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Topics - FooF

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1
Suggestions / Hold Fire, PD, and 0-Flux Boost
« on: April 27, 2024, 07:06:11 PM »
Suggestion:

1. Hold Fire does not turn off PD when activated.
2. The 0-flux Boost bonus criteria ignores PD weapon flux as long as total flux doesn't exceed 1% or the ship has Elite Helmsmanship and uses Nu Hold Fire.
3. #2 is negated if shields are raised, regardless of flux level.

Reasons:

Hold Fire can be a poison pill because you also turn off your PD. However, Hold Fire is incentivized because it is the only way to get the 0-flux Boost while under any kind of attack. Elite Helmsmanship helps with getting the 0-Flux Boost at higher flux levels but firing PD of any kind negates it.

This is most aggravating when large, slow ships lose the 0-flux boost because they are using PD in a very normal and reasonable manner. An Onslaught or Paragon that are veritable fortresses are forced to lose 50 speed because a Kite with a Salamander makes a single Vulcan or PD laser to fire. They shouldn't be penalized for a gnat buzzing around them. PD uses so little flux and typically has short enough range that it should be exempt from both the Hold Fire and 0-flux Boost rules.

So, if a ship has its shields off and is using PD, it shouldn't lose the speed boost under normal circumstances. If a player wants to ensure this, Hold Fire should be altered to allow PD-tagged weapons to fire, as there is no downside for their continued use. If a ship has a bunch of PD weapons that does raise flux levels past a certain %, the boost should drop as to avoid exploiting the speed. Likewise, raising shields at any time will kill the boost.

The point of this suggestion is for larger ships trying to get around the battlefield to keep the 0-flux boost despite occasional harassment. No more, no less. This is slightly different than the previous Skill iterations where ships kept the boost at 5% and then 1% total flux. This would be default ship behavior, not locked behind a skill. If it only applied to Cruisers and Capitals, I wouldn't object but that would have to be communicated somehow, which gets tricky.

Alternatively...

Another hotkey is created that puts a ship into "Defensive" that holds all fire except PD. Ships no longer have access to the 0-flux boost but do gain a Defense Speed Boost of +25. Shields can be raised but shield upkeep generates hard flux. This can be toggled on/off at will (or perhaps there is a 5 second cooldown) and the speed bonus will work regardless of flux level. A ship in over its head can toggle on Defensive mode to backpedal with some additional speed while still shooting down missiles and fighters. Shields become a double-edged sword that can hurt as much as help.

The more I look at that the more it sounds like a bona fide ship system but I thought I'd throw it out there. :)

2
Suggestions / Built-in Drones should not be Fighter Wings
« on: March 02, 2024, 08:12:56 AM »
I mentioned this in the Termination Sequence thread but wanted to expand on it here.

I use Shepherds and Tempests in my fleet and am frequently annoyed that their paltry drone wings water down the effectiveness of Carrier skills on my true Fighters. I will see I have two Moras and a Drover and think "hey, I have 8 Wings" only to realize that the two Shepherds and Tempest further down in my fleet count as 3 against the soft cap. This means the true fighters in my fleet lose 14% of the skill effectiveness (21% if the carrier has an Officer). I use Shepherds for their salvage gantries and surveying equipment and Tempests are good Frigates. However, their built-in drone wings hurt my Carriers simply by existing.

Problem:

Shepherds, Ventures, Tempests and the Remnant Apex all have built-in drone wings. That isn't a problem in and of itself: in fact, I believe it adds some needed variety to ship hulls. However, all of these ships' fighter bays count against the Carrier skill soft cap of 8 when the drones they employ are either vastly inferior to any normal Fighter (Borer Drones), a 0-OP option (Mining Pods), or have a very controversial ship system that sacrifices the drone (Terminators). All are tied to their motherships and can't freely roam. All except Terminators are meant to be distractions or meat shields that are easily replaced. Carrier skills that do affect them are virtually lost on them, yet they water down the bonuses for true Fighters on Carriers.

Why not just remove the wings via Converted Fighter Bays if you don't want them to count against the skills? First and foremost, especially in the case of the Tempest, the built-in drones are a major feature of the hull. Shepherds without their drones have virtually no in-combat use (which was low to begin with!) and Tempests wouldn't even be able to use their ship system. Ventures can get by, sure, but the Mining Pods eat missiles and heavy shots as a form of ablative armor. Second, it costs OP and the benefit is purely logistical. I'm sacrificing in-combat performance for campaign-layer performance all so I don't penalize the Carriers in my fleet. It's counter-intuitive.

In short, I think built-in Drones should be treated differently than bona fide Fighters.

Proposed Solution:

Built-in Drone wings do not count against the Carrier skill 8-wing cap nor do they receive any bonuses from those skills.

Second, built-in drone wings always have 100% Replacement Rate or don't have a Replacement Rate at all. Drones simply have a static replacement rate not affected by their losses. For all except the Terminator, they exist to take hits for the mothership. Their offensive capabilities are virtually nil so improved replacement rate increases durability of the mothership, not firepower.

Third, they also would not have the Rearm/Engage toggle option, since they can't operate independently anyway. 0-Roam fighters do kill the 0-flux boost if given Engage orders. This prevents these hulls from even worrying about it.

This could all be communicated through a built-in Hullmod ("Automated Foundry" or some such). This would also explain why Wasps, Mining Drones, Remnant fighters, etc. on other Carriers, don't have these features but do benefit from Carrier skills.

Caveat:

I could make the case that Terminators should be counted as Fighters. They're much more powerful than Borer Drones or Mining Pods. However, adding the above to Tempests makes Termination Sequence a lot cleaner when replacement rates are static. 20 seconds is long enough as it is but then to have the Replacement Rate drop to like 70% after one drone loss makes replacing the Terminators that much longer.

There's also the argument for Terminators to be treated as built-in drones from internal consistency standpoint: why do the other built-in drone hulls have this property but not Tempests? If a hull is built around on-board drones, you'd think it would account for their manufacture in a purposeful way, hence the Automated Foundry hullmod suggestion. I think it would work for a Tempest as much as a Venture or Shepherd.  Meanwhile, true Carriers have to account for any number of Fighter LPCs, not just Drones, so they're not quite as specialized for that unique task. This is all handwave logic, I know, but some internal consistency is good.

