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Topics - Gothars

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Suggestions / Ambitions
« on: July 21, 2023, 06:49:35 AM »
I've been playing a lot of Battle Brothers lately, and the game has an "ambition" mechanic that I really like and that would fit very well for Starsector. It really works wonders to make the (open-world) game flow smoothly.

It would work like this: From time to time you can choose what your captain's next ambition should be. You can choose from a handful of semi-randomly selected options, or you can ignore the system and chose non at all. If you fulfill an ambition you get a small to medium bonus, if you cancel the ambition you get a small penalty. The clue is that every ambition is something that helps you understand the game's mechanics or explore the game's options and locations. These ambitions are supposed to:

1)Be a continuous (non-handholding) tutorial

2)Encourage you to experience parts of the game that you might otherwise not

3)Keep you from ever feeling lost and without goal, which can easily happen in a game that offers as much freedom as Starsector.

I wrote ambitions are only semi-random because some progression and pre-selection should be involved, depending on your level and what you already archived. Your ambitions grow with you.
It could start with something like "gain a contact", "buy your first combat-destroyer", "recruit an officer", "discover lost ruins" and "raid a market", and escalate to stuff like "get your first capital ship", "exploit a shortage", "intercept a trading fleet", "defeat a remnant station" or "discover one of the lost wonders of the Domain".

Rewards could be simply bonus XP, a small reputation gain with all factions or the occasional rare weapon or hull.

Suggestions / A new combat role for civilian ships
« on: June 19, 2023, 04:21:35 AM »
Do civilian ships currently serve a game design purpose? I fear you could just as well delete all freighters/tankers/transporters from the game, give the combat ships more cargo/fuel/crew space - and literally nothing about the gameplay would change. Am I wrong? I'd like to be, cause I loving having civ ships in the game for their contribution to, well, feeling like a proper space captain! But if all they are is decoration, that's quite unsatisfying.

I tried to come up with ways to give them meaning for some time now. Thinking: how to make the logistics part of the game into a fun challenge? Maybe tone down the Bulk transport skill, maybe make civs more vulnerable to environmental hazards? But in the end that is all irrelevant annoyance if civs are not a part of Starsector's combat, of it's main appeal.

There were of course attempts to give them a more participatory role in combat, the hullmods Assault Package and Escort Package. But that didn't really work out, they could never shine in an active combat role, the hullmods are now removed. Just the anemic Nav Relay survives, but is more fit for back-line combatants than proper civilians.

I think the only fun part of civilian ship combat participation can and should be this: to protect them. Retrospectively, to hunt the enemy's. But, aside from the early game escape scenario, you never have to do either.

That in turn leads to ideas about special combat scenarios where civs are involved: in the campaign, ambushing and raiding the civilian part of the enemy  fleet. In combat, running your fast ships through the enemy border to get to their civs. But if these things are done to you, if your civs are forced to fight while your combat fleet is made unavailable, that seems super frustrating.

My suggestion is this:

  • Encourage civs to enter the battlefield by introducing logistic support hullmods with enormous fleet stat bonuses.

  • Scale the hullmod bonuses on cargo/fuel/crew space of the ship that carries them, linking them organically to civilians.

  • Prevent those ships from just hiding (boring) by only applying the bonuses when they are near an objective (Nav Buoy, Sensor Array and Comms).

  • (optional)  Prevent the loss of civ ships from being super frustrating by introducing a milder defeat option for them (besides disabled/destroyed) called "surrendered". At 0%  hull civilian ships don't explode, but are briefly invulnerable and signal surrender by shooting white flares all around them. If you win the engagement, your surrendered civs will have a high chance of not gaining d-mods and lose less crew and CR then disabled ships. If you lose, they will be recoverable from the battle debris field and contain their crew. (As a side effect, enemy surrendered ships increase loot when you win and so enable a less bloodthirsty pirate playstile.)

I believe these factors should make it the best tactical decision to deploy some civs, make them visible in combat and have fun defending them. While simultaneously upping the importance of combat objectives. I imagine it would also be really entertaining to hunt enemy civs behind the lines to stop their bonuses from applying. And, hopefully, this would be relatively easy to implement.

