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Author Topic: Vacuum - Build a Stellar Empire. (0.62a ALPHA build 34) (TC Mod)  (Read 369730 times)

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #165 on: August 31, 2013, 10:23:42 AM »

Something for the new build's changes to certain things :)

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I'll take 3. No need to wrap them up. I'll be using them right away.
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Borgoid

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #166 on: August 31, 2013, 09:40:58 PM »

First off I want to say that this is a really great mod with a bunch of great ideas behind it and it's been a hell of a lot of fun re-learning most of the game over the last few days, all that said I've come across a few things that you might want to consider.

It's been mentioned in passing a few times but the nature of the new hull mods and the OP balance feels skewy.

Most ( if not all ) ships end up with huge piles of unused OP until you've leveled up Tech and even then a lot of the time I find myself simply throwing on everything even when it's not particularly appropriate to the ship. I never feel as though I'm forced to make any hard choices because of the limitations of OP, which seems a bit odd to me.
This on its own wouldn't be too much of an issue but when combined with the average size of a spawned fleet being so large it starts to be a problem.
If you choose to level up Combat first you're pretty much resigned to using one ship as any secondaries you tag along with you will not only have NONE of the Piloted ship bonuses but will also have few if any hull modifications at all, which is a huge problem when compared to the AI spawned fleets which come with ship defining hull mods by default. It's also worth mentioning that if you want to use any ship OTHER than your starting ( or replacement ship should you die ) you're pretty much screwed... and screwed for a LONG time at that. - Unless you choose to mine but I'll get to that in a minute -

I mentioned it earlier but the fleet sizes might need a bit of tuning. The fuel/mining fleets are typically too large to engage early on (Unless you've gone straight for leadership and have spent quite a while mining) and the smaller recon or scout groups seem too uncommon. Part of this may be an internal balance issue regarding weapons and ships but I don't think it necessarily needs to be tweaked in that way.
Essentially what I'm saying is that you may need to consider adding in something similar to the double hound or Hound/lasher or Buffalo fleets that vanilla has the pirates spew out at an alarming frequency. They're an important stepping stone that allows someone with a single ship to level up and and gain credits to upgrade their fleet. This is even MORE important when you add Mining into the game because mining for the most part is low risk and HIGH reward.
Fleets don't naturally patrol around looking for mining groups or easy targets, instead they tend to either Defend or Attack meaning most (Though admittedly not all ) fleets are clustered around planets meaning that a player mining fleet can simply go to any asteroid away from the fighting, load up, and come back making huge profits in the process and very rarely if ever actually engaging in combat.
Even if a mining fleet is engaged in combat it's often not a problem due to the strength of carriers and mining wings in combat. Mining is so lucrative that once you've made two or three runs ( which often can be done in the very early stages of the game before ANY wars have started ) you're basically swimming in cash and it snowballs completely out of control - even without the Omnifactory - to the point where your mining fleet is SO large that only the largest ( and slowest ) fleets can engage it which lowers the risk even further because you naturally acquire Coordinated Maneuvers from Leadership.

The value of Germanium is frankly just too high which is certainly a big problem but I still think the larger issue is that mining is the path of least resistance by a HUGE margin and smaller fleets would be a big step in the right direction towards fixing that, I understand the desire to focus on larger fleet battles but it feels at the moment like you're pigeon-holed
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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #167 on: September 01, 2013, 09:39:06 AM »

Good critique, thanks much :-)

1.  The intention with the Hull Mods is, basically, to get things stabilized, then offer up some ways to strongly differentiate at higher OPs once I feel like I know what would work. 

The emphasis on Tech vs. Combat is more-or-less intentional; it forces players who've been going all-Combat (because that's pretty optimal in Vanilla for the first 20 levels).

I actually think there's a lot of differentiation between the ships no matter what's thrown onto them, given that the ships themselves are all so different.  A Daisho is not a Dram; I feel like there is quite a lot of variety in that sense.