3
Bug Reports & Support / F5 / F9 crash
« on: February 15, 2024, 05:11:20 AM »
I use quick save/reload pretty liberally right before and after a battle. Back in RC6, after fighting a named independent fleet bounty, the game would crash to desktop after I wrapped up the post-battle options and hit F5. This happened to me 3 times (having to re-fight the bounty each time). After the 4th attempt, I decided to let a little in-game time pass and left the system before saving via the menu. That worked.

I thought it may be related to a crash fixed in RC8 about pirates but after fighting the battle station at Culann (thinking it might impact the CC for TT and finding it didn’t), I hit F9 to return to the save prior to the fight and the game crashed again. Fortunately, reloading was my intent so everything was fine.

The only mods I have are Console Commands. It seems to be related to saving/reloading immediately after a battle but it’s only happened twice so I can’t reproduce it. I can work around it if it happens again but this is the first time I’ve ever encountered it. I don’t have the save anymore since I’ve played since but I thought I’d report it anyway.

4
Suggestions / Skills that promote SP expenditure should help to that end
« on: February 04, 2024, 08:09:47 PM »
This isn't technically a new issue but it was poignant in my most recent playthrough. There are three skills that promote Story Point expenditure: Best of the Best (+1 S-Mod), Officer Training (+1 Elite skill), and Cybernetic Augmentation (+1 Elite skill for Officers, incentivizes Elite skills for player). However, spending any points on S-Mods or Elite skills does not generate bonus XP and now you have potentially dozens of SP sinks created with a single click.

In short, while these skills allow for the opportunity to raise the ceiling of your fleet quite dramatically, actually realizing that ceiling is, generally speaking, not immediate. In fact, it's more likely an XP grind-fest to generate SPs and an opportunity cost for what those SPs could have been spent on. All this to say, all these skills require further investment using a limited commodity and the game does not compensate the choice to do the very thing the skill affords. And these are Level 3 and 4 skills!

My suggestion is that Officer Training and Best of the Best offset the initial SP cost with Elite Skill and S-mod "tokens", respectively, to be used exclusively used for that purpose. 3 for Officer Training and 5 for Best of the Best. First-time selection only. Unused tokens are removed if the skill is removed, with the remainder available if re-selected. This doesn't get every officer or ship in your fleet but it gives you an immediate boost in power. Quite frankly, BotB doesn't need buffed but you could theoretically be looking at 20+ ships that suddenly want an additional S-mod when you take the skill.

Cybernetic Augmentation give bonus 50% bonus XP when spending SPs on Elite Skills for both Officers and the player. It's not immediate like the Leadership tree but it will pay long-term dividends, especially if you get somewhat early.

5
Suggestions / Frontal Armor hullmod
« on: February 04, 2024, 07:19:01 PM »
While other shieldless/brawling ships have Ablative Armor (Invictus) or Damper Fields (Vanguard), the Grendel just has to avoid damage altogether. In my limited time playing it, I quickly found out that it only takes a single Reaper or a few Hammers to pacify it for the rest of the battle. Once the front armor is gone, trying to meaningfully engage in a straight fight is basically death by a thousand papercuts. All phase ships have this issue to some degree but the Grendel is obviously supposed to take some damage, that's why it has Rugged Construction and Distributed Fire Control.

My thought here is a built-in hullmod that doubles the armor for the armor calculation on the forward-most armor cells. That gives the base Grendel 2400 frontal armor and 1200 everywhere else and stacks with any additional armor. At its most extreme, Heavy Armor and Armored Weapon Mounts, you'd have a base armor of 1720 and frontal armor of 3440. That seems like a whole lot but the starting value will also drop twice as fast per each armor point lost. It still only delays the inevitable but it would be less reliant on defensive skills or Phase Anchor to make it a tanky enough to slug it out. It also makes the Grendel weaker on its sides and rear, relatively speaking, for opportunistic attacks.

This hullmod could also be put on a few other shieldless ships, like the Gremlin, Hound, and Cerberus. A really interesting wrinkle would be to put it on non-Frigate Derelict Drones.

6
Suggestions / Cruiser with a Turreted Large Ballistic
« on: January 02, 2024, 03:30:53 PM »
When the Eradicator was first talked about in a blog post in May 2021, Alex said:

Quote from: Alex
What it doesn’t have is any large ballistic weapon slots. On the one hand, it’d be nice to add another ship where you can mount large ballistic weapons, since the opportunities to do so are currently pretty limited. On the other hand, it feels like adding a single large ballistic slot on this ship would make it the focus of outfitting the ship – and I’d much rather give an array of smaller weapons, and their various combinations, a chance to shine. Just having a ton of smaller guns unload on the enemy – especially with the ammo feeder turned on – is satisfying, and the range buff for some of the small ballistics opens up more options. And, well, another new ship can feature a large ballistic slot at some point, one designed around it.

To his credit, the Eradicator is a great ship and it's a fine addition, but where's our Turreted Large Ballistic Cruiser?

In brainstorming this thing, I had difficulty with coming up with a design that wasn't a:

a.) Ballistic version of the Champion (i.e. Large Ballistic with Large Missile)
b.) Stronger Eradicator (if the system was AAF), or better Dominator (i.e. 2 turreted Large Ballistics)
c.) Midline ship that's essentially a heavier Eagle (though I did playtest a Large Ballistic Eagle some time ago with a couple builds)
d.) Pather/Pirate joke ship (which, ultimately, I don't want and the Atlas Mk. II exists)

I think we can rule out a High Tech ship out of hand so we don't have to worry about a High Tech theme or playstyle. That leaves us with Midline and Low-Tech. A Midline ship with a Turreted Large Ballistic centerpiece would have to be backed up with some Energy weapons, decent flux stats and shield, and possibly a mobility system. This sounds a lot like an Eagle to me. You could change where the Energies are located, not make it a wedge, give it a few Medium Missiles, etc. but unless the ship system is novel, it's just going to be a "better" Eagle or some side-grade Champion. I just don't see the design space for it.

