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Starsector 0.96a is out! (05/05/23)

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Topics - JT

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Suggestions / Boring missions, and their necessity
« on: March 10, 2014, 03:13:33 PM »
The latest blog post about trade got me to thinking about the very real challenge it posed; both sides made strong arguments, whether having a free trade speculation system (with no market adaptation) results in the player finding a profitable route and grinding the crap out of it, being boring, versus whether having a non-speculative system with windfall opportunities and market gluts kicks you when you're down by limiting or denying you any opportunity to get back on your feet, being frustrating.

I then considered the fact that in reality, the vast majority of cargo on the roads on Earth is completely non-speculative, being transshipped.

We know them as Fed Ex quests, and we generally hate them when they're the sole form of gameplay, but there are exceptions -- the Taxi missions throughout the Grand Theft Auto 3D series have been nothing short of hilariously fun, and Euro Truck Simulator (2, too) is based on nothing other than shipping other people's stuff where it needs to go.  I actually found being a United Shipping courier in EV: Nova to be one of the most fun Fed Ex styles of gameplay in any game, since there's such a huge element of "oh crap, oh crap, oh crap, there's a fleet battle that I'm stuck in the middle of, oh crap, oh crap, gah, railgun, oh crap, oh crap, phew, made it away" when you have few appreciable weapons and are dodging the firing solutions of two meeting forces as nothing other than an unfortunate collateral.  The time pressure certainly never hurt, although it was a "jump" pressure unlike Star-far-ector since its clock didn't tick over except on landing or jumping, so it was basically how to manage your routes efficiently, taking assignments where the pickup point would be the same as the destination for another assignment you had already taken, and so forth.

In short, if we're going to focus on a more realistic speculative cargo system which relies on shortages and surpluses to be profitable/available, since it appears we're not interested in a Patrician III style of free market trading system, I feel as though we should also represent the other element of reality: freelance owner-operator shipments.  Space truckers, yo.

Suggestions / Fighter Tactics skill
« on: March 27, 2013, 02:28:53 PM »
The Fighter Tactics skill under the Leadership attribute provides you a straight benefit in Command Points solely for use in commanding fighters. In combination with CIC Officers (who normally possess this skill), your fighter command points would simply appear beneath your main command points display as a smaller "surtitle". Whenever you command a fighter wing instead of a larger ship, you draw from the pool of fighter Command Points first, leaving your command points for larger strategic initiatives.

I would recommend Fighter Tactics having a measurable benefit in command points, likely +3 Command Points per level for fighters only. At maximum level, if you wanted to be that crazy, you could have a whopping 30 Command Points to allow you to micromanage your fighters to your heart's content. Or, if you didn't care at all about it or don't want to micromanage your fighters, you could simply ignore the skill and let your fighters do their own thing as always.

Suggestions / Fighter ejection, SAR, and prisoners
« on: March 27, 2013, 02:04:52 PM »
Crew losses in a pitched battle where both sides are building fighters as fast as they can... might get kinda absurd.  Skills to reduce casualties from fighter squadrons would be a good idea.

I think a feature that would be extremely nice is to have a random delay between a fighter craft being steamrolled and its actual explosion (assuming it wasn't actually just disabled). In this brief delay, escape pods for each of the fighter's crew will launch. The higher the player's "Fighter Tactics" skill, the faster any fighters in his fleet will eject, giving greater odds that they manage to beat the explosion and get out alive.

Unlike many of the "glitz" features, these escape pods would actually be meaningful. There would be [edit]three[/edit] forms:

1) Vacsuits : The simplest possible. Throw on your pressure helmet (you *are* already wearing a spacesuit if you're going to be in combat in an environment that will be fatal to you, don't be silly) and let the gentle flow of outgassing carry you out into the inky black (read: violent decompression sucking you out of the fissures in the hull). Odds of successfully making it out of the wreckage with an intact pressure suit are low, but better than nothing, and once you're floating there you've got all the time in the world to wait. Or about 5 hours or so, anyway. You're so negligibly small that projectiles will completely miss you -- only the greatest gunner in the universe could ever hope to potshot a floating body at a few kilometres of distance.

