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Topics - Cosmitz

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1
Suggestions / Show Shielded Cargo Holds in UI (and other campaign stats)
« on: January 25, 2019, 02:19:00 PM »
Pretty much this.




And while we're technically here, can we have the Survey/Salvaging/SolarShield and generally fleet-wide campaign-map boosts listed in the fleetscreen? (currently Salvaging and fleet-wide status gets shown when hovering over the mod which is backwards compared to the rest of the UX)



PS: And ungrey and make the "Your fleet is small enough/big enough to disengage/etc" more visibile in the same pass. (ideally with yellow/hoverable-over to show you the limits of when that triggers/happens)


2
Bug Reports & Support / [0.9a RC10] "Delivery may be made openly"
« on: December 15, 2018, 12:36:26 PM »


"[..] operating with the knowledge of the local authorities and the delivery may be made openly" is quite a fair bit different from "you must smuggle this in since you have low reputation with Haegemony".

Overall just a miscommunication in the UI regarding what i can and cannot do, and how i can do some things.

3
Suggestions / Let's talk about Reputation
« on: December 07, 2018, 03:21:30 PM »
Let's kick off the subject with what reputation is within the cadre of the game.
---

Reputation is a system to contextualise the relationships that happen between the player and the various characters/factions. Reputation exists as a measure of the status of favor or hostility that the player balances between. Reputation as-is is a linear, non-logarithmic, scale from -100 to +100. Factions as well as independent NPCs have reputations towards the player which may be different. A player should have fun navigating these systems and find all options engageable.

I think i'm not alone when i say that reputation, as is currently implemented, is at times extremely punitive while most times being relatively meaningless, and all this mixed in with the fact that it can be extremely exploited right now (AI cores), while also having its own very weird quirks as a system (expeditions). Reputation is tied in to a lot of variables in the game, from day to day wonderings and missions, to how successful your colony is. The same reputation system also governs individual NPC's feelings towards you, which right now, is completely useless. I think a few things need to come together and change to make reputation a more cohesive, fair and engaging game system.

I split this up in five sections:

1) The cost of a reputation point. - A more unified and less extreme system to judge faction loss/gain based on effort and damage done

2) Scale of reputation swings. - A more fluid and more reactive reputation system

3) Comissions. - Making comissions a non-binary choice

4) Cut offs aka friendly/hostile breakpoints. - Creating depth within the reputation scales

5) NPC proeminence. - Creating a denser weave of reputation impact by allowing NPCs to react individually not tied to the overall faction reputation

---


1) The cost of a reputation point.

One of the current most highly punitive points is how little gray area there actually is between 'kill on sight' and 'friendly-comissioned', a single tiny agressive act (in this otherwise extremely agressive universe) is enough to put you as kill-on-sight. A single Drover kill drops me by 69 reputation points, from +14 to -55. This highly minimises gameplay possibilities as the player outright ignores fleets or actions against the faction he wants to not break ties with. There isn't even a scale here, it's 'ignore all' or 'kill all'.

I was doing a trade mission which i had to abandon and noticed that for roughly 55k of goods which i ended up with for abandoning the mission, i lost 4 reputation points, and it got me thinking of what the value of a point is, and why it's important we have one. (In this case, i would lose 4 reputation for 55k worth of goods and 5 for 85 which just doesn't seem like it scales that well, almost making a profit outright selling the items and taking the rep hit instead of delivering them. Either way, this is a localised system anyway for these particular missions.)

A picket can be around 100k credits in ships, maybe a destroyer or two and some frigates (ignoring guns/crew/cargo etc). A random small-mediumish fleet (3 destroyers, 6 frigs, cargoship) say would be around 200k credits in ships, a larger patrol fleet example (3 cruisers, 3 destroyers, 4 frigs, some cargoships) is worth 350k and a capital fleet detachement (same as before but +1cap) would be 600k or so. This is all napkin math, ignoring bombers/etc, but would give an ideea on how it'd work.

What would the penalty to reputation be for destroying each of these fleets? Given we're working linearly, it shouldn't matter if we have +90 or -30 (though it might be slightly more interesting to have a bit of a modifier on both ends), so what's reasonable? Certainly not the 80 or so points we're losing now for killing even a few ships from the picket. Given fleets engage in combat and get lost very frequently in the universe, as well as allowing some gray area to allow the player to take (dynamic) chances you should have quite a bit of leeway. If we take killing a whole detachement to be akin to a major betrayal short of a full on war declaration, say we value the the 600k at 100 reputation points, 6000 credits per point. That means that even if we were at a cozy buddy-buddy 70 points, this will reasonably put us on a 'any second strike and you're KIA'.

This same value-per-point system, from 0 rep, can allow us to knock a trade fleet or two, and reasonably defend ourselves from a picket that's just a bit too agressive about the transponder, without worrying we'll become the archnemesis of that faction. The point system can also be used for dumping contracts more roundly, as 200 units of heavy armaments (~100k) is a bit different from 1200 units of ore (~10k), so running off with some ore will set you back say 2 points, maybe a standard +2 for dropping a contract, as compared to the 16-17 points, plus +2 standard, almost 20 reputation for running with such valuable cargo as heavy armaments. In the end, i guess they would insure their cargo before handing it off anyway, and word of mouth goes far with relays.

The value-per-point is totally open to discussion, but the core tenants is that it should remove the black-and-white of fleet-vs-fleet agression that currently exists, and offer more interesting incentives as you're flying through space, treating reputation as a resource you can spend, and not a 'toggle'.

2) Scale of reputation swings.

