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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: Of Slipstreams and Sensor Ghosts (09/24/21)

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Topics - Deshara

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1
I've always found it interesting in games to pay attention to what IRL ratings games go with when classifying ships and while I've been able to pick up some sense of the meanings over time from gaming & cultural osmosis and the occasional lazy google, but I always got the sense (& google solidified this sense) that these terms were largely arbitrary & overlapping, or just described a general continuity of scale. But I decided tonight to really sit down & figure out what all is going on, and it turns out that sense was wrong! All of these terms have concrete & distinct meanings, and I find it fascinating and want to share.

So! Origin, usage or how they relate to eachother. In no particular size order;

A) Battleships! Gotta start here, this one's important so bear with me all of this winds up being relevant to other stuff.
The name for the modern "Battleship" comes from "Ship of the Line (Of Battle)". The end of wind sails & ships gaining the ability to sail regardless of the wind heralded the end of broadsiding & line battles, and with them they dropped all but the "battle" part of the name, hence "Battleships". It's actually a little funny, it went from "Ship of the Line (Of Battle)" to "(Ship of the Line of) Battleship." It flipped lol. It's important to note that in the pre-modern era nearly every ship built for the express purpose of leaving the coast to make war was a battleship, even if they were small. The only classification below Battleship was Sloop Of War (more on that later). So, for the rest of section A when I say "battleship" I mean "any warship larger than a sloop / with a gundeck", the modern usage of the word "battleship" when applied to pre-modern ships refers specifically to Ships of the Line of the 1st, 2nd & 3rd rating.

1st rate ships were national flagships, 3 full decks of guns (some had 4 but the 4th deck was basically fake, essentially a PR trick for propaganda. The largest sotl with the most guns ever was a 3-decker). These were so powerful that they always had to be the flagships of their country's defense fleet & couldn't operate with the country's "blue sea navy" -- IE the portion of a country's navy that can sail around the world to wage distant wars. Of note; bc a non-blue sea navy could use coastal craft, and bc a blue sea navy couldn't take the 1st rate battleships with it, that meant that 1st rate battleships were effectively coastal ships. Combine the fact that they were extremely expensive with the fact that they were barely usable for anything, they didn't make many of these.
2nd rate battleships had 2 1/2 gun or 3 decks but couldn't stand up to a 1st rated ship in 1v1. Because these were less important in battles critical to a government's continued existence, these tended to be the flagships of blue sea navies, sailing with invasion or colonial fleets to function as their anchor in large battles.
3rd rate battleships had 2 decks & it was found that as long as the ship doesn't need to be relegated to permanent capital defense (1st) or operate as a flagship for a blue sea navy (2nd), it was always better to run a 3rd rate ship bc they were A) able to go toe-to-toe with any ship that wasn't permanently relegated to capital defense (1st) or blue sea navy flagship (2nd) duty both of which were rarely surprise circumstances, 2) were much, much cheaper to build, C) were much, much faster & less prone to being pinned, outmaneuvered or just abandoned by their own fleet, and 3) bc they didn't have a 3rd deck to make the ship sit lower in the water they were much less likely for a wave to hit the bottom gundeck's open gunports & sink it out of nowhere, which was a thing that kept happening to 1st & 2nd rate ships which keep in mind were the most expensive ships in a navy.
Battleships of the 4th, 5th & 6th rating (fewer than 2 full gundecks) weren't (or weren't for very long) considered to be Ships Of The Line, & in the advent of a large battle with Ships Of The Line (1 2 & 3rd rated ships) in play would be kept out of the centre of the battle bc they'd get split in half before they could do much, and thus aren't important to the discussion of the (Ship of the Line of) Battleship class. And with this the very lengthy but annoyingly important first segment comes to a close and I get to stop talking about ship ratings.

B) Frigates. HAHA JUST KIDDING ABOUT NO MORE RATINGS. Remember how one of the benefits of a 3rd rate ship of the line is that the lack of a third deck meant the ship was far less likely to drop dead instantly for no reason? They figured out that if they built a battleship but instead of giving it 3 or 2 full or even 2 partial gundecks, if they flat out ditch all but the top gundeck they can have a battleship that is almost completely immune to the "our battleship was instakilled by a random wave hitting a gunport" thing bc of how high off the water the guns sit, and thus unlike all other rated battleships were actually capable of operating with all its guns out safely in harsh weather. Importantly, because ships had to have their heaviest guns on the bottom & lightest guns on top, that meant that even if in a storm a frigate went up against a ship with more guns on its top deck than the frigate has, all of the frigate's guns can be heavy cannons while none of the bigger ship's can be, allowing a frigate to situationally punch above its own weight, and bc of how much lighter it is it can usually run away in unfavorable situations.
Because of all these factors, frigates were the ideal setup for battleships operating either in a fleet without ships of the line that needed to avoid combat in unfavourable weather, or operating on their own in roles such as commerce raiding, scouting for a battle fleet, & long ranged cruising. The ship classification is 6th (the lowest) rate battleship, the ship's design is frigate, the ship's operational role is to cruise the open ocean independently.
... wait, cruisi--