A Low-Tech Cruiser with a Turreted Large Ballistic centerpiece would essentially be a larger Manticore. I don't see this as a bad thing, necessarily. Where a Cruiser-Manticore could be very interesting is that it wouldn't have to rely on Cannister Flak for its PD (freeing up the ship system) and it could have a secondary battery of 2-3 Medium Ballistics, along with a strong Missile component (pair of Mediums and a few Smalls). Ballistic Rangefinder could be built-in and there would be some Smalls with generous arcs to cover the sides and rear. Ultimately, I feel like this ought to be a cast-off/archaic Luddic Church ship (who only have 2 cruisers currently) so it has to be different enough from the Eradicator.

The ship system is really where this could go off into a hundred directions.  I don't like Burn Drive for this one, but it's always a possibility. Giving it AAF is right out because of the overlap with the Eradicator but I really like the idea of some version of the LIDAR array. It would essentially be the Luddic Church's version of a sniper. Perhaps this ship is relatively fragile but packs enormous firepower in ideal conditions. Codename "Basilisk".

Alternatively, while the Luddic Church does have the Mora, it doesn't have a true anvil warship until the Invictus. A defensive ship system paired with the Large Ballistic Turret would make it a stronger line ship. Damper Field would, again, overlap too much but I could get behind some kind of special shield system that cuts shield damage by 50-60% but still allows guns to fire through. It would have charges, so sort of like Damper Field, but the caveat is that the shield system is a fixed 180 degrees and precludes any shield hullmods from being added to the ship. It doesn't take a lot of guesswork to realize why the Domain abandoned such a rigid system. Codename "Phalanx".

For the Basilisk, I could see it being 20 DP: a less expensive option than the Eradicator but far more specialized and fragile. The Phalanx might be closer to a Heavy Cruiser and be 25 DP.

Anyway, brainstorm away. Those are my thoughts and such a Cruiser doesn't have to follow my logic or constraints.

7
Suggestions / The Tac Laser
« on: December 16, 2023, 09:59:00 AM »
The Tac Laser is dead. Long live the Tac Laser. There was a time when it was a very normal beam that didn't do anything particularly well, and that was ok because beams in general didn't do anything particularly well. But now every beam does something and the bog-standard Tac Laser feels like a relic of bygone years. Even in its heyday, no one wanted to put a Tac Laser in a Small Energy slot, you just kind of settled for it. The flux wasn't enough to make a difference on shields and when it did hit armor/hull, it was only a minor annoyance unless you could mass 4+ on a target. The old wisdom is that beams like the Tac Laser are "pressure weapons": they forced the enemy to raise shields or risk death by a thousand paper cuts. They are long-range, perfectly accurate, and cheap in OP and flux cost. Low-risk, low-reward. In a word: boring.

Other Beams in the game have a similar problem but all are more specialized than the Tac Laser. The Graviton deals Kinetic damage, can deflect missiles, and now causes shields to take more damage. The Ion Beam is a pure support beam dealing shut-down EMP damage and can pierce shields at high flux levels. The HIL deals HE damage and crushes armor. The IR Autolance can shred unshielded fighters, deal very good burst hull damage, and doesn't even bother wasting flux on shields. The Phase Lance is short-ranged but deals good hull damage and the Tachyon Lance is a long-range nuke. Then you have the point-defense beams: the PD Laser, LRPD, and Burst Lasers. The LRPD is the primary offender here because it has 80% of the range and 67% of the damage for 50% of the flux cost. It tracks better, as well. Its only downside is it costs 1 more OP. The one thing the Tac Laser has going for it is that in a PD role, it passes through missiles but that is faint praise.

In short, the Tac Laser has been passed by in the meta. It just doesn't offer anything above and beyond what other beams can do and they're not competitive even in the pretty milquetoast Small Energy slot. To put it another way, how many of you use Tac Lasers on Centurion or Hammerhead Hybrid slots? How many Tac Lasers go on your Scarabs or Medusa's? Do you put Tac Lasers on Furies or Auroras? When is having just a single Tac Laser worth firing at range to keep an enemy's shields up (and worth giving up your own 0-flux boost)?

What is the best use-case for a Tac Laser? A long-range Eagle Build? Contributing to an all-or-none, Disco Ball Paragon build? You used to be able to use Tac Lasers in an IPDAI + Advanced Turret Gyros combination on larger ships but IPDAI now takes an S-mod. Even then, it wasn't that great.

So what to do with them? Since every other beam does something now, I don't see why the Tac Laser shouldn't either. (As an aside, I kind of hate that the IR Autolance exists because that style of beam mechanic would have been very good for the Tac Laser. Something a bit more opportunistic, a little stronger against hull, but still generally useful.) Without changing the actual mechanic of the beam, though, how do you incentivize shooting one of these at an enemy? How do you bump up the supportive fire role it has?

Suggestion 1: Ramping Damage

My first immediate thought was to ramp up the damage on armor/hull the longer the beam stays on target. If you played Starcraft 2, you know about the Protoss Void Ray. It doesn't deal a lot of damage at first, but if it can stay on one target long enough, it has three stages of damage that get increasingly more devastating. I'm not saying do anything to that extreme for the Tac Laser but what if it doubled its damage against armor/hull (but not shields!) over a few seconds of firing on one target?

For example, a Tac Laser does 75 DPS (though only half that for the armor calculation), but as soon as it contacts armor or hull, it increases 5% per tick up to a full 100%. IIRC, beam damage occurs ~10x a second, so it would take 2 seconds to get to full damage. Since all it takes is a shield flicker or stray fighter to get in the way of the beam, it has the potential to reset fairly often, but getting the full damage shouldn't take too long, either.

