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Starsector 0.9.1a is out! (05/10/19); Blog post: Personal Contacts (08/13/20)

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Author Topic: New to StarSector - I need help  (Read 3106 times)

AschTheConjurer

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New to StarSector - I need help
« on: August 02, 2019, 09:42:27 PM »

I've only just started playing StarSector, and while I'm very much enjoying most of what I've seen of the game thusfar, combat alone is turning out to be more-or-less a dealbreaker with this game, especially with how much the game is emphasizing it's an unavoidable aspect.

I thought I'd ask here if there's some mods or some settings I've missed to make the going easier.
The two main problems I'm looking to solve are:

- I have no sense of momentum when controlling ships. I regularly am not sure if the ship I'm piloting is still moving, because other ships often seem to match momentum with mine (so all ships friendly or enemy in the encounter are strafing/moving unanimously in the same direction, with the visual illusion that all are perfectly still with the exception of their gunfire), and there's no background detail to give me a sense of direction and speed. This causes me a big problem with leading targets, or determining if I've been hit with an EMP and my engines are disabled, because I don't even know for sure if I'm moving in the first place.

- The in-battle UI that sprouts from ship sprites is a huge mess. Is there a mod or option in Settings I'm just not seeing that basically removes everything from around the ships themselves except for the Flux meter and Hull meter (since at this point in playing I don't really care about seeing weapons and subsystems in this way)? I would normally settle with something like increasing the UI size or lowering the game's resolution to make it seem bigger, but there's just so much information in such a small part of the screen that interpreting the sheer amount of information is next to impossible for me. That being said, I do certainly need to make the UI bigger, because running in 1366x768 resolution, I find it very difficult to keep track of the Flux/Hull meters of ships with all the weaponsfire and particle effects.


I'm guessing that the first couple of combat encounters in the campaign are supposed to be stacked against the player, sure. A couple of times now I've got to the point where I'm supposed to clear out the Miner-Pirates (?) from around the local hyperspace gate, and both times everything has collapsed at that point because with 10 ships all flying around in real time with large information readouts for all of them, I can't really tell what's going on.

Alternatively:
Am I playing StarSector's combat wrong? I've been essentially trying to play it like EV:Nova or Endless Sky but with mouse support, just dancing myself around enemy ships in real time and whittling them down.
Is it actually intended to be played more like games akin to Black Isle's old cRPGs, where you're meant to be pausing combat and assigning new orders every second or two?
I don't really want to just sit back in every fight and stare at the tactical screen or whatever it's called, playing an RTS with only 5 units, but that's the only method of combat I haven't tried out yet.

EDIT:
Also, I forgot to specifically ask if there is a mod that changes the WASD keys to function as cardinal directions instead of moving the ship relative to the direction it faces: The option to make the ship always face the mouse cursor isn't really helping with this, because of the relativistic thrust of the WASD keys.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2019, 09:48:56 PM by AschTheConjurer »
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Draken

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2019, 10:05:08 PM »

Hey,

Unfortunately there is not really a way to adjust the UI in the ways that your looking for specifically, however I can say that you will get used to it pretty quickly.  Everything makes sense after a little time.

The advice that I can give is below.

1. If your having trouble with the pirates, remember that you can split them up into two groups.  Trying to fight them outright with both units at the same time will be tough for a new player.

2. You are not meant to play the game as an RTS (in fact there is a mechanic in game to specifically prevent you from doing so) but you do need to be assessing the situation and assigning orders periodically. 

3. Make sure you are playing on Easy - this game is hard, and you really should be learning on easy difficulty.

4. Try playing a mission from the main menu, or use the simulator in the refit menu when docked to practice controlling your ship. 

5. The game sprite actually gives a lot of info - the engines on your sprite will change based on whether you are accelerating, at a constant speed, or disabled.  There is a lot of info to gain from the sprites but you can focus on that detail for now.


This game (more than anything else) is Mount and Blade in a space setting.  If you have ever played that game, approach Starsector with the same mindset. 


But mainly, make sure to draw one pirate group away, fight 4 v 4 or 5 v 5, go repair, then take out the second group.