What could these logistic support hullmods look like? Here are some examples, but they are just that - examples. In the end the actual effects could be anything, as long as they make the deployment of civs/hunting of enemy civs a sound tactical decision in most combat scenarios.

Combat Logistics Hub
Scales with base cargo capacity. Gives a combat readiness bonus (1-20%) to all ships and increase peak combat readiness time of all ships by 10-100%. Only applies when adjacent to a friendly objective. You can operate up to two CLHs simultaneously, the weaker one has its effects reduced by 50%.

Rescue Operations Center
Scales with base crew capacity. Makes your disabled ships always recoverable with (+2-20%) CR, reduces crew losses of all ships by 10-90% and reduced overload duration (5-50%) of your ships. Only applies when adjacent to a friendly objective. You can operate up to two ROCs simultaneously, the weaker one has its effects reduced by 50%.

Infernium Interference Furnace
Scales with base fuel capacity. Selectively destabilizes the hyperspace bubble surrounding the battlefield, allowing your reinforcements to enter the battle from the sides. The higher the relative bonus, the farther towards the enemy your ships will enter. Reduces the enemie's ability to enter from the sides by the comparative difference of their Infernium interference. Allows re-deployment of retreated ships. Only applies when adjacent to a friendly objective. You can operate up to two IIFs simultaneously, the weaker one has its effects reduced by 50%.

Of course there already exists a hullmod that is supposed to encourage civs to enter combat, NavRelay.

"When deployed in combat, increases the nav rating of your fleet by 2/3/4/5 percent, depending on this ship's hull size." The bonus it gives is so small that it's not really worth risking the loss of a logistics ship for it, though - and were it bigger, you had better put it on a military ship.

The dynamic is a bit weird: the moment you take these skills and focus on a carrier heavy fleet, you have to cull every flight deck from your fleet that doesn't directly boost your combat power. Every flight deck after the eight will drag down your fighter performance, even it if has no bearing on the battle.
That means no more Shepherds, no more Ventures, no more [insert civilian mod ship with flight deck], no more Converted Hangar for your logistics ships (which is probably the best survival option for them). These ships just don't contribute enough to your fleet to make reducing your fighter's stats worth it. Converted hangar on any ship is a more difficult proposal, since they perform worse than normal flight decks but count the same, but OK.

I'd say that the skills should just count military and civilian flight decks separately.
So you can have 8 decks in each ship category before the bonus gets slashed, for a total of 16. And then only the higher number of the two is used to calculate the absolute malus. If that is too much of a buff for the skill, the drop off point could maybe be reduced to 7 flight decks (for a max total of 14).

Alternatively, counting civilian flight decks only half could also help... but in practice it would probably only delay the moment I kick all civilian "carriers" out of my fleet.

Only counting deployed flight decks would work well mechanically, but would be hard to make clear in the UI.


Suggestions / Show real weapon ranges in weapon list
« on: June 06, 2023, 06:28:45 AM »
Pretty please. Normally I would suggest to show it on the refit screen like 1200(+500), but then, of course, one might ask: why not do this for all the modified weapon stats? Since this would be (imho) an obvious improvement but has not been implemented, I'm guessing it's quite a task and/or there are technical hurdles.

Why just focus on range then, specifically? Well, it is the most important stat of a weapon, especially for comparison/matching with other weapons - the game acknowledges that, it is the only stat visible in the weapon list view. Where, instead of the base range, the modified range could be shown.

Another reason is that, at least for me, weapon range specifically it's getting too confusing to calculate with all the modifiers that now potentially apply.
To know the real range of a weapon I have to do so many calculations that I'm sure to forget one factor or another. So in praxis, to see if the ranges of different weapons match, I have to fire up the simulator for every weapon change. Aside from being bothersome, this approach is also limited by different weapon positions on the sprite.

Let's take a cruiser, for example.

It runs a railgun with base range 700.

Ballistic Rangefinder expands that base range to 800...but also caps it there? I hope that cap only applies to base range.

It has ITU, meaning +40%, or +320.

