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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: Skill Changes, Part 2 (07/15/21)

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Messages - Eji1700

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1
Suggestions / Re: How do we make crew losses matter?
« on: June 03, 2021, 08:06:22 PM »
Mostly numbers rebalancing and a larger bonus for fully crewed and a more gradual curve for losing crew, and more ways for enemies to target crew.

As it stands crew feels mostly binary.  It's a passive tax and then mostly a "i have enough" or "i don't have enough"...and very rarely does the second happen.

I know there's technically more that's going on, but it's so rare that you notice becuase "do i have a enough crew" is a VASTLY smaller concern than supplies and fuel.

If there were weapons that were known to kill more crew, or situations where crew death was higher, it might incentivize protecting them in the first place.  I know there's lots of stuff that helps with that, but in practice the only time you really ever care is on carriers.

Actually going for crew murder as another way to deal with ships could be interesting (i believe the AI plays by the same rules there?), but it does seem like something that will obviously affect players more.

2
Blog Posts / Re: A Tale of Two Tech Levels
« on: May 28, 2021, 12:27:26 PM »
As always i really like the approach that's being taken to solve these issues. 

The new frigate looks fun and opens some really interesting design space, and of course i'm really excited to see how the burn drive changes work out (Especially in AI hands).

In general though i'm just excited for "moar ships" in vanilla.  God knows we've got a ton of great mods to expand the roster, but i'm happy to see some of the niche's being filled in more and more without it.  Really helps keep the flavor right in the base game, and hopefully moves away from "high tech best tech" mentality that it can leave you with.

3
I have some nitpicks/issues but the new system is better overall.  It's going to take some polishing/balance but putting points in "industry" so you can choose industry skills was just bleh.

I don't love how the skills are allocated in either system (tech/industry/fleet being generic with pilot being ship specific, and of course a random smattering through other 3). but I like the idea of "pick one, not both, unless you wrap around".

I do think that "generic" bonuses might help.  Like you get 3 points in fleet and you always get X, no matter what 3 you chose.  It would help with some of the MUST HAVE picks.

4
General Discussion / Re: The Frigate Bias
« on: March 29, 2021, 02:52:41 PM »
(The Tempest is basically just too good. I suspect it'll meet a nerf bat in a dark alley some day, and what comes out just won't be the same as what went in.)
So..here's my thought-

The tempest, as is, is a great player ship (ok maybe still too much but close).  The "endgame" pinnacle of your fleet.  One of your elite ships, and it's neat that it's NOT a cruiser/capital, and isn't as obviously special as the hyperion.

However...obviously, the tempest as is CAN'T exist as something you can have 3+ of in your fleet.  I mean single player game so obviously it could, but it does warp the game to where even people who aren't trying to minmax are going to wind up with fleets full of tempests.

Just food for thought on the upcoming alley mugging.

5
General Discussion / Re: 0.95- First Impressions
« on: March 27, 2021, 11:17:36 PM »
Pirate base bounties are also too far nerfed IMO, 30-40k is not enough, I think a similarly difficult fight against ships would pay 2-3 times as much. Maybe 60k tier 1, 90k tier 2, 120k tier 3.

Yeah, I noticed this too. To give a frame of reference, I'm running a pretty unfocused ragtag fleet of a couple cruisers, three combat destroyers plus a couple mules, some high-tech frigates, and assorted logistics. I just completed two ~150k bounties consisting of multiple cruisers and destroyers; the second one was a bit rough but I didn't lose anything permanently.

Meanwhile, there's a pirate base bounty available at 40k, when I'm pretty sure this fleet would get rekt by even a T1 station.
It feels somewhat odd. My early game strat in previous patch was to just make base hunting fleets.  It felt "right" to basically be carting my trebuchet's around (carriers loaded with piranhas, often 6ish wings) that i wouldn't deploy to most fights, but came out to siege bases.

Even doing this, it's probably too cheap, especially given you're usually facing a fleet with it that would often be about 40k worth if it were a bounty itself.

You can zig and zag the fleets sometimes, and then the base is easy pickings, but even then 40k feels really really cheap for the hassle/specialization.  I agree they can't all be 200k, that was nuts, but i do feel that 70-80k is probably more appropriate. 