C) CRUISERS. A cruiser is a frigate, or what a frigate was. The names split during the interim between the age of sail & the modern naval era, when ironclads were too heavy/slow to perform cruising operations so scouting battleships had to still be wooden frigates, which they slowly started trying to semi-armor with iron internal bulkheads which were called armored cruisers to differentiate them from full wooden frigates that were still able to scout but no longer able to battle and fully armored ironclads that could battle but not scout. Once a wooden hull was no longer needed for a battleship to be able to scout, they dropped the "armored" from "armored cruisers" & just called them "cruisers". So a Cruiser is just a large-ish battleship that instead of being specialized into heavy armament & armor for trading blows to the detriment of its speed & general operating capability, sacrifices heavy armament & armor for increased speed & operating capability.
As a result of this split, with the name frigate being stuck on ships essentially rendered useless in open combat, ships designed to be capable of independant cruising operations but so small that they have to specialize into their role tend to be called frigates (such as missile frigates) whereas ships large enough to be capable of independant cruising operations that are large enough to either be capable of open guns combat and/or are capable of generalized/non-specialized operations as cruisers.
(Interestingly, frigates ceased to be a thing by the time of WW1 bc of being pigeonholed out of being capable of combat, but now there are no more battleships or cruisers (only 2 countries have them, the US & Russia) but frigates have made a comeback because they were pigeonholed out of being capable of combat since open guns-based naval battles aren't a thing anymore)

4) Last one, which is the only one of SS's 4 classifications that doesn't directly stem from Royal British Naval battleship rating doctrine; Destroyers.
In the late era of the age of sail Ships of the Line were becoming so big as to be invincible to gunfire from anything but Ships of the Line of equal or greater size, which were ruinously expensive to operate (& remember, prone to capsizing for no reason). Since the biggest Ships of the Line were generally relegated to coastal capital defense or (again coastal) invasion fleets, it turned out that you could defeat a fleet of Ships of the Line by letting them get to coastal waters and then instead of deploying massive ships to gunfight them, deploy a fleet of tiny ships with bombs to suicide charge them -- a thousand of these boats cost less than 1 Ship of the Line, and it only took a single one of them finding their mark to scuttle a battleship on the spot -- a bomb the size of a boat's entire load capacity set off right against a heavy sea-capable ship's prow will capsize it no matter what (this is still true), more or less regardless of how tiny the boat is. if it holds water out well enough to make it to an enemy battleship then it can hold enough explosives to blow its keel off which instakills any ship capable of open ocean travel.
At first they were fireships, then they became bomb ships, then they started sticking the bomb on the end of a piece of wood so they could pretend it wasn't a suicide mission. Those bombs-on-a-stick were called Torpedoes, and then they attached propellers & engines to them and became what we think of as torpedoes nowadays.
The point was, as battleships became bigger & slower & more invincible to gunfire, there was an increasing prevalence of Torpedo Boats to instakill them, and with them came the need to fight them -- which you couldn't do with the fixed heavy cannons, or even with the light swivel guns way up on the deck of a battleship. So they started deploying fleets of Torpedo Gunboats; tiny boats the size of a Torpedo Boat that could match it in maneuverability & operating conditions, but with a freely maneuverable deck gun instead of a suicide bomb, small enough to mount on what was essentially a raft but still big enough to blow a hole in someone else's raft with a single shot. As the Torpedo Boats got bigger, more expensive, more sophisticated, got sails to go along with their oars, got a closed deck, got an engine, got the ability to launch their charge, got radar, so too did the Torpedo Gunboats along with them. Two "kinds" of ships, of the same size & basically the same equipment, the only difference being which of the two roles they fulfill. And eventually people started to realize -- hey, I'm bringing a fleet of torpedo ships, and also a fleet of torpedo gunships to hunt their torpedo ships. Why are they two different kinds of ship, why not just combine them.
And thus the Destroyer was born. It is a torpedo ship meant to sunder battleships. It is a torpedo gunship meant to screen battleships. Also of note, if you squint really hard, blur ur vision & look past what you see, submarines are also destroyers -- and this tracks when you consider that, the job of a submarine is to hunt enemy keel-bottomed ships and kill enemy vessels trying to do the same thing. And thus, the destroyer gets equipped to destroy submarines too. But mostly, their name refers to their role of fighting other destroyers, oddly enough. And because of how non-specific that role is (basically fight anything ur size), that means that functionally any ship smaller than a cruiser can be a destroyer. The only really concrete discerning factor in what distinguishes a heavy destroyer from a light cruiser is that destroyers arent built to cruise -- in a fleet setting destroyers need destroyer tenders, ships with a high operational capacity to lend some of that capacity to it.

So! That's the origin of all 4 of SS's classes. Frigates and cruisers are the same thing, destroyers should be the smallest class of vessel except that they can't hunt phase ships so really they're more of sloops of war, and everything else is a battleship, unless they have a good logistical profile in which case they're a cruiser (and also a battleship), regardless of size. Wasn't this a productive use of time?

Also, unrelated strictly to SS's 4 classes but relevant to the topic since we're here; what's the difference between a corvette and a sloop and a sloop of war and a brig and a cutter and a schooner and a ketch and a blah blah blah. Turns out the answers are very simple; a sloop of war is any warship smaller than a battleship, all of the rest are different styles of mast setups that, aside from determining how the ship sails in different wind conditions does little to actually distinguish them from eachother (sloops upwind better than a brig, but either could be bigger than the other), except for a corvette which is just the french name for a small boat. So, if a game uses these names and it doesn't have any wind mechanic then those names are basically meaningless, and if a game implies that a corvette is a different kind of boat than any random name for a small boat in english then it's just talking nonsense.

