, it looked like too much work for something I would just give away, lol.

6
Suggestions / Re: Ambush Bickering
« on: February 08, 2020, 01:38:16 AM »
There are a bunch of problems comparing this to Real Life, and I've asked for more mechanics that force players to risk Logistics vessels for years now.

Let's start off with Real Life vs. Starsector.

1.  In Real Life, nobody uses battleships any more.   Even cruisers are basically larger frigates with more ordinance and ECM / ECW.

2.  In Real Life, battleships are faster on the open seas than frigates (unlike the silly movie / video game tropes), unless the distance is short and the weather's amazing.  Yup, faster.  Why?  Deeper hulls and more sustained power on their engines.  A battleship isn't very manueverable, but in a long race, it wins.  This wasn't an accident; nations spent the equivalent of billions of today's dollars making them faster and faster, because battleships were strategic weapon systems, not merely tactical; they inspired fear and dread because of how quickly they might show up somewhere you weren't expecting, and could withdraw to the open sea at will.  This was even largely true in the age of sail, although for short distances, they were outpaced by rowed boats (yes, they had rowed warships even relatively late, armed with really big bow guns).

3.  In Real Life, the only major engagements between large fleets were the result of both sides deciding to converge on a point of strategic value.  Otherwise... the ocean is vast, and back before constant realtime satellite observation was a thing, fleets met only when both sides wanted them to meet.

4.  In Real Life, battleships were the long-range fighters, protected by frigates from torpedo boats and later on, submarines, and nowadays, long-range missiles launched from boats and aircraft.  In WWII, this turned out to be irrelevant, because aircraft could reliably attack battleships anyhow.  So by the end of the war, nobody was using battleships for much and carriers had become the center of fleets.  Thus it remains to the modern day, with various caveats.  One modern attack submarine is far more dangerous than WWII subs were, and tactical nuclear warheads on cruise missiles or long-range anti-ship missiles make the true value of carrier groups against an opponent willing to use them a little dubious. 

5.  In Real Life, aircraft carriers have more long-range firepower than any battleship could, with strike radii of hundreds of miles.  So there really aren't any battleships that can go kill a carrier at all IRL; there is no armor thick enough to stop anti-ship missiles.

So, basically, Real Life is totally not what Starsector is about.  Starsector is a fun game about building space fleets and bashing them on other space fleets, with RPG / strategic aspects on top of that.  So there are absolutely no "realistic" reasons why we can't have Space Ambushes. 

If we need in-fluff excuses, fine:

1.  Smaller ships are faster, because this is space and they're moving less mass with their magic space-engines or something.
2.  "Ambushes" consist of said faster ships getting in front of your slower fleet and dumping out Space Chaff, or something, throwing all your high-tech systems into disarray (which leads to "give players a Space Chaff ability that they can use themselves", which is actually interesting.
3.  Once said Space Chaff's deployed, the enemy can concentrate on the slowest-moving ships in the fleet, the transports, forcing their tugs (if any) to run away.
4.  If we need more excuses, please let me know; everything from having ambushes in debris-filled space, near a convenient large asteroid the enemy hid behind, etc., etc., but some of them would be hard to pull off in the SS engine without major changes to the AI (like, it would need to be able to pathfind, which is totally doable but mildly un-fun to write; I'm tempted to port my node-based pathfinder over to try it some time, though, when SS finally goes Beta).

Basically, coming up with fluffy excuses isn't a big deal.  Ambushes that force the player to do something different would be fun.  Not having the battleships available for a while would be fun.  So why isn't this a feature?

Let's see what might go wrong:

1.  Players would hate not being able to just use battleships in every fight.  Nah.  I think most players would appreciate more layers to gameplay.
2.  Players would hate having some random stuff happen to battle conditions.  Nah.  I think that's a lot of the fun of the game, frankly; when it's same ol' same ol', it gets stale.
3.  Whiny people would complain about Realism.  Go read the first things I said.  SS isn't real.  It's not a "representation of WWII naval combat" in any but the vaguest sense.  And that's good.
4.  People would hate losing logistics ships, because they're so weak.  Meh.  Make them more combat-worthy, then.  Not a big deal.  It'd feel like Mad Max: Fury Road; your armed-to-the-teeth Space Tanker trying to survive waves of fast-movers while you sweat out rushing in with your destroyer pack to save the day.  That sounds like Fun.

