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Starsector 0.97a is out! (02/02/24); New blog post: New music for Galatia Academy (06/12/24)

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Topics - Null Ganymede

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General Discussion / Does anyone miss gas cloud combat terrain?
« on: August 06, 2022, 08:21:04 AM »
Used to be if you fought inside blue clouds you'd get scattered clouds to fight in. They would slow ships a bit and let you wrangle Pathers while outnumbered or push frigates into them while chasing with a destroyer.

It was definitely something players could exploit but AI couldn't, but was also relatively minor and easy to ignore. Objectives (except modded ones) and asteroid fields don't quite bring the same Total War feel.

  • Fly Afflictor+Shade with Neural Interface on both.
  • Activate Entropy Amplifier and wait until ACTIVE fades and it starts recharging.
  • Pause. Check that Neural Link subsystem reset is off-cooldown.
  • Hit T twice. HUD shows Entropy Amplifier on cooldown.
  • Unpause. It's READY as expected.

Silly but might confuse people experimenting.

Suggestions / Change player faction color in-game
« on: January 07, 2022, 10:25:41 AM »
Why: cheerful high-tech blue is a poor match for low tech pirate clunker runs.

Why not: you can just edit your faction's TriPad(tm) theme in player.faction then re-start.

Maybe it's just a UI color picker issue? None of the usual ones quite match Starsector's in-game aesthetic. It would probably be those ugly horizontal sliders.

General Discussion / Balance of damage scaling
« on: November 06, 2021, 03:59:56 PM »
Blah blah lowtech fighters weak, etc. Let's look at what damage multipliers we can stack:
+10%                    [Skill] GREEN-1-L Weapon Drills
+10-30% energy          [Skill] BLUE-2-R Energy Weapon Spec
+30% artillery          [Skill] RED-3-R Long Range Spec

+20% flux regen        [Skill] BLUE-4-L
+10% energy flux       [Skill] BLUE-2-R Energy Weapons (elite)
~10% flux regen        [Skill] RED-4-L Shield Spec
~15% more flux         [Hull] RED-4-L (elite) Hardened Shields
+?? flux and regen      story point built-ins freeing up OP

+10-20% vs big         [Skill] GREEN-2-R Wolfpack

+5% damage             [Skill] GREEN-3-L fleet-wide
+5% damage             [Skill] YELLOW-?-? per-ship

accuracy                [Skill] RED-1-R (elite)
+10% vs wings          [Skill] RED-2-R

endurance/anti-PD      [Skill] Missile Spec
A gunship with close-range energy weapons, and correctly-leveled captain can convert 100 points of flux into ~150 points of damage. Stacking up skills and hullmods means it can have ~80% more flux dissipation than a baseline max-vents ship with no officer. Add in HEF or AAF ship system and the result is oppressive.

Such ships hit way above their weight class:
  • Armor and hull get chunked by larger hits bypassing the armor reduction calculation.
  • The enemy AI's attack-retreat-vent-attack loop gets broken because flux and damage output is too high and by the time a retreat starts it's too late.
In comparison carriers can no longer scale damage like they did with carrier skills in the last patch. You might get a damage ship system and Expanded Deck Crew increases longevity, but there's no (flux+damage) * (skills+hullmods) simultaneous scaling the way there is with guns. Ditto for missiles - hullmods and skills scale endurance, not raw output.

What's my point?

This might be a topic better suited to Modding, but overall it looks like missile and fighter/bomber balance is in a very good and interesting place. Maximizing their power is about finding combined-arms synergies of damage types, ranges, and movement. This works well with clever AI tricks like mixed-fighter strikes or MRM missile volleys on fluxed-out targets. Effective fleets combine engagement ranges and damage types and survivability to win, but still have weak points they'll struggle with.

Guns? You spend skill points and build in hullmods until the ship can turn them up to 11, then blast through whatever's in range through more dakka. Setting up meticulous kinetic/explosive/frag firing arcs isn't as good as just setting heavy blasters to WUMBO.

That's pretty weird from a balance perspective. Should guns and gunships be balanced around the player min-maxed build, or AI autofit?

General Discussion / Are non-aggressive officers useful?
« on: October 24, 2021, 11:40:59 PM »
Reckless is soooometimes handy when you need a wrecking ball.

Steady is too intimidated by being outnumbered. Rest seem worthless - maybe on an escort carrier, to keep from suiciding fragile interceptors?

Aggressive just seems like the only useful setting for fleets I've put together.