PS, I used the British Royal Navy classification bc -- well, we're speaking english. Find me another global naval power with a thousand+ years of naval tradition that speaks english & I'll use their system instead

2
General Discussion / player's flagship be like
« on: September 16, 2021, 10:37:47 AM »
https://soundcloud.com/fastland/myacceleratingdeathship

(apparently only admins are allowed to embed HTML)

3
no-gun venture with built-in hammers, "evidence of a better time".

a civilian vigilance that bucks the trend of s-mod ships in that it is a flat upgrade (outside of combat); its ship system is downgraded to flares & it gets a tac beam built-in but it gets advanced ground support package built-in, representing the ship's capacity to A) casually operate in atmosphere, 2) deliver persistent fire support to ground operations from long range with its beam and C) its ability to deliver heavy ordinance at close range, and built-in surveying equipment representing its suitability for samples-collection operations both in using its dedicated tac laser to perform distant spectrometer readings and in using its medium missile mount to smash gigantic holes in the ground to take spectrometer readings of sub-surface deposits. Sure a Paragon could do those things too but a Vigilance doesn't need 3 offices of mathematicians to calculate the maneuvers needed to get it in position of the asteroid they want to study.
a non-smuggler cerberus that loses its guns and shielded cargo hullmod. a no-gun brawler with built-in burn speed & no-shields hullmods, "Once a common sight; an aspirational statement now only found in ship graveyards."

a tritach fleet called "corporate headquarters" or something that inspires the image of the ultra-rich living in luxury completely physically seperate from the mere existance of poverty, of 1 civilian paragon & nothing else that permanently orbits eochu bres. literally name the ship "Elysium".

4
make fleets require logistical support for long-term operation, even in the core, by making combat ships no longer function as light freighters & troop transports & tankers. A fleet of enforcers shouldn't be able to cross the stars on their own.

Every ship that isn't a freighter/transport/tanker gets a hullmod that reduces their crew, cargo and/or fuel capacity by 70/50/0/80%, every ship that isn't a cruiser gets an additional hullmod that reduces their c/c/f by a flat 20% additively with the previous malus (all military battleships get -100% logistics), and then any ship that isn't a civilian ship then gets the resulting logitical profile cut in half. The logistical hullmods that increase one of those stats gets the additional affect of negating that stat reductions for that hullmod's stat -- so your enforcer can carry enough fuel to go places, but it costs OP & a logistics slot to do it & will need another ship to house its crew or give up its second logistics slot to do it.

The reason cruisers dont get the debuff is that, well -- its in the name. Frigates & destroyers get it bc they're too small to house both battle armaments and a broad suite of logistical infrastructure, and battleships are large enough to house a broad suite of logistical infrastructure but use all of that space to house guns & armor instead. A cruiser, then, definitionally, is a ship large enough to house the logistical infrastructure to operate self-sufficiently and chooses that over battleship armament

5
Suggestions / (option to) remove the armor widget
« on: August 16, 2021, 08:19:02 AM »
you can see armor damage on the ship's graphic; its actually not subtle at all, I have eye problems & I can see the bright glow & the annihilated hull. I think it mostly just distracts players from looking at the ships as closely as they could be, and clutters up the screen big-time.
at the very least give an option to pin it to the corner like your ship's is, or an option to hide it

6
Sace Pirates And Zombies is why I found Starsector; I played it, and it set my brain on fire with how much potential the concept had, and I googled games like it & got SS and the rest is history.
For those who haven't played or heard of this game, get this gameplay synopsis up on you;
Quote
S.P.A.Z. integrates top down shooter gameplay with role-playing video game and real-time strategy elements within a futuristic space setting. The game also features large-scale randomly generated galaxies to explore. Players command a fleet of ships, and may control any one of their ships individually at a time. The galaxy is organized into systems, each system containing a star and a set of planet bodies and areas which may be "warped" to via an in-game map. These areas may contain faction stations where trade, missions, or sieges may take place. The player's standing with the faction affects what services the station will give you. Players can improve their faction standings through missions and level up their fleet through missions and combat.
It's uncanny, isn't it? lol
Spoiler
not that either of these two games copied eachother, they're both just ripping off the same old games, for the record
[close]

So, I decided to replay the darn thing, and list here things about it that I liked, things about it that I appreciate having spent the better part of the decade playing SS, & whatever else I feel like pointing out.

PS, I'm playing the modded version. There's basically only 4 mods for the game, & they can't be loaded together (it turns out mod support matters*), but I consider the balance & content overhaul mod fight for big beef (supermod combining the two good ones) to be so important for the game's quality that effectively in my head that version of the game is The version of the game & the unmodded version of the game is basically a beta of fight for big beef. This isn't a, "I can't play skyrim anymore without 400 mods installed bc I've played it too much" situation, this is a, "I don't think anyone should play this game without this 1 mod, it is the objectively superior version in all but exactly 1 way". In my 30 years of gaming I haven't felt this way about any game b4 & likely never will, so take that for what you will, but when I talk about SPAZ I am talking about this modded version. This game came out in 2011, there's a lot I'm pretty sure came from the mod but gun to my head I could not even hope to start telling the two apart so I won't even try. F4BB = SPAZ AFAIC & I wont be differentiating.

ANYWAY, in no particular order as they come to me;

A) *MOD SUPPORT. OH MY GOD playing games with such close gameplay loops to SS makes me recoil in agony like I've been touched with a live wire every time I'm forced to play them without SS's targeting reticle mod. I always forget how much it's going to hurt me to have to do without it. Thank you Alex so much for the mod support, it is like sweet sweet morphine flowing through the veins of a burn victim

2) I forgot how ssssssssssssslow this game's start is. I feel bad starting with two not-positive notes but the moment I start this game & am getting back into the saddle I am immediately reminded of something I was forced to learn the first two times I played it; this game has an INCREDIBLY WEIRD pacing problem. And that problem is that the first 1/3rd of the game is a static open world sandbox with no time pressure (think Assassins Creed) where the primary drive of your gameplay loop is trawling from system to system finding blueprints to unlock, until you progress the story far enough to trigger the Actual Game which is NOT a static open world sandbox but a dynamic one with active time pressure & a galactical war which forces the player forward with what they have, damn the torpedoes, picking up what they can but making do. And it is not a kind transition; bc of how familiar we are with the AC format it is extremely easy to slip into the rut of mindlessly trawling the open world for side content, assured that the critical story path is largely unconnected to it -- assured that it doesn't matter which order you do it in, that if you spend 20 hours doing side content & 20 hours doing story content. Oh no no no, not here. If you play the side content before you trigger the Actual Game you will burn yourself out on this game before you reach the end. Doing so makes it overstay its welcome by a long shot -- it feels like the game is 3x as long as it should be, unless you take what you have and plow yourself through the story content as deep as you can until you hit a roadblock, then do a little bit of grinding to get through that roadblock until you reach The Turn. It's very important for the grinding & unlocks to be something you do on the fly as-needed to progress the story, and not something you pre-load your campaign with and then play the whole story with everything unlocked. Do not grind. Do not grind. Do not grind. A lot of open world games it is important for you to manage the game's pacing, this one will absolutely allow you to ruin it for yourself if you don't resist the urge to grind.

