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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 - Deshara

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Suggestions / atmospheric terrain effects & multy-tiered planetary battles
« on: February 22, 2020, 08:03:58 PM »
having not played this game in, like, over a year I was in line at the dr's office & couldn't get the map-terrain effects from this game out of my head. In particular how they could implement planetary atmospheric conditions for mid & low-altitutde combat that work like a pursuit map, and then how they could make multi-tiered battles that stretch from orbit down to ground level. The fact that the game ignores the concept of directional movement actually helps.

High Atmosphere terrain map: both fleets start on the bottom corners of the map traveling up, the left side of the map is towards (but not) the ground. The ships are still in overhead view bc *** you, I guess they're flying sideways, who cares. There's a "Wind-Shear" terrain effect that scales from 0%-100% that shoves the ship leftward, its force multiplied by the ship's mass & how close to 100% the effect is. It increases if a ship's shields come up or the farther the ship turns away from pointing up (the acceptable degrees of deviation scales with ship size, 45/35/25/15(?)) or if the engines die. If the ship is at the far-left side of the map the "Wind-Shear" affect fills up an invisible bar that once it gets full forces the ship to retreat off that side of the map and gets moved to the Low Atmosphere terrain map. Escaping the map on the top of the map takes the ships up into orbit. Being in orbit of a planet with planetary defenses spawns flak cannon rounds from off-map that target ships & reduce their CR like the corona of a star, upgraded defenses will just straight up fire random LRM's & large missile slot missile barrages at enemies.

Low Atmosphere terrain map: Same as high atmosphere, except the far left of the map (just past the part of the map that bounces your ship back) is the ground, flying past at a blur. From the top left of the map straight downward, at high speeds, the map launches projectiles in the form of, trees, buildings, hills. They're background objects initially, but every time a ship passes over one it rolls for chance to impact, depending on ship size 5%/20%/35%/50%, and if you fail the roll the object becomes a physics obstacle, does base fragmentation damage to that ship & is blasted into parts like a dying ship that function like landmines to any nearby/flanking/chasing ships, all damage from impact & debris increased the smaller the ship x9/x7/x5/x1 (spoiler the middle is in the most danger, frigates have disproportionately low chance to get hit & capital ships disproportionately low damage, safety over-ride, fuel injectors, civilian & heavily armored mods decrease damage taken from or chance to impact). Touching the ground on the side of the map, like if the "Wind-Shear" affect shoves you into it bc you got your engines shot out, applies the "Lithobrake" affect which does kinetic damage and applies gigantic kinetic force on your ship shoving it downward (on-screen downward not towards the ground), if your ship is lithobraked off the bottom of the map, smash bros rules apply.

Discussions / Re: Gaming's Worst Mechanic
« on: February 22, 2020, 07:07:20 PM »
yeah the issue of team game vs strategy game definitenly doesn't come up for SS because it's a single-player game but there are other different cursed problems that can come up. IIRC SS has a similar one since it's both a strategy game where you're commanding a fleet and an action game where you're piloting one ship. Do you design a peak MLG pro gamer RTS like starcraft where you can lead your fleet to victory from above by managing your fleet so acutely & well, or do you design a game where you can pilot your ship so well that you can single-handedly wipe out the enemy fleet by yourself? You can't do both, and since those two elements are what SS is, you also can't do just one, so you have to make a choice on where your balance lies. That's what CR-decay & fleet command points are; you can't micromanage your fleet because your commands-per-minute is limited, but you also can't solo an enemy fleet because your ship breaks down over time & has limited HP. The larger the fleet battle the more strategy comes into play bc the relative impact your flagship can make is diluted by the # of other ships in play, the smaller the fleet battle the more of a difference you can make with your quota of HP & CR points on your flagship.
Alex could easily remove the fleet command cap & the flagship and SS would instantly become an RTS, he could easily set the max fleet size to 1 ship and make an action game, but those aren't the games he chose to make and he has to make conscious decisions to deal with the inherent problems of mixing the two genres.
(For the record the reason I'm so interested in this is bc I'm working on a spiritual sequel to Kingdom Under Fire: Crusaders, a hybrid hack-and-slash 3rd person action & RTS game)

Discussions / Re: this game has ruined mechwarrior for me
« on: February 08, 2020, 05:02:04 PM »
You also need to try this one:

idk what it is about the space rangers series but the art makes me wish I was dead every time I see it. It's like the default clip art that came with the powerpoint program on Windows XP. If every time I wound up looking at that mid-90's CGI clay-mation art style I instead caught spanish influenza so severely that I instantly went blind I would genuinely live a better life

Discussions / Re: Gaming's Worst Mechanic
« on: February 07, 2020, 08:48:18 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

Discussions / this game has ruined mechwarrior for me
« on: February 07, 2020, 05:03:39 PM »
I tried the new MW game & boy. It's like playing SS but without most of the QOL features.
My shipmech dies and the mission is over?? My squadmate's mechs turns out to be way more important for the fight than mine and I have to just... watch... the AI play the game against itself because I can't bodyjump into his mech & assume direct control. There's one weapon that can fit into each weapon-type slot and the only choice given to me is how big/small the caliber is and it isn't even a choice bc there's an unambiguous superior choice? And on top of that the loadout for each mech is essentially already chosen for you by the mech's statistics but the game expects you to pretend that there's a choice to make anyway, to the point that replacing broken guns in between fights has to be done manually every time even tho as already established there's no choice involved in it, you literally just do what the wikipedia article for that mech from forty years ago says is the only thing you're allowed to do? The UI is so hostile to non-fans that the salvage screen after battle doesn't name the mechs available for loot but lists their serial numbers with no further information so you have to google it every battle??!

Just give Battletech to Alex already.

Discussions / Re: Find out how to boost your sales by 400%!!!
« on: February 07, 2020, 04:21:15 PM »
I recommend & talk about games I think my friends would like based off of torrent releases all the time. I literally bought a friend of mine DMC5 last night bc a torrent with denuvo removed got put up and I was like, "oh hey she likes DMC doesn't she?" & she isn't a pirate.
Tho TBH I think some of this comes down to the fact that the steam storefront is nigh but un-usable. Torrenting sites do a much, much better job of filtering thru the chaffe by just browsing all (game)torrents by release date & ignoring everything that's sitting in the low tens

Discussions / Re: Starsector fleet battle in 3D
« on: February 07, 2020, 04:07:21 PM »
SPAZ2 is monumentally worse than its predecessor

Blog Posts / Re: Raiding for Fun and Profit
« on: December 29, 2019, 03:31:09 AM »
Hiring new marines dilutes the experience and reduces the bonuses (no experience is lost, it’s just redistributed). It’s also possible to drop off experienced marines in storage, or in cryopods, and have them retain their experience level.

that's exactly what a game I'm ripping off shamelessly does, Ultimate General: Civil War! And it worked wonders in that game to make me care about my regiments -- your regiments gain XP over the campaign but they also take losses, you have to manually replenish your regiments in between missions out of your available pool of recruits and the more you fill a regiment with recruits the more you dilute that regiment's overall XP down to 0. You can replenish a regiment with veterans that doesn't dilute XP but unlike recruits they are not free, and bc you need money to buy guns for all regimental replenishment (and upgrades) and bc the AI is actively competing with you over the campaign to defeat you forcing you to go into each mission with $0 in the bank, there's a heavy resource cost to maintaining veteran regiments of any size that scales with how poorly you did in your last mission, so all the incredibly experienced regiments you have will be small, and all of your green regiments can be as gigantic as your store of guns to equip them, which means that when you get a regiment of veterans up to the max size you value it, because getting that regiment up to that size has not only required a lot of money, but has required multiple missions of cultivation -- getting them into the battle to get them XP, but also keeping them safe & sacrificing green regiments to defend them from losses.
And because it's rare and hard-won and easily lost once you've got it, the game has the capacity to let you go hog wild once you've gotten them -- in a civil war game of musket-era soldiers you get this regiment of two thousand men, experienced enough to know how to land shots and operate their guns, armed with modern magazine-fed cartridge rifles able to annihilate an enemy regiment from 100%-0 in the space between the start of their charge and when they would have met your men blade to blade if they weren't dead to the man. It's amazing, in the "this is why this method of warfare is dead, you are getting to play the death of a way of life" kind of way few games have every pulled off.

ANYWAY! So my question to Alex is: It sounds rn like you're having marine XP be a global fleet-wide statistic? I think there might be interesting possibilities in having XP tracked per marine stack, that you then assign to objectives in raids by the stack so that you can have a stack of veterans that you assign to high-priority & low-risk tasks and green stacks of marines that you assign to low-priority & high-risk objectives. This would of course require de-coupling the binary "you require ___ many marines to attempt this objective, if you have that many the objective is automatically won & the difficulty scales casualties" system it sounds like you're going for... maybe, maybe it might not.
Additionally, the moment I make the "per stack XP" suggestion the thought pops into my head of having special missions & objectives in raids that can only be done by stacks of marines of a certain XP level -- right now while it makes sense to have raid effectiveness correlate smoothly to XP it seems a bit weird to have the XP thresholds be purely cosmetic, seems like it wouldn't be v hard to have late-game raiding content gated behind having marine stacks of an adequate size brought up to veteran or elite rank over the course of a campaign

That's such a cool idea. Is there a way to make it so it only picks ships from your faction, if applicable?

    not that anyone looks at it.
    Incidentally, have I shared with you guys yet my new 18-paragraph breakdown on how alex could implement multiplayer?
    • 1
    every game is more fun and easier to make with friends! First Alex should really take a page from fortn-

Suggestions / Re: No downside to running out of credits?
« on: April 17, 2019, 08:59:44 PM »
You will automatically repay your debt at a later date. I'm not sure how much money does it take from you monthly, I never got a huge debt that I couldn't repay within a month.


My favorite part of Europa Universalis is that it doesn't crawl on its belly at the feet of the ideological snowjob that is austerity.'Th
State debt is irrelevant and a colony running out of money doesn't cause everyone to just... stop working or riot lol you print more money, pay people that and de-circulate it later
The incredibly absurd thing about austerity politics is that americans are capable of continuing to buy into it even tho their country is literal living proof that millions of civil servants just not getting paid anymore for an indeterminate length of time will have basically no impact on that nation's function.

Suggestions / Re: Range, or lack of it
« on: April 07, 2019, 02:36:58 AM »
How close do you think you need to be to hit a jet fighter with a machinegun?
Now, a jet fighter can only move in one direction. A starship has thrusters in every direction, and it would be trivially easy to hook them up to a nav computer hooked up to a comms computer that takes in tracking data for old shots and does micro-adjustments so that any shot fired at it with more than X seconds to splash are guaranteed not to hit where you could tighten that value down with better processing power like if you have better ships for doing it or a fleet skill for it that would effectively lower the range of enemy ships and oops that's already in the game.

Suggestions / Re: kill officer aggressiveness
« on: February 14, 2019, 01:07:16 AM »
Just allowing to set aggressiveness per-ship at design time + CP-costing override in combat would be good enough.

shoOT I hate it when I put effort into a rework idea & someone just comes along and blows it out of the water with a vastly simpler, easier to implement solution that involves barely changing anything

Suggestions / Re: Allow carrier/phase preference to go to 0
« on: February 12, 2019, 12:10:54 AM »
TBH the bottom rung of carrier/phase preference should just be made to be zero. All-phase fleets are a thing of the past in the sector, phase-less fleets are not.

Suggestions / kill officer aggressiveness
« on: February 12, 2019, 12:09:26 AM »
kill it, replace it with a series of toggles. Maybe make officers inherit sets of available options for those toggles and then let the player pick new ones to unlock as said officer levels up, and have the Command HQ unlock the ability to customize presets that will spawn at your market.
Obviously this would have to be done to coincide with a rework of the AI & would have to be one of the final features added into the game since AI is a system that touches on most other mechanics, but there's so many edge-cases where one-size-fits-all that I think there's a case to be made for preset AI suites being axed.

For example; does this ship count its PD weapons as weapons or defenses? Does this ship join its fighters missiles & close support in the fray or merely deploy them? When escorting a bigger ship, does this ship merely lend it close support, take cover in its shadow or join the fight? When escorting a faster ship should this one try to keep up or automatically issue a sub-order for the target ship to escort it to stay together? Should this ship use its missiles for finishing or as close support? Should this ship manually use one of its weapongroups of non-PD guns against missiles or never? Should this ship save its ship system offensively or save it for escaping? Should this ship leave the combat zone once its out of limited use weapons and systems or not? Should this ship use its armor to press an advantage or never? Should this ship die for the cause or live to see another day? Should this ship avoid pressing the advantage on an enemy surrounded by backup or brave the danger for glory? Should this ship prefer to run down slower and weakened enemies or focus on the battle? Should this ship place the salad fork on the left napkin or right napkin? Does this ship use its HE payload to overload shields when it can or save them for after the overload? Does this ship prefer coke or pepsi? Should this ship consider its missiles fighters & close support to be its primary armament or use everything non-PD for ranging or is it primarily here to screen missiles & fighters?

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