General Discussion / With mods, this is a AAA game worth of content
« on: April 15, 2020, 11:35:43 PM »
The modded universe is mature: there's a reasonable concept of balance, and enough mechanical interaction to create Dwarf Fortress tier emergent story telling.

For example, early in a new playthrough I ran into a nice system to colonize. However the 75% hazard planet had a weird modded modifier - some kind of local fauna drugging up inhabitants, making them happy but unproductive. It also limited stability to a minimum of 5. Guess everyone's too high to worry about the pirate raid... Maybe the pirates chilled out once they landed.

A different mod added a few industries that produced straight cash without touching the market. This cost stability, but the fauna prevented it from going *too* low.

The end result is I have a colony that's less profitable than my typical freeport industrial hellforge, but has been left alone by the big powers of the sector. Pirates and Pathers raid it a bit, but I'm not panic-retreating to it to fend off Hegemony murderfleets. It's reasonably balanced, slightly silly, and completely emergent from modded content!

Same for ship loadouts - my colony is near Modded Faction A, and I'm collecting cool ships from Modded Faction B. The results look and feel mostly visually consistent, are effective in some niches but not broken in all of them, and are all modded content. I'm currently specialized in mobile hit-and-run engagements with 3-4 ships, and can easily engage outnumbered but run out of CR if I try to grind through large numbers of ships. It's weird and wonky, but fun and effective at some bounties. (And FPS-friendly!)

I don't think I've ever played a game that felt this complete, while sticking entirely to modded content, in a niche emergent playstyle that feels natural but I don't think was planned out by anyone involved.

General Discussion / I miss environmental effects in combat
« on: December 30, 2019, 03:30:56 PM »
Nebula clouds slowing ships down (and affecting vision range?) were cool.

Yes the AI couldn't abuse them, whatever, they were a pretty subtle effect. More subtle than beacons are, though more impactful than asteroid fields.

Here's an imgur album showing sequence of steps.

I've reproduced it with hitting the enter key to close the installation screen. I *think* it's happened with other keys too - jumping to intel screen or something, then later noticing an AI core went missing.

(This is a heavily modded run. I haven't tried reproducing in vanilla.)

Suggestions / Name screenshots based on character and stardate
« on: November 21, 2018, 01:39:04 AM »
Might be a bit long, but would personalize them a bit more and provide a clear timeline of progress (Dwarf fortress carving style) rather than a nondescript counter.

General Discussion / Space empire tips and tricks
« on: November 20, 2018, 02:06:39 AM »
Amazing expansion-tier "patch". The following is a collection of interesting observations of nitty-gritty colony details.

General comments:
  • Hazard rating is king. When you take mandatory defense / stability buildings into account, the cost of running a 12-slotted colony really cuts into profits. Colony slots are a scarce resource, so you probably want them 12-slotted... Unless it's just a personal logistics base, or temporary supplier for a key resource you can only source in-faction. See diminishing returns section.
  • Best low-hazard worlds are habitable, which also has a chance of rare buildings. Remote survey red/yellow/orange stars first, ideally old ones (outside the "nebula" regions of the starmap) first. Do it in a fast-traveling fuel tanker and chart a path to avoid deep hyperspace (turn off "starscape" on the map) if you're starting out, otherwise wait for intel hints or luck.
  • The accessibility calculation probably ignores "trade routes" that avoid deep hyperspace and the risk of losing fuel and supplies to storms. Your fleet doesn't - keep that in mind when choosing what to colonize until you're rolling in fuel and Solar Shielding.

  • Colony accessibility, stability, production increase, and income skills are all really really good. They easily make the difference between profit and loss early on, especially since the 30% income one probably multiplies gross revenue rather than net.
  • Exploration salvage skills and salvage rigs and salvage gantry hullmods are really really good. As are high-resolution sensors (which drop now!) as are survey ships - your fleet's tooth-to-tail ratio will suffer.
  • Until you're swimming in pristine nanoforges, Industry skills that make use of d-mods are really really good. Even afterwards, the sheer efficiency of a Field Repairs 3, Efficiency Overhaul-fitted clunker fleet is absurd. Particularly now that you're hauling a massive logistics tail for all that exploration and post-battle salvage.
  • Logistics bonuses to extend your salvage-survey-combat-troop-transport armada operating range are really really... Okay, you get the point. The skill system has more points to play with but more interesting things to specialize in.