7
Suggestions / Re: Ambush Bickering
« on: February 08, 2020, 01:30:22 AM »
There are a bunch of problems comparing this to Real Life, and I've asked for more mechanics that force players to risk Logistics vessels for years now.

Let's start off with Real Life vs. Starsector.

1.  In Real Life, nobody uses battleships any more.   Even cruisers are basically larger frigates with more ordinance and ECM / ECW.

2.  In Real Life, battleships are faster on the open seas than frigates (unlike the silly movie / video game tropes), unless the distance is short and the weather's amazing.  Yup, faster.  Why?  Deeper hulls and more sustained power on their engines.  A battleship wasn't very manueverable, but in a race, it won.

3.  In Real Life, the only major engagements between large fleets were the result of both sides deciding to converge on a point of strategic value.  Otherwise... the ocean is vast, and back before constant realtime satellite observation was a thing, fleets met only when both sides wanted them to meet.

4.  In Real Life, battleships were the long-range fighters, protected by frigates from torpedo boats and later on, submarines, and nowadays, long-range missiles launched from boats and aircraft.  In WWII, this turned out to be irrelevant, because aircraft could reliably attack battleships anyhow.  So by the end of the war, nobody was using battleships for much and carriers had become the center of fleets.  Thus it remains to the modern day, with various caveats.  One modern attack submarine is far more dangerous than WWII subs were, and tactical nuclear warheads on cruise missiles or long-range anti-ship missiles make the true value of carrier groups against an opponent willing to use them a little dubious. 

5.  In Real Life, aircraft carriers have more long-range firepower than any battleship could, with strike radii of hundreds of miles.  So there really aren't any battleships that can go kill a carrier at all IRL; there is no armor thick enough to stop anti-ship missiles.

So, basically, Real Life is totally not what Starsector is about.  Starsector is a fun game about building space fleets and bashing them on other space fleets, with RPG / strategic aspects on top of that.  So there are absolutely no "realistic" reasons why we can't have Space Ambushes. 

If we need in-fluff excuses, fine:

1.  Smaller ships are faster, because this is space and they're moving less mass with their magic space-engines or something.
2.  "Ambushes" consist of said faster ships getting in front of your slower fleet and dumping out Space Chaff, or something, throwing all your high-tech systems into disarray (which leads to "give players a Space Chaff ability that they can use themselves", which is actually interesting.
3.  Once said Space Chaff's deployed, the enemy can concentrate on the slowest-moving ships in the fleet, the transports, forcing their tugs (if any) to run away.
4.  If we need more excuses, please let me know; everything from having ambushes in debris-filled space, near a convenient large asteroid the enemy hid behind, etc., etc., but some of them would be hard to pull off in the SS engine without major changes to the AI (like, it would need to be able to pathfind, which is totally doable but mildly un-fun to write; I'm tempted to port my node-based pathfinder over to try it some time, though, when SS finally goes Beta).

Basically, coming up with fluffy excuses isn't a big deal.  Ambushes that force the player to do something different would be fun.  Not having the battleships available for a while would be fun.  So why isn't this a feature?

Let's see what might go wrong:

1.  Players would hate not being able to just use battleships in every fight.  Nah.  I think most players would appreciate more layers to gameplay.
2.  Players would hate having some random stuff happen to battle conditions.  Nah.  I think that's a lot of the fun of the game, frankly; when it's same ol' same ol', it gets stale.
3.  Whiny people would complain about Realism.  Go read the first things I said.  SS isn't real.  It's not a "representation of WWII naval combat" in any but the vaguest sense.  And that's good.
4.  People would hate losing logistics ships, because they're so weak.  Meh.  Make them more combat-worthy, then.  Not a big deal.  It'd feel like Mad Max: Fury Road; your armed-to-the-teeth Space Tanker trying to survive waves of fast-movers while you sweat out rushing in with your destroyer pack to save the day.  That sounds like Fun.

8
Modding / Re: Question about formations
« on: February 01, 2020, 04:20:56 PM »
I'd love to add that functionality to my AI, but I don't have time right now. 

It's something that would require work on an AI's steering function; it's not possible to make the Vanilla AI do it with any reliability by just feeding it some coordinates it's supposed to move through via Orders.  It'd also take a fair bit of doing, because of the way that Orders are implemented.