Considering all the events are smoothened out according to effort, eg, Cores getting nerfed as well as local pirate bounties, which are out of whack compared to going out to get a survey/bounty or even destroying a harrasing Pirate Base, there has to be a wider swing in how fast reputation can be gained (as well as lost). I'm not saying necessarily to tie this to the, say, 50% of the value-per-point mentioned above, but there has to be a clear and expected roadmap a player can follow to get back into the good graces of a faction.

Considering base-destroyal as a pretty large show of dedication to a faction, i feel two or so of these (value/effort based) should be enough to get anyone out of the 'kill-on-sight' list and back into their good graces. Say even 4-5 send-out bounties should be enough to get you back into non agression or into open trade depending where you start. Point is, right now reputation is considered something relative tedious and very event-based to get back. I know i was chasing every bounty to get a measely +2 rep per pop and i still needed about ten or twelve and it took me a few good hours to claw myself back to not getting shot on sight, let alone another 25 points to be able to free trade.

End goal here is, mixing the value-per-point and better rewards, reputation should be a flexibile system the player can manage, and not something you'd even consider an end-game goal to max out. Under this methodology, given a much more fluid system, there can also be some gradual decay of favor/infamy over time, and can be a resource you could manage more freely.

3) Comissions.

Given what i've mentioned above, how would comissions fit? Well, comissions already fill a niche of giving the player targets to shoot at, but it comes across as a binary choice, and not necessarily a mediated activity. There should still be reputation loss and reputation gain when acting for your faction (no initial sign-up boosts/losses), but on a much lessened scale than if you were to act on your own (say 10-15% of the point-per-value mentioned earlier). But always gaining a smidge more than you lose, making it a reputation-positive activity eventually as long as you switch allegiances around (a well respected mercenary). Comissions would feel better if they were akin to 'mercenary work' and not 'quickplay' options that entirely feel like they lock you into a faction more or less. Market rewards/tiers can still be tied into that, just a matter of maybe not limiting the whole marketplace to comissions as they lose a bit of importance in terms of long-term support. (i think 'definite' support would work better as a colony/faction diplomacy interaction where you can ally/declare war)

4) Cut offs aka friendly/hostile breakpoints.

Factions feel entirely too samey right now, minus some ship use and some illegal goods and can feel like you just cheese some numbers at the end of the day to get a specific effect. It may be a matter of lore/taste, but i think it would help if the flavour would impact the breakpoints. Maybe Tritachyon would only close their trading at -75, even if they start chasing you at -50, since credits are credits, and if the patrols don't catch you, they feel you earned your pay. Maybe the Sindrian Diktat are a lot more quick to put you under the gun and label you an enemy and they start hostilities at -20. Maybe the Perseans need all the firepower they can to keep their place in the sector, and will accept commisions from even 'lowlifes' down to -50. On the positive, maybe Tritachyon will only share their capital ships with commanders that are closely knit to the power structure, so +90, but the Diktat are a lot more lax in up-arming their allies and throw Legions at +60. Maybe when you're at +80 with Pirates they actually consider you a legend and actually stop getting attacked by pirates. Maybe even the Pirates hate you a lot less for killing a dozen fleets (less value-per-point) than TriTach would hate you for nuking a shiny patrol fleet of pristine ships. There is a lot to wiggle here, but it would greatly shape how a player engages with each faction, and allows for a lot more roleplay, as well as random !!FUN!! when you realise you've just hostile'd Diktat over that small trade fleet you took down, even if you precisely calculated to only destroy the cargo ships and let the others go.

5) NPC proeminence.


To be fair, i'm unsure on the longer-term plans of Starbase commanders/Quartermasters/Port masters, but they can be a valueable asset in the gray area which would be nice to have. For one, were we to merge all the actions under a single NPC, maybe the local Lord/Warlord/Duke/CEO/Archbishop, we can then have interactions that benefit the station, or missions issued by the leader, to get a relatively chunky positive reputation boost with the leader(alongside the faction boost). They could act against the wishes of the faction they serve, and may look the other way when a known enemy who has supplied aid on multiple occasions comes to their station and wants to dock. They could suffer a greater decay, and it would be harder to keep multiple lords happy (as they're fickle as we know) as well as given the RNG of events, but it wouldn't take many events to get them happy (maybe even bribes?). Not sure what impact it would have on fleets in orbit but still, it's food for thought about where NPCs can go.

Maybe a picket fleet commander has seen you enough times to have a chance to do surface check since he 'knows' you're on the level. On the negative, maybe aother Picket just thinks you're a really bad guy after a check turns out Narcotics and gets a personal vendetta later on, checking you everytime you get in system or eventually chasing you around the system until you destroy it. (ties again into the ability to engage in combat fleets without extremely punitive charges, and allows more sway in reputation gain/earning). Either way, these only work if the reputation gains/losses are large enough per event to actually tell this story. The ~-2 per character currently per failed check doesn't even scratch the surface, since i'm sure the picket will die to a random pirate raid before i can even get caught that often.

In short, NPCs should be easier to influence than the greater faction, and would allow mini-stories and events to play out within the larger cadre of managing a faction's taste for you.

----

In the end, even if all the above are scrapped, i just want a more reactive StarSector, since reputation right now serves more as a gatekeeper of the sandbox oppourtunities (penalties outweigh gains by a large margin, gains are a grinding affair) than a cool tool/resource to use to effect player will and even tell a personalised story.



*I haven't touched on where colonies fit in this since that's another can of worms that i don't have much experience yet opening up.