3) This one is a negative note on the mod; the one area where the mod is not a pure, unadulterated improvement is that it adds 3 ships of all but the largest size class, which are the strongest ships in their class with a stupid quantity of mounts, unlocked from the start. I... hate, these ships. I really wish they weren't there. This time as well as the first time I played this mod I took 1 look at them at the start of the campaign, and mentally through them in the trash. Wish I wasn't too lazy to remove them. The game is a lot of fun because you're forced to wage war with a bus & a tug boat

4) OKAY, on to the positives. I love that you get to fly fighters in this game, and that they aren't just the second smallest size class but smaller -- you can pick what armor to bolt onto which sides of your ship, & they drastically affect your ship's speed & maneuverability, but the smallest size class can't mount any armor, forcing them to be drastically faster than anything larger regardless of how you build them. It's a really clever way of pigeonholing them into their role & preventing them from being just a tiny capital ship (EXCEPT FOR THE MOD FIGHTER THAT I DONT USE). Theres more to this Im gonna circle back around to later

5) I forgot how neat I find the way the game handles the energy draw of your beam (1/2 of them) weapons. When you fire a cannon, it instantly draws energy, but a beam also then after its beam dies out gradually draws energy as it's reloading (but hopefully slower than your reactor can replenish it) & if you are sustaining fire the burst draw of the beam firing comes right at the tail-end of the gradual draw of the beam reloading. It's hard to explain why but I find this extremely satisfying. There's an... organicness... to the way this works. The energy bar is really conveying the feeling of your beam coils having to be cooled off between bursts. There's always this sense of why do burst beams not just fire indefinitely and the extremely specific way that beam weapons in this game handle energy draw kind of intrinsically solves that question for me -- it feels like your beams need time to cool off & if you did jury-rig it to fire nonstop it'd melt itself immediately. Not just that the game says that's why, but that it feels like that's why. It's very hard to describe but it's a sort of very good tactile sense to the system

6) cannons. cannons feel like god slamming a car door. Not on their own purely by their gamefeel design like a Nuclear Throne gun having lots of juice, but in their balance. After the start when you've got enough of a fleet to specialize your ships but before you're deep enough into ruining the game by grinding to break it so badly that you don't need to specialize ships, you have to start dedicating your fleet to combat roles & having 1 ship as a ship-breaker, with one or two of the best cannons you have and nothing else, held in reserve because it will red-line its reactor in a heartbeat, until the enemy's shields are defeated & you've got it lined up and then you split the thing in half with a single volley slamming through it. It feels good. It feels good in a way that a sim game like SS can't allow bc it'd be unfair for the enemy who are in finite numbers and it'd be unfair for the player for the same reason. Speaking of

7) this game isnt a hardcore sim game. All of your ships are, to compare to SS, fighters coming out of a carrier's hanger bays, but instead of the carrier going into battle it sends a warp beacon to a map & it warps its "fighters" (ur ships) to that beacon. Forever as long as you have the resources to keep replacing them, and as long as the beacon hasnt been killed. I... like this system. This is not intended as a dig to SS in any way but after having played a hardcore sim game where lost ships are lost lost & can't just have replacements ordered as long as u have the cash & think its a good idea is really nice. Like sliding into a hot bath at the end of a long day, I can just build the fleet I feel like flying and then fly around being an idiot letting them get fed through a woodchipper if the enemy counters it & I don't have to stress about it unless the beacon is threatened, at which point Real Gamer Hours is on

8) speaking of cash on hand; bc this game doesn't game-over you when your fleet wipes & bc ur mothership isnt going into battle, it means that (except in the very unlikely scenario that your mothership gets attacked while ur broke) there is no game-over state. You just, run out of money, then belly-crawl your way to an asteroid field & mine your way painfully & slowly back up. Thankfully this game has a finite amount of money u can hold. my ex wife always got upset zelda for having their rupee limited by wallets & always tried to point out that it'd make the game worse if they werent like that, they wouldnt be able to throw infinitely replenishing rupees at you if they werent. And the same thing applies here. Your punishment for failure is the time it takes you to replenish your stockpiles, and it is suffering. That suffering is largely mitigated by the existence of infinite asteroids that can be busted apart infinitely by the largest slot size of mining laser, but in the early game you have to rely on NPC factions to have a mining station on one to do it and at that you have to hope its from a friendly faction. If those conditions are met you can pick at their scraps like a seagull. Which is helpfully helped along by your AI being capable of more or less competently running a mining operation on their own without your help, but it is still agonizingly slow and this game has the same problem SS does of not being able to handle multi-tasking. If you minimize it to let your subordinates do the dirty job for you the game pauses. I find this to be charming. You HAVE to SIT and WATCH the agonizingly slow process of your fleet slowly undoing your screw-ups. I'm... glad it's like this. Obviously the easy solution is to read a book or watch something on your phone -- but! That's a good thing IMO, it gives natural break points for you to do something else built into the game's structure, and in doing so it is making you feel your punishment. This is not a "your character goes to jail, press 1 to be out of jail" punishment, this is actual honest-to-god sit & think about what you've done. Also it helps to add onto fixing the problem fixed by the zelda wallet system, of using the player's impatience to prevent the player from accruing infinite wealth -- if you aren't patient enough you won't even fill your ship's hull, you'll get bored & figure screw it that's good enough & move on with your day at 1/5th fleet capacity -- which is a catalyst for fun! It's fun to be forced to make due with darts & grasshoppers, not bc the game contrived an excuse for why you have to but bc it has this system built to naturally be fueled by your lack of discipline.