Basic economy optimization:
  • As colony size grows, profits expand while costs stay fixed. Population growth is a huge deal! Decivilized subpopulations and freeport benefits outweigh costs, and supplying demand as it grows is important. Stacking colonies in one system as your initial large one also helps.
  • Light industry is a euphemism for cooking drugs and selling them in a freeport. Without a freeport, it loses money. Presumably the luxury goods are all hollow and used to smuggle drugs out.
  • Rare buildings (farms, ruins, etc) are extremely cost-effective.
  • Accessibility is really powerful and makes up for missing volume of production. Stacking freeport, waystation, megaport, and the leadership skill (which was considered near-mandatory in 0.8 to begin with) results in corner-of-the-map upstart backwaters competing with size 8 core worlds on an even footing. The fact that the core worlds are not administered and constantly at war with someone doesn't help. Perhaps without maxed colony skills and the freeport access bonus supplying their demand is more of an issue, but, still. Most upgrades feel like a straight credit cost and there's no urgent need to run around setting up nearby logistics colonies to get a megaport up and running or whatever.

Advanced economy optimization is something I'm still figuring out. There are multiple sources of diminishing returns when trying to scale net profit horizontally:
  • Duplicating production N times draws a slightly larger slice of the global global market value, but has N times the overhead. Eventually it stops being worth it.
  • Duplicating production on the same colony only uses the larger output of the two. Tech-mining and a smelter will waste metal production from one. Tech-mining and fuel production will waste fuel production from tech-mining.
  • Accessibility and stability (with some margin for Pather terrorism and piracy) are a big deal in addition to defense. This adds to the fixed cost for running a colony. You want your colonies to be somewhat specialized to avoid diminishing returns, or very low hazard ratings.
  • Sector-wide demand is a market cap on how much profit exists to be made. For some industries with few consumers, you can grow that cap significantly and by extension grow your own profits. This is most noticeable with metals and transplutonics, which there's only 6 consumers (dang, the sector's in poor shape) for so your inevitable heavy industry will grow it significantly.

  • Fighting invasion fleets personally seems to affect standings, but letting your colony fleets autoresolve them away doesn't. That's kind of weird - maybe I did it with transponder off or something? Anyway, once your colony can fend off attacks with no direct assistance
  • Stacking High Command colonies in one system results in fleets being swarmed at the wormhole without reaching your base. I don't know if that simulation fidelity applies for systems you're not physically present in (or if it's a simplified simulation where the fleets don't stack up, and defense stations on moons don't stack up with the one for the planet) but it's fairly one-sided when you're there to watch. Downside is, inbound missions also stack up.
  • If key buildings get hit and revenue goes negative, shutting down industries for 25% build cost + 1-2 month delay in re-building tends to beat eating a monthly deficit. Also reduces odds of being raided, oddly enough.
  • Do you optimize fleet doctrine for auto-resolve CR attrition warfare, auto-resolve and mobility to hunt down pirates and smugglers, or supporting the player's small strike fleet or a battlestation against uneven odds? Are star systems simulated at full fidelity when you're not in them - is there a fourth doctrine type for "away fleets" that auto-resolve a station battle only without running the wormhole gauntlet? Each playthrough will have different blueprints available, so there's a whole new design space to explore.
  • Likewise for custom production. Your early volume isn't impressive, but can churn out frigates and destroyers quite quickly. The easy source of cheap hulls and modules (and the fact that guns aren't lost on death, and correctly managed D-mods are a bonus) mean there's a ton of specialized/throwaway fleet concepts that are now possible!

Since the Hegemony did nothing wrong and AI cores are a bad idea, seriously did no one learn anything from the last great war, there's basically nothing on [REDACTED]. The following are mostly gimmicks, but I'll still spoiler:
  • Installing AI cores when there's no shortage reduces consumption sector-wide by 1 unit. This causes a tiny drop in gross revenue!
  • Alpha AIs in colony buildings (as opposed to administrator positions) *probably* won't go rogue on you. Yet.
  • Remnant fleets are basically free defense, and red beacons have a ton of good planets. Transverse Jump and a red warning beacon on a yellow/orange/red star is an easy start that I'm going to abuse until it's patched. :D

What a patch, great job Alex and Dave!

General Discussion / Fleet compositions
« on: May 28, 2018, 07:42:52 AM »
To minimize save scumming you gotta win. To not run out of supplies and fuel, you gotta win with as few ships as possible. Let's make a list of some fleet compositions that do so, and explain why those composition works.

I'll start with some vanilla ships that are still competitive in Nexerelin/modded play-throughs. These are ways to jump into combat without having to bootstrap it via exploration.

(Early-Game) SO Flagship

Safety Overrides gives you mobility and flux dominance versus everything you face early. Mobility lets you do silly things like use kinetic point defense weapons for DPS, like so:

With points in the combat tree you can solo early 40k pirate bounties in a Lasher. This works best on ships with lots of guns or Accelerated Ammo Feeder, otherwise you can't kill much before CR runs out.