4
Bug Reports & Support / [9.0a RC10] Extreme friendly fire
« on: December 06, 2018, 02:42:21 PM »
I just caught an enemy Mora unloading a Harpoon pod right into a friendly Enforcer, killing it. https://youtu.be/O6tqHtPjhSE?t=2132

I'm unsure what happened there, and for sure its Harpoons hit before the Atroposes from the fighters. (0.25x on Youtube)
 

5
Bug Reports & Support / [0.9a RC10] A sequence of events
« on: December 05, 2018, 12:58:33 AM »
I'm not really sure which part of this is intended design or just happenstance but overall this was a horrid chain of events that made me actually cry out '***' and reload for the first time in my ironman-ish playthrough. I had -48 rep with Hegemony due to a single transponder and -2 frigate mistake about 10 hours ago which threw me at -60, got back to Ancyra after farming some bounties (took me said 10 hours to have bounties spawn for Hae that i /can/ do) since i had left some stuff in storage there apparently and wanted to clean out storage fees.

- Issue one, can't get my stuff out of storage with Transponder on, even though they're Neutral towards me. (probably tied to trade which is i think -25 rep?)
- Issue two, i turned transponder off, realised that the station still doesn't want to trade since i had a fleet tracking me apparently? But i still just want to get my stuff out, not trade.
- Issue three, got caught by picket, -2, now at -50, also scanned. I didn't get a chance to return to the campaign map since, now that i was -50, i was caught in a combat situation. Fast picket and station, i had no retreat, only engage. Engage, retreated from battle same menu. So now, i was put in a situation where, due to my fleet size being too big, either i went on and nuked at least the fast picket and maybe even the station and forever get -100 with Haegemony, or grind my own ships down until i was small enough to be able to slip away.

A video section of me going through that chain of events, with some minor expletives, is here.

While technically all of this is 'fine' and 'works', it just left a very ashen taste in my mouth. And i had just gotten over the 70+ rep loss due to the two frigates i killed in self defence after a transponder mishap.

- Issue one and two gets solved by just allowing me to get my stuff out of storage regardless of reputation, or at a credit penalty, 10% of the value of goods to get them out of 'impound' when Neutral, maybe 50% when hostile. Or just being able to 'abandon' the items from the Income menu. It does seem a bit extreme to nuke the entire station for -1800 credits/mo.
- Issue three is..well.. not allowing an impossibly-to-escape situation where a station is concerned. What's it gonna do, chase me? Sure, have me escape the Fast Picket that tracked me down but still.

6
Bug Reports & Support / [0.9a RC10] Pirates fighting pirates?
« on: November 26, 2018, 06:52:55 PM »
I stumbled upon this fight. I can confirm there were no other fleets there before. First i've seen of in-faction infighting but not the first time i've seen Pirate Raider fleets act wonky (the other time was the weird non-comittal issue where for reasons they didn't count as allies to engage me).

7
General Discussion / Let's do a 'thanks David' thread too
« on: November 16, 2018, 06:12:36 PM »
I was playing around and it wasn't until i hit on the Bombardment Preparation illustration that i realised just how many of these are around now. I'm relatively certain there weren't these many, and cool too, illustrations before... including the planet modifiers/industry/terrain, which for all intents and purposes are full scenes scaled down in tiny rectangles. Really brings out a lot of the context and humanity of our little spaceship arcade/sim game. And then we have a lot of the reworked material, portraits included, and a fair bit of icons that came with the new features to boot too.

And so much new text given the new interactions too. Just a great job all around. :)



PS: Sooo, anywhere we can get like the industry icons or the illustrations in higher quality? I'd love to use them as covers for my Youtube vids or phone background. :)

8
Suggestions / Let's talk current campaign design
« on: May 05, 2017, 07:02:32 AM »
Welcome to my third and final 'Let's talk' where we'll try to cover all of the campaign and player progression content currently in 0.8. I'm writing this after spending almost a hundred hours in vanilla 0.8 and having just finished the 'end game' by blowing up an officered intact Remnant station and clearing out multiple detachement fleets in the Persean homeworlds.

You can check out my other Let's talks, on UI/UX here: http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=12078.msg205547#msg205547 and on skills and character progression here: http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=12158.msg206703#msg206703

That aside, let's get into it:

Tutorial:

It's miles better than anything we have had before and it's really almost perfect. I'm sure all the quibbles with how the procgen can get in the way of objectives will get solved as well as all the minor improvements to more clearly state what needed to be done. I also think it should be nonskippable, a core part of the game. However..

There should be a way to choose a side at start. Just to get a start up with the faction want or may want. It doesn't have to be individual, just 'reputation packs' like TT/HaegInd/LudChurchPath/PerseanSindikat/Pirates should cover it (ps: ideally killing the 'pirates' should not drop pirate rep, or if you do go with pirates, have it hardcode you back to -25). To neatly wrap this up, this could be chosen in the last-leg destination phase. Maybe choose where to take your first gamma core instead of having it just 'blip' out, given to the questgiver.

The combat tutorial missions should be integrated into the Sim/somewhere, playable straight from the campaign and they should be allowed to be completed at leisure, given as they're chunky experiences, as well as presented/informed upon before the first combat. At the very least, some of the core principles, movement, firing, etc, should be presented in the first pirate combat. Why this is needed.

The rewards may need to be hardcoded to guarantee a certain conformity with how the player will start out in the world. I got out of there once with nothing but the ships and supplies, while other times i got out with three gamma cores and 30k.

Early game:

This comprises the time right out of tutorial up to the point where the player has a grasp of ways of sustaining himself and starting to make headway into the game.

While i understand the game will always start with Galatia and Corvus bounties (ideally this last bit getting triggered by which faction you go to), and that's fine for the shorter term to get people's feet wet, the rest of transition between early and midgame is quite staggering.

