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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 - Morrokain

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Yeah , sorry .

Archean Order is it .

Oh you're fine, I was just clarifying because it was asked.

AO? Automatic Orders? Because nothing else comes to mind that has those letters...

Archean Order I believe. Working on that, btw (mod compatibility). It's just going to take some time.

Suggestions / Re: Making the Hyperion Useful
« on: February 23, 2020, 02:24:00 PM »
I'm just gonna repeat what I said from a recent almost exact Hyperion thread. Its system needs to go, it's way too strong with 0 counterplay, there's no way it could ever work with the ship actually being viable. And with AI, it's either gonna be completely *** useless or the most annoying thing in the whole game, there's no in between. And while some say that's fair for an exotic ship to be only good in player hands, I strongly disagree, we already have too much ships that are ''only decent when a human is behind the wheel''. As noted above, you only have one human spot.

Just a thought: One thing I've noticed that you can do to balance out the power of its system a bit is to add a charge up to the jump. Something like 1.5 seconds creates a window of vulnerability so that there is counterplay options when fighting it and it can't instantly retreat- which is what I think a large part of the problem revolves around. Mobility and ambush capability are good. Invulnerability is not.

Without a couple adjustments to the way the AI decides to use the system (don't use it if you can be fired upon and are unwilling to tank the shots on the armor- retreat to safety the old fashioned way instead), it may hurt its performance in AI hands, I'm not 100% sure. It would certainly curb the annoying encounter of fighting one though and could likely result in a substantial deployment cost decrease.

I believe Alex is working on that for the next update, but you can also go to:

Fractal Softworks\Starsector\mods\Archean Order TC v1.3.4f\data\world\factions

The faction files there have a numShips entry that can be from 1 to 5 I think. So you can mess with that and see what effect it has.

thanks! do you know if there is a setting for this in other factions/ the starsector core files?
i havent looked anywhere yet im replying before i do. thanks again!
as it turns out, theres not much to be done about this, considering the variety in scale of fleets based on the size of the market, among other factors, spawning said fleet.
it really is a moot point though as the upgrade parts for my pc (so that i dont bottleneck my graphics card so heavy, i actually took it off because its a waste of power until i get my new motherboard) will be here the 27th or 28th
still cool to know i can modify this factor some.

No problem! In case you don't already know this, you can also adjust battlesize to be lower and that may help with performance. I believe the minimum is pretty low in this mod, but you can adjust it further if needed by editing the settings file at: Fractal Softworks\Starsector\mods\Archean Order TC v1.3.4e\data\config

As far as reasons for raiding, the AC raids pretty much all colonies for people more than food (their bosses, at least, are mostly vampires) because people are food to them at best, or an utterly dispensable commodity at worst.

I assume you mean like The Family from Fallout 3?

I didn't play much Fallout 3, but I looked it up. From reading about The Family on the Vault wiki, no not quite.

I don't want to spoil too much, so some spoilers ahead for those waiting on the story to be released:

They aren't cannibals masquerading as vampires- they are the very literal definition of a vampire- with all the perks: enhanced strength, night vision, mesmerizing capabilities, and for the strongest of them even shape-shifting. To make matters worse, they carry few of the downsides from vampiric lore. For instance, they don't like the light from a yellow star- but it doesn't kill them- it's just distasteful. They don't need a bed of dirt to sleep in (they don't sleep), don't fear any symbols, etc. They are very, very scary beings that scarcely even age.

Their bite causes a viral infection that decays the body and mind to a frenzied, violent and hunger-ridden state if one does not get the antidote in time. If one is fed upon, and then receives a transfusion of the hosts DNA- usually through blood- over a certain period of time, that person will likely bond that DNA to their own- with the infection acting as a catalyst toward breaking down and remaking the victims DNA using the host's structure as a template. As a result, this person begins to exhibit the same traits as the original host. Typically, this results in a slight weakening of the DNA's integrity, and so the source (Head vampire) is the strongest.

Since Starsector is a mostly realistic-esque sci-fi setting, you may now be wondering with a skeptical look upon your face: How the heck is that possible?? Vampires don't actually exist! You would be correct. They didn't exist before, but their legends did:

(This is not from the short, I just wrote this on the fly- just a quick fun exert from an "old forgotten datfile in the Hegemony's archives")

"...And then humanity created technology that could terraform planets, conquer the stars, and edit DNA to a very precise detail. This technology was mostly used to replace vital organs, cure hereditary diseases, and even decrease aging to allow an individual to live for over a hundred years sporting a modestly youthful appearance.