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AschTheConjurer

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2019, 10:28:21 PM »

While I do very much appreciate the quick reply (I honestly wasn't thinking I'd hear anything until tomorrow at the earliest based on most other games' forums), unfortunately a reply of "You'll get used to it" doesn't help much.

My big problems are around how I can't read or interpret any of the information I'm being given by the game to "get used to it".

I'm very much a fan of Mount&Blade, specifically Warband, but the skills and gameplay are not at all transferable from what I can tell. M&B gives a lot of very obvious visual and audible feedback to what the player is doing and what's happening to them (positions of your arms, blood stains, sounds when readying attacks or taking damage, etc) and it has a very minimalist but big UI that doesn't require squinting at to try and pick out small text amongst particle effects.

Do you know if, at the very least, there's a mod that gives audio cues to things like the Flux bar maxing out, the Hull bar reaching thresholds, or other important functions?
The overall theme of my difficulties with the game's combat is that there is too much information to be able to read (for reasons in-game and out of game) so I need something other squinting at a tiny UI to be able to respond with any promptness to what's going on with my fleet - hence my thought that the game may be intended to be played like an Infinity Engine RPG, since those games expect you to need to pause in order to spend time reading everything that's happened in the combat event logs of such games.

Hell, even something that lets me change the colour of the tooltip UI from Amber-Brown-Orange to a colour that contrasts against bullets and explosions rather than melding into them would help a little bit in the actual physical readability of all the small interface elements that move around, because they're attached to the ships.

I've taken a break and go play some Endless Sky for a couple hours because StarSector was genuinely starting to frustrate the *** out of me given that I seem to not be able to tackle the second fight of the story despite being on even footing with the pirate fleet, but I'm going to come back to it later and give it another try.
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JDCollie

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2019, 10:53:46 PM »

Yup, there is a mod called Combat Alarm Sounds. http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=11253.0 And while I know it's unsatisfying to hear "get used to it", I really hope you stick around and keep at it. Starsector is not the friendliest game for new players, but it really does reward you in spades if you stick it out.

As for pausing, I rarely do so unless I am issuing commands, which is itself something I don't do too often except at the beginning of the battle or to redirect fighter squadrons.

The Mount & Blade similarity is more related to the campaign and how you move about the map than it has to do with the details of combat.

About the second battle, are you talking about fighting the Pirate patrol at Derikuyu?



If you're interested, I could make a little video showcasing that battle and how to approach it. It might be easier than trying to describe all that here in text.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2019, 11:54:44 PM by JDCollie »
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bowman

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #4 on: August 03, 2019, 01:00:53 AM »

I suppose you touched on it yourself already but the best advice I can give would be to liberally use the pause button in combat. You can pretty much completely ignore most of what the target tooltip shows you as a new player and just focus on the flux/hull/armor displays- though I take it you're already trying to do that but the text is both too small and too easily obscured by combat?
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akrammon

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2019, 07:00:49 AM »

I agree with bowman in spamming that pause button often. In the beginning, then you get used to it.

Also, in the refit screen you can use simulations. Super useful for getting used to flying a new ship type. (or trying new loadouts)

Some more general early combat tips is to try to stack your ships together. You can hit TAB to bring up the tactical screen and then select your ship, and then rightclick on another of your ship. This will assign an escort meaning those ships will tend to stick together. Spam this feature. In the beginning the most challanging aspect for me was my fleet falling into 2-3 groups. If you stick together it will be much easier.

For the specific combat you are mentioning, you need to recover some ships from the debris before (Hammerhead, Condor I think). Did you do that? Otherwise pretty hard. And also you need to separate the pirates into two groups. I don't see how a newbie such as myself could win the fight against both fleets at once. If you engage one fleet and the other is close, then they will assist. The pre-battle screen will say "Pirates with Allies" or something similar, meaning the other fleet is in range.

I realize this is not what you are asking exactly. I replied these because combat is overwhelming in the beginning, but the above tips help with that.
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outdated

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2019, 07:46:02 AM »

You can always pause the battle, go to tactical view, think over the situation and give out orders.