Suggestion 2: Angry Flashlights

I'm also a fan of Warhammer 40k and Imperial Guard Lasguns are sometimes called "angry flashlights." They are notoriously underpowered at the individual level but when you get 10,000 Guardsmen all firing at the same thing?  ;D

If you can get multiple Tac Lasers pointed in the same general vicinity on a ship's armor (like within 10 su), they amplify all damage to that armor cell by a small percentage (3%). This effect is multiplied by 5 for other Tac Lasers. So, in the case of an Eagle with 3 Tac Lasers in the small slots, they add 9% to all weapons hitting that armor cell but add 45% for the Tac Lasers themselves (~109 DPS each). The upper limit is 5 instances (so +15%/75% for the Tac Lasers). The amplifying effect has no effect on shields.

Suggestion 3: "Pulse" Laser

I experimented with making the Tac Laser "pulse", but do more damage (this would cause confusion with the Pulse Laser, I know). The Tac Laser stays at 75 DPS/60 Flux but has a .3 second duration with a .15 second chargedown. The actual beam DPS is 213 (Burst Laser is 350, for reference) and I improved its beam speed to 6500 (about twice as fast but not instant). Interestingly, it's terrible once you add range upgrades because the beam spends most of its time traveling and deals diminished damage. Seeing these things strobe everywhere might cause issues to our epileptic friends, though! It's very effective against unshielded frigates and fighters. My impression playtesting this is that it's too strong and perhaps too busy, visually, but it is working "within the framework" without any extra gimmicks. It does step on the toes of the IR Autolance to some degree.

Overall

I'm not convinced any of the above are great and I'd love to hear other ideas. Maybe the Tac Laser should stay as a ho-hum pressure weapon because if it ain't broke, don't fix it but I do know I rarely use them currently. I'd like to have a reason to.

8
Suggestions / Fleet Cap Penalty
« on: November 24, 2023, 09:42:11 AM »
I'm trying a "Zerg" approach in my latest run using Derelict Operations and Support Doctrine and currently have 25 Destroyers, 3 Frigates, an Atlas and a Prometheus but have hit the Fleet Cap with only 182 DP worth of combat ships. I have some Enforcers at 5 DP and a few Manticores at 8, but most of my Hammerheads, Sunders , and Tarsii are 6-7. That leaves nearly 60 DP, or about another 9-10 Destroyers, off the table for engagements, unless I go over the cap.

The Problem

The problem with going over the cap isn't the logistical hit (+20% of total supply cost of the fleet, per ship), since all my ships have 4-5 D mods and Derelict Operations/Makeshift Equipment lower it even more dramatically, it's the Burn Speed reduction. Each ship over reduces the maximum speed by 6.66%, and since we're working with whole numbers, any portion less than whole rounds down. I'm usually Burn 10 with Destroyers + Navigation but the moment you get one ship over, it gest reduced to 9. With a second ship, it's down to 8. The 3rd ship is actually exactly 80% so you stay at 8. By the 4th ship, it's down to 7. This absolutely kills any advantage I had to try to engage or disengage with my purposely-built fast/numerous fleet.

Suggestion

Support Doctrine and Derelict Operations should have some counter-balance to the Fleet Cap penalties, since they both actively reduce deployment point cost.

*Support Doctrine would raise the fleet cap to 35.
 
*Derelict Operations would reduce the over-the-cap penalty by 75% (+5% fleet supply cost increase per ship and 1.66% reduction in maximum burn speed per ship over the cap). +1 Burn speed for Burn speed calculation only to offset the rounding down effect (or maybe it could just be +1 Burn, a la Navigation, since it's a capstone skill? :P)

Support Doctrine's way around the cap is straightforward: you get 5 additional ships before penalty, but afterwards would see full cap hits. Derelict Operations pays additional (minor) maintenance fees through ship 35 but could keep pushing it further and further out before it becomes unmanageable, which is sort of the point of the skill. Both Support Doctrine and Derelict Ops wouldn't see a drop in burn speed until ship 36 but Derelict Ops wouldn't see another drop until ship 42.

For example, by the 40th ship:
Support Doctrine - +100% fleet maintenance cost, 67% maximum Burn
Derelict Operations - +50% fleet maintenance cost, 83% maximum Burn (+1)

All told, a Support Doctrine fleet probably doesn't go beyond 35 ships. A Derelict Ops fleet might go as high as 41. With both, as high as 46, but to fill that up without going over 240 DP is only 6 DP per ship, counting some logistic ships in there. Possible, but all small ships. I'm aware there may technical limitations to this suggestion. Putting 40 ships on screen might slow some CPUs, so I understand if this is a concern.

Obviously, the situation I'm bringing up is an edge-case, but I think these capstone skills should accommodate the extra DP space they naturally provide. I have since added Capitals and Cruisers to my run because the DP is there, but it kind of goes against the scenario I was trying to achieve.


9
Suggestions / Smoothing out the player power curve
« on: August 20, 2023, 08:23:22 PM »
Honestly, the thread is making me concerned about power creep. Maybe the real problem is that the player can get too many bonuses that trivialize the standard content.
Indeed that's a thing I forgot to discuss in the OP, but would probably require an entire thread or two on its own anyway: reduce player peak strength somehow so the hardest fights can be less bloated. How? Who knows... Two ideas I recall are limiting the number of capital ships in the fleet (kind of arbitrary) or making them harder to find/use (just delays the problem).

IMO, another big problem is that the game lets the player get too strong too fast so that a lot of the enemy content just gets bypassed.

In the spirit of branching off a new thread regarding the above comments, this got me thinking. There was a lot of discussion in that thread about how earlier versions of the game forced smaller fleets unless you invested points into logistics. I recall this version of the game, but don't remember it well, at least not enough to speak intelligently about it. In general, however, I agree that the player can "leap" over certain thresholds in the game that trivialize a lot of content. I.e. finding a Legion XIV out on the fringe that, even though it's a logistical beast, can single-handedly take out medium-sized bounties and force some early game fleets to avoid you altogether.

Wyvern posted this suggestion and some ballpark numbers:

Honestly, I'd say the best option would be to scale down fleet sizes across the board, and re-introduce a logistics-based fleet size soft-cap for the player. (And have it as an actual soft cap, where going a bit over the limit just means a few percent less max CR / slower CR recovery / more supplies spent, as opposed to the 30 ship limit where going over it by even one means your supplies drain like crazy.)

