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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Updated the Forum Rules and Guidelines (02/29/20); Blog post: GIF Roundup (04/11/20)

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Messages - xenoargh

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Discussions / Re: I’m working on a game, finally.
« on: January 08, 2020, 02:27:48 AM »
Squares make for odd spaces, conversation-wise.

This is just mockup art I threw together, but:

I think the second one balances a lot better.  I started with the first one, with ratios similar to Fallout; it just doesn't feel right, as a square.

Discussions / Re: I’m working on a game, finally.
« on: January 07, 2020, 04:51:22 PM »
In memory of Syd Mead:

General Discussion / Re: Armor/Talent Calculator
« on: January 03, 2020, 09:34:27 PM »
Honestly, while this is great and all, I find that, in general, you want to put your points into the Shield / Flux skills, not the Armor skills.  You need your Captains to win the Flux war first and foremost; they can do that by doing damage first, doing more damage, particularly to shields, and then having their shields outlast the other guy's. 

The only exception to this is when your shield's arc is too small to take much fire from the flanks; then you're simply going to need all the Armor you can get, because you're going to take hits.

Past that, if it's anything past a smallish encounter, I honestly don't think that the Vanilla skills do a whole lot to slow down the inevitable, even though they look great on paper.  If your ship is Flux-locked, it's irrelevant that you have awesome Armor, if your opponent isn't locked and has enough Flux left to keep shields up and attack (let alone if they're also able to push out and Vent or can kite you). 

Armor / Hull's lack of self-repair makes it considerably less great than shields in long-term fights, even moreso if you're dealing lots of EMP damage (even in Vanilla, the AI will occasionally show up w/ Herons loaded to the gills with Lightnings, which is amusing vs. Low Tech).

Modding Resources / Re: Spiral Arms II - Free Community Sprite Resources
« on: December 06, 2019, 12:35:47 PM »

...this makes me want to do some pixel-art Hound conversions, lol.

Yes, I'll upload the art soon.  Just been super-busy over here lately :)

Discussions / Re: I’m working on a game, finally.
« on: December 04, 2019, 05:30:12 PM »
I think I'm about done working on the lighting system.  The light in the top right is dynamic.  Note the translucency of the glass.

A lot of other things are now either done or getting there rapidly.  Objects are destroyable, enemies have more-like-final graphics and systems, I built a particle system to do fancy FX with (sometimes I feel like my whole experience of developing games revolves around particle systems, lol).

General Discussion / Re: AMD Optimized
« on: December 02, 2019, 01:24:11 AM »
This game's almost always CPU-blocked in most situations, unless your GPU is incredibly weak.

It's entirely possible to make at least some major parts of this game multithreaded; I did what I could.

I don't actually think there are any serious roadblocks to making the graphics engine run on a different thread than the AI logic or core game logic (input / output handlers and state-machine stuff for CombatEntityAPIs) or sound; it should be possible to run the game on at least 4 cores, possibly more, depending on how some tasks are split up.  It's hard to say from here, though; all I know is what's exposed in the API and a few guesses about how core stuff works.

Blog Posts / Re: Raiding for Fun and Profit
« on: December 01, 2019, 08:44:22 PM »
So... kind of a long-form answer to FooF's answer to me, which got lost in the meta-arguments above.

1.  I agree with most of your analysis there.
2.  Maybe the best Right Answer is to get rid of Crew (as we think of them now) altogether.

I thought about this a bit.  We're in a far-future setting; Serious AI is a thing.  So, why do we have WWII-esque crew scales? 

I mean, for a giant battleship, maybe you need one person per weapon system, a few people for engineering, etc., but you don't need giant bunches of people to do basic repairs, etc.; there are robots for that.

So... I know this is totally going off the Game Design deep-end here, but why not just make "crew" a few Officers?  Now the fluff matches the reality; instead of giant piles of non-humans who live / die, we'd have a collection of people we'd actually care about.  There'd be some new complexity, to be sure, but not that bad.  This would solve the "losses don't feel meaningful" part and the "crew leveling is just another boring minmax exercise" and mean that the fluff matched up well with the gameplay need.  Oh, and it'd mean that, with specific people assigned to a ship, they'd have a chance to die if the ship was lost; morale effects from losing a bunch of crew would be contextualized, etc.

I know that there's about zero chance of this being the way it's done, but that kind of sounds fun, honestly; I'd also love to see Officers get "attached" to "their ship" and get more bonuses from being familiar with it; these two things together would synergize and create Crews who felt like teams, not expendable commodities.