And you can press U to let the AI control your flagship, which lets you to play in full RTS mode.
« Last Edit: August 03, 2019, 07:48:44 AM by outdated »
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vagrant

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2019, 12:09:41 PM »

I've only just started playing StarSector, and while I'm very much enjoying most of what I've seen of the game thusfar, combat alone is turning out to be more-or-less a dealbreaker with this game, especially with how much the game is emphasizing it's an unavoidable aspect.

- I have no sense of momentum when controlling ships. I regularly am not sure if the ship I'm piloting is still moving, because other ships often seem to match momentum with mine (so all ships friendly or enemy in the encounter are strafing/moving unanimously in the same direction, with the visual illusion that all are perfectly still with the exception of their gunfire), and there's no background detail to give me a sense of direction and speed. This causes me a big problem with leading targets, or determining if I've been hit with an EMP and my engines are disabled, because I don't even know for sure if I'm moving in the first place.

EDIT:
Also, I forgot to specifically ask if there is a mod that changes the WASD keys to function as cardinal directions instead of moving the ship relative to the direction it faces: The option to make the ship always face the mouse cursor isn't really helping with this, because of the relativistic thrust of the WASD keys.



So I have this problem too, especially in hectic fights and I like using the 'T' key, which is a toggle that centers your camera on your target, to do a few things:

-First, break the relative movement illusion by giving myself a constant reference point

-Second, strip away from the other ui clutter, especially when I'm on my old macbook at a small resolution

-Third, give me semi-absolute controls because the viewport is locked.


Also I pause judiciously in hectic fights because the AI loves to sneak a torpedo up your engine port when you aren't looking.


For general advice:

The combat is hard, and is very technical, especially on normal. Do not be afraid to use easy mode for learning or just to play the game. Just like M&B you take less damage and deal more.

Learn the damage types and think about how to best manipulate them. Many of my ships are heavily kinetic-damage focused because I value flux pressure on enemies above pretty much anything else.

As you play the game, you'll learn to identify hulls on sight and get a general idea of their strengths and weaknesses and capabilities. Where certain ships aren't covered by guns or shields, or other ways to exploit them (low flux cap, low dissipation, low armor, low turning speed). Same goes for weapons

Play with the simulator, and the mission mode to get a sense of what size and tech level ships you like to pilot personally, and have supporting you. You'll also learn what kinds of enemies you struggle against and how to deal with them.

Speed and Range are VERY important factors to consider. If you significantly outspeed or outrange an enemy, you can much more easily control engagements, regardless of the situation.

Don't be afraid to fight close together with allies. It will help the combat feel less unforgiving because they can keep you from being surrounded and caught out as easily, and also just mitigate enemy pressure by giving them more targets to wail on.


Overall, use what works for you, Starsector's combat is deep and varied and very flexible. Hope this helped!




RE Ship disablement:

I find this frustrating and unclear as well. The game should definitely inform you better when your piloted ship has any systems disabled. The visuals and sound for an overload are great and clear, but getting your engines/weapons disabled can feel frustrating, arbitrary and unclear, especially from EMP.
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Madao

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #8 on: August 04, 2019, 04:45:13 AM »

You will get used it, and that isn't saying gitgud, it's just saying that it takes awhile to acclimate to it all. Personally I took to the game like a fish to water but my friend had all the same issues you have stated when he started. It took awhile but he can play half asleep these days. In regards to having no sense of movement, when I'm not in direct combat I like to open the map and unpause, since the ship will keep moving in the same direction without input. That way I get a sense of scale and movement, plus the additional info is a great bonus.
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DeclanFrost

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2019, 08:31:27 AM »

I feel one of your most significant points isn't being addressed here. That point being the tiny UI. I haven't found a way to make the UI easier to read, but you can just use Combat Alarms like one person said and use the little ship Sprite in the bottom left to see where you're damaged. In vanilla, there's an audio cue when your weapons or engines are disabled, so just listen for that.
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Wyvern

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2019, 10:22:03 AM »

Two things I haven't seen in other responses:
  • 1: There is a (subtle) starry background that's intended to provide a sense of motion.  It's not obvious, but it is there.
  • 2: There is a Leading Pip mod that adds an improved targeting UI, giving you some idea of where you need to be shooting to land hits on a moving target.  This is very useful and highly recommended, especially for a new player.
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Wyvern is 100% correct about the math.