6
General Discussion / Re: 0.95- First Impressions
« on: March 27, 2021, 01:42:33 PM »
While i don't think you're ever going to like the game I think this has some interesting points about on boarding beginners as I felt something akin to this the first time i played.  Although I kinda don't get how you only have crusiers still?  Have you tried an apogee/hammerhead start? I think for most those should be the standard, the "joy" of getting a fleet from the cruisers is minimal imo.
The player is still underpowered and therefore has to rely on allied AI, which is a problem because allied AI is still braindead and happily suicides high-value ships into the enemy deathball.  For some unfathomable reason you can also still only give a limited number of commands to your ships; limiting the player's ability to at least marginally affect the Brownian motion of his/her ships is exactly the wrong thing to do with respect to the aforementioned AI issue.
The player absolutely isn't under-powered, but it can very much feel that way until you understand more of the games systems.  Just "getting" the flux system took me awhile (hammerhead really sold it for me), and then understanding where and when you can "push" an enemy fleet vs "yeah i can get this kill, and then die for it".  The AI is quite good, but you do have to give it orders occasionally.  They need to be cautious by default because yeah you can't have them throwing away ships, but if you don't know to throw on engage/eliminate/escort orders (or where to put them) fights can feel VERY stalemated.  Showing that you can assign ships to escort you early, as a simple "here's how you should start" i think would be very helpful in the tutorial.  That way you don't overextend as easily, and have all your power at one spot.

In general i think the game would benefit a LOT from a quick youtube battle tutorial.  You can't easily put that in game, but just on the site, showing off how an average battle could go.  You give people commands, but them limit them, and it sends a mixed signal.  The end result works REALLY well, but i fell into a similar "well how do i get these idiots to not fly off and do nothing" frustration early on.

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The enemy AI, meanwhile, kites you like an absolute cowardly bastard, because nothing is more fun than being kited by AI.

This was something i absolutely remember feeling when I was learning.  Having my slow wayfarer try and chase a pirate wolf endlessly around a battlefield not getting at all what the hell i was supposed to do. They wouldn't retreat and i couldn't catch them , so what do?   I still think that "beginner" enemies like pirate rabble should have a "moron" AI that's overly aggressive in spurts to keep these endless benny hill chases from occurring.  Again once you understand the game better this basically stops, but it's so easy as a beginner to wind up with a fleet that can repeatedly get stuck in this situation.  This behavior is obviously required in "real" battles because so much of the combat is about right place right time stuff, but this is a brutal hill for beginners.

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The skill tree is still saturated with boring "+10% to whatever" choices; some even have conditions now that make them lose effectiveness as your fleet grows, because nothing is more exciting than getting a skill that has planned obsolescence built in.
This...just isn't true in practice, but it is the sort of thing that's somewhat poorly conveyed.  As an example "-50% weapon recoil".  This has a problem on several levels.  First of all, wtf is weapon recoil?  If you're a beginner many of the starting ships/loadouts don't even make it obvious it's a thing, and certainly not a thing you should care about.  Worse, is -50% huge or nothing? The skill is amazing, but you can pick it up and not even know WHY its crazy, and build in ways that take barely any advantage of it.

It's a damned if you do/don't situation, but personally I think skills like this should just say "Drastically reduce weapon recoil" with a hover for details (-50%), or hell even a toggle to get the details shown.  A beginner doesn't need to know exact %'s because that makes them think it's just some incremental thing, but in reality this is gameplay changing.

Ideally, i think basically every ship skill should have a small clip associated with it, showing an ideal "before/after" showing what it's going to effect (at least if it's got active effects), but to be fair that's not super simple to do.

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The map movement is still incredibly rubberbandy and frustratingly unresponsive, with a whole bunch of movement abilities that serve no purpose other than to annoy you. Hyperspace is still filled with clouds and storms, because navigating between those with the aforementioned controls feels just oh so good. I could go on for a very long time like this.
Yeah navigation needs work.  Recent skills/quest changes are helping (going dark feels like it has a purpose, and a skill makes it not annoying to use), but the nav skills feel at odds with what you actually do.
I still spend 90% of my time on 2x speed, free camera, max zoom out, with my fingers over the 4/5 key so i can, if something requires it,
1. Pause
2. Hit 5
3. Manuver on a dime
4. Hit 5 again
5. Continue.
Optinal. - Hit 4 and run.