(Mid-Game) Condor Missile Massacre
Basically, you're going for synergy and extreme point efficiency to make up for a re-purposed freighter's weakness.

  • Condors are 2 fighter bays and 1 medium missile with Fast Racks, for 10 points. Mid-tech fighters do kinetic damage, Pilum LRMs do explosive, it's a match made in heaven.
  • Frigates are 3% ECM each (with ECM mod) for ~5 points. ECM range reduction completely throws off the AI, making your ships more confident and the enemy less. Most importantly, 3 levels in the ECM skill also gives you the ECCM mod which brings us to...
  • Salamanders. Without ECCM or skills they're annoying but unreliable, with either they're agile enough to get around shields and out-track PD. They have good synergy with fighter distractions, ensure LRM hits, and give your flagship easy targets to shoot.

So your carriers provide the kinetic and explosive damage. Your frigates provide ECM to keep the enemy AI off your carriers, while throwing Salamanders into the fighter + LRM swarm. The end result looks a lot like this: easy flanks on flamed out ships with missile and fighter support rolling in.

The skill investment is quite low (3 points in ECM + probably extra officers since missile and fighter skills are amazing) so you've got plenty of room to branch out from the base composition.

Starting with a Hegemony commission in a Nexerelin playthrough, level 1 start, no exploration; here's what 6 months looks like.

The frigates are pretty interchangeable, as are any specialist ships you eventually pick up. The Condors are really the core of the fleet. (Probably need 2x as many of them, grew the frigates without buying more Condors.)

So, what other fleets hit way above their weight class? (Ideally, with minimal player skill investment to allow for some customization.)


Bunch of mods running, but I *think* this interaction is from the base game?

Searched everything within the jump point radius, then about as much radius outside it via command plugin's max vision radius. Also scanned the sun from multiple angles - there was no survey ship with a yellow quest marker on it.

General Discussion / Combat beginner guide
« on: January 30, 2018, 11:19:57 PM »
Starsector combat requires logistics support. Running low on supplies and mass is unforgiving when you're still learning the game.

This guide shows you one way to bootstrap a viable, sustainable combat character that doesn't rely on slurping down supplies and fuel at every market.

Step 1: The Mercenary Life

Hit e, 1, w and select "Bounties" on the left. You're looking for system-wide bounties from factions that don't hate you.

Everyone hates pirates so they'll be your primary target. (And Corvus starts with one, what a coincidence!) The bounty could be for anything though - you'll get paid for any hostile ships you destroy in the area.

Getting a commission with a faction is a fairly permanent choice, but doubles your payments if you know where you're going to end up. Being hostile to their enemies won't be a problem for long.

Step 2: Fleet Efficiency

See the supply cost of whatever fleet you're engaging? Your goal is to spend less supplies killing it than it's carrying.

You need a bunch of force multipliers to do that. Fortunately there's plenty to be had:

  • An officer in every combat ship. They don't cost supplies and provide huge benefits.
  • Since you'll be fighting pirates at first, specialize in swatting low-tech frigates and destroyers. Fighters and high-speed missiles supporting a front line of fast frigates are great at this.
  • Focus on ending combat quickly and decisively. Safety Overrides and missiles are your friends. So is the accelerated ammo feeder on a Lasher or Hammerhead.
  • Your flagship is your most deadly asset. With some offensive combat skills, you can roll up a flank by picking off enemy ships one by one before they can retreat or be supported. Learning to be effective with different hulls is also fun!
  • Only bring ships that pull their weight. Try different refits in the simulator both manually and under AI control - does the ship fill a useful role in your fleet? If you're missing the weapons/hull mods/officer needed to make it shine, store it for a future date.
  • Finally, fight outnumbered. Your ideal fleet is sitting on the system's jump-point in hyperspace, looking outgunned while protecting a bunch of unarmed civilian-hulled freighters. The freighters are for gathering loot from the stream of pirates attacking what looks like an easy kill.

Step 3: Skill Selection

You'll level quickly. The following is a rough guide to possible skills to focus on, though they're optional and there are many other variations:

Combat skills should be your first investment. You can boost your fleet later as it starts to grow. Since your main supply drain will be combat, logistics and industry skills aren't important unless your fleet is spending lots of supplies repairing armor damage.

Your exact skill choices will be dictated by what hull mods and hulls you stumble across. An early Integrated Targeting Unit or Converted Hangar will drive fleet composition and loadout in different directions.

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