Serenitis

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2019, 10:34:41 AM »

- I have no sense of momentum when controlling ships. I regularly am not sure if the ship I'm piloting is still moving

Load up your saved game and open the refit screen (R), and select your preferred ship.
At the bottom there is a 'simulator' button. Press it.
This will generate a simulated 'mission' with your selected ship, and nothing else in it.

Move your ship around and watch the screen without moving the viewport around. You will see 'flecks' and 'motes' moving past your ship to indicate it's direction of travel.
They are not super bright so they don't overwhelm the display, but they are there.
Spend a bit of time just moving in various directions/speeds and just concentrate on the background rather than the ship.
After a while you'll just kind of automatically 'get' it, and it won't take up any mental bandwidth.

If it helps, think of these indicators as being on different layers.
Your ship is on the top layer, and moves over the others.
The ones on the next layer are closest to your ship, and will appear to be moving the fastest and might be slighly more visible.
The ones on lower layers are further away, and so will appear to move slower and might be fainter.
And on the lowest layer is the local planet/star, which moves only the tiniest amount.
All of this provides a kind of 'false parallax' to give the impression of movement.

Two things I haven't seen in other responses:
  • 1: There is a (subtle) starry background that's intended to provide a sense of motion.  It's not obvious, but it is there.

efb
« Last Edit: August 05, 2019, 10:36:15 AM by Serenitis »
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Megas

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2019, 10:45:45 AM »

  • 1: There is a (subtle) starry background that's intended to provide a sense of motion.  It's not obvious, but it is there.
I remember this.  I was like, "what starry background?!"  I eventually saw it, but it is so transparent that it might as well be invisible unless I am actively searching for those stars.
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SCC

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2019, 10:47:43 AM »

I've only just started playing StarSector, and while I'm very much enjoying most of what I've seen of the game thusfar, combat alone is turning out to be more-or-less a dealbreaker with this game, especially with how much the game is emphasizing it's an unavoidable aspect.
For better or worse, Starsector is about combat. It will either make or break the game for you.

- I have no sense of momentum when controlling ships. I regularly am not sure if the ship I'm piloting is still moving, because other ships often seem to match momentum with mine (so all ships friendly or enemy in the encounter are strafing/moving unanimously in the same direction, with the visual illusion that all are perfectly still with the exception of their gunfire), and there's no background detail to give me a sense of direction and speed. This causes me a big problem with leading targets, or determining if I've been hit with an EMP and my engines are disabled, because I don't even know for sure if I'm moving in the first place.
Projectile weapons have relative range and speed, which means that if a ship appears stationary to you, shooting in the centre of it will hit it there. Besides that, there's only motes in the background.

Alternatively:
Am I playing StarSector's combat wrong? I've been essentially trying to play it like EV:Nova or Endless Sky but with mouse support, just dancing myself around enemy ships in real time and whittling them down.
Is it actually intended to be played more like games akin to Black Isle's old cRPGs, where you're meant to be pausing combat and assigning new orders every second or two?
I don't really want to just sit back in every fight and stare at the tactical screen or whatever it's called, playing an RTS with only 5 units, but that's the only method of combat I haven't tried out yet.

EDIT:
Also, I forgot to specifically ask if there is a mod that changes the WASD keys to function as cardinal directions instead of moving the ship relative to the direction it faces: The option to make the ship always face the mouse cursor isn't really helping with this, because of the relativistic thrust of the WASD keys.
No, Starsector can be played without giving your fleet any orders at all, but due to how combat works positioning is still very important. Being alone will most likely get you killed.
Another no, there's no mod that changes how controls work, mainly because most ships' forwards and sideways/backwards thrusts have different values.

JDCollie

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Re: New to StarSector - I need help
« Reply #14 on: August 05, 2019, 06:26:28 PM »

I don't know if OP is still around to care, but I made a video playing through the tutorial. Hopefully someone finds it helpful.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iZ3RbQboOx8


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