Blog Posts / Re: Raiding for Fun and Profit
« on: November 29, 2019, 10:11:58 PM »
First off:  I really like the new Raid mechanics, but I still want to hear about Conquest ;)

On Crew experience:

Personally, I think you should have more differentiation so that there are interesting metas to pursue and not just one path to optimum.  I miss leveling Crew, in the sense that it made you care about casualties; I entirely agree that just giving them one path was pretty dull (I still remember grinding Elites so that I could take on the Defense Fleet).


1.  Pilots, for attack craft.
2.  Engineers, for CR repair and maybe ingame repair.
3.  Gunners, for damage bonus (not range, not accuracy).
4.  Flux Mechanics, for more drain / pool.

Rate them all, level them all.  All Crew start off as Basic Crew; they specialize when they level up the first time, depending on what they got assigned to do (by the game, automatically).  As they get higher in level, they cost more.

Sounds pretty complex, but wait:

1.  It gives players a reason to respect Crew casualties again.  This should, imo, be why players gradually transition away from Garbage Balls; sure, they're cheap, but they're just not as effective.  If you don't treat your crew as expendable, and buy them ships that last, you get experience and "loyalty", in the sense that they're just better now.  Throw in "trainer" skills for your Captains, and boom, you now have a Mount and Blade-like system where your Captains can offer nice passives to offset being less-stellar combatants (I really think this should be a thing; stuff like the Pathfinder skill from that game is missing atm).
2.  It gives players a choice between cost and effect that's useful.  All-Elites should make it possible for a smaller fleet to shine.  It'd provide a counterweight for the AI needing ever-larger fleets, too.
3.  It'd feel meaningfully connected to the Marines mechanically.
4.  You could even throw in some Ground Commander skills for Captains, and complete that circle.

Anyhow, I like the proposed changes and I'm looking forward to seeing this next build quite a lot :)

Modding Resources / Re: Spiral Arms II - Free Community Sprite Resources
« on: November 20, 2019, 12:55:42 PM »
Wow, awesome new stuff here!  Thanks for all your contributions, I'll try and get them uploaded / cataloged soon!

General Discussion / Re: Is the enforcer worth it?
« on: November 20, 2019, 12:05:57 PM »
Enforcer's one of the ships I had the most qualms about buffing / debuffing in Rebal. 

What it should be:  a indelicate tank that can fire its guns and stays useful as a sidekick until mid-game, when Cruisers tend to start mattering more.
What it is, in Vanilla:  a fragile tank that cannot fire its guns long, can't tank shields and loses Flux warfare, and frequently kills itself in AI hands.

I'm not saying that the Enforcer cannot be used in Vanilla.  It's all right, as fire-support for other slow-movers, especially if your primary worry is enemy torpedo bombers.  It's just not what it should be. 

As we've seen with the Hammerhead's relatively-recent buff-to-actual-usefulness, ship speeds are a major factor here.  Enforcer lacks that, so it cannot kite anything else in its class.  But it can charge, which would be useful if it survived the process.  Unfortunately, it frequently doesn't.

In Player hands, SO Enforcer works fairly well as a close-range wrecking-ball, but I'm not sure it's actually an improvement on SO Hammerhead, which is faster, more maneuverable, and has peak firepower (with its System) that is superior on average, certainly superior on time-spent-firing, and has a decent shield, to boot.

So, ultimately I went with giving the Enforcer a lower-arc shield (which in Rebal, translates directly into efficiency) a buff to Flux stats so that it can actually fire a lot, and that was pretty much it.  It gives the Enforcer a meaty role that's in character; it's hard to get one into ideal range of other Destroyers, but if it can get there, watch out, it can probably out-tank you.

Honestly, I just wish the Destroyers all met their thematic requirements better; they're (imo) the sweet spot in the game for ships players should want to keep driving, even in late-game.

Discussions / Re: I’m working on a game, finally.
« on: November 18, 2019, 06:45:04 PM »

Hey, for everybody who was vaguely interested in this... I've got an update, finally.

Progress on this game came to a rather-abrupt halt last year, due to two things; life in general (my life last year had a lot of moving parts) and some technical issues.  I hit a wall on certain aspects of pathfinding / path-following that really required some lengthy attention to address. 

I actually built another game core (shades of the now-apparently-cancelled The Last Night) while mulling it over; that may turn into another game someday. 

But this fall, sans serious distractions, I sat down with this again, tackled the pathfinding / path-following problems, moved forward on a lot of the other issues, and well, here we are. 

The screenshots won't really look a whole lot different; the core rendering approach with lights and suchlike looks pretty similar (but there have been a lot of small improvements under the hood), but the game's substantially closer to working like it should.  The pathfinder I've developed really performs nicely and should offer good support for lots of nasty critters on the screen!

The UI's being worked on right now.  I'm hoping I'll have something that I can show a little demo of sometime this year.