I have never used interdiction, because 90% of the time enemies are too slow to get away (because piloting a slow fleet sucks, so you just aren't slow) or running at you.  I spend almost all my time in max burn, because of course, making me wonder why it's not the normal, and I've made a suggestion to sort of integrate the 2 rather than force 3 key presses as we do now.

Active burst is a "oh i'm exploring, ok" thing.  It rarely ever matters that it forces you to slow down, so it feels annoying that it does?  I think it too could stand to have better use, but again i've made topics on such.

I think this is an area that is RIPE for tons of gameplay with some work though, and i've made posts about such.  As it is, yeah it's tedious, and i'm glad it's less tedious as everything moves faster, but I'm hoping this is an area slated for some more polish.  It's super weird to me you can get other tabs of nav skills when i've barely ever used the ones i have.

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I don't know what improvements and/or additions may have been made in other areas, and I'll probably never find out, because I have no more patience for this. I reached level 10 with a bunch of cruisers in my fleet, and I'm done. I was hoping this update would mean I could start recommending Starfarer to people again instead of warning them against it, but sadly not. Two years of waiting for... this. I should've spent the money on a burger instead.

Your choice. Game is good. It's not well signposted, but while i understand how you have the impression you have, most of it is wrong.  Nav is tedious/underdeveloped (better now though), but the combat is some of the best i've ever messed with.

7
General Discussion / Re: 0.95- First Impressions
« on: March 27, 2021, 04:35:32 AM »
For me, what really annoys me with the skill system is how 2 skills that a player is going to want are right next to each other and mutually exclusive, like sensors and navigation on tech. Navigation is great at all times during the game, and sensors if of particular use for early game “the target is in the heart/edges of a system” missions. Yet to get both, I have to wait until level 6 at the least to get both.

The two level 5 perks of command are really good for colonies and building up your industrial base. But to get both you have to run through the command tree twice. This has a nice synergy with Tier 4, as you get more and better officers. Thats actually good. Tiers 2 and 3 are a mess, as your forced to spec into frigate focus and carrier focus. So to optimise your colonies, your forced to waste skill points on specializations that at least one of which you’re probably not going to use (unless you are a massive fan of the Shepard).

Because picking a Tier 1 skill means I’m locked out of the other Tier 1 skill for 5 levels, it’s now extremely hard to pick even starting skills. Yes there’s respec, but I feel like continuously switching my skill between navigation and sensors is extremely exploity and not at all how the system was intended to be used.

Upside though, I’m glad I no longer have to invest 6 skill points in salvaging before I can salvage research stations and the like.

I think some of this is an example of jumping the gun/new patch old expectations.

The higher speed of everything in general makes navigation less mandatory in my eyes (especially with built ins) while the +3 burn to slow moving opens huge doors for going dark stuff.  I haven't messed around with it much but this seems like a much more legit choice than people are currently giving credit for.

Further I do think it's very much supposed to be somewhat like character classes, and I think it's a pretty good "build your own" style.  Clearly you've got your "pure" classes and it's expected you'll go down a few trees and be some sort of hybrid, and while there does need to be some tweaking i'm sure (yeah built ins seems realllllly good) I think how much you like that style just comes down to taste.  As i said i hate games where you're just going to get everything anyways.  I like distinct builds. 

Obviously either solution can be modded into, i feel like the "get everything" one is easier to mod into from the current system, but I haven't poked at it.

As for "getting both choices" I don't hate that you have to wrap around.  It has an elegance to it, but I do wonder if it shouldn't just be "have to pick the next tier or two before you come back" sort of thing.  Loses elegance but is certainly less frustrating.


8
General Discussion / Re: 0.95- First Impressions
« on: March 27, 2021, 02:42:49 AM »
derp, missed the edit button.

9
General Discussion / Re: 0.95- First Impressions
« on: March 27, 2021, 02:40:09 AM »
Decided to full out play straight vanilla on a wolf + shepard start.  I've never been great and am still very much in the EARLY game so some thoughts-

1. I'm mostly ok with the skill system.  Capstones might need tweaking, but I like that it's "build a character" not "grind whatever you want", and you can respec in game.  I personally dislike skill systems that just become "Grind long enough and get EVERYTHING!".  I think they should encourage playstyles, and i'm hoping we see more of that.