Named bounties are a great start up way given they push off as some crummy buffaloes and a few frigates, but they should be 'less' highlighted as being ultra-dangerous, the trip there is frightening enough for new players. Maybe try naming the (flag)ship of the enemy captain? That should be a decent indication if the player would want to take it on. The rewards also scale a bit poorly. They started for me at 50k, which is a bit much for a new player, allowing for almost an entire fleet wipe and still be in the green. The large sum of money might actually work against it.. 'psht, 50k? i don't want to know what they want me to do for 50k'. As a general idea, named bounties should also have some variety, have the player see something to strive for as a goal, even if he might not take that 200k comission with a Legion as a flagship.

Procurament missions are fine both risk and cash wise, even if needed to be adjusted so you can't complete them right then and there buying cargo locally, as well as more UI/showing where you can purchase that item from the stations you've visited lately. (atm hovering over the procurament mission item doesn't do anything, even show the normal info screen you get hovering over them in the market).

'Sensor pack' missions are completely bloody OP. At the very least, the sensor pack should be ran /after/ the combat with the enemies there, in the same dialogue log as salvaging/shooting/leaving, but even so, the rewards given for them, given that they can be finished in a single Dram, are ridiculous. Nerf now plx. Also, it'd be great for them to be more spread out. The 5LY one should not pay that much, but that 30 LY one..

To ease people into surveying, i think most coreworlds planets should have a hazard rating of 0, totally doable without skills, with a few requiring people to invest.

Salvaging works pretty wonderfully though, and i really think it's the strongest new feature of 0.8. It helps enormously building a raggedy fleet to start you off on, and the random jewels of hyperspace that you find, like an Apogee with 4 dmods or a XIV Falcon helps a lot to not feel like 'you're not worthy of bigger ships yet'.

While Remnant doesn't necessarily need to be a 'starter' career, i think they should be introduced a bit earlier. Might kill the surprise i guess but i think getting the first AI core out of a broken down Remnant ship that's a challenge to the player's starter Wolf/Wayfarer would give some context that that is something 'do-able' and that they can pursue. Shrug, i just think they're a bit 'separate' from the rest of the game universe right now.

Comissions need a large warning 'if you do this---' in regards to how there is no turning back from one. Though there should be ways of 'backstabbing' or such and picking up a new comission.

Midgame:

By this point the player has a good grasp of credits, and is already working on fleet composition and refitting to tackle mid-grade threats like the random non-detachement fleets.

Getting ships via salvage/buying/restoring works well right now, if still some things are rarer than they need to be, in varying playthroughs. I've heard so many different occurences of this.. in my game i had stores full of Wolves while another player's were dry. Same for Scarab/Tempests/Apogees/Conquests. Some weapons were also hard to suss out, like Hephasteuses and specifically, Mjolnirs. In my playthrough i checked my save file, there were NO shops selling Mjolnirs. Luckily i had one from some fight and in the end i just cheated myself another one. This also applies to mods and which get to be 'in shops' and which drop from research stations. Also their rarity within the open/black/comission markets should be looked at. Front Shield Gen comes up often.

Coming back to comissions, they really should only drop a flat number of rep, not a hardcoded limit. If i'm 80 with Haeg, drop it to 20. I can already raise it myself from -50 to 0 or more with bounties, or cheese it from -50 to -49, non agressive, with a single gamma core. Comissions also pay way too little for the engagements you're facing.

Unnamed bounties start to fade out right about now since they don't guarantee any serious money given the investment of time you put into them. But i don't know if they /have/ to, they should be fine being left for 'early game' reasons and maybe some bonuses when you're comissioning around.

In my game, named bounties were almost always put by Haeg/Sindikat/TT/some Ind and rarely Perseans. Ludds almost never put bounties up. Named bounties scale well though and these are really the recommended things to be doing.

Comparatively, procurament missions don't really scale, or well at all. There is no 'midgame' or lategame for procurament really, apart from just hogging cargo and seeding it in stations to have it handy for insta-completing. This leads me into how missions respawn weirdly in stations. You could undock, dock, and there's another set. Or undock, just go to the jump point and back, and another set availible. This should be more tempered. Either way, in the current trading/cargo hauling environment, i'm not sure what use or goal the 'food shortage' events serve.

If we lead off the core-worlds easy surveying, this should feed well into getting the player moving away from the core worlds for more worlds surveying and getting juicy Class4/5's. I know this is a 'stepin' and not a real goal that the player should be having in later editions of the game but if we are to keep surveying as a quasi profession, i don't see the harm in creating this road for them.

Survey pack missions at this point are 'backup cash' in case of a full wipe. If we work off them being small combat encounters, at this point the player should be facing serious Domain probes, and at long ranges from home.

Beacon systems start to become a thing here, but i feel that we don't really need 'green'/easy/1pulse beacon systems. Domain probes take that prize home as the 'easier' Remnant, don't feel we need to trivialise Remnants as combat encounters. To be fair, it took me a while to get that they're 'different' factions.

Endgame:

Endgame is when you can afford to take out multi-capital ships and engage anything in the known universe, have multiple ships in storage to fit multiple fleet setups and when you're using Atlases and Prometheuses to haul 'strategic amounts of stuff' back to your homebase.

Comissions still work here, allowing you to take on detachement fleets and generally engage in max-fleet-limit combat. Builds up on the fun bit of fleet combat and is something of a real goal some people will be building towards. These are less dangerous that going into a red beacon system though and that's fine, given the safety of the core worlds.

Mass-systems surveying at this point becomes dull and boring, but given it's not supposed to be an end game for it, i guess it's fine.

Salvaging only works at this point to farm specific hulls you're having trouble outright buying from the markets, but it's still a mechanic you use to top up supplies after a battle, to soften the post-battle repair costs. I like it and how it works, forcing you to stay at the combat site after the engagement, putting yourself at risk.