Unstable injector -15%, or -120

Ballistic Mastery +10%, or +80

Gunnery Implants +15%, or +120

So that's 1200(+500) range, hopefully.
For the Ion cannon (825(+325))  , Mining Laser (1400(+800))  or Vulcan (725(+475)) weapon next to it those calculations would look completely different, though. I tested those weapon by the way, some of my results are off, for example Mining Laser and Railgun seem to have the same range. So, yeah, no chance to do this in my head correctly each time.

Suggestions / Exploration needs to be a challenge again
« on: June 02, 2023, 11:20:42 AM »
Exploration has just become too easy.
The industry skills (bulk transport, salvaging, containment and makeshift equipment) all but trivialized reaching the very edge of the map. I remember when exploring was new and there were no skills for it yet - you had to really plan out expeditions, balancing your logistic support with your combat fleet and thinking about your route beforehand. Then there were many nail-biting moments were it was just not clear if you could make it back home with what little fuel you had, salvaging every last drop from floating wrecks, finding just enough to make it to the next system. During those times "distress call" was actually useful - I have never touched that ability since exploration skills became a thing.
Today I start with bulk transport skill, slap some logistic hullmods on a tanker and a freighter - and bam, the only reason to ever get back to the core is that my cargo hold is already too full of loot. Slipstreams only exacerbate that issue. That is only nice if you don't actually want exploration to be a challenge.

Now, I'm not saying "get rid of all exploration skills". What separates them from combat skills is that the combat challenges actually grew with the new player capabilities - enemy fleets gained officers and there are [REDACTED] and [SUPER REDACTED] that probably can't be fought without skills. The same is not true for exploration, it's the same tame hyperspace it was years ago.

So, my hope is this: give exploration new challenging elements that bring back the old excitement, even while the player has skills. Before I make practical suggestions what those could be, one more thing: as no fight requires the player character to have combat skills (officers exists), I wouldn't want characters without industry skill to be locked out from the greatest exploration challenges. There could be some other tools to help with that, like topographic data. Topographic data are already supposedly an "essential element of successful expeditions outside the core worlds" - why not make them temporarily improve your logistical profile and then be used up? You could maybe buy them from other travelers.

Alright, some ideas to up the challenge of exploration:

- Increase fuel use with rising distance from the core systems. Hyperspace is barely mapped here, so you can't travel it with the same efficiency.
- Make some jump points very costly to enter. They are unstable and your fleet will take heavy CR damage.
- Slow hyperspace zones where you slow down to a crawl while still using lots of fuel and supplies
- Make some places in hyperspace not reachable on a direct route, maybe by introducing "abyssal hyperspace" - so deep you can't cross it.
- Some of those hyperspace ghosts sap your fuel!
- Some of your crew may get a little bit crazy when out in the fringes for too long (especially on phase ships), leading to accidents

Suggestions / Easier Clean Disengage
« on: May 30, 2023, 12:11:17 PM »
For those of us that play on iron and can't just reload, the disengagement mechanics are quite important - and boy are they punishing! I like the idea of getting a clean disengage by destroying enough enemy ships, and quite often I manage to get to 100%. But afterwards, when I want to actually retreat the ships to the boarder, it's a massacre. By now I order all my ships to stay as close to the lower border as possible, but still, the big slow ships take heavy losses the moment they turn around to flee. It's all but clean!

I would suggest one of the following:
- When 100% "clean disengage" is reached, enable full burn drive from anywhere on the map in any direction.
- Reduce the necessary enemy losses for CD so much that the player can archive them with only light, fast ships deployed.

As it is now, it is quite discouraging to be guaranteed to lose many ships (or a story point) each time a superior fleet catches you off guard.

Modding / MOVED: [0.96a] Missile Ship Overhaul 1.2.3
« on: May 30, 2023, 11:50:45 AM »

Modding / MOVED: [0.95.1a] WhichTMI 1.0.2
« on: April 17, 2023, 03:03:41 AM »

Modding / MOVED: [0.95.1a] Random Assortment of Things
« on: April 05, 2023, 01:04:47 AM »

Suggestions / Saving NPC fleets for an ad-hoc bounty
« on: September 16, 2022, 04:08:51 AM »
It would be nice if saving npc fleets were acknowledged by the game in some way. I feel almost a bit betrayed when I see a trade fleet in a hopeless fight with a pirate armada, jump in to save them - and then nothing happens, not even a "thank you".