However, the larger goal here is to deal with some of the larger issues with Vanilla's game progression and balance.  One of the things I don't like in Vanilla very much is that 2-4 Hull Mods is pretty common, which is not enough to make most of the Frigates useful in later play, with the exception of the Hyperion (and if you're really good, the Tempest); since I'm a big fan of Frigates and often play a small raiding group of them against anything short of an uber-fleet, I'd like them to stay useful and dangerous.

So, while it's not really my intent to make it so that the Frigates all have the same complement of high-end upgrades, feeling similar in that respect, it's more-or-less intentional that they're the only ship level where this is even vaguely possible.

I think that maybe what needs to happen with that is to offer some end-cap upgrades, spread through the three disciplines, that offer players harder choices, and are skewed towards Frigates and Destroyers, not Capships, and perhaps nerf the best upgrades in the current set, so that players will have to honestly weigh spending, say, 25 OP to get something that takes their ship towards an extreme but leaves them with the option to keep the more-generic upgrades.  I'll think about that one.

2.  The fleet sizes are more-or-less balanced with the idea that players are going to play smart and do some mining for a while, before they tackle anything.  The mining fleets are a special case; I found that if they weren't built to handle the actual loads, the engine actually makes them have Accidents just like players, and if they couldn't hold all 1500 of the resource required, they weren't working. 

Mining shouldn't be quite so easy during combat, I agree, but that's a tricky issue to balance, given how fleet sizes influence speeds so heavily, regardless of composition.

I completely agree on having smaller, "bite-sized" and midrange fleets to engage, to gain early experience; I put the Patrols in largely to give players that experience.  I'll look at adding more Patrols that are sized for players to tackle for sure.

Anyhow, I think a lot of this will get mitigated to some degree by the changes in how much combat is occurring in the next build- if players aren't helping their Faction, it's quite likely they'll see the Faction get overwhelmed.

Reducing Mining's level of profitability is also an option, but I'd rather just increase its riskiness; if there are more small fleets that can take players on when they're mining, it may work out.  I'll tweak those factors and we'll see how it feels :)
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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #168 on: September 01, 2013, 11:52:11 AM »

The Burrower, a freighter for the Glaug:


Oh, and the Heavy Bolter (sort of a Mining Blaster on a turret, think old-skool Turbolaser battery):



And I think that the enemy-held stations will occasionally launch one of these at players- meet the Clover, a Light Monitor class.

« Last Edit: September 01, 2013, 12:06:22 PM by xenoargh »
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Borgoid

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #169 on: September 01, 2013, 10:27:57 PM »

I'll have to play around more heavily with the hull mods and get back to you, more mutually exclusive mods might help in terms of forcing harder decisions.
The various shield mods might need a look at as well, currently they seem... not quite compulsory but very close to it, they're very strong and extremely important when making any sort of quality over quantity fleet composition. I'll see how it goes without them and report back.

Regarding the Frigates it may be a problem you can solve by adjusting their fleet point value. Frigates are by their nature not very efficient in terms of their fleet point to effect ratio.  Most capital ships can take out 5-6 frigates without even breaking a sweat, but 8-10? That's tough.
It's in fact almost exactly the problem FIGHTERS had, they could never seem to pull their weight and the justification was that they could rearm and repair in combat which.. well never worked quite as intended. In their current (modded) state they seem to punch a little bit above their weight, especially in the case of the 1 fleet point wings which makes them not only viable but quite appealing to use

Regarding fleet sizes. Playing smart is one thing, being forced to wait around on mining is another entirely. It may be a good idea to simply start players with either a larger ship or more credits if possible and simply eliminate the waiting around step entirely. Of course that wouldn't be necessary if early game combat was more of an option.

Is it possible to have the mining fleets come in different sizes? Surely they needn't all be delivering 1500.