And then maybe have four-ish different things that boost that limit:
  • raw player level, regardless of skill selections
  • a leadership skill
  • mercenaries (with diminishing returns if you start stacking multiple)
  • colony support, either from player-controlled colonies or from having a commission
    • possibly via new industry or structure, possibly tacked on as an extra effect for waystations or patrol HQs or star bases
    • bonuses from player colonies & commissions would not stack with each other
Making the AI fleets more commonly use s-mods wouldn't be too bad, either.
Numbers are, of course, subject to playtesting, but if I had to pick numbers out of a hat, it'd probably go something like:
  • 58 DP as initial soft-cap at level one; this should allow a new player to run with either of the 'fast start' options and not have issues with the soft-cap during the tutorial.
  • +8 DP per level, bringing a level 15 character with no other bonuses to a soft-cap of 170 DP of fleet - smaller than the 240 most skills soft-cap at. (Reference note: as I mentioned originally, the intent here is to make fleets smaller in general.)
  • +40 DP from Salvaging
  • +50 DP from Industrial Planning
  • +60 DP from Support Doctrine
  • +20 DP from a mercenary (with diminishing returns, so maybe +15 for the second, +10 for the third, and +5 for the fourth, with additional mercenaries beyond that no longer adding DP)
  • up to +80 from a commission or support from player-owned colonies (requires multiple colonies to reach max bonus; requires 100 reputation with commissioned faction to reach max bonus)
So that'd work out to a soft-cap of 170 as the minimum, going up to a (relatively) easy 310-ish with, say, a single skill point invested in salvaging, a single mercenary, and a well-developed set of colonies or a commission with a major faction. And an absolute maximum if you go all-in on fleet size of 450.

Is that enough to allow scaling down enemy fleets as well? I'm not sure. As noted at the start, play-testing is required to find numbers that actually work properly.


I do like the idea of the beginning the game with a lower fleet cap that naturally rises as you level. Likewise, skills adding DP would make sense, especially in Industry (and I think Support Doctrine makes sense, too). It's an interesting idea that deserves some discussion.

I think reducing fleet size is one way to approach it, and possibly the most straight-forward, but there's also a part of me that doesn't want a level 1 character flying a Capital regardless of how it was acquired. I know this is a sandbox and arbitrary limits are generally frowned upon, but I don't think limiting the player at the beginning is necessarily a bad thing.

Ship Slots are Hull-Size Specific

My thought here is the player starts with only a few ship slots but the character earns more as they level. Not just generic slots, though, but hull-size specific ones. For example, you begin the game with 2 Frigate slots and a Utility slot (for a logistic ship or, some hull you want to keep as post-battle salvage). At level 2, you gain a Frigate slot and another Utility slot (you gain a Utility each level). At level 3, a Destroyer slot is added. The caveat is that you can always put a smaller ship in a given slot. At level 4, Destroyer. Etc., etc., etc. Basically, the intent is to keep the fleet size down early and keep early game challenges relevant longer. Utility slots are generally used for logistic ships but as some logistic ships, like a Mule, are also combat-capable, you can boost your combat power by using these combat freighters without using a Destroyer slot for the Mule (as an example). The choice then becomes whether to have greater logistics capacity or greater combat power. (It also begs the question of what is a "Logistics" ship. Just ships with Civilian-Grade hull or are these ships tagged as "Utility" somewhere?)

It should be mentioned that I don't see Utility slots being size-specific at all. You can have a Dram or a Prometheus in there at any time in the game. Likewise, if you're hauling a Legion XIV from the far-reaches, that's fine. You can also use the combat slots as a Utility slot, up to the next class size. For example, you could throw a Mule or Buffalo in a Frigate slot or a Colossus or Venture in a Destroyer slot if you're not using those slots for actual warships. Combat freighters, especially, become much more flexible and valuable.

The leveling progression goes as follows, with the understanding you're always getting 1 Utility slot per level and you can always put a smaller ship in a given a slot or a class-larger Utility ship in a combat slot:
  • Level 1 - 2 Frigates
  • Level 2 - 1 Frigate
  • Level 3 - 1 Destroyer
  • Level 4 - 1 Destroyer
  • Level 5 - 1 Destroyer
  • Level 6 - 1 Cruiser
  • Level 7 - 1 Destroyer
  • Level 8 - 1 Destroyer
  • Level 9 - 1 Destroyer
  • Level 10 - 1 Cruiser
  • Level 11 - 1 Cruiser
  • Level 12 - 1 Capital
  • Level 13 - 1 Cruiser
  • Level 14 - 1 Cruiser
  • Level 15 - 1 Capital

Without skills or other modifiers, the player would have 16 combat ships and 15 Utility slots, shaking out to:
2 Capitals (~80 DP)
5 Cruisers (~100 DP)
6 Destroyers (~60 DP)
3 Frigates (~15 DP)

So about 255 DP, give or take, which isn't too far off from the 240 DP limit we have now. As it stands right now, I would leave DP as-is, so you still have to be mindful of how much your ships cost in the end. Getting rid of DP would make the optimal path "put the most best-in-class in every slot" and that's not good.

An additional wrinkle to this system is that Mercenaries could be hull-size specific, unlocking larger hull sizes than you may currently have. Imagine needing a little extra help with a bounty so you grab a Merc piloting an Eagle before you have access to Cruisers. The more I think on this, the more I think Mercs could have their own custom ships (elite weapons and S-mods) so you're not an extra Officer so much as an extra ship that you can't refit or alter in any way. Maybe that's another idea for another thread.

Officers, for that matter, could also be themed. Maybe they have affinities for certain ship slots as part of their personality. They would never have degraded performance with other ship sizes but they would bring perks if they're with their preferred slot. Higher level officers (6+) could extend their affinity up or down one class. For example, you could have a level 6 officer that is Aggressive and prefers Cruisers or Destroyers. If you place this officer on a Frigate or Capital you get standard performance but with a Cruiser or Destroyer, the officer brings +10% damage. Officer Training, Officer Management and/or Cybernetic Augmentation could modify these perks.