I don't know what the simplest technical implementation would be, maybe if fleets in a fight would generate a bounty for that fight? That way you would simply get paid credits/reputation per ship you destroyed, and the game would not have to differentiate between a npc fleets that needs to be saved and one that doesn't need your help. In the latter case, you would simply not get to destroy many enemy ships and get little payout.

Bounty amount could increase with distance to the core worlds, I imagine out in the fringes any help would be doubly welcome.

Of course this would enable some shady tactics like luring a pirate fleet to an NPC fleet to get them into trouble in the first place, before "saving" them. But that sounds like a fun (and very role-playable) option for the player.

To take this one step further, the player could also set an ad-hoc bounty during a battle (or in the dialog before) and see if any neutral NPC fleets in the vicinity will join later during the battle. That would be another mechanic to minimize the incentive for reloading.

General Discussion / The purpose of scavenging
« on: September 11, 2022, 06:32:24 AM »
Help me out here, because I don’t quite see it. I think the scavenging mechanic is somewhat interesting from a role playing perspective, but what is the in-game purpose? It seems like there is no choice here – if there is a debris field, you scavenge is. The "risk" is really just costs in the form of a bit of machinery and supplies, on average far below the pay out. So, if it’s a non-decision, why not just role the spoils into the normal salvaging loot screen?

You could just have salvaging as one of the post battle options – instead of harrying or pursuing the enemy, you increase the loot by "thoroughly dismantling the wreckage“, where all you salvage bonuses apply. Same with scavenging stations, what is the point of having two consecutive loot screens most of the time?
A downside of choosing the „thorough“ option might be that you can’t move quickly for a few seconds after the battle, so if there are enemy fleets nearby, you can’t escape.
If you don‘t choose the „thorough“ option, a debris field is generated and you can get away faster.

Or is there some fun to be had with the current scavenging mechanic that I'm simply missing?

Suggestions / Frigate micromangement and auto-retreat
« on: September 07, 2022, 12:06:09 PM »
After picking the game up again recently, this turned out to be quite annoying. Frigates almost always run out of CR in bigger battles, but they do so one after the other. The "command frequency open" feature fires back here, since it kinda forces you to check all your frigates for low CR (or other reasons to retreat them) any time one of them needs to go home, lest you waste CP by dong it shortly after. This takes a good 10-20 seconds each time, and really takes me out of the fight. Which to avoid is, afaik, the express purpose of the hands-of tactical layer.

I would suggest to make retreat free if a ship is past Peak Readiness Time. I really don't feel this is an interesting use of a CP, it's almost always an automatic decision. If anything, ordering them to stay past PRT when they want to retreat could be interesting. In general, I would prefer for all ships to auto retreat with low CR/HP. That would a) save on boring micromanagement, b) feel realistic and c) would present a chance for officer personality types to be further differentiated - the more aggression, the later the retreat. To avoid situations were ships retreat before you notice/can stop them, they might even just idle at the retreat border as long as no enemy is close. They'd already stop losing CR there, after all.
Then for super intense battles you could have an "Hold the line!" option in the standing orders section (under full assault!/full retreat!) that basically sets the current behavior of no auto-retreats.

But if that is too much, I can think of several other ways to address this:
- When issuing a retreat order, highlight all ships that are low on PRT/HP. Could be framed as them asking for permission to withdraw.
- In any case, it would also help to show (low) PRT on the tactical screen. Little clock symbol?
- Slow the PRT timer on frigates while they operate close to a bigger ship (that still has PRT). One main purpose of the tight time limit on frigs is stop them from kiting, which they can't really do with such an "anchor".

Suggestions / Hazard pay
« on: November 17, 2021, 03:39:16 PM »
A simple idea: If you lose crew, the cost of new crew goes up. It goes slowly back down over time. The amount it goes up should be determined by percentage of crew lost, not absolute numbers.
This should give more impact to losing crew, and thus more use to crew saving hullmods and tactics, without overcomplicating things.

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