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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: Hostile Activity (09/01/22)

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Topics - idiotekque

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Suggestions / Static debris field changes
« on: August 07, 2021, 06:10:06 PM »
At the moment, unless I'm missing something big, debris fields that you find in fixed locations (as opposed to ones generated by large battles) are a bit underwhelming. Which, to be fair, they should be. The chance of a wreck or rare item here and there, along with the standard odds and ends, is as much as they should do.

That said, I think it would be neat if there was a regeneration mechanic to them that would lend itself towards fleets that have a higher focus on salvaging. For example, I'm trying such a run at the moment and came across a neat system with about 5 or 6 debris fields and one decent planet (with industrial ruins as well, but that's a mod of course). It would be a really neat colony for a salvaging, junker sort of faction if those debris fields were slightly more lucrative. Having a slowly replenishing source of salvage would be an interesting addition to a system, allowing a sort of passive resource for stockpiling, extra supplies, random weapons, etc. This is sort of similar to tech mining, with a different salvage fleet flavor and a more hands on approach (and no chance of Paragon BPs, lol). If the player was especially focused on being a salvage fleet, going the extra mile with salvage rigs, etc, it could even veer towards being somewhat lucrative (though obviously paling in comparison to higher risk activities).

That said, like with tech mining, realistically these resources SHOULD diminish over time until they dry up. Realistically, a scrap field doesn't "regenerate", so that bit requires a bit more thought. I think it's absolutely realistic for a debris field to not be picked clean in a few hours, which is more or less how they function now. It makes perfect sense for a debris field to be something that salvagers pick through over the course of extended periods of time, as opposed to feeling like a percentage based common "treasure chest" in terms of game mechanics, which is how they feel currently. Honestly, it should feel more like mining, to some extent (which Nex dabbles with).

That said, I think there should still be varieties of debris fields, as they already exist to some extent with their densities, and ideally some extra variation to what they have to offer. So while a field may "regenerate", if it isn't a dense field, it would only ever be as generous as it was when you first found it.

Anyways, I certainly don't have a perfect picture of how it would all work best, but I thought it was worth talking about. I know it's kind of a minor factor in the game, but the little details are what really make a game like Starsector what it is, in my opinion. I think fleshing out more options like salvaging in making them slightly more worthwhile (but again, not as lucrative as higher risk activities) and interesting goes a long way towards making the world feel more alive, especially if you're playing different characters with roleplay in mind.

Something I noticed starting a new run and trying for a somewhat more humble fleet is that the lowest level bounties are frequently against "trade fleets". Obviously, the targets you're up against in these bounties certainly fit the low payments (30-50k, etc), made up of mostly non-combat ships like the Colossus, Tarsus, maybe a Buffalo and a few Hounds or Cerberus, etc.

What I find a bit odd about these bounties is that despite the targets being classified as pirates, they always seem to be located orbiting a "lawful" colony, marked not as a pirate, or smuggler, but as an independent "trader". So that seemingly easy, low paying, low level bounty mission isn't actually forcing you to take on an underpowered smattering of pirate trade ships, it's forcing you to take on orbiting fleets of whatever planet they're orbiting. In addition to that, they even have a special fast picket style fleet of that colony's faction specifically assigned to them, with the "guarding trader" task applied to them.

This seems a little bizarre for a few reasons.

1. The obvious: If you take on the lowest, cheapest bounty, the idea is that you're on a new run, and you're looking for a mission that is is reasonable for a destroyer and few frigates, a new fleet, etc. Instead, you wind up pitted against relatively powerful orbital defenders, and at the very least, an addition cruiser or destroyer and a few frigates, provided by the "guard" that your target is assigned, which is hardly appropriate to the tiny bounty price.

2. Why are "pirate" trade fleets classified as independents in space? Why are they not only neutral/friendly with factions they are typically hostile with, but even assigned a defender from that faction? It is feasible to say that they're a smuggler more so than a trader, and they're running with false IFF (even though that isn't really an established mechanic in game), therefore allowing them to carry out their trading/smuggling, but again, this is a poor line of reasoning to explain why they would even have an assigned bodyguard from the Hegemony or whatever faction whose planet they're orbiting, as per how the bounty spawns them in.