2) Ejector Pods : These are simply floating escape capsules. If they survive the battle *and* they belong to the side of the victor, they are successfully rescued. They have a *tiny* collision box (as close to one pixel as possible). They have a small survivability to avoid any errant beam weapons, but most any form of projectile would finish them off; however, due to their small size they are extremely effective at lidar absorption and deflection, and therefore can't be auto-targetted, meaning that it would generally take a wilful act to kill them unless they were unfortunately caught in the middle of a firing solution between two capital ships. Manoeuvring thrusters that make them automatically dodge out of harm's way would also be interesting, although that might be getting into too much CPU processing for a smaller feature.

3) Escape Pods : These are the advanced versions found on higher-tier fighters. They would be ultra-fast (300+ speed) self-manoeuvring pods that navigate back to the nearest flight deck (if one still survives) and dock with it. If an escape pod successfully manages to dock with a ship, that crewman is no longer a casualty... period. They will survive the battle unless the ship that is carrying them is killed off too. Per Wyvern's other suggestions, they could also even immediately launch to fly another fighter, although that's a little more iffy -- in reality if you're shot down you have to clear a medical check before being cleared to fly again, but on the other hand things might get streamlined a bit in the middle of a battle, so it could go either way in the fictional universe. ;-) In any case, if there is no remaining flight deck to dock with, they simply try to disengage from the battlefield, and behave as ejector pods in this case -- the winning side gets to claim them as rescues.

In the .ship definition, the user could specify which ships include ejector pods and which ships include escape pods. In the default game they would exist only for fighters and bombers, but the idea could just as easily port over to larger ships.

I think a "prisoners" personnel type might be interesting as well. Whoever holds the field after battle can capture the remaining enemy personnel in escape pods as prisoners, who would be tied to the faction of origin. Prisoners could then be dropped off at their own faction base (your enemy) for a high reward (to cover the circumstances of prisoner exchange, ransom, and humanitarian incentive) or an enemy faction base (your ally) for a slightly lower reward (with the assumption being that they're collected for processing, interrogation, and then prisoner exchange back to their home faction).

There's nothing stopping you from simply making use of that Jettison feature on the cargo screen... who's to know?

[edit]Added the lowest-tech form of ejection in the world. =)

Suggestions / Collision immunities
« on: March 08, 2013, 01:08:10 PM »
Since "pilotable fighters" seems to be lambasted against by the community for reasons I can't quite grasp (fast and brutal hit and run combat in a fighter would be like flying a glass Hound on steroids), I wonder if instead of official implementation, the features necessary to implement it via mods could simply be implemented as part of the API to allow the mod community to do it on their own behalf. The abilities that would then enable this would also incidentally enable other interesting side effects as well.

Specifically we would need an ability that we don't already have: to make objects immune to colliding with certain other objects. This would create a CollisionCheckPlugin that simply disables the radius-bounding collision and ignores the polygon bounding collision operation. Depending on the object, it would be "revenue neutral" or even "revenue positive" so to speak, since it would simply flag a radius collision as impossible before it got to the relatively expensive bounding functions -- although for battlefields which had a lot of objects that could collide and no objects that couldn't collide, the added computations would of course cause slowdown on the order of O(n) for every object on the field whenever a potential collision is detected.

Interestingly, what I was originally going to request in this thread actually turns out already to be there: we already have the ability to make ships vulnerable to fragmentation damage via OnHitEffectPlugin, which has many uses other than just fighters -- and this is something people might be interested in looking at with their own mods (such as "explodey" fuel tankers that don't react well to explosive shells)...

Suggestions / "Tactical" firing mode
« on: March 08, 2013, 11:21:16 AM »
A firing mode that I would really appreciate, in addition to "Linked" and "Alternating", is what I call the "Tactical" firing mode. It is a variation on "Alternating" with emphasis on ammunition conservation and accuracy.

* Weapons will attempt to track the cursor as normal
* If the targetting cursor is in the firing arc of the currently selected weapon within the group, the currently selected weapon will fire by itself at the cursor when the trigger is pulled (similar to "Alternating")
* The targetting cursor must be within firing arc for that group -- no shots will be fired if the cursor is outside of any available firing arcs or if no weapons have a reasonable firing solution (similar to "Linked" except for firing solution)
* If the targetting cursor is not within the firing arc for the currently selected weapon when the trigger is pulled, an available weapon which is in the same group and within the firing arc, if any, is automatically selected and fired instead
* If multiple weapons are available to fire in that firing arc against the targetting cursor, the next weapon within that arc is selected after releasing the trigger (similar to "Alternating", but will ignore invalid weapons)
* If the trigger is held, weapons will alternate within the same firing arc automatically similar to "Alternating"
* If no weapons can be fired due to being out of arc, the trigger does nothing (and if the trigger is held, weapons will not automatically begin firing when the target enters the firing arc)
* If no weapons can be fired due to no firing solution, the trigger does nothing (but if the trigger is held, the first weapon that achieves a reasonable firing solution will begin firing)

"Within firing arc" uses the same conditions as a "Linked" weapon for determining whether a target is within the arc or is nearly within the arc.