10/10, this system feels terrible and I think it's great. I'm not gonna make this sort of comparison often & I don't think SS would necessarily benefit from having it but I do think the emotional rollercoaster that this inflicts on the player makes this system better than SS's. Consider this as a mark of quality; I've put easily more than 200 hours (according to steam, compared to games I've purchased legally that makes it my 4th most-played game ever) into this game and I have never save-scummed, despite the fact that the punishment for failure is having to spend an hour watching rocks get moved back & forth and not being allowed to minimize my game to skip it. Any game that can make me stick razor blades under my finger nails and keep coming back for more has something going for it.

9) i like that cloaks are an inferior version of shields that you stick on ships that don't need shields. Have a missile boat that shouldn't be in a fight? Cloak it. Have a cargo freighter to drag behind your warfleet grabbing cash as it goes so you don't have to come back for it or make a pit stop at an asteroid? Cloak it. Have a command fighter for you to switch to & sit in while u IRL read a book? Cloak it.
I also like that cloaks cripple your ship's movespeed, giving you a reason not to use them on most non-combat ships (as usually their #1 stat is speed), so there's an intrinsic choice being presented. It's fun to have a datarunner fighter that you use to race around maps popping doodads & grabbing datacore & racing objectives, that you have a cloak on bc it makes it less likely to eat a torpedo while ur fleet is in battle, that in order to use for its intended purpose you have to switch its only form of defense off. It feels exhilarating to have this little dart that you slip around a warzone in & you have your finger hovering over the cloak button as you dip & juke your way around enemy ships

10) the maps arent combat maps. I think, gun to my head, if I had to pick something on this list I think SS would be the most improved by having (not that I think it should include it. try to rotate that, siri keaton), it's this; when you warp into a map there's stuff often unrelated to your mission spawned on the map, sometimes out on the outskirts, sometimes way out there, sometimes in the way. A lot of the maps dont even have any objective! I love this feature. I don't think the game would hold up at all if it had SS's pure & utilitarian combat maps with nothing but u & the enemy & the terrain. Going to do a battle & running into a civilian traffic jam while ur clashing with the enemy, or discovering someone's blueprints stash (AND THE MINEFIELD HE GUARDED IT WITH) while ur in the middle of a cobra knife fight is something else. Heck -- I enjoy just going to a sector marked with nothing with only my command shuttle, turning the cloak off & just going around popping stuff with my laser. Having to physically dock your ships with stations, & seeing the traffic coming & going as you do it. It all makes the game feel really alive -- which is something since unlike SS it isn't a sim game.
In fact, I've got a gameplaye experience from 10 years ago burned into my brain of going to dock with a station to bribe some guards, taking my cloaked command shuttle, being too lazy to toggle the cloak off so it took me longer than it could have to get there, seeing that there was this game's version of an Atlas (which I had never seen before & likely wouldnt again for a long time) & panickedly ordering my fleet to come join me as I opened fire on a friendly faction who I was trying to engage in trade with that requires good standing trying to pop the ship for its schematics while it tried to warp away, and just barely not getting it & kicking myself for having been lazy with my docking routine. That happened 10 years ago & I still remember that bright as day. There's stuff happening in this game that you can miss out on for a long time if u arent scrounging hard enough & thats pretty cool

11) I like how you pick your reactor (and shield and cloak and engines). This is the one feature I know for the most certain is modded content bc I remember falling in love with the Zero Point Reactor, which is an end-game reactor that unlike the other end-games which have huge energy capacity & proportionally huge detonations (oh yeah, how hard your ship blows up when it dies is a reactor stat. isnt that cool?), the ZPR has almost no capacity but incredibly good dissipation (the starship reactor equivalent of a tankless water heater), and also, the smallest reactor detonation in the game -- it is effectively completely harmless to lose a ZPR ship in your battle line, as opposed to the gigantic fusion reactors you'd stick on your capital ships that turn them into gigantic fusion bombs that will annihilate your whole fleet if they can't get away from it -- and there are weapons that will drag your fleet into the explosion if you're unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of it at the wrong time, which is a pretty amusing way to lose your entire fleet

12) station sieges are cool. Obviously SS would never traffic in such grim & senseless violence but, the way that stations will slew people out of them like something punctured while taking hull damage, just *** spraying a hundred screaming souls into the void in a single stream, and the way that they jettison hundreds of escape pods in a flurry as it dies and then when the reactor goes it explodes so horribly that most of those escape pods are pulverized into dust (& ur fleet if they dont run away). It is phenomenally close to what fighting a station should feel like. It feels like you're annihilating a city -- a militarized one that ur only attacking bc it has a military base in it & ur shooting at its guns but at the end of the day it is still full of almost entirely civilians, and the station has a reactor you have to destroy to end the fight and destroying that reactor is going to kill everyone. And the game doesn't beat around the bush about it!