One immediate issue I foresee is not having ship slots when you come across a ship you want to salvage. Maybe you used up all your utility slots on logistics ships and don't have any free. Like the current version's "over-the-limit" penalty, you can add an additional ship past your limit for significant logistic hit. Alternatively, Story Points can be spent to unlock the next level's utility slot early at any time (only once per level, though).

It's an arbitrary and possibly overly-complicated mechanic, I know. It also limits player options but I think it also introduces a lot of meaningful choices as the player levels. On the plus side, a smaller player fleet makes some of the current threats, well, more threatening because it's much harder to brute force via numbers. I could also see Industry skills adding slots via certain skills or simply investing in Industry in general. Likewise, Combat Skills could have perks based on ship size to some degree so that you're not trying to balance Frigates and Capitals with the same lever. Bounty sizes could be based on level since the game knows that the player fleet size will be capped at a certain size.

Obviously changing to this kind of system is a bit of an overhaul (so I don't see it happening) but maybe something productive can branch off it.

10
Suggestions / The Juggernaut (ship idea)
« on: February 19, 2023, 03:11:16 PM »
The Juggernaut

The Invictus had me thinking about "archaic/obsolete" Low-tech ideas that kind of make sense but were replaced for obvious reasons. The backdrop is that this is a super old design that predates modular weaponry.  Since you didn't want to get caught without some Kinetic or some HE, most ships were built to have a little of both at all times, diluting the overall effectiveness. This ship attempted to have the best of both worlds by having a heavy HE battery and and a heavy Kinetic battery, just not at the same time.

This Luddic Church exclusive Heavy Cruiser is in the same vein as the Invictus and replaces the Dominator in its fleets. The ship is built around a system that switches between a primary and secondary Ballistic main battery. Technically, it has 8(!) Medium Ballistic mounts, but only 4 are engaged at a time. A pair of Medium Missiles straddle the alternating main battery to round out a very aggressive, forward-facing assault ship. It has no rear weaponry but does have a single Flight Deck in the back and a pair of Small Ballistics on the flanks for minor PD. Flux stats and armor are comparable to a Dominator but it doesn't have the luxury of Burn Drive (base speed is slightly faster at 40, though).

DP is in the 22-25 range. Relative to the Eradicator, it is much slower, significantly tougher and due to its unique design, can punch much harder if utilized correctly. The Dominator obviously supplanted the Juggernaut in the Domain with longer-reaching and harder-hitting main guns, more flexible secondary batteries and ditching the hangar to add more powerful engines capable of fast pursuit. However, the Juggernaut found its place among the Luddic Church faithful who did not have access to the Hegemony's blueprints but still needed a heavy cruiser capable of system defense.

Alternating the main battery does not cost flux and only has a 1 second transition period but if you allow the inactive battery to stay inactive for 5 seconds, when you rotate them forward, they do +200% damage for their first salvo (or 1 second of sustained fire for rapid-fire weapons). A visual indicator on the weapon mounts indicate when they're "fully prepped" and ready for bonus damage. While modular weapon mounts have replaced the locked-in versions of yesteryear, it still behooves the modern Juggernaut captain to go "All-Kinetic" and "All-HE" for its alternating batteries to make the most out of the bonus damage, whether that be an impressive Kinetic alpha strike to overwhelm shields or a powerful HE follow-up to obliterate armor.

Very rough mock-up of what I had in mind (don't mistake the gold circles for hybrid mounts, they're still Ballistic. I just wanted to color-code the batteries). The Primary and Secondary batteries literally slide back and forth. Also, the inactive battery can't be directly disabled via EMP and instantly repairs disabled weapons. For all practical purposes, the inactive battery doesn't exist until it gets activated and slides forward. If not immediately obvious, the main batteries are hardpoints, but the missiles are turreted with a wide arc facing forward.


11
Suggestions / Getting Logistic/Non-Combat ships on the battlefield
« on: January 28, 2023, 08:17:58 AM »
Logistic and non-combat ships of one shade or another make up nearly a third of all vessels in Starsector. They come in all shapes and sizes and varying degrees of being able to  defend themselves. However, at least in my experience, they so rarely make it onto the battlefield that I literally never mount weapons on them or spend OP on increasing their defense. They exist solely to increase fuel, storage or crew capacity and have the secondary effect of having enough OP to add in Surveying Equipment. As a player, I am not penalized for this approach but I should be.

Leaving your supply convoy completely defenseless is perhaps the easiest way to lose a fight before it begins in the real world. I know Starsector isn't heavy on realism but even a nod to striking your enemy's logistic capabilities could make battles more interesting and varied. It would also get 20+ hulls into the fight that weren't before, which means the defensive advantage a Tarsus has over a Buffalo might actually matter.

Here are a few scenarios (I'm sure none of them new) that I think would add some variety:

Protect/Attack the Convoy Scenarios

Guarding convoys or civilian transports is an extremely common mission type in other games so I can forgive an eye roll or two for even suggesting it. However, it would present an interesting challenge in Starsector. For starters, you do not have direct control of your allies so even if you gave them guard orders on a ship, there's no guarantee your fleet would do a decent job of protection. It would be frustrating to "do your part" as a player and still lose a mission because your AI allies failed. I get that.

However, I think gameplay opportunities open up when there are additional victory conditions beyond "kill the enemy." If the player is raiding a convoy, a victory condition might be "Destroy 3 logistic ships." That means you don't have to actually engage the defenders if you don't want to or if you're unable to. Having 2-3 Hounds or Lashers with SO dart around lumbering Dominators to blow up Buffalos sounds like fun to me. It allows for more asymmetric warfare as an attacker or defender. Even if you have an endgame fleet, raiders might be desperate enough to attack your logistics train. Not having quick-responding Frigates or your logistic ships properly armed means all those ships get destroyed.