2. Early game is still..rough.  I think for beginning players Hammerhead/Apogee should just be labeled "normal" start and wolf/wayfarer should be labeled "hard" or something.  I know we can nitpick all day about how true that is, but for a beginner who doesn't want to put the game on "Easy" and miss out on content, labeling it that way probably cuts down significantly on growing pains and lets people start out in something that's more robust and less likely to evaporate.

That said I don't find the "build my fleet" phase all that enjoyable still.  This comes down to a few things.

First-

Combat is REALLY punishing.  I was just cleaning up a pirate wolf after a tough battle, wasn't paying attention, and ate a reaper to the face on my shrike and welp that's probably a save reload.  Early on resources are tight enough its not that fun to play through a major ship loss, and it's sooo easy to get out of position and die as an actual beginner (as opposed to my laziness) that i can imagine it happens a lot.  It might not actually be that punishing, but it can feel like a setback. 

Now i'm NOT saying change the combat.  It's great.  I also had a wonderful moment where my shirke had to zoom over to save my stupid pirate carrier and managed to only just block the shots in time leaving it on essentially 0 hull, and in the mid/late game the "dance" combat feels like is so rewarding.

That said I still wonder if "early game", for a beginner, should be under the wing of some company/group.  Given ships that aren't yours and will be replaced as a way to make it go smoother and expose a first time player to some of the larger ships, and what they should be thinking about (and how screwed they're going to be on the other side of this equation).  Just kicking around ideas though.  Don't think any of this is "right now" content, and the apogee/hammerhead do enough.

Second-
RNG shops continues to bug me.  "oh cool i've got 100k credits and am heading to a large hegemony military world, i have no commission, and meh rep but that base shop should have......nothing i want....welp lets roll the black market...which has WAY more stuff at a higher quality for some reason.....and yet still nothing great". 

I'll probably have a larger topic about that later since i'm always harping on the economy though, and i think just numbers tweaks can fix a lot of that (even ignoring some of the more substantial changes I advocate for).  Some of this is also just the lack of ships in vanilla.  Getting a decent destroyer ASAP is so vital to getting the game rolling (although i haven't messed to much with the new skill and escorts so maybe that's changed), and so you're kinda rolling for a few specific ships.

3. Quests help a lot.  It's a much more obvious way for a beginner to make money and it works pretty well.  I've only done a few but "do the thing, get paid, oh also look loot along the way" was some of the signposting the game had been struggling with.  There's always the bounties and missions that are randomly given out, but I think this works well.

4 THANK GLORIOUS GOD THE GAME IS FASTER.  I instant picked navigation as my first skill just because i'm so used to always getting it in the old game because of how slow everything is.  I think the map game in general is an area that could use more love, but it helps soooo much that i'm not forced into taking skills just for the sake of my IRL time.   Might repsec and test sensors instead (especially since i'm still in frigate/destroyer territory).

5. Story points are great-  It's a very good idea, and while you may need to tweak them to be more scarce, i think it's much better if you're handing them out like candy, at least early on.  As with any "limited" resource it's almost always going to be instinct to hoard it and that's a huge waste.  Maybe an obvious hard cap, say of 15, to encourage beginners to really test them out?  Built in hull mods are CRAZY powerful, and probably the best use i've seen, but i love some of the other options so far (disengage, talk your way out, etc).  I think some of these should be locked behind skills maybe to put some more depth on that?  Or perhaps some skills upgrade them, so you can spend 1 story point to disengage from an enemy fleet, but with the right skill you can spend 2 and force a lower point engagement so you can peck at their forces a bit?  Stuff like that.

So yeah, rambling thoughts.  As always super happy to see a new version and love the quality improvements.  Very curious to see what's been done with colonies and some of the spoiled content.