9
Suggestions / Re: More ballistic anti fighter options
« on: February 01, 2020, 11:42:54 AM »
I put a specific anti-fighter missile into Rebal, because I actually agree with the OP; there aren't really good choices available that wouldn't become seriously overpowered if they were made better vs. fighters.  The missile has a moderate range, high speed and tracking and a fairly decent reload.  It's junk vs. anything with real armor, but it's great against fighters.  I think that's a niche that could be filled.

10
Suggestions / Re: New player feedback
« on: January 28, 2020, 10:35:02 AM »
Vanilla.

11
Modding / Re: [0.9.1a] Captain Trek's Guide to the Modiverse
« on: January 28, 2020, 10:30:44 AM »
For people with potato computers struggling with Vanilla, I humbly suggest that they try my mod out.  Multithreaded, multiprocessed AIs and FX mean that the game runs considerably smoother on many rigs.

12
Discussions / Re: Starsector fleet battle in 3D
« on: January 28, 2020, 10:19:16 AM »
<inserts call for Bee Gun>

<realizes poster won't get the meme>

</thread>

13
Suggestions / Re: Tariff mechanic discussion
« on: January 27, 2020, 08:59:52 PM »
OK, let's back up a minute and think here.

1.  If above-board, legal trading is unprofitable period, why is it in this game?  I mean seriously, this is not just a Newbie Trap, it's just a waste of time and CPU.

2.  The fluff doesn't make sense and neither do the tariffs.  This is a world where everybody's some flavor of Mercantilist, but nobody's smart enough to form a cartel, let alone let the player sit at the table?

3.  It makes even less sense when we're looking at the Pirates and Ludd.  Pirates shouldn't have "black markets"; they should probably have port fees at most.  I mean, the fluff says they're desperate and the game says their Markets need everything under the sun.  They don't make sense.

4.  Ludd shouldn't have "black markets" either; maybe a "terrorist tax" might be more appropriate.  But historically most terrorists are basically organized criminals with political goals; also historically most terrorists look the other way, in terms of their stated ideals, if they need money for the Cause.  It's hard to see why Ludd should behave differently; they aren't the Knights, they're the radicals.

5.  Trade routes aren't inherently "boring".  "Boring" is when you just circle a huge fleet from point to point, taking hours to do so while your eyes glaze over, and then, after hours of circles, you're rich, because the game mechanics allow that.  That's not the fault of tariffs or trade systems; it's that nothing interesting or remotely dangerous happens if you build a big enough trading fleet.  This seems like a fixable problem.   For example, make your fleet more and more attractive to Pirates based on the value of the cargo you're carrying and the ratio of civilian ships vs. military ships.



To put it another way... Freelancer had totally fixed trade routes.  But the Cardamine Run was actually quite fun, because you were practically guaranteed to get jumped by something scary and have to fight your way out. 

The problem this game has with making trading (and to an extent, travel in general) interesting is that, once you get past early midgame, practically nobody will try to jump your fleet, period, and anybody who might do so cannot catch you.  I've been saying this for years now, lol.

14
Suggestions / Re: New player feedback
« on: January 27, 2020, 11:57:12 AM »
Hmm.

I don't see these as problems with Capitals per se; they should be very powerful by lategame.  The issues here are mainly cost-effectiveness.

Hard Fleet Cap means we want to stick the maximum power into our fleets.  That's going away, kind of, but how it's set up matters quite a lot.

Deployment Points for Capitals may be really off; it really shouldn't be possible to deploy 7 Capitals in a battle at once vs. AI forces that aren't decidedly superior in numbers.  It shouldn't be practical for players to build entirely Capital-centered deathballs. 

We have a lot of whacky stuff in the numbers for Deployment Cost that are probably behind this; I'd started initial work on balancing ships for DP (like my previous work on balancing vs. OP) but it's hard going and you can only ever get approximates because of the weird factors (ship size, Systems, the effects of Officers, etc.).  Essentially, my initial work indicated that the power curve for this stuff meant that DPs for Cruisers+ go up quite a lot, if (and only if) Cruisers / Capitals are also well-balanced in terms of what they deliver in combat (in short, weak "capitals" should actually cost fewer DPs in some cases, because they're just big targets, among other things).

15
Modding Resources / Re: [0.9.1a] SafariJohn's Rules Tool (v2.1.1)
« on: January 27, 2020, 01:30:13 AM »
I've finally gotten around to this.  Sorry, I've been busy.

It's still throwing a Java Exception on startup, unfortunately.  Where is the log printed to?  I don't see one in the application's directory.

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