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

Author Topic: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience  (Read 773 times)

Sundog

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A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« on: April 25, 2019, 04:37:27 PM »

I think we can all agree that this game's combat is great, but there are still a few issues that I think should be addressed:

Stricter adherence to damage type color coding
Beam and projectile colors are often deceiving. They are generally color coded, but inconsistently, which sometimes makes it difficult to tell what type of damage is coming your way. This is why Lightshow is such a necessary mod.

More responsive (and predictable) camera movement
Camera movement has been a mild annoyance to me for years, so I spent some time trying to pinpoint specific problems:
  • Smooth mouse movements can lead to jarring camera movements. This stems from the way the camera only adjusts to quick mouse movements after coming to rest. The mouse can move across the entire screen at moderate speed without the camera moving, but the moment mouse speed crosses a certain threshold the camera jerks toward the cursor as if the player had jerked the mouse. I suggest removing the "rest state" thing entirely. It would be far better to let the camera constantly move toward the cursor in a predictable manner.
  • The camera could be much more responsive. I understand that a certain amount of smoothing is necessary, but it takes between four and ten seconds to adjust to mouse movements, all the while requiring that the player compensate for camera movement while aiming.
  • Smoothing is visibly independent on the x and y axis. Not a big deal, but it's pretty quirky when the camera suddenly stops moving up but continues sliding to the right.
A per-variant setting for default "turn to cursor" behavior.
The toggle hotkey suggestion is made so often for a reason. The vast majority of ships only work well with one of the two settings. It shouldn't be necessary to edit game settings every time we switch between the two. A variant setting might not be the best solution, but I think the problem should be addressed somehow.

Replace the mouse pointer with some sort of flux gauge reticle
Something like the below image, for example. The transparent green circle grows inward as flux increases, until it reaches the dot, meaning flux is maxed out. The thin, opaque circle works the same way to show hard flux; moving toward the center as it increases.
« Last Edit: April 26, 2019, 04:37:10 PM by Sundog »
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TaLaR

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #1 on: April 25, 2019, 07:27:00 PM »

On cursor tweaks - ideally I'd like whole tab in settings for extra info visualization.
- Exact speed vectors. Sorry, dust motes are just not precise enough, especially for Hyperion jump-attacks or when you are piloting phase frigate (enemy movement is insignificant while you are phased, but matters a lot for torpedo targeting).
- Exact ship system range circle, possibly with collision radius for targeted enemy (since teleport/skim/mine systems can't be used within it). Expected skim location (and teleport/mine, if it gets offset by collision radius).
- Teleportation/skimming tweaks - show weapon arcs from expected teleport location. And hotkey to change mouse targeting behavior for teleporting ships: the problem with after-teleport targeting is that your guns end up focused at wrong distance [your old location to your new location], while what I'd really want is [expected teleport location to targeted enemy]. This wrong distance focus is common reason for missing teleport-shots against smaller targets, even when speed vectors are perfectly aligned.

Also while we are at it: if advanced omni shield bypass tactics (phase cloak frigates or Hyperion) are to stay a part of the game, AI needs to be aware and try to counter. Even better if it tried to use them too. I'd really not like for agile bypass ships to just get nerfed into oblivion like Harbinger, but current situation is too one-sided. It's basically 'delete anything not too extremely armored while CR lasts' as player-ships, while more or less useless as AI ships.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2019, 08:49:10 PM by TaLaR »
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Thaago

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #2 on: April 25, 2019, 08:28:41 PM »

While I am not in principle opposed, I have no idea what those flux gauge reticles are trying to show, even with the text.
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Sundog

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2019, 08:36:12 PM »

I'll add a bit more explanation

SCC

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2019, 03:49:32 AM »

I don't really think color coding is such a must. I guess that new players might be caught off guard a few times, but that applies to all weapons.
   Flux gauge cursor's biggest issue, as you presented it, is that it blends with other UI. I'm not opposed to it, but it's something that needs more care put to it. Plus, soft flux circle increasing proportionally to soft flux and hard flux circle decreasing proportionally is not intuitive. Another issue is that with maximum flux indicator there, you might misunderstand how much flux a ship does have. A ship with half hard and half soft flux will give you a less impressive gauge than either all hard or all soft flux.
More responsive (and predictable) camera movement
Camera movement has been a mild annoyance to me for years, so I spent some time trying to pinpoint specific problems:
  • Smooth mouse movements can lead to jarring camera movements. This stems from the way the camera only adjusts to quick mouse movements after coming to rest. The mouse can move across the entire screen at moderate speed without the camera moving, but the moment mouse speed crosses a certain threshold the camera jerks toward the cursor as if the player had jerked the mouse. I suggest removing the "rest state" thing entirely. It would be far better to let the camera constantly move toward the cursor in a predictable manner.
  • The camera could be much more responsive. I understand that a certain amount of smoothing is necessary, but it takes between four and ten seconds to adjust to mouse movements, all the while requiring that the player compensate for camera movement while aiming.
  • Smoothing is visibly independent on the x and y axis. Not a big deal, but it's pretty quirky when the camera suddenly stops moving up but continues sliding to the right.
Now this is something I can get behind! Especially so with the first point. The fact that camera sticks and has to be unsticked every some often is bollocks in both literal and figurative meaning. In gameplay there is no end to annoyance caused by the fact that camera behaviour isn't entirely based on the cursor position. It's impossible to comfortably target slowly moving (relatively to you) enemies without the camera getting stuck, which messes my aim and requires me to drag mouse sharply. I don't think I've ever gained anything form this behaviour, it always *** me off in the "not again" sense. Seriously, why is this even there...