Also regarding the bite-sized fleets, that may be a difficult one to balance properly with regards to their resource consumption due to their overall inefficiency. If possible a solution may be to have larger fleets  have a cost multiplier or penalty in the sense that:
1 frigate say costs, 10 resources, but 10 frigates in one fleet would cost 150. In that way you'd be able to have smaller fleets produced without cutting heavily into the faction/station resource income, still allowing larger fleets to be produced, but not penalizing so heavily if say... A player runs around with a well designed fast fleet and cuts down all the smaller fleets. Of course you'd have to tweak all the costs accordingly so that current large fleets cost the same...
Possibly just invert that system entirely and have smaller fleets have a cost reduction modifier, that's probably simpler.
Or I suppose you could avoid the problem entirely by producing the smaller fleets for free but that leads to weird inflation.. *Shrug* I'm no game designer
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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #170 on: September 03, 2013, 09:08:41 PM »

Stuff:

1.  Exigency ships' regen nerfed to the point they're kill-able.  They're still annoying, but they aren't godlike. 

This change also effects all ships with Automated Repair Unit (that makes PunkJunkers and Onslaughts a bit less tough, too).

2.  Mining fleets come in all sizes and can mine if they still have mining craft.

3.  Almost done with the new battle system.  Still balancing the stations, which is the hard part.  Really excited about this, it's a very different feel to how battles play out.

4.  Buffed the Assault Chaingun.

5.  Most of the weapons have unique sound effects.
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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #171 on: September 05, 2013, 11:37:37 AM »

Found time enough to get the Sweeper working today:

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The Sweeper is a "space shotgun" with a circular shot pattern like the real thing.  Each shot's damage is relatively low, but it adds up.  

This is a very nasty weapon, because it can do double-duty as a shield-killer against heavies up close and is a halfway-decent fighter-killer at a distance.

It (and the work on the Chaingun) really makes me think that I should work on all of the fixed-arc guns more before pushing out the release.

I think that the new station gameplay stuff is reasonably well-polished and I have a pretty good idea of where to take it in the future, but this is an area where I feel like there's stuff missing.

There aren't enough good options right now; for example, there aren't any fixed-arc HE weapons at all.  There aren't any Plasma weapons, no real equivalent to AM /Ion weapons.  

There really aren't any beam weapons between Tachyon Lances and Graviton Beams, either.  There is no heavy beam-bolty thing; in fact, there aren't any medium beam-bolty things; it's IR Pulse lasers or nothin'.

So... does anybody have anything they'd like to see, while I'm cooking up some new art?  I'm planning:

1.  Some really short-ranged pulsed beam (think Vanilla Tachyon Lance pulse length, about 1 second) with a ridiculous amount of damage and fairly high Flux costs.  Basically an alpha-strike for point-blank ranges, to give Frigates / Destroyers an option if they dare get up close.

2.  HE ballistic shot weapons, at about the same price-points as the Kinetic ones (i.e., more OPs than the one Frag that's in right now) so that in this category, we have some armor-killers as well as shield-killers.

3.  A Medium beam weapon and perhaps something in the uber-laser category but without the Tachyon Lance's crippling EMP.

4.  Something Plasma, since that's always fun.
« Last Edit: September 05, 2013, 11:50:05 AM by xenoargh »
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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #172 on: September 05, 2013, 06:37:51 PM »

The Melter: short-ranged heating device, for all of your "crisping" needs.

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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #173 on: September 07, 2013, 03:51:07 PM »

The Slugthrower: a light automatic cannon for fixed-mount positions.  Light on OPs, does HE damage, pairs well with the Railgun.

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #174 on: September 08, 2013, 12:43:35 AM »

Haha, how do you make weapons so fast? It takes me an about 2 hours to make one if I need to draw it.
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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #175 on: September 08, 2013, 12:55:01 PM »

It only takes me a few minutes per weapon.  I actually did 4-5 weapons last night, I just haven't posted them up.  For example, there's a double-barrel version of the Slugthrower, another beam weapon in the Medium category to supplement the Phase Beam and I got a large-scale HE gun's sprite done but not the code yet.  They're all looking pretty snazzy and I think they fit in well with Vanilla weapons, rather than really standing out, while being distinctive.

In terms of productivity, here are some tips:

Weapons, like fighters, are small enough that doing it one pixel at a time with pencil tools and a few minor tricks like using gradients works best.  You're only talking about a few hundred pixels at most, and very simple shading for the most part.