At this point you have a full list of all the beacon systems in your game, and you're gearing up for the Remnant battlestations. I really like them and the combat with them. It's tactical, it's interesting and it's a fitting and unique 'end game boss' kind of deal, given how much you've been fighting fleets and then you get this curveball. Even if we'll be killing a lot more 'faction' stations/outposts in a few years in SS, i think these will continue to be a cool end game goal.

However, i dislike how entering Red beacon systems is more of a logistics challenge than anything else. I don't mind the attrition per se of engaging multiple fleets at the same time, but i do mind when i am starting to 'group them together' to fight more at the same time since i don't want to deploy my ships for just two Lumens and assorted frigs only to have just a second later fighting another two Lumens. Maybe that's part of it, but it feels a lot more gamey/cheesy than it should be.

Overall:

The player fleet is a lot more sustainable, the game skips you past the fabled classic 'hound 1v1 agains the world' frigate start and actually, all in all, i think it may be too rewarding, credits-wise, to the player. I love the concept of dmodded ships, though the price should be per removing individual Dmods, not a flat one for all of them, and i had hoped they'd have more of a presence in the midgame, but by that point you can afford to restore ships and fly undamaged ones easy peasy.

In any case, i don't think SS ever had a more stable and more fleshed out, full-bodied experience, beginning to end. I'm hyped for more, but a lot of the 'baggage' of the older versions needs to be looked at moving forward. How reputation works, comissions, events (what does the war event even do in systems that don't contain any of the war participants?) as well as smuggling and trading as a whole. (-30% tarrifs everywhere? ehh)

--------

And that was about all i had to say about the campaign progression. I'm did not and am not going to be delving into the combat imbalances of 0 OP fighters, how torpedoes are in a bad place compared to Harpoons and how i dislike fighters engaging after the carrier dies (not that the Moras ever die). These are combat balance considerations and the forums are full of them, and i think it's all been said.

Either way, thanks for reading.

9
My captain, Sarah 'Gin' Tonic was out flying an ultra-light scouting fleet in the far reaches of the Pisces constellation, past the clusters of the Basculae and Gray Ghost Nebula, as far as any human willed to go. The plan was to scout out more of the unknown sections of the map, looking for the elusive warning beacons that told of great spoils and riches within, upon the wrecks of the whispered Remnant.



While the primary concern was looking for said warning beacons, given my large heart, i was also breaking up the monotony by taking up distress beacons events; giving fuel to stranded fleets.

Most of those events ended with a happy ending, saving a few people and their misplanned journey, while the others had me dodging filthy pirate ambushes. Nothing this weathered captain hasn't seen before.

It was all going fine until i got to Epsilon Piscum. Headed in following a distress call and found it was a system full of Domain relics, ancient probes and forgotten stations, all filled with great loot. I should have been thinking about where were the souls i was meant to save, but upon finding no-one at the jump point, i shrugged and went on my way looting and salvaging. Didn't take long and i had everything in my cargo hold and ready to sail off back home. I was literally a few inches from the sweet safety of the jump point when in a moment of too much time Shifting, a wild fleet of pirates approached me and decided they wanted to ask how i was doing... with lasers and machine guns.



I almost reloaded the game then and there but said, 'you know what, let's give it a shot'. My fleet was comprised of a Safety-Override modded Lasher frigate with twin extended missile rack anti-shield Sabot missiles and three Light Assault Guns, for taking out mostly unarmored Domain drones, a Phaeton tanker for fuel and a Collossus Mk.2 cargoship for everything else that was needed.

I disengaged the pirates and a pursuit commenced, all three enemy fleets on my tail. The Phaeton was lightly armed, same for the Collosus, guns more for show than anything else and Injector hull mods for speed. The Phaeton especially, given i wasn't expecting trouble, only had the one gun facing forward. It wasn't hoped that it'd do anything.

My Lasher went ahead and did close air (space?) support, destroying enemy frigates that got too close with blissful accelerated ammofeeder-powered triple LAGs and sucking in fire on the shield from the bigger enemy ships like destroyers. I spammed the Sabots on a Sunder destroyer and got an easy kill, alongside a Buffalo Mk2 cargo/support ship to boot. However, only now did i realise how slow the Collosus was and had to do a bit of fancy flying to keep it safe, pulling back from my aggressive ops. The Pheaton took a few shots from the enemy frigates deployed to the flank but it ended up retreating fine. Whew.

I was then thrown back to the overmap upon the successful retreat, plotting my course out of the problematic elements. Unpaused... and i got attacked again. Apparently, the immunity you get after combat with a fleet, to not get re-engaged, doesn't apply to the assistants/allies of said fleet. So here i was, not 200 milliseconds later, pursued by the same guys. With allies yet again.

However, this time, things just spawned closer and got more CQB than i'd have liked. I had killed a few frigates, but i was doing double time taking hits on the shield, safeguarding the Collosus' aft. I also killed a Buffalo Mk2 going full speed, which had its wrecked corpse gently floating alongside my Collosus for almost the entire journey out of the combat area. However, as my attention was split to the Collosus i failed to see the Phaeton was meeting a Wolf and a Lasher that jumped in from the side sooner than i anticipated. I was there just a bit too late and the Phaeton, and all of my 700 fuel, exploded right then and there. I punished the aggressors and before you knew it i was back pushing away the final attacks on the Collosus' now almost at quarter health hull.

I managed to retreat and this time, there were no more fleets ahead of me. I got away and found a deadspace to relax and take stock of the situation. Gauges were hitting zero fuel, navcomputers put me roughly as far as i could go from my home base, Hybrasil, and still be on the map and i was stuck in a system with a pack of deadly pirate fleets. However, i had a full stock of hundres of supplies capable of keeping me battle ready for a very long time... I messaged the pirates:



Unsurprisingly, they didn't take the offer. Their problem.