13) picking up escape pods sometimes causes your ship to fire a person out of itself a few seconds later, sometimes accompanied with voice chatter about it. "Hostages that don't cooperate go out the airlock with the rest of the trash." "I wonder if their eyes really do pop in space." I'm not a sociopath but it really sells the setting

14) it's actually very important that the game has this & these last few features -- it seems gratuitous & unnecessary that it does this but it turns out to actually be really mechanically important. but, even if it didn't, the fact that people who've been spaced remain on the map as a form of debris, who will splatter across your bow as you fly through them or who get vaporized by the hundreds as you fire your beams through them at your enemy on the other side. it REALLY sells the setting. It feels, moreso than basically any other space game I can think of, exactly like how it probably would be to have a space battle. Any space war game that doesn't include the possibility of a person's thrashing body slamming against the window of your command deck as you pursue your foe, startling everyone & giving them an uncomfortable reminder of how many dying souls have been ejected screaming into the void. There's an inherent dishonesty to any space war game that doesn't have that. Obviously not every game has to be that honest, it's fine for games like SS to be a little abstracted, a little scrubbed for the history books, but war is hideous. Imagine a WW2 game where shooting an enemy in the face makes them vanish. It would feel like lying.
Destroying a vessel of war necessarily involves murdering (almost) everyone inside of it. Making a game entirely about doing it for hundreds of hours means there's gonna be a huge body count. There are the bodies. When they're yours you feel bad, when they're theirs you sometimes can't resist the urge to sweep the sky with a laser beam out of spite for the ship they came out of. They thrash for a bit, and then they don't. They go splat when you hit them

15) BOARDING. Boarding. Boarding is good. This game's boarding being good demonstrates why SS shouldn't have boarding; it requires a lot of groundwork to make it the kind of game that boarding works for, and SS hasn't have that groundwork. I'm not gonna bother talking about any of it except for this; suicide cannons. Suicide cannons. You're firing escape pods equipped with magnetic clamps & a breaching charge, out of miniguns on your ship at a rate of fire that is STUPIDLY high. You're spraying escape pods at your enemy. Every one that misses winds up stranded on the battlefield, awaiting pickup, but most likely getting blasted apart by crossfire because -- again, in the middle of a battlefield. Your enemy doesn't care about your well being, and they're in between you and a ship you're trying to kill
Suicide cannons. Who comes up with that? A genius is who. suicide cannons

16) The way that missiles do bonus dmg versus unarmored hull & the smallest class of ships have no armor, juxtoposed against missile slots having the strongest hitters against large ships creates a very neat dichotomy. Micromissiles will massacre fighters, but torpedoes are incredible against capital ships. Which do you need? All of them. No weapon becomes obscolete. You upgrade your starting micromissiles into larger missiles but you still need the tiny boys bc they fire faster (& farther) ((& more manueverably)) (((& more frequently)))) and bc you can leave a ship's rear unarmored to free up weight for frontal armor having something to clear the sky of grasshoppers firing torpedoes into your capital ship's backside can be a big deal.

17) some of the ships have their missile mounts pointed backwards in angles that are useless for torpedoes & very bad for antiship missiles. It's genius how simply pointing mounts in a certain way dedicates that missile mount to micromissiles

18) the hound looks like if you split the buffalo in half & bolted its halves onto the front of an enforcer, with two oversized turrets right where the cargo runs meet the ship's hull. I love it, it looks great.

19) the raven, which looks like a space ship (IE non-aerodynamic) version of the b-2 stealth bomber, with a cloak & top of the line engines & fighters strapped to its underbelly used to stealth through a mission & strike at the heart of objectives that you can strike & retreat from, is one of my favorite things to play as in my life. Idk why but the concept of, effectively a very large kite, cloaked, fighters strapped to its belly, floating invisible through space ready to drop out of cloak & release fighters & make its kill before recalling its fighters & cloaking away, really just sparks something in my brain. Just 10/10

20) the gull looks like if you took the two wings of the falcon, removed everything else, then bolted a salvage gantry between them & used it as a mount for a tactical bomb slot. also great. this is the part of the review where I just list ships that I like.

21) the part where I just list ships I like is over. I like how the slots work in this game. You have gun slots, missile slots, utility slots and turret slots (the last one im p sure is modded in), and then a 5th kind of slotless component called boosters. Utility slots & booster components fill the role hullmods in SS do, gun & missile slots should come to you naturally, except they're all hardmounts. Turret slots in basegame im p sure are just gunslots but on a swiveling mount, but in the mod the turret itself is something you select. Baseline you can put a gun on it, which makes it drastically more useful in a dogfight but tends to be undersized. You can also unlock the ability to put a split turret on that slot, reducing the mount size but mounting two guns instead, or mounting even smaller guns but 3 or 4 of them. The ability to turn a huge turret mounting a doom cannon into the same turret with 4 machineguns on it is great, i love it -- it also feels more honest to how naval ships work bc they definitely do do that
Spoiler
(or at least did before dreadnought design, fun fact a dreadnought is a warship with all big guns of the same size meant to all fire at once, which gave them huge advantage in accuracy (since the ship won't be rocking from the fire of faster smaller cannons fouling your shots) & range (since there wont be spray from smaller closer-ranged guns making it harder to dial in your shots), and also they focused on putting bigger engines on them so they could kite a non-dreadnought warship forever -- which is the SS meta lol. There was a huge arms race to upgrade fleets to dreadnought design before WW1, & then they never actually saw combat until everyone abandoned warships for aircraft carriers after WW2)
[close]
you also can mount on a missile or utility turret that gives it a larger mount than it would a gun, in exchange for -- well, not being guns where there could be guns. You also get the option of, instead of placing a turret in the turret slot, build a hardmount turret slot there which gives you a larger gun but now you dont get the advantage of a turret.
I love this system. It gives so much flexibility. You can take a fighter I like (OH NO WERE BACK TO SHIPS I LIKE) that's just a tiny falcon with 2 small forward facing turrets at the back of the ship that's meant for dogfighting, put medium missiles on it instead with a cloak & huge engines and convert it into a close support gunship -- either for running torpedoes down a capital ship's backside or for nuking other fighters with micromissiles so your capital ships dont need point defenses. Theres also a fighter with 1 medium turret mount in the middle that you can install a hardmount to stick a large gun on and -- oh look its the mudskipper m2