3. This bit I'm not entirely sure of, but why exactly does this fleet spawn in and seemingly infinitely orbit a planet like this, as opposed to being in a more secluded location that would fit their pirate/smuggler status? Is there any way for these low level trade fleet bounties to spawn elsewhere? Do they leave at some point, sometimes, and allow you a chance to intercept them then? Keep in mind these are 30 day bounties, and I lurked for 25ish days and never saw this happen, so that doesn't seem to be the case, but has anyone seen otherwise?

All in all, it just seems a little wonky for these low level bounties to be set up like this. Obviously there are ways around the difficulty imposed by how they're set up, whether that's managing to lure away defenders, waiting till there are no additional orbiting fleets besides the designated guard fleet, etc, but like I mentioned before, this still is counterproductive to these bounties being aimed at low level,  small, new player fleets, befitting their measly credit rewards. I checked three of these missions ranging from 30-50k reward, and all of them were identical in their setup, so I feel like this is just how they are, and they're just sort of useless in every scenario. If you're using a new fleet, they're too difficult, or simply more effort than they're worth, and if you're using a stronger fleet, they're simply pointless.

I do feel like this could be remedied in couple different ways. If they were identified as smugglers, without a "guard" fleet in orbit, the player could simply roll up on them in orbit, knock them out, with lawful fleets indifferent to your actions based on their quasi-lawful status on their IFFs, or something along those lines. Or, you could simply find them somewhere else, perhaps near a jump hole, uncolonized planet, a debris field, etc, perhaps even properly identified as a pirate. Another idea that would make a bit more sense to me would be for them to be trading with unlawful bases. This would involve them orbiting a pirate, pather, etc base initially (which may provide more danger than the bounty is worth, naturally), but then moving off from that base once they're done, allowing you to intercept them alone. They could have a course set for a jump hole, and once they reach it, maybe that's the end of the bounty period.

I don't know, just brainstorming, because I really do think that these bounties are incredibly odd and pointless in their current execution. Any thoughts?

Running into some frustration with colonies and doing literally anything but micro-managing them.

It feels like you can either have colonies, or you can explore and invest in other aspects of the game. Doing both, however, feels incredibly tedious and unreasonable. I am running Nexerelin, so that is of course adding to this issue, but I'm just hoping I can figure out a better means to juggling multiple aspects of the game at once without needing to completely focus on the mico-management.

For example, a Tri-Tachyon fleet came to disrupt one of my mining/refining colonies. I hung around in system to deal with them, but the fleet was laughably weak (a couple destroyers, maybe 5 ships), and random fast picket fleets of mine picked them off before I could even join the battle. So, I reloaded and used that time to do some more exploring in the meantime, and what happens? My fleets somehow didn't even interdict the tiny fleet (that they steamrolled when I was in system), and the ground defenses had to deal with them. They did, and they won, yet my industry was STILL disrupted regardless, even though the tooltip said that Tri-Tachyon's attempt failed.

This is what I mean by things feeling like you NEED to be present and micro-managing everything unless you want to fail and get your colonies screwed over at every turn. It feels like an issue.

Also, I currently have no active hostilities, no invasions, etc, so I take that time to go explore. After hitting two systems, I notice all four of my colonies are at much lower stability. Why? Apparently ALL of my comm relays have gone down. Why? Who knows, but I'm now forced to fly all the way back, cancel my entire expedition, just to reactivate the comm relays myself. There really should be a way for your colonies and fleets to handle minor things like this themselves, but as far as I know, they can't.

It honestly feels like you're just forced to micro-manage every last aspect of colony business yourself, with your personal fleet. Got a shortage? You have to pull from stockpiles yourself, with your personal fleet, to move to address said shortages, or your colony is hobbled for x amount of time (when you should just be able to tell your colonies to move those stockpiles around themselves). Some kind of shipment going somewhere? Better escort it personally, lest you risk a high rng rate of losing it, leading to more shortages (for multiple cycles, it feels like I've had "-2 stacks from a lost shipment" active on at least one colony at any point). Literally any sort of invasion or disruption? Good luck leaving that up to your colonies if you aren't personally present, even if it's "likely to be defeated in orbit", because your colonies just cannot consistently handle anything on their own, even with 100% fleet quality and 150%+ fleet sizes on every colony. If you aren't there, things are probably not going to go well.

I know that these frustrations are greatly placed upon Nexerelin adding mechanics to the game that can only be managed so well with what exists in base game thus far (which is probably why they are not yet officially in game in the first place). Having further options of commanding your colonies and AI fleets to do various tasks would alleviate these issues greatly, allowing you greater freedom to take on other tasks instead of being forced to micro-manage colonies to such an extreme level.