Still, the enterprising titans controlling the industry soon caught on to the idea that such technology could be marketed for targeted mutation of the human genome for enhancement purposes. This particular feature was reserved for only the most well-connected and wealthy clientele. None alive in the sector today know exactly how the first vampire was created (or they aren't talking about it if they do), but historians have determined that this gene-editing technology had to be the method used. Those who believe the rumors anyway. The denials of the High Hegemon administration continue to mask what really happened- and at the dire peril of the whole sector! Only a few mega-corporations had access to the most advanced editing equipment, but most of them have since died off in the scramble for resources when the gates shut down. There is no way to know which one is responsible. A few scholars have made a noteworthy discovery of a very minor correlation between the first documented cases of vampiric-like deaths at various colonies and the collapse of a Hegemony installation in the Psion system many cycles ago.

The navy claims that a technical failure caused the explosion that vaporized the station, but eyewitness traders at the time reported an anomaly- several Onslaught-class battleships entering Psion with a Prometheus-class fuel tanker days before the incident.

Rumors of increasing instability in that system these days have caused a minor panic and they had to send in the Space Marshal to contain the flood of refugees before they overwhelmed nearby markets. They swear its pirates operating from a hidden base nearby since the navy has been absent so long and the Persean League refuses to intervene there, but I know better. What can I do but document this and retire?"

So hardpoints, but not turrets? Or things placed near the front? (Just so I'm clear on what is being modified overall)

Discussions / Re: Gaming's Worst Mechanic
« on: February 22, 2020, 07:45:20 PM »
I definitely agree in regards to your synopsis of the difficulties of genre-mixing. It is certainly tough- but to a veteran gamer like myself it is more valuable than gold!  ;)

What I was speaking to, though, wasn't genre mixing in and of itself- it was more the idea that you must create a unique, visceral experience in a single player game to get players to buy-in to your product in the long term and therefore recommend it to others- whether publicly or personally to friends.

Players who want to "be the best" as an incentive for playing- and therefore are competitive in nature in that sense- do benefit from the strategy game layer or the arcade action combat layer in both cases. Crucially, however, that only truly works in competitive games by their very nature of pitting two (hopefully) equal opponents in an equal contest which ideally results in the better player coming out on top (since design indicates there is a "right way" or "optimal way" to play because learning sheds insight into the complexity of said design). That is more aligned with the goals of chess and- admittedly to a lesser extent though it is my favorite strategy game- starcraft (There are some RNG elements there). In a single player game, the designer has to rely on difficulty adjustments through progression and the AI to fill the shoes of a potential rival player. That is practically impossible, imo.

For a single player game: If you want a broad audience, you must accommodate the strategy game element to a point (in order to make replaying the game more fun), but the inherent appeal of your game under those considerations will never appease the types of gamers that are trying to play the game on a competitive-like level, because they will eternally "beat" your design and demand more challenge. The broader audience wants an experience through having fun while playing and usually digesting- at the very least a setting- and at best a story.

I am ignoring the other category of gamer that has been popularized by the smart phone phenomenon- repetitive "strategy" without a level cap where unique gimmicks are introduced without an apparent overall goal in mind to produce artificial difficulty. I don't buy into that either, to be fair.

*EDIT* *Adjusted for awkward wording or unclear points that didn't have proper clarification*
*EDIT2* typos  ::) sorry!

Suggestions / Re: Unify fleet points and deployment points?
« on: February 22, 2020, 07:00:48 PM »
I definitely agree that ppt needs to be changed to match intended fleet size and battle size, and I don't think that is currently balanced, but the changes to skills and fleet generation could alter all of that on the next patch. I don't mind ppt as a mechanic but I think it should be aimed at limiting cheese and solo strats rather than having a major effect on fleet composition.


Discussions / Re: Gaming's Worst Mechanic
« on: February 22, 2020, 06:48:32 PM »
*sees talk of randomness, swoops in*

I simply must share this blog post which breaks down types of randomness and categorizes how randomness can be used in games.

"The major point I'd like to make is that noise injected between a player's choice and the result (here referred to as output randomness) does not belong in a strategy game."

That's such a good clarification the article opens with. I remember the eternal debate over whether or not TF2 should have random crits (for those not in the know, it's a team-based FPS where one in ___ shots will insta-kill you with no damage fall-off), and this cuts to the quick of the issue so perfectly; the people who wanted crits removed wanted to be playing a strategy game where superior play always leads to victory (a strategy game) to the point that one player of high enough skill can completely close out a game by themselves against the entire enemy team without dying once, whereas the ppl who supported crits (read as: valve) realized that the game being a strategy game is inherently antithetical to the act of being a team game, and that allowing your team to randomly insta-kill an enemy once every minute or so meant that if one enemy is fighting every member of your team and winning nonstop that they will be the one who gets insta-killed and that that uber MLG pro gamer will therefor be incapable of carrying a game by themselves bc they'll be dead from random crits all game.
Riot Games' Alex Jaffe referred to this in 2019 as "a cursed design problem", where the problem is essentially unsolveable because it stems from two inherently conflicting promises made to the player ("a shooter where you need to rely on your team to succeed" vs "a competitive strategy game where player skill & character customization leads to victory"), and instead of "fixing" the problem by merely designing better you can only patch over the problem to some extent by making a choice to prioritize one over the other -- in this case valve decided being a team-based game was more important to TF2's identity to stand out against CoD & Co, and to this day I agree

Oh this is interesting! Thanks for the post!