I cracked my knuckles and opened up refitting. I didn't have many options, pure LAG's won't do and i needed shield busting capability past just the limited number Sabots i had to draw on per engagement. Luckily i haphazardly, more for amusement than efficiency, put a strong anti-shield weapon, a Light Needler, on my Collossus; not that it did it much good in the previous chases. I saw it removed and slapped it on the Lasher's frontal mount, clicking in with a nice 'whirr'. That was better. As soon as i got repaired i began tracing my steps back to the enemy fleets, passing by the debris field left from my Phaeton on the way hoping to find some stray fuel of my huge cache, but barely scraping 15 units. Didn't matter. I knew exactly where to get more fuel.


I got in range and saw the enemy fleets, slowly beginning to pull them apart until one of the smaller fleets peeled off. Given this new version of the game boosted me to the Destroyer class pretty quickly, i had gotten a bit rusty flying ridiculous-speed strike frigates, but i had a whole of twenty seconds before first contact to remember. I weaved and bobbed between enemies at break-neck speeds, closing in for kills at under 400su's with LAGs then darting back out. Made quick work of various Lashers and Cerberus frigates. I kept the Sabots loaded and the chambers cool for the fearsome Hammerhead Destroyer. Took a bit to get it singled out and the 'chaff' eliminated from sight but when that happened, six volleys of Sabots and an accelerated feed of LAG and Needler fire broke it. The summary had me at 20 something fuel, with a bit more gotten off the salvaging. In a bit of luck, i managed to recover a damaged Wolf from the fight, with a singular Annihilator Pod and three damaged mods. Had a few guns looted, but nothing that fit it sadly.

It'll have to do. The hunted has become the hunter.

Repaired and rearmed, and went ahead and angled to engage the other smaller fleet. Sadly, it wasn't going away, choosing to stick to the large one. Eventually i got too flighty with my movement and got caught, but it was fine all the same.

What followed was a sequence of two separate engagements, attacking, destroying what i can, then retreating. Frigates fell, Buffalos, Sunders especially quickly due to their poor armor once overloaded with my Wolf dying as well, no doubt honorably; i couldn't tell from the haze of speed and overloaded shields. After the second engagement, seeing their fleets crushed before me, no frigates remaining, they retreated what they could to lick their wounds, namely the Hammerhead and the Falcon. I came out of it with a Kite, a light frigate, with a single torpedo launcher upon which i strapped an Autocannon to, and a Cerberus which i quite literally put on everything else i had managed to loot.



But it was time for the final fight. Repaired combat readiness and double checked fits, and went unto the breach yet again, this time facing the strong Hammerhead and Falcon combo on their own.

Having more targets to shoot at, the enemies happily exposed their backsides at the sanic Lasher, but it wasn't an easy fight, my two scrapyard challenge ships dying not too long in the engagement. However by that time, we've managed to drop the Hammerhead, and the Falcon was exactly in my sights when the Cerberus exploded. But the damage was done, the Sabots were in flight, and an overloaded Falcon crumbled helplessly under my barrage.




As the battle cooled off, i cleaned house and took stock of the combat summary.The only ship recoverable, amusingly, was the Kite, now with max number of damaged mods. More importantly, after salvaging and checking the debris field, i had around 127 fuel. What did 127 fuel get me?



An almost cushy ride to the closest Haegemony world that can supply me with fuel. That was enough. It would see me docked at Yama in the Naraka system in a matter of days with a petty 18 fuel to spare.

As i left the soon-to-be-forgotten battlefield of Epsilon Piscum behind me, i couldn't help but smile. This wasn't a child's smile, large and innocent, nor a soft one of a wife caressing her husband's head as he slept. This was the smile of a crab fisherman returning to dock with a load full of King Crabs, after days of being at sea, rough and beaten, tired and afraid.

It was a smile of smug victory.

10
Bug Reports & Support / Gilead has no staff/personnel listing?
« on: May 01, 2017, 01:44:33 PM »
https://snag.gy/hBDEr9.jpg

Nor Asher in the same system.

LE: Only Hesperus has any Luddic church base officers/commanders etc.

11
Solo Astral for some reason fails to engage. It seems to me like it's not going far enough to 'see' the enemy in sensors and engage, or not setting fighters to Engage. Twin Astrals are fine. Video of issue here:

https://streamable.com/r8ghr

save: https://www.dropbox.com/s/4d40f6fn9w5f2ud/save_SarahGinTonic_5246980135016847510.zip?dl=0

Edit: After the initial run, the pirahnas stalled yet again for a good 10-15 seconds, then decided to attack.

12
Suggestions / Let's talk progression and skill tree
« on: April 30, 2017, 01:16:57 PM »
Starsector has always been a bit of 'get the bestest dude and wreck face', but as the skill trees are starting to get filled out and with level limitations in-place, we're starting to hit the real point where people have to consider builds and really crunch the skill tree and figure out a level progression. Now, i don't want to delve in the actual individual skills, since these will probably be in-shift for a long time, especially with new skills relating to future outpost management/construction take out slots on the ballot, but I want to talk about the overall arhitecture of the tree and methodology.

