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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: The Pilgrim's Path (07/19/22)

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Topics - Arakasi

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1
General Discussion / Final Impressions of 9.5 (Spoilers)
« on: April 09, 2021, 10:23:01 PM »
After having spent way too much time exploring the ins and outs of this patch I have some general impressions that I wanted to share.


Story

The story so far is fantastic. Well written, the writing and quest content has a strong connection to the game's mechanics, gives the player a taste of the unknown, and the rewards for doing the quest-line are A+.

I did have a few gripes though. Some of the choices the player gets struck me as strange, such as throwing that guy out the airlock with/without a helmet - I threw him out without a helmet because it seemed preferable to giving him back to an insane pirate warlord, but found it odd there was no choice to let him decide his destiny. And a lack of choice regarding the obvious safety implications leading up to the gate explosion, well, I could see something like that coming a mile away and it's just a shame there isn't a dialogue option to give you a quest that lets you avoid it or something similar, especially after you talk to the researcher about it and she mentions the hardware wizard who will later just make the device. Felt as though I was a bit railroaded on that one. Finally, I noticed that the difficulty was a bit hard to determine going into a mission, it did ramp up pretty consistently, however not knowing what the likely difficulty of the mission was just meant I flew around everywhere with the biggest warfleet I could muster. Some indication of the quest's difficulty relative to your fleet might be nice (similar to the fleet 'stars' system), and/or an indication of whether or not there will be forced combat vs avoidable combat.

I also like the idea of contacts, tying in story characters to become mission-givers is really interesting, and I hope to see more of it in the future.


Exploration

With the introduction of the new stealth logistics ships I was hoping exploration might be a little harder in this patch, since in previous patches I have griped about being able to just sneak around warning beacon systems stealthily salvaging all the best stuff in the game. This had the effect of letting me skip the early-game in many patches or even quickly jumping to colony-development, which is kind of cheesy. I thought the reduced stealth effect from salvaging might force you to actually invest in those phase ships and thereby not allow you to skip the early-game. However. In practice stealth salvage is as good as it ever was, because remnant fleets can't burn to get close to you, its extremely easy with a starting fleet to sneak