Gwyvern

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2019, 04:57:48 AM »

A per-variant setting for default "turn to cursor" behavior.
The toggle hotkey suggestion is made so often for a reason. The vast majority of ships only work well with one of the two settings. It shouldn't be necessary to edit game settings every time we switch between the two. A variant setting might not be the best solution, but I think the problem should be addressed somehow.

This, for real, I find the hold button behavior of the current setup entirely worthless, as my fingers cramp up when trying to do awkward positions when I am holding the shift key, meaning that if I had to temporarily change modes, I will be doing basically nothing else.

Even if we don't get a toggle option, you really should not have to go into the menu to jump from a hardpoint heavy ship to a turret heavy ship.
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Schwartz

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2019, 10:24:53 AM »

Camera movement: YES! The camera is not consistent. Sometimes it sticks to a view, sometimes it doesn't stick. This requires some mouse fiddling, usually at an inconvenient time during combat.

Color coding I would prefer not to see in game. You can learn guns by sound, GFX and other shot characteristics. Making every frag damage red and every explosive damage orange is just game-y and takes away from the realistic feel.
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Sundog

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2019, 04:35:48 PM »

I'm glad you guys agree that camera movement should be fixed. That's my biggest concern.

I don't really think color coding is such a must. I guess that new players might be caught off guard a few times, but that applies to all weapons.
Yes, it's much less of a problem for vets, but that's just because we've memorized all the exceptions. I don't think new players should have to do that.

Plus, soft flux circle increasing proportionally to soft flux and hard flux circle decreasing proportionally is not intuitive.
You don't think so? They would both move from the outside-in as flux increases.
I think the green would be best because it would stand out from the colors of the battle, like the rest of the GUI. I would think that a green reticle would stand out from the GUI in spite of being the same color due to it's movement, but I'd have to try it.

Making every frag damage red and every explosive damage orange is just game-y and takes away from the realistic feel.
I suppose that's true. That's not something I personally think is important, but I know that's not the case for others. I wouldn't want everything of the same damage type to be the exact same color, just somewhat close to the damage type icon.

solardawning

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2019, 05:54:17 PM »

I agree about the camera movement. It's my only real dislike with the combat.
I'd love to have a way to keep it anchored squarely on my ship and NEVER move... just like on the fleet layer in the sector map! Let us toggle it on and off on the fly.
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xenoargh

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2019, 01:59:33 PM »

1.  It shouldn't take an obscure JSON setting to turn off the Giant White Flashes during gameplay.

2.  I agree re: camera movement, although it's hard to find a good balance; maybe a spring mechanism might improve response without abrupt tearing?

3.  I'm game to play around with the idea of a new attack cursor and behaviors.  I think that:

A.  A good cursor shows us exactly where we're aiming.
B.  It shows when we're aiming at a target, and not (color or brightness or translucency changes).
C.  If it's supposed to show Additional Information that's vital (and I'm inclined to agree that a Flux indicator might qualify, although honestly, I kind of think it's a tradeoff trying to to stick too much information into this UI element) then that behavior needs to be considered very carefully.
D.  While we're on this subject, talking about ancient hard-coded stuff Alex probably wants to re-do about as much as Corvus System... can we debate the current Target UI?
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Serenitis

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #10 on: April 30, 2019, 01:04:07 PM »

This, for real, I find the hold button behavior of the current setup entirely worthless, as my fingers cramp up when trying to do awkward positions when I am holding the shift key, meaning that if I had to temporarily change modes, I will be doing basically nothing else.

Even if we don't get a toggle option, you really should not have to go into the menu to jump from a hardpoint heavy ship to a turret heavy ship.
This is something that could stand to have some attention at some point.
Personally, I think the turn-to-face-cursor button would be less awkward to use if it were changed to a toggle instead of being hold to activate. As holding one key while alternately pressing others with the same hand has caused some cramping issues in the past. (One of the reasons I dislike frigates and destroyers so much - they are uncomfortable to fly 'properly'.)
It should also be possible to have a setting in the options to select which behaviour you prefer.

It just depends how much extra work it's going to be. Definitely a 'nice to have', but not nescessarily a priority.
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Sundog

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #11 on: April 30, 2019, 01:24:36 PM »

It should also be possible to have a setting in the options to select which behaviour you prefer.
You mean the "Invert behavior of 'Strafe and turn to cursor' button" setting, or something else?

xenoargh

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #12 on: April 30, 2019, 03:56:24 PM »

Quote
I think the turn-to-face-cursor button would be less awkward to use if it were changed to a toggle instead of being hold to activate
This, +1000. 

I still cannot believe that what, for most players, is the most ergonomically-comfortable design, and the easiest to learn, is both not the default and is only available by going into the Settings and reading some text there that's confusing (if it was a poll question, half the audience would not understand what it meant).  It really should be both the default and a toggle, imo.
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Megas

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #13 on: April 30, 2019, 05:15:36 PM »

While toggle would is nice, I would not want my ship to automatically face to cursor if I simply move the cursor around by default after a clean install.  I like the cursor to aim my guns and the camera, while I use the other hand to pilot my ship, much like in a FPS game (with mouse aiming).
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xenoargh

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Re: A Few Suggestions to Polish the Combat Experience
« Reply #14 on: April 30, 2019, 10:15:40 PM »

Fair enough.  I just think that the choice there remains backwards.  I've lost track of the number of times I or somebody else has had to tell a newbie how to set it.

A toggle would fix that problem, as would a toggle for Fast Time during travelling (another one of my biggest QOL gripes).
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