"Reasonable firing solution" is similar and simply means that if the gun has tracked to within +/- 5 degrees (or so) of the cursor, it can fire -- otherwise it will hold fire and continue to track until it satisfies this condition. A fixed-mount weapon pointing forward would still fire if the targetting cursor was (say) 4 degrees outside of the arc such that the gun could never track enough to point directly at the cursor, to allow the player to attempt to lead targets with fixed-mount weapons and to reduce the sensitivity of where the mouse must be pointed for gameplay purposes.

In general, a Tactical setting of a fixed-mount weapon that is not a beam weapon is far inferior to simple Linked fixed-mounts if volume of fire is a priority. For fixed-mount weapons, it would be inferior to "Alternating" for such things as missile racks, but superior to "Alternating" for such things as broadside cannon -- any slow-firing high-power weapon that should only fire one at a time (due to flux cost) and only if the alignment is precise with the cursor (due to the need to conserve ammunition), but if the player wanted he could still rapid-click the trigger to unleash Hell's hot fury.

In plainer terms, the Tactical firing mode is intended for those weapons for which you only want one to fire at a time, such as for flux purposes, but also to ensure that unavailable weapons are not needlessly selected or fired. If your ship has Star Trek phasers with overlapping arcs, this ensures that only one phaser fires at any given moment even if two or more phasers arc within arc.

[edit] Clarified that it is dependent on the targetting cursor/mouse pointer, not on the actual locked target. Some additional clarifications on the logic.

Suggestions / Explosions in space
« on: March 08, 2013, 10:53:02 AM »
Explosions! In space!

This is a very simple suggestion.

Since when it comes down to it, the only danger of an explosion in vacuum is if it occurs in direct contact or extremely near proximity with another hull (otherwise by the time a plasma cloud from an explosion touches another ship's hull, it's just hot gas), perhaps there should be a glitz effect where dozens of harmless pixel-sized particles are randomly projected outward at extremely high speed from an "exploding" ship when it is disabled (e.g., crossing the screen's width within less than a second), simulating the shrapnel that is emitted when the drive core goes and the ship becomes disabled from the primary explosion. These projectiles would also have a rendering lifetime of under a second each. It is important to stress that they are not the damage-dealing element of the explosion, for sake of simplifying collision detection and not bogging down gameplay: being within the explosion radius is. The particles should not collide with anything. They are, however, the justification for that explosion radius.

For nutjobs purists like myself, this would help justify the gameplay element of "proximity to an explosion equals bad" in realistic terms -- a best-of-both-worlds scenario both for realism (from the "explosions in space are just hot gas" perspective that science buffs expect) and intuitiveness (from the "proximity to explosions is bad" perspective that most people expect).

A setting should exist to disable this glitz, since in the middle of a firefight the last thing anyone needs is their older computer slowing down every time a ship goes kerblooie.

[edit] Moved modifier "at extremely high speed" after "projected outward" instead of "disabled", since this should happen irrespective of how fast the ship is disabled. ;-)

Suggestions / Sonic realism: the Alien tagline
« on: October 02, 2012, 02:47:04 AM »
"In space, no one can hear you scream."

I think it would be interesting if we could have a sounds option that lets us enable realism mode -- specifically, that unless your ship is making the sound, you don't hear any sound. You'll hear the autocannon shells spattering across your hull, but not the autocannon firing -- on the other hand, you'll hear your autocannons firing but not the shells spattering across the enemy's hull.

This could also be rounded out with a hull outfit, Sound Simulator, which uses advanced sensors to "electronically simulate" the various sounds going in the environment around your ship, or in other words which just plays the sounds as they currently are without the realism mode enabled. Which is sort of ironic, I guess. ;-)

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