I love a lot of the detail about team based games and the considerations one has when designing them. That is also a good point regarding top tier pros. Do we want them to be superior every time? Or do we want team based decisions about target priority to matter more? There are many considerations there especially considering how large of a spectating audience the game has at its disposal- at least in the case of competitive games. For instance, in a one-on-one strategy game like chess or Starcraft, the pros showing their superiority can make for a great story- even to the point of being boring because the outcome is essentially pre-determined at times- when reputation finally becomes a factor.

As far as Starsector? It is kind of outside that discussion because it's single player. (This topic isn't even about that, but I thought it might be worth mentioning considering it is Starsector's forum)

For my thoughts on single player games:

You are only really competing against the design and difficulty creep of that design- not other gamers- when playing a single player game. It's a different audience. Design using multiplayer considerations (such as strictly sticking to strategy game elements like the article suggests) in a single player game inevitably decreases the overall audience because those types of gamers aren't even playing single player games to begin with. If you're good, you're competing against others who are also good because oftentimes AI will never live up to the task of giving you a challenge (again, see Starcraft). The immersion and replay-ability experience matters much more in a single player game than in a competitive strategy game.

Learning should make the game more fun, but if it's your only attraction, then the best players will quickly move on because they crush the difficulty and the worst won't even bother because there is nothing there for them to experience.

Suggestions / Re: Unify fleet points and deployment points?
« on: February 22, 2020, 03:46:38 PM »
I would tend to agree regarding ship availability. Fighting less capitals would probably reduce a new and inexperienced player's demand for capitals, too.

Iirc, I made a suggestion a while back that open markets (no matter the colony size) ideally shouldn't carry capitals or especially rare cruisers. I think that would be better served by being locked behind military markets and very, very rarely made to be available on the black market in the largest of colonies. It makes owning a capital feel more like a big accomplishment. I remember back in the day the lore kind of hinted at that being the case too, but that may have changed since then.

Regarding the skill changes:

Alex, if I may make a small suggestion there: Try and emphasize fleet synergy in most cases rather than compartmentalizing boosts to specific ship types (frigates, carriers, capitals, etc). The reason for this is that it will prevent even minor subjective "imbalances" of skill strengths from causing specialized fleets using one type to be more attractive than diverse compositions.

(I think you are already doing this considering your description of how the skills tend to work, but it's pretty easy to fall into that trap if past games I've played- looking at you, WOW >:( - are any indication so I figured I'd point it out as being a potential pitfall of this kind of system.)

Suggestions / Re: Unify fleet points and deployment points?
« on: February 22, 2020, 02:50:32 PM »
@intrinsic_parity Yeah you do a good job of pinpointing some of my own thoughts/hesitations. The idea, and you already touched on this, was more that players taking things like combat skills would reliably beat capital fleets in smaller ship compositions and players using capitals through the skill would be just as combat viable. To it being a hard balance, yes definitely, but we already have that concern from frigate captains. I'm not trying to advocate either way, to be honest, this is just getting my thoughts out there. If you are curious as to my personal play style, I would be in the camp of several capitals, the rest cruisers, with a "rear guard" of sorts when using destroyers and frigates. I think capitals are only interesting, in a way, when they require support from other ships to truly get their worth out of them, but that's just my opinion and I definitely agree it can be hard to do. On the other hand, I don't want capitals to be completely disregarded (like before we had burn speeds and campaign boost skills) and if combat skills and other story point options are "just better" that is likely to happen. I do think that those who want to fly frigates all game already feel that way, and are often more vocal in the community as a result, though.

@Grevious69 You're good, but thank you for the clarification of intent and overall civility. :) The point was to brainstorm more than thinking it was a rock solid idea. You have a really good point regarding the strength differential between capitals. I'll add that- considering the idea of dreadnoughts is something that crops up in mods all the time (and really the paragon fits the bill) I was thinking of ways to make those not just the best option (often locked by rarity or in game expense) and promote other composition types. No most players don't fly around with all paragons, but if you could you probably would if you didn't take into account personal flavor preferences or aesthetics. Power wise it feels like a no brainer to me- and to further clarify that I want to say I think there is nothing wrong with that and it is exactly how a dreadnought should operate, truthfully. REDACTED ships being pilot-able by story points was sort of in line with this idea (low max CR in those cases though), so figured I'd at least put it out there.


@Alex That sounds very interesting considering your description. I'm excited to see how all of that works out!