In these scenarios, maybe the battlefield rules change a little. Convoy ships are "on rails" and/or are in a defensive wedge formation and the battlespace is a bit more confined. Maybe Defend orders are more strict or the AI behaves a little more aggressively as defenders. The point being, it wouldn't just be two fleets smashing themselves against each other and the outcome of the battle would depend more on flexibility and maneuvering than brute strength. Likewise, maybe only certain ships can participate, namely Frigates.

Spoiling Attack

If an attacking fleet has a +2 burn level higher than a defending fleet (excluding Sustained/E-Burn bonuses) or cannot be detected at a certain range (TBD), a "pre-battle" option is given: Spoiling Attack. In this scenario, the attacking group forces all enemy logistics ships onto the battlefield. Due to the nature of this quick attack, only a small portion of the attackers or defenders are actually involved (~30 DP) and it is limited to Frigates and Destroyers only. The defender's logistics ships do not count against the DP cap. The scenario is also time-sensitive depending on the size disparity of the attackers vs. defenders. If the defender's fleet is much larger, the attackers only have minutes before the big guns arrive. If the defender fleet is much smaller, the scout force has more time to do damage and score kills.

Destroying logistic ships has CR effects on incoming warships, which is the point of the attack. Destroying "supply" ships reduces CR (by some % TBD) and destroying "fuel" ships reduces top speed in battle. After the timer runs out (or the logistic ships are destroyed/retreat, whichever is first), the rest of the fleets are able to be deployed per usual. If a spoiling attack is successful, a much smaller force may be able to fight a much larger force because the larger force is crippled. Imagine a 120 DP fleet fighting a 240 DP fleet but the spoiling attack reduced the entire 240 DP fleet to 30% CR and 50% top speed. It would still be a hard fight, but perhaps doable.

Alternatively, perhaps this is a Story Point-driven maneuver so it isn't too commonplace. That said, whatever the initial conditions are to allow this to occur should be possible with a carefully tailored fleet. A fleet specialized for speed (Navigation, Augmented drives, etc.) or for low sensor profile (phase ships, Insulated Engines, Militarized civilian ships, etc.) should be able to pull this off more frequently/effectively. 

Where this gets tricky is that the player cares about their logistic ships while enemy fleets do not. That is to say, factions and enemies will just spawn more while the player doesn't have that luxury. Losing a single logistic ship to one of these attacks is a major blow to a player, perhaps putting them into a death spiral, so spoiling attacks on the player would have to handled well. There needs to be enough of a threat to punish a player for neglect but not so much that they're always getting raided by gnats that were previously never a threat.

Overall

If you notice a trend, Frigates and Destroyers are in the spotlight as well as the Logistics ships themselves. Cruisers and Capitals would not take part in these scenarios (the in-game reason is they just can't react in time) so going All Big Ships would have disadvantages by end game. It keeps Frigates and Destroyers in the mix as useful additions to the fleet and it may even make you want to put Officers on them solely for the purpose of attack/defense in a spoiling maneuver.

But more importantly, it gives the player meaningful choice in their their Logistic ships. There is currently no reason to pick a Tarsus over a Buffalo right now because the Buffalo has better capacity and is cheaper to maintain. However, the Tarsus has 4 guns on it, decent armor and Burn Drive to escape while the Buffalo has just a Small Energy, poor armor and Flare Launchers. The Tarsus is far and away the more survivable option if the proverbial crap hits the fan. Likewise, combat freighters like Wayfarers, Shepherds, Cerberi, Hounds, and Mules (Gemini and/or Ventures?) would be included in these Convoy/Spoiling scenarios by default. They sacrifice cargo capacity for being able to truly defend themselves and that might mean I choose them over pure stat-sticks like Buffalos or Colossi.

Some might see these kind of additions as being a nuisance or at least a slowing down of fleet actions if the optimal way to play is "Spoil Attack every fleet." The same could be said if your endgame fleet could be raided by 30 DP pirate fleets: it's the equivalent of the much-reviled "babysitting" of colonies from punitive expeditions except now for your own fleet. If it were overdone, I'd absolutely agree. However, I would want scenarios like these (or others like them) to be more of a "sprinkled in" rather than a core mechanic. Unless you were to make a highly specialized fleet, performing spoiler attacks should be fairly rare or at least a very intentional gamble. Likewise if the enemy tries it on you. Being paid to protect convoys, on the other hand, could be a common mission type that would allow small fleets to make money early on while also engaging in larger fleet actions. Heck, you might not even be protecting logistic ships but adding a mercenary component to larger fleet actions where a particular warship has to survive.


12
Suggestions / Make Supergiant stars larger on the navigation map
« on: January 14, 2023, 10:08:38 AM »
Can you tell which star is the blue supergiant vs blue giant? I can't (it's the top right).

Suggestion: Supergiant stars should be larger on the map. You should be able to tell at a glance without mouse-over.



13
Suggestions / Minor Skill Tree Re-Work
« on: September 23, 2022, 01:54:09 PM »
I love the new skill tree and, to me, it is the best iteration we've had. However, after playing with this version over I don't know how many runs, I would propose a slight tweak on the early skills and one slight tweak for Combat.

All Piloted Ship skills are Tier 1* (*this obviously doesn't apply to the T5 Combat skills but more on that later)

I now believe that all four Technology and Industry piloted-ship skills should be available at any time. It's not that the Tier 1 skills in Tech or Industry (as current) are bad but for certain builds, I desperately wish to skip them. My suggestion is to combine the Tier 2 combat skills into the Tier 1 level and simply require the (current) Tier 3 skills require 2 lower tier skills. (That is to say Navigation/Sensors/Gunnery Implants/EWP and Bulk Transport/Salvaging/Field Repairs/Ordnance Expertise/Polarized Armor would all be T1).

I also don't think the Tier 2 Combat skills are any better or worse than the T1 skills from Combat: they're just locked behind an additional pick. Yes, it homogenizes the trees a bit but having access to the combat skills at any given point gives the player a bit more freedom to boost their flagship.

The first T5 Combat pick is available after 3 points spent on lower tier skills. The 2nd after 4.