10
Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.95a (Released) Patch Notes
« on: March 26, 2021, 06:38:57 PM »
Loving the update, but built-in hullmods feel absurdly powerful right now. Maybe they should require a scaling number of story points based on OP cost or something..? I dunno
A hard cap might be less weird.  I think ideally you categorize them and give different ships different slots for it, but that's pretty out of scope right now.
I am a moron, they are hard capped.  I forgot i lost the ship and got a new one.  Still, suuuper good with some mods. Fun though.

11
Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.95a (Released) Patch Notes
« on: March 26, 2021, 05:26:45 PM »
Loving the update, but built-in hullmods feel absurdly powerful right now. Maybe they should require a scaling number of story points based on OP cost or something..? I dunno
A hard cap might be less weird.  I think ideally you categorize them and give different ships different slots for it, but that's pretty out of scope right now.

12
Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.95a (Released) Patch Notes
« on: March 26, 2021, 03:05:15 PM »
Only just started (and died a few times, it's been awhile since i've done a "fair" start), but holy hell is the speed increase a beautiful QOL change.

Love the new skills/descriptions as well.  Stumbled into "a plot?" by just accidentally winding up at the station that starts it, so that's nice (helps that they have a system bounty as well).

13
General Discussion / Re: Thoughts on Trading
« on: March 19, 2021, 12:51:53 PM »
Having recently come back to the game (last played v0.8 ), I feel like the economy is much better than it was before, but (non-smuggling) trade has never felt particularly viable compared to things like bounty hunting and exploration. The UI improvements and excess/shortage system make commodity trading much easier in terms of figuring out where the opportunities are. So here's my thoughts on the current state of trading:

I believe the following should be true of commodity trading (buying/selling commodities for a profit):
  • Trading on the open market should not be profitable under normal conditions

In general agree, i'll give a small caveat on 1, in that "normal trading covering operating costs" doesn't strike me as a terrible idea.

Starsector is somewhat unique compared to other games in the genre in that you have very real operating costs.  The constant bleeding of supplies can feel smothering when you're learning, but as a way to get players to "dip a toe" in trading, it would make sense to have your spare space before you leave filled up with commodities that you can sell for a profit upon landing.

I will say that thinking about it trying to work this into the current system in a way that is elegantly clear, and doesn't just lead to risk averse players "grinding" their creds for an hour is possibly not worth it, but I do think it's at least worth considering.

Right now commodities are just credits in another form, as only volitiles have any other use, and since the econ game is pretty complicated it's not exactly worth the hassle vs just bounty hunting/exploring for your money.  Giving beginners an "in" into the trading system might help.[/list]

14

This, I'm not so sure is a problem.  The post-battle salvage screen literally lists your current supplies, supplies to be used for repairs, and how many extra supplies would be needed to repair each and every salvaged ship, along with crew availability and needs, and even has graphical bars and go red if you start taking stuff beyond your means.  It is explicitly answering the question interactively as you click different ship combinations.

As for future upkeep, in terms of monthly supplies, that is something you need to be aware of anyways.   You'd have the exact same issue sitting at a station contemplating frigate purchases or planning a trip into deep space.  It is fundamental part of the game, and you're better off learning that sooner rather than later.  Once you've internalized it, it tends to be a minimal hassle to keep sufficient supplies on hand.

Everyone i've introduced this game to has messed it up repeatedly.  Knowing "oh it's going to take X more per day" is totally useless when you don't have a good feel for how long your average trip is.  One of the hardest things for me starting out was trying to figure out what was a reasonable amount of supplies to bring for a bounty trip, and salvaging makes that math harder.  I have watched multiple people screw it up for a ship that wasn't worth it.

It only gets harder when they learn that "oh yeah 9/10 times for anything good you can ALWAYS get it, just need to insta mothball it".  I know the tutorial shows you some of this in theory, but again, it's a totally absurd process to be dumping on players every single combat.

It is telling to me that we've got so many "well i play this way" posts going here. Of course we all do.  It's not people sitting on a forum with 100's of posts who are bouncing off the games weird mechanics. 

15
Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.95a (In Development) Patch Notes
« on: March 14, 2021, 10:50:40 PM »
There area  few - Buffalo Mk II with converted hangar costs more crew than its capacity. Presumably they are in spacesuits on the outside of the hull pushing Talons off by hand.
At that point i just mentally assume the whole ship has 0 life support.  Just some O2 tanks and tubes you hook up to so you don't run out.

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