22) boosters being mountagnostic means if a ship has mounts you don't like you can stick [hullmods] in them instead. They also allow you to hyperspecialize your ships. Have a ship that's mean to end another ship's life once its shields are broken by slamming cannons through them? Take a utility ship with lots & lots of non-weapon mounts, put cannon boosters on them, then put ur biggest cannons in its 2 gun mounts that are supposed to be an afterthought for the ship's role but are now back-breakers. Take a fighter & stick engine boosters in every slot including gun slots -- now you've got a blockade runner. Take a fighter with a decent hold & stick engine boosters in every slot including gun slots, with 1 tractor beam, and mark one of your larger ships with a decent hull as a mule & now you've got a mining drone whose only purpose is to grab stuff & throw it at your freighter so your freighter doesn't need to haul its big body over to every $1 pickup
it also allows you to balance your power supply by replacing mounts with reactor boosters until you have your ship's guns tuned the way you want

23) the ability to save up to 3 loadouts for your ship that u can hotswap in the middle of combat. 10/10

24) the fact that it takes so long & so many clicks to hotswap a loadout when it could have had hotkeys on the tactical screen. 0/10

25) I like how you buy or find blueprints to ship components, but each component has a level requirement in a certain skill to use it, AND ON TOP OF THAT each skill increases the effectiveness of all of its assiated components, so there is both a reason to hold onto skill points to use for blueprints you find, but also a reason not to horde them as having 48 skillpoints sitting around is 48 skillpoints that could be making your guns hit harder & ur ships live longer

26) the way that XP is a physical object you have to pick up in the gameworld is neat. the fact that your ships tractor them in regardless of whether they have a tractor is 10/10

27) theres 7 audio sliders, 3 of them being different sources of speech. I play the game with sound affects & music at half & speech, unit chatter & radio chatter turned all the way up. I don't want the sound of combat to get in the way of "Hostages that don't cooperate go out the airlike like the rest of the trash"

28) theres a "vent ship" button that kills all your crew & it is important

29) theres a button that makes your fleet fire escape pods at your ship until they're back to the # of crew you told them to spawn with

30) u can jettison armor. its finite & it weighs your ship down so theres no combat reason to keep it on, but it costs money to replace. so u have to weigh economic concerns against combat concerns, even in the middle of combat

31) theres a self destruct button, AND IT IS IMPORTANT

32) the game spoils for you which system has which blueprints, but the systems also have levels so you are being encouraged to try your hand at a system twice what you should reasonably be trying in exchange for getting that nuke blueprint early

im running out of Impressions so Im gonna go trim my cat's nails

7
my signature quote is from something i said on a different forum. is there a way to have my name on the quote link to a different site? I tried putting link= and then the post's url but it didn't work. is it just a thing that's not allowed? I'd understand why it wouldnt be, but just checking if theres a method im missing

8
Suggestions / NPC influence
« on: August 14, 2021, 02:01:39 PM »
Every randomized NPC in a faction gets added up & divided by 51 to determine their influence (non-procgen NPCs, like Daud, have a preset amount). Every NPC that you get on good terms with in that faction gives you a permanent bonus equaling their influence to your relations with that faction, as long as your relations with that NPC stay good. If you get on the good side of every random NPC in a faction then that faction will literally become incapable of being hostile to you (assuming you don't attack that NPC enough to put you out of that NPC's good graces), with it being much easier if you get on the good side of non-random NPCs who have much higher influence in their factions, with how much influence faction leaders have correlating roughly to how centralized their faction is -- befriending the diktat of Sindria probably would singlehandedly make that faction almost not willing to go hostile with you, whereas the leaders of the Persean League give far less each

9
Modding / consider; entropy mod
« on: August 10, 2021, 04:09:48 PM »


every _ cycles your fleet gains some d-mods.

Option A) it happens every _ cycles (default), or every time it happens it throws a dart between 0 and _ and that's how long until the next time it happens.
Option B) it affects 10% (adjustable variable) of your fleet rounded up, so 1 in the early game, 2 after you get more than 9 ships or 3 once you've maxed out fleet size (bonus: this would naturally work with the mod that makes the fleet cap a soft cap, so if u have 100 frigates it's 10 ships at a time) (default), or it only affects 1 (or whatever int you replace that 1 with), or HELLMODE it gives 1 for every viable ship in the fleet.
Option C) it spreads the hullmods across multiple ships (default) IE each ship can only get 1 at a time, or AGONYMODE it doesn't cap it & there's always a chance the same ship will roll for new d-mods multiple times in the same cycle.
Option C) it doesn't target ships with s-mods (default), or anything is a target (agnostic mode).
Option Q) it has a 45% chance of being your ship with the most d-mods, 45% chance your ship with the least d-mods, & 10% chance for a wildcard, so it targets the best and the worst of your fleet & largely leaves the middle of your pack alone. This, instead of giving you a random range of fleet dysfunction that you can't predict/play around, would sandwich in the quality of your fleet and then slowly lower it over time once your fleet has been flattened out while still ruining some of your ships outright (default). Or it's purely random, or it only affects your ships with the most d-mods (suffering mode), or the least (cruelty mode).