General Discussion / Re: Is there any reason to use Astrals over Condors?
« on: October 07, 2019, 09:42:02 AM »
I kept wondering what would be an OK upgrade for the Condor. 

The easy answer is that the Condor should be the cheapest thing to deploy, per fighter.  Not the "best".

So in Rebal, the Condor costs 10 DP. 
Gemini, 9 (but it's multi-functional). 
Drover, 15; it costs nearly the same as a Venture, and it's less-survivable if it gets into direct contact with an enemy. 

This seems like a reasonable way to make each thing work within-theme.  Drovers are still very good, but not overwhelmingly so.  Condors are good for cheap fighter spam (and have had their OPs raised, so that they can carry more stuff / better fighters).  Geminis are more survivable; that's their sole saving grace. 

None of them are overwhelmingly better than a Heron, Mora or Colossus Mk. III; each one brings some advantage:
1.  Heron's flexible mount and mobile firepower.
2.  Mora's sheer toughness
3.  Colossus can now carry 4 Wings, keeping it in-theme as roughly, "two Condors plus a bit".

This is how it should be; none of the Destroyer-level Carriers should be vastly superior, per DP, to their Cruiser equivalents.  None of them are an Astral or Legion, either; Astrals are still able to deliver shield-tanking firepower and warp bombers into direct combat, Legions are able to fight like a Capital and bring fighters to the party. 

I think it's weird that people hate the Legion; it was obvious that it just needed some love to be great.

General Discussion / Re: Scaled Interface
« on: October 07, 2019, 02:28:54 AM »
OK, I've (finally) managed to get it to run in 3840x2160.  Took some doing, figuring out what was wrong, but I got it sorted. 

Essentially, on Windows 10, it now has a setting to "override high-DPI settings".  This is the future; with higher-resolution monitors rapidly becoming the norm, UI scaling is presumed; applications in pixel scales are definitely going to have various issues.  So that setting is mainly for legacy applications that cannot respond to requests to scale things like UI up, applications that won't request large-scale fullscreen, etc.  I had to set that to "Scaling performed by Application" to get this working right.

1.  It won't run fullscreen.  It throws an error.  This is odd, since it works in windowed mode.  But fine, whatever, it's using the whole screen, right? 

2.  Interestingly, performance is not impacted greatly.  The game's still CPU-bound.  The load shifts a bit but not the root causes. 

I'll probably take another long look at that, see what's up at this scale, since FWIW, this is where more people than not will be in a year or two (i.e., around Gold).  I definitely feel like I should turn Vsync off and see what, if any, impact that has (I can't imagine much, given that the OpenGL state-machine's in lockstep with the game logic, but hey, who knows). 

It might also be interesting if we could lock the state-machine to lower speeds but keep the rendering engine higher, take advantage of some frame averaging, etc., rather than just some buffer-swap.

3.  It's pretty glorious seeing the battles at that scale, but the full-screen whiteout on ship deaths is definitely *not* a great thing at that point; really should be something that does some gradient and makes use of the scale better.  There are few things more unpleasant than getting a face full of bright LED on a modern screen, though.

Suggestions / Re: Burst Beam autofire
« on: October 06, 2019, 06:23:34 PM »
This goes back to the problems with Beams in general.

1.  If the AI doesn't fire "unless it's smart", it will hardly ever fire, because there are almost zero times it's "smart" unless your opponent is facing away from you, conveniently located, etc.  The problem's not quite as bad as for Reapers, but it's bad; AI ships are generally trying to face the enemy, because that's smart, and there just aren't lots of opportunities. 

This is the same reason why Beam builds aren't generally great for player ships, either; unless it's something highly mobile, the poor efficiency and Soft Flux make Beams a terrible idea to shoot until it's smart.  These situations, while they do happen occasionally, usually happen for highly-mobile ships that can flank.

2.  Because there are only rare situations where it's "smart" to fire, the AI can either not fire much, meaning players will steer their builds towards Energy weapons that do actually fire (and do Hard Flux, etc.) or they're obviously wasting their OPs.  Against the AI... meh, imagine a Tritachyon fleet where the RNG autofit system decides to go super-heavy on Beams, but the enemy fleet hardly shoots because it's "not smart".  The player then proceeds to eat them for breakfast, using non-"smart" weapons.

...for goodness sakes, just make Beams Hard Flux and at a reasonable efficiency ratio. 

Rebal's out, you can see how it works in practice, not your endless theorycrafting.  Having Beams you actually want your fleet using is fun.

Mods / Re: [0.9.1a] Kingdom of Terra (v0.1)
« on: October 06, 2019, 03:19:00 PM »
This is a great, corny idea!  Needs moar Flying Saucer.  Preferably flown by reptilians.

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