That is to say, you can pick System Expertise or Missile Spec after 3 picks in Combat but if you want both, you have to go back down into T1 before getting it unlocked (the 1st T5 skill doesn't count). This just makes the 1st T5 pick one skill point sooner. I'm of the opinion that the T5 Combat picks are not as game-changing as the other 3 trees' T5s, though still very good. I think the first one could be had earlier, though having both should require the full investment.

Partially due to conditions of Suggestion 1, even if I have 5 flagship skills (from 3 trees), I still can't get the Combat T5 skills and I tend to lag behind my subordinate officers. This would lead to more builds potentially having 3 T5 skills from 3 different trees, which is kind of strong, I admit. However, I'm a big proponent of giving flagship skills the most opportunity of all the skills out there because they're competing against hugely influential fleet skills.

Either one would make me happy and save me a skill point or two. I don't like increasing the Level Cap and would like to play as the game is intended but now that I've played a bit, it would help my playstyle a lot to have these tweaks. You may disagree!

14
Suggestions / Leadership: Tactical Drills
« on: September 23, 2022, 09:07:59 AM »
Tactical Drills is a skill I do not use. 5% damage, even across dozens of ships, just doesn’t seem as useful as other early Skills, even if it’s a decent choice in a vacuum. The other piece is that it’s just not that interesting, or should I say, it could be more interesting.

My first thought is to keep the base +5% damage bonus (with DP cap) but add an additional 5% (with DP cap) per captured point in battle. This does a few things: it makes you want to command and control points on the map, it creates an impetus to have ships that steal points mid-battle (i.e. frigates) even in endgame fleets, and it forces players to potentially spread their forces out to maintain the damage bonus.

Alternatively, make the initial bonus much higher but the drop off much sooner. Imagine if it was a base value of +50% but begins to drop off after 20 DP or some lowish number. It would help early game fleets with a large bonus but drop off rapidly to 10% around 100 DP. By 240 DP, it’s back to 5% and dropping. It would also help players trying to maximize their flagship/solo-play. I think we have too few options to do that.

I definitely like #1 over #2 but thought I’d toss them both out there.

15
Suggestions / Champion's Lateral Small Energy Mounts
« on: August 20, 2022, 07:06:32 PM »
Preface: I love the Champion. I have been on record saying it is the Platonic Ideal of what a line cruiser should be. I doesn't need buffed, nerfed, or changed in any way...

...except for those silly Small Energies on the side that I have never used. They are an irksome blemish on an otherwise pristine hull.

Problem: The optimal use of the Small Energies on the side is to leave them empty.

The two Small Energies on the side have three strikes against them. 1.) Their firing arcs do not let them contribute to either the main frontal firepower nor do they protect the more vulnerable engines. The rear-most Small Energies already cover the 90% of their arc, so the side mounts are redundant. 2.) They're Small Energies: a topic unto itself but generally perceived to be one of (if not) the worst mounts 3.) Filling them with something actively robs OP/flux that could be better spent somewhere else.

Something like a Burst PD or PD Laser in those mounts aren't bad per se, but because of reason #1, all you're doing is giving token PD to the side of the ship that can't really double-up with the rear Small Energies all the way to the Engine. In a best use-case scenario, side-mounted PD protects the vulnerable flanks from a torpedo or pesky fighters. However, you're spending 14 OP for Burst PD and 8 OP for a single PD Laser that really can't do a lot on its own. Given that other Small Energies will draw even more flux (i.e. IR Pulse) or deal soft flux (Tac Laser) in a way that the forward battery can't help with, the awkward firing arc puts it in a no-man's land for the ship. As they are, leaving them empty seems like the best course of action.

Is there anything wrong with that? No, I suppose, but having mounts that are perpetually unused feels counter-intuitive. They do have a purpose, it's just that purpose doesn't compete very well against the other priorities of the ship.

Solutions:

Allow the firing arc to reach further back toward the engines:

If the side-mounts could "double-up" with the rear-most Small Energies more, I might be more tempted to utilize them to protect the sides/rear of the ship. I still don't know if I would use them for reasons #2 and #3 above. Making them face more forward, in my eyes, is bad since there are already 4 Small Energies up front that can handle PD-duty if necessary. I'm not a big fan of this idea but it's better than the current situation.

Change the mount type:

Things could get interesting here. For the most part, I dismiss out-of-hand changing it to Ballistic, Synergy, Composite or Universal because the ship doesn't have any already. From a hull design standpoint, they just don't fit to me. I suppose Synergy or Universal could work (as they don't take anything away) but that seems a little "extra."

Small Missile: This is the most intriguing as Small Missiles beg to be filled. It creates a bit more meaningful choice overall for the hull, though it would almost certainly have to be a guided missile of some sort. I'm wary about this option, however, because this is a straight-up buff to the Champion. A pair of Sabots, Harpoons, Atropos, etc. all of a sudden give it more flux-free punch. Alternatively, Salamanders or Swarmers give it some utility. The Persean League is also getting a bunch of new Missiles and as the premier line cruiser, it's odd that it wouldn't take advantage of that.

Small Hybrid: Take nothing away but add the option to use Ballistics here. They don't benefit from the ship system, just like the Mediums up front so there's still some choice here. From a ship design perspective, it tracks. That said, I'd take Vulcans over HEF PD Lasers any day. This at least alleviates any additional flux cost since Vulcans cost next to nothing to fire. You could, of course, throw some Kinetics/HE in there but again, the firing arcs don't allow them to contribute to the intended target up front. This is still a buff but not as much as having missiles. One could make the argument to change the Rear Small Energies to Small Hybrids as well for consistency.

Get rid of them:

Why even tempt us? I'm not keen on this option because even though I don't use them, others might. But if they were gone, they wouldn't be an OP-trap.

Overall:

I prefer the Small Missile route but I would understand why that's a bad idea. Technically, it also leaves the flanks even more vulnerable than before because you don't even have the option of putting PD there. That could be more of a feature than a bug, I suppose (i.e. "Champions are weak to being flanked"). If the side mounts were Hybrids, I *might* put Vulcans in there but I might still leave them empty because I prioritize the forward mounts so much more.




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