Before we go in, this post is part of a series. I also delve into UI/UX on 8.0 here: http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=12078.msg205547#msg205547 and on the campaign progression here: http://fractalsoftworks.com/forum/index.php?topic=12256.msg208065#msg208065

The current system, as felt on my own skin and read about in the forums/discord, has some problems:

- Putting points in aptitudes feels 'wasted', compared to the old system were we got 'something' for them, and almost feel like a 'barrier to entry' a new tree
- There is a huge barrier to entry leading to decision paralysis for newer players when judging all the skills at a time for an upgrade
- Starsector at its core is and is meant to be a combat game in which you fly a single ship within a larger fleet combat situation, as such players feel like they have to juggle all the skills against the combat benefits of the Combat tree (or Carrier skills), since it's never much fun to get your ass whooped.
- Some skills are considered necessary and nobrainer choices / "of course i'll get Navigation"

But it's not all doom and gloom. Let's see what works well:

- Skills are chunky and provide a healthy benefit "+50% damage to weapons and engines".
- Ranks build on that and give identity and sense of strenght/power, within an easily graspable time-frame
- Absolutely no grind, the observe-plan-achieve loop is short and sweet

So, what's to do here?

Let's tackle the simplest issue, choice paralysis and aptitude points.

-----------

Aptitude points as a mechanic is a delaying tactic to not allow the player to get too strong, too fast. However, it fails quite quickly at that after the initial three points are spent, unlocking the entire tree. It functions more as a blockage to be removed, than a door that you open to other posibilities, and it still keeps those rank 3 perks in easy access (damage control). Blockagers, if used, should unlock entire new options or playstyles, not just allow you to focus down harder. Even using the old system where we get rewarded with something for choosing them, it still felt like unplugging a hole, it was just sweeter a bit.

Second part is choice paralysis, giving players entirely too much to think and gulp down in one go, especially with a no-respec system. This leads to a few things. They can choose not to use any points, making their lives harder and experience worse, until they know they want to go down a particular path, forcing them to prespec a lot of their build. Or they can become disenchanted with the premise that their choices might be wrong and require a second or third playthrough until 'they get it'; what skills are 'traps' (Command and Control) and which are "needed".


To replace aptitudes, the rest of the skill three , there are two clear methodologies to limit initial choice and provide a limitation of power.

- Unlock specialisation by focus, also known as a buy-in system. One of the examples of this is Borderlands:



Starting out, you have access to all rank 1 perks in all trees. You can unlock placing points in the rank 2 perks only after placing a certain number of skills in that branch. Rank 3 perks unlock after even more points are placed within the branch. This will eliminate aptitude 'wasted' usage, allow players to spread out in any branches they want without rushing to that OP rank 3 perk, and offer incentives to specialize without punishing exploration of the trees. Also, given that there is no 'buy in' and players don't have to consider rank 2 or 3 skills right off the bat to be able to engage, this will lower the barrier to entry.

- Level based perk unlocks

Can't remember a strict exact example right now, but i made this handy graph.



While arbitrarily enforced, this guarantees a certain lack of minmaxing and allows the game to not get too easy too soon, keeping higher ranks out of reach. It also strives to enlarge the build-up phase by providing instant-reward with a delayed fuse for build consequence. Usually a mix of these two mentioned systems can be seen often used together, like in Fallout 4.

For Starsector though, i think the simple focus specialisation system is enough, levels being somewhat meaningless in terms of focused power, and bringing with it versatility more than anything


-----

The final two issues were 'no brainer' skills and the combat vs universe skills.

One of the core issues i see is that the separation of skills is done on a flawed 'type'/flavor basis. Combat can roughly be separated in armor/shield/guns/maneuvrability, all solo skills with some logistics. Leadership has a mix of carrier solo combat skills and some fleet performance bonuses. Tech is a jumble of solo combat skills, overmap skills and logistics. Industry covers two completely non-combat, secondary profession almost skills mixed with some fleet management.

While i can understand the current setup, it roughly sums itself up in some clear builds: 'solo-focused gladiator' (cbt/tech), 'carrier & command'(ldr/tech), 'explorer/surveryor' (ind/tech) and 'scrapheap challenge admiral' (ldr/ind), each with maybe some dips in the other trees for specific skills. It's not bad in itself, and guiding players down 'classes' is not a bad mechanic, but that's not what's happening here.

The larger issue is that that separation doesn't account for the actual layers in which the player will think of the choices... allowing the player to feel that he's gimped, or worse, gimping himself.

Some skills will always end up being more useful than others, and it's often a waste of time to try to super-fine-tune that the first picks won't break the game. Given how SS has a 'free' system and a wide approach to what you can pick to start out, it'd be almost impossible to balance this. Pick out the outliers and rework them, sure (Navigation), but the general balance of them should come out of players picking 'build-like' abilities in a group, instead of cherrypicking. (I'll get back to this in a bit.)

However, the balance between areas of the game itself, as they are grouped up, is a large problem. Given that we will probably get a lot more skills to come that will deal with outposts, maybe faction warfare, maybe a reworking of reputation and generally more skills that deal with pre/post combat fleet logistics and overmap economy and progression, leaving them in the current 'tree'/separation i think is a mistake.

I propose a new grouping which takes into account layers of interaction.



Skills are grouped in relation to the core aspect of the game: Ship combat in the context of fleet operations that work in a simulated world. And it's this layering that we use here.

Combat is as we know it. All skills that directly affect moment-to-moment action within the arena go here. Carrier skills and 'piloted ship' tech skills included. They're part of the things you put points in to be better in the actual fighty-shooty bits.

Admiralty (tactics) deals with 'soft' combat helpers, both in combat, like ECM and Coordinated maneuvers, as well as the 5 minutes before and after combat, Field repairs/Safety Controls and some aspects of Damage Control. It also deals with fleet bonuses in the actual arena.

Logistics (strategy) deals with long-term matters, the greater aspects of building a fleet, the economics of it, maintaining it and all the bits that tie the experience together. We have officers here, navigation, fleet logistics, Recovery Operations/economic skills.

Now, this might not look like it helps, since this just accentuates the problem right? Not when you get a point to put in EACH skill line individually.