You just draw the outlines with black, then fill over the areas in another layer with the colors you want.  Set the color layer's blend mode to Overlay (to transfer some color values to the outlines) then merge and do a bit of pixel-work to finish. Like on the Melter, for example, I set up a couple of layers to handle little highlights and suchlike.  There's no need to go overboard, though- so long as the shapes look 3D and sharp enough to be recognizable, it doesn't need to be ultra-perfect to be effective.  

I generally start with a power-of-two texture size (say, 64X16 for small guns, 128X32 for big ones) and draw a line exactly halfway down so that I know exactly where the attachment point is, then I draw the gun and get it to the right spots.

For weapons where the barrels recoil, like the Slugthrower, I first draw the whole gun, including the barrel, then I cut the barrel out and put it in a new texture.  Then in the non-barrel sprite, I draw black with 50% opacity right where the gun body and barrel join, creating a bit of shadow.  Because the barrels (generally!) are going to get drawn under the main turret sprite, that little layer of half-opacity black creates the illusion of shadow when the barrel moves during recoil.  It's not a big deal, but it's a nice little touch.  For guns that need Glows, I do the Glow last, in its own layer, generally by creating some white pixels where the glow would be strong, then duplicating the layer and doing some blurring or whatnot.  It's unfortunate that colored Glows with unique colors aren't possible atm, due to the engine overriding the RGB values, but it's pretty enough and only people like me care about those little details anyhow :)

Oh yeah, and I got your PM, sorry for not replying yet, been pretty busy IRL.  When this is out, take a look at the SpecialShotBehaviors.java in the scripts/plugins folder and you'll see how the Sweeper works, it's very simple and if you're not into coding yet, it might be a good way to get your feet wet.  If you're stuck, we can talk about that when you've had a chance to look it over :)
« Last Edit: September 08, 2013, 12:56:47 PM by xenoargh »
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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #176 on: September 08, 2013, 03:54:04 PM »

Wonder if you would ever consider adding a way to switch factions mid game?  Why?  Lately this is how my games have been going:

Already at war with one or two factions that has roflstomped their way through my stations till only my original station is left.

Me: Oh god!  I only have a tiny fleet and can't take on any of these attack fleets plus we only have a few tiny defense fleets!  What should we do oh glorious yet invisible faction leader?
My faction: We declare war with yet another faction!
Me: Umm... excuse me sir, shouldn't we ally with the one remaining neutral faction before attempting a 3 front war?
My faction:  We declare war with the only remaining neutral faction!
Me: [[facepalm]]

It's at this point that I would like to send my resume to the opposing factions and hope I can get an entry lvl job in a mining fleet.

P.s. still love the mod, just been having bad luck with runaway war declarations without defense fleets to back it up.
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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #177 on: September 08, 2013, 05:29:09 PM »

Hrmm.  TBH, I inherited all of that from Exerelin and I don't think I've done much to change it.  I'll look into that, see what can be done.  I personally enjoy those moments where I'm the Only Hope of my Faction, but I can see how that might feel a bit overwhelming sometimes :)
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xenoargh

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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #178 on: September 08, 2013, 06:25:45 PM »


Eagle with Sweeper and paired Sluggers.  Definitely a nasty 1-2 punch.

Gotta finish the last weapons in the new set, then I'll take a look at the strategic-AI issue, then it's finally time to release this and see what people think :)
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Re: Vacuum / Exerelin Alpha 1 (Total Conversion)
« Reply #179 on: September 08, 2013, 07:37:16 PM »

--- snip ---
 I'll take a look at the strategic-AI issue
--- snip ---

Xeno, it should be a fairly straightforward to change. Maybe add <someNumber> relationship points to other faction relationships for each faction involved in initiating a war (see DiplomacyManager.java). That should delay any extra war declarations long enough for war weariness for that faction to start reducing the chance of them starting extra wars.

Also, as it can get frustrating (as erynr73 points out) I'll introduce something similar into base Exerelin.

Which brings me to start thinking about how you are going to integrate base Exerelin change into Vacuum? :)
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