So I guess my question is, what suggestions or tips does anyone have to handle colony management while performing other tasks, like exploring, without being forced to cater to your colonies nonstop? I love the colony system for tons of reasons, but I really just wish there was a better way to not sacrifice every other aspect of the game once you colonize anything. It really does feel like you have to choose one or the other, unless you want constant, tedious issues and management.

Coming back to the game after a year or two, I'm curious which mods that add ships, equipment, factions, etc, mesh well into the current balance of things. Last time I threw a handful of mods in that added things of that sort, the game quickly just became a bit of a mess for my preferences of balance and immersion (Diable and Cabal tech sort of just obliterated everything, for one). I'm sure a lot of the mods were newer and have had tweaks to balance since, of course, but I think I'm looking for a bit more simplistic additions this time around.

Things that flesh out the game and don't throw over the top new factions into the mix, and ride closely with Vanilla balance (or even a bit beneath it) are definitely what I'm looking for. Stop Gap Measure sounds like a good bet, and I love the designs of the Underworld expansion (outside of the Cabal, just not my cup of tea), but I'm still unsure how things stack up balance wise in this version.

Any suggestions or greater insight into this sort of thing would be massively appreciated!

General Discussion / Making allies attack specific station sections?
« on: July 16, 2021, 01:02:14 AM »
Currently trying to take down an incredibly beefy battlestation, and I just feel incredibly limited by my allies. It's a relatively lean fleet, Astral flagship, two Furies, one destroyer and a number of frigates, so I know it's a rough prospect, but I know it's doable. The problem is, to take this thing down, I need to focus the entire fleet on the station's "heads" (or whatever you would call them), before hitting its three segments.

This is the problem. On one run, allies relatively did what I asked and attacked what I was attacking (the largest "head", to start). We were able to take all three heads down, and one of the main segments, before we just ran out of steam and got wiped out. On subsequent runs, I'm experiencing the frustration of the allied AI just not attacking what you want them to attack. You can't tell them "attack THIS part of the station" in the command screen, and while they seem to generally focus on what you're targeted on in combat, it's just horribly inconsistent, and I'll have a quarter or more of the fleet just randomly circling around the station to attack something else, uselessly, before getting annihilated.

I've tried eliminate orders, different escort orders, both, etc, and they just don't consistently do what I want them to do. Not to mention how on half of my tries, regardless if I tell them to escort my Astral, move to and remain at a point further away from the station, etc, random ships (especially the Furies, ugh) will just take it upon themselves to rush forward, allow the station to focus on them from 3000m+ away, and immediately lose half their hull or die within the first 60 seconds.

I don't know, it just feels like allied AI just has no idea what to do with battlestations, regardless of what you ask them to do. The easy answer is just amassing a much larger fleet, more focus on long range capital ships, etc, but it really is frustrating, because I know my current setup is absolutely doable (as one run demonstrated), but I just can't seem to wrangle the AI to strike decisively and behave intelligently when it comes to battlestations.

Any ideas?

EDIT: And as soon as I complain, they miraculously did almost exactly what I wanted, and we picked the station apart piece by piece with only a couple frigates and salvaged fodder ships lost. So bizarre, I still need to figure out how to help them be more consistent when you're trying to target specific station segments.

So, I've been trying to bind active system (F, normally) and vent (V, normally) to the side mouse buttons (mouse 3 and 4), and I'm having a weird issue where the active system just randomly triggers by itself once I do this, and vent just... doesn't really happen once I rebind it like this, and only triggers maybe 1 out of 5 presses of the button.

It's a relatively new mouse, it has no such issue in any other game (they don't randomly click by themselves, they're properly responsive, etc), so I'm just baffled on why this is happening. Any ideas?

General Discussion / Same weapon in multiple weapon groups? (Mod?)
« on: July 12, 2021, 05:05:45 PM »
Coming from games like Freelancer, and coming back to Starsector after a couple years, I'm curious if there is still no way to assign weapons to multiple weapon groups (e.g. Assigning one singular mining blaster to weapon group 1, 2, and 4, etc, as opposed to just 1, 2, or 4). I've always been confused why this has been impossible, because it's an extremely useful feature that I've always felt has been lacking from Starsector.

Have there been any changes in the meantime that allow this? Or have there been any mods that add this functionality?

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