This would require lowering the max level and various math but as it will stand, allowing a single point in each branch will allow the skills of different usages to not be in direct competition amongst skills of a different layer.

Builds will create, in the combat tree, as they are now, based on what you will fly and how you fly it, allowing you to be efficient in combat and enjoy flying your ship. The admiralty or industry trees don't give as much 'build' potential, but they are what they should be, things that support combat. However they allow interesting things to be done if you decide not to pick up those 'must have' skill in each branch, allowing niche utility.

------

I might have made it worse than it is, but as the game gets more complex and more overmap skills get added, catalysts and levers to pull to put combat into context, i think a system similar to what i highlighted will do more good for Starsector than the current breakdown and progression.

PS: Given 'rare' hull mods, as well as an aspect of collectionism regarding them, i think it's wise to remove them from skills. Either players think those are all that exist, or they specifically go for a skill just for the hull mod... either way, while it made sense in 0.7.2, i think it's safe to remove and keep the tree cut and dry focused on the skills.

13
Suggestions / Unreliable Subsystems
« on: April 30, 2017, 12:30:50 PM »
This is by far one of the 'easiest' or even 'desirable' mod right now due to how low impact it can be on even a mediocre fleet and player level.

I think this can be easily tweaked with an inverse of the mechanic used in the rank 2 Industry skill Safety Procedures. Turn "50% reduced combat readiness range in which malfunctions and other negative effects occur" to be -50% on the mod itself. So now even if you have a 75% CR fleet, with Unreliable Subsystems it would take less to get in the 'engines are burning out'/weapons randomly disable stage, let alone gettings down to 30-40% CR and deploying.

15
Bug Reports & Support / Game froze and died
« on: April 28, 2017, 05:52:15 PM »
This is new. No mods, vanilla etc. Jre 7 u80 win 7 pro

-------------

Last lines of starsector.log are fine/nondescript:

27940292 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.missions.MarketProcurementMissionCreator  - Created MarketProcurementMission: food to Salamanca
27940617 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Raesvelg by 0.0016271373, is now 0.076881774
27940617 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Raesvelg by 0.002440706, is now 0.0787123
27940617 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Skathi by 0.0016271373, is now 0.07436612
27940617 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Skathi by 0.002440706, is now 0.076196656
27940617 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Ragnar Complex by 0.0016271373, is now 0.06166214
27940617 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Ragnar Complex by 0.002440706, is now 0.06349267
27940792 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.MarketConnectionActivityData  - Updating connection: [agreus|arcadia_station]: trade (s: 0, l: 0), smuggling: (s: 0, l: 0)
27941583 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.MarketConnectionActivityData  - Updating connection: [gilead|volturn]: trade (s: 0, l: 0), smuggling: (s: 0, l: 1)
27942073 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Nova Maxios by 0.0027833355, is now 0.03538546
27942073 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Nova Maxios by 0.0027833355, is now 0.03747296
27942073 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Tibicena by 0.0027833355, is now 0.034988236
27942073 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.StarSystemActivityTracker  - Increasing system bounty probability for Tibicena by 0.0027833355, is now 0.037075736
27942086 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.shared.MarketConnectionActivityData  - Updating connection: [chicomoztoc|jangala]: trade (s: 0, l: 0), smuggling: (s: 0, l: 0)
27942993 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.fleets.BaseLimitedFleetManager  - 29 out of a maximum 30 fleets in play for [com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.fleets.PirateFleetManager]
27942994 [Thread-4] INFO  com.fs.starfarer.api.impl.campaign.fleets.BaseLimitedFleetManager  - Spawned fleet [pirate raiders] at hyperloc Vector2f[-12517.046, -5370.1035]


---------

However, event viewer in windows:

Fault bucket 3927310064, type 5
Event Name: AppHangB1
Response: Not available
Cab Id: 0

Problem signature:
P1: java.exe
P2: 7.0.450.18
P3: 525404d0
P4: 1e37
P5: 0
P6:
P7:
P8:
P9:
P10:

Attached files:
C:\UsersAppData\Local\Temp\WER42F2.tmp.appcompat.txt
C:\UsppData\Local\Temp\WER4A14.tmp.WERInternalMetadata.xml

These files may be available here:
C:\UsersAppData\Local\Microsoft\Windows\WER\ReportArchive\AppHang_java.exe_15ce7dfe5b183f86302af8bb9cd63d645220c0_4a455182

Analysis symbol:
Rechecking for solution: 0
Report Id: 099886ca-2c75-11e7-91f6-8c89a5c1485e
Report Status: 0



-----------------


The program java.exe version 7.0.450.18 stopped interacting with Windows and was closed. To see if more information about the problem is available, check the problem history in the Action Center control panel.
 Process ID: 8d4c
 Start Time: 01d2c040b748359c
 Termination Time: 169
 Application Path: Z:\Starfarer\jre\bin\java.exe
 Report Id: 099886ca-2c75-11e7-91f6-8c89a5c1485e


------------

Fault bucket , type 0
Event Name: AppHangTransient
Response: Not available
Cab Id: 0

Problem signature:
P1: notepad.exe
P2: 6.1.7601.18917
P3: 559ea8be
P4: unknown
P5: unknown
P6: unknown
P7: unknown
P8:
P9:
P10:

Attached files:

These files may be available here:


Analysis symbol:
Rechecking for solution: 0
Report Id: 271a3634-2c75-11e7-91f6-8c89a5c1485e
Report Status: 1

-------------------

Attached hang files: https://www.dropbox.com/s/xisjx16u3evf8ul/AppHang_java.exe_15ce7dfe5b183f86302af8bb9cd63d645220c0_4a455182.zip?dl=0

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