Suggestions / Re: Unify fleet points and deployment points?
« on: February 22, 2020, 01:53:43 PM »
I'd say going up to ~5 capitals per fleet would be fine, but remember that nearby fleets support as well, so too many capitals makes battles a little one dimensional considering how deployment works. If the major composition element is cruisers, it keeps all classes of ships more relevant in the late game, imo.

I will create a separate topic for this if it proves necessary, but radical idea incoming based upon the last few responses!  ;D

The player may feel the need to deploy as many capitals as they can if the enemy fleet generally doesn't have an overwhelming number of them too. The idea here is that the player assumes that would give them an advantage considering their oftentimes numerical disadvantage (arguable). Quality over quantity since quantity cannot be achieved.

To discourage capital spam by the player (completely arbitrary limiters are generally bad, but I don't think this suggestion would fall into that category) would it be possible or easy to make it so that a skill is required to deploy one? So that a capital must have an attached officer with the necessary skill to be usable in battle?

It would obviously be under leadership, and might make that more attractive and serve to partially balance out the power creep from the combat skill line.

Now, because that by itself would probably feel really bad or too limiting to a lot of people, the caveat would be that the player could use an undetermined number of story points to personally pilot a capital (or maaayybe to deploy one either without an officer or with an officer without the necessary skill) to circumvent that requirement with another resource cost to discourage doing it too often.

Idk, there are probably a lot of holes I haven't considered but the intent is to generate discussion.

Taking away their planetary markets would be counter to that goal.

... but the stations mod doesn't take away markets at all.  Orbital stations work just like the vanilla ones - they're basically planets that (usually) lack resources of their own, have a fixed 100% habitability and grow, build & produce stuff just like normal.  All the station mod changes from that is conditional resources for those stations - if they're over asteroids, they get minerals and if over gas giants they get fuel gas.  The only thing orbitals can't do at all is farming (though I'm sure someday someone will make a mod that adds hydroponics as an industry - hint hint).

So yes I can totally see a pirate faction living entirely on orbital stations and raiding everyone else for food, because that's the one thing they can't do for themselves.  Also gives them a good reason for raiding and makes farms into preferred targets - something we've never seen before, to be sure.

Right yeah I'm not saying I wouldn't implement those alongside Mordreath, Isirah, etc, but what I was saying there, was that the specific names (by id on the technical side) and environments of the planets themselves (so they can't be stations or it wouldn't make sense when reading the descriptions) are heavily tied to the lore of the Adamantine Consortium. So what I meant by not removing their planetary markets was that the specific planet types, locations and technical definitions are required both thematically and because the differing text descriptions for docking with these markets relies upon the ids being the same and other varying conditions to change the docking description.

Implementing the AC with the station mod alongside the core world markets would be useful for further supporting random generated Nex campaigns though, so that is something I definitely like about it.

As far as reasons for raiding, the AC raids pretty much all colonies for people more than food (their bosses, at least, are mostly vampires) because people are food to them at best, or an utterly dispensable commodity at worst. Food is actually illegal cargo in their territory because they ruthlessly control its distribution to keep their "servants" demoralized and unable to rebel against the dreadlords (not necessarily vampires, but still incredibly cruel and mostly completely amoral - typically lesser vampiric familiars and so only partially transformed, etc) since the servant population tends to be a lot higher on any given AC world.

In the sector's history, the AC didn't start out that way, so that is part of the fun of telling the story. Stuff like how did it get this bad? Whereas you have examples like the Hegemony, Luddic Church/Path and Persean League in the historical background of the sector's collapse, and their differing reactions to it, I wanted to create something much darker and full of sci-fi horror elements based upon the idea that the great technology of the Domain's past was a tool that could be used for good or evil. What happens if, in one part of the sector, evil wins?

I believe Alex is working on that for the next update, but you can also go to:

Fractal Softworks\Starsector\mods\Archean Order TC v1.3.4f\data\world\factions

The faction files there have a numShips entry that can be from 1 to 5 I think. So you can mess with that and see what effect it has.

Suggestions / Re: Farming should use Organics
« on: February 20, 2020, 10:39:35 PM »
Ah ok so I'm ~ half right lol. Thanks for the link! No flowers or spices but still medicines, etc (unless the prior two are chemically produced using organics I guess).

Actually come to think of it, it makes more sense that flowers/spices etc would be under Luxury Goods as a commodity category. Maybe Domestic Goods. It depends on your definition considering the setting.

Suggestions / Re: Farming should use Organics
« on: February 20, 2020, 10:04:06 PM »
Aren't "organics" essentially crude oil? Not really sure if you need crude oil for farming. D:

I might be wrong, but my personal take on this was that organics definitely include things like crude oil, but also more generally they are literally anything that is considered useful in a planet's biosphere, from bacteria and other organisms useful for medicinal purposes to pretty flowers for housing habitats and spices for food. It's kind of a catch all that way.

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