Now, I want you to imagine a campaign where you're playing on hell/agony/agnostic/suffering mode. You're flying a maxed out end-game fleet, and every _ cycles it adds 30 d-mods to your fleet, starting with your best ship until it's maxed out its possible d-mods then working its way down until the quota has been reached. You're flying around, and then right before a big battle you go to start your triple s-modded hyperflagship and it just

10
Suggestions / automatically mothball prize ships
« on: August 05, 2021, 12:37:41 PM »
(read as: captured enemy ships)
Idk about other players but I've never at any point captured an enemy ship & thought to myself, "I'm gonna dump supplies into this ship that isn't set up the way I want it to get it to full CR", which means that not automatically mothballing every captured enemy (prize) ship is just a needless button I have to press to keep from throwing supplies down a hole, or frustration once I get back to port, see that that ship is at full CR & get mad at myself for having forgotten to hit the button.

11
Modding / farsector [mod suggestion]
« on: August 03, 2021, 08:19:24 PM »
a mod that increases the scale of the sector map by a factor of [some big number]. Not, "adds more stars", but, "makes the distance between clusters of constellations, harrowing." without affecting the core

we're talking, unless you have an atlas full of supplies & a prometheus full of fuel it is effectively impossible to explore the outer rim.

basically, it turns the game from a sector of clustered constellations, into a series of small sectors of 1 constellation cluster each, separated by long, long stretches of the hull of your ship creaking as you make the long haul. the kind where if something goes wrong while you're out on the frontier, you are going to be crawling back on your belly, sun-baked and begging for a drop of waterfuel, if by some miracle you make it back at all
we're talking the kind of distances that threaten, if not actively attempt, to strip all fun out of the game and make it feel like you're dragging yourself up a mountain by your fingernails.
we're talking the kind of distances where if you run out of fuel & wind up adrift in between clusters, you are actually, legit, for real ***ed.

12
Modding / mod idea pitch: frigate as corvette LPC
« on: August 03, 2021, 04:48:01 AM »
basically mod fighter wings, except it can only be mounted on a capital ship, its 1 finger per wing, and the fighter is a frigate. like, an onslaught that pops a hound out of its shuttle bay
edit: and its replacement rate hit per fighter lost is gigantic; lower for weaker frigates, almost (if not) total for stronger frigates

13
Fan Media & Fiction / what's in the supply box?
« on: July 29, 2021, 11:19:08 PM »
so I had a thought here that goes roughly,

Quote
There is another complication: AM fuel is only consumed in hyperspace but obviously a drive bubble is present during normal space travel, where unfortunate asteroid impacts happen.
It make sense that AM fuel is consumed in HS as you’re literally traveling FTL (judging from unit ly being a standard unit IRL) but not in normal space (judging from common sense it takes only minutes for light from sun to reach earth).

you don't actually know that the ships aren't using their antimatter drives in normal space. Consider; when you scrap a ship you get some fuel out of the system that had been left in the pipes. But, if you order a ship constructed from your industry, and you pick the ship up from where it was made, with a fleet with 0 fuel in store, then scrap the ship, you still get fuel from it despite it having never gone into hyperspace or been in a fleet with fuel. Why? Because they use antimatter fuel for sublight travel as well, so part of the manufacturing process is priming the engine with antimatter fuel just to get it to fly out of the drydocks.
They just don't use enough that you ever run out of that initial 1 fuel that they prime the engine with before they take the stickers off the windows. If traveling 1 lightyear takes 1 fuel capsule, how long do you have to fly your ship in sublight to have used 1 fuel capsule? The answer is, far longer than your character's lifespan. And if you do enter hyperspace, that 1 fuel capsule that you've used less than 1% of flying around in sublight gets used first then replaced as the engine's priming capsule by the last capsule used.

that's my headcanon anyway. The way I look at it, the Domain developed such extremely fuel efficient engines that they effectively run forever unless you use them to do something stupid like fly between stars. Interesting thing to note here is that, if this is the case, that means that back during the Domain era, since people were using the stargates instead of hyperspace, you could use a ship without ever needing to refuel it. The gas in the tank when you buy it will last longer than your body will. Your grandkid's grandkids will still be using that 1 unit of fuel. Your entire bloodline could spent their entire waking lives running that ship in sublight and probably they'd invent a new kind of fuel & stop producing antimatter hundreds or thousands of years later before than 1 unit of fuel is used up. But then the gates get shut off, and 1 unit of fuel won't even get a kite from system to system...

edit: actually now that I think about it, that would mean that, barring hyperspace flight, antimatter isn't a fuel for space flight but is a catalyst for it, since it's required for the reaction but isn't (effectively) used up by it at all. That would mean that the actual fuel fuel of subspace flight is inside of the supply commodity your fleet uses. I wonder what that would be

So...

Spoiler
whats in the supplies?
[close]

14
you set the training regime your faction attempts to distille in its officer corp, officer quality determines how many levels ur produced officers can attain & how closely to your preference they're produced, and officers die in battle to justify the need to do it

15
Suggestions / activating phase should generate soft flux
« on: July 18, 2021, 03:18:22 AM »
phase cloak activation currently triggers hard flux, which doesn't have any interesting interaction with the hard flux generated by phase cloak upkeep. If activating the phase cloak generated soft flux you could do interesting interactions; you could make a ship have a massive activation cost of soft flux & very low upkeep cost to make a phase ship into a phase cruiser, designed for long periods of phase operation to reposition across long distances at no flux cost until the soft flux from activation runs out, but poorly optimized for short phase skips mid-combat if flickering phase maxes out the reactor & holding phase until the cost got zeroed out gave the ship it's fighting a gap to recover its own flux. you could make a ship specialized for flicker-phasing through shots but incapable of phase cruising by giving it a negligible activation cost but substantial upkeep.
you could even add in the much-missed phase hullmods to adjust such numbers. shield hullmods like stabilized shields don't do anything to change the use-cases of shields, but stabilized cloak or accelerated coils could actually be a significant game changer for the way a sneakyboi operated

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