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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Blog post: Skills and Story Points (07/08/19)

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Author Topic: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.  (Read 6483 times)

Megas

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #30 on: September 01, 2018, 04:15:28 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.
« Last Edit: September 01, 2018, 04:39:30 PM by Megas »
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #31 on: September 01, 2018, 09:37:35 PM »

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.
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Megas

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #32 on: September 02, 2018, 06:13:24 AM »

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.
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FooF

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #33 on: September 02, 2018, 05:28:39 PM »

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.
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TJJ

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #34 on: September 03, 2018, 01:39:07 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.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2018, 01:57:58 AM by TJJ »
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Shrugger

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #35 on: September 03, 2018, 01:48:34 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.
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fededevi

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #36 on: September 03, 2018, 03:21:16 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.
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Midnight Kitsune

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #37 on: September 03, 2018, 03:36:32 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)
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Megas

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #38 on: September 03, 2018, 05:37:38 AM »

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.
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Seth

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #39 on: September 03, 2018, 06:43:16 AM »

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.
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TJJ

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #40 on: September 03, 2018, 10:40:54 AM »

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.
« Last Edit: September 03, 2018, 05:16:32 PM by TJJ »
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #41 on: September 03, 2018, 12:43:05 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.
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Shuka

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #42 on: September 06, 2018, 06:05:08 AM »

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.
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Megas

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #43 on: September 06, 2018, 06:30:12 AM »

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.
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Goumindong

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Re: Matching skills with NPC fleet commander... takes dedication.
« Reply #44 on: September 10, 2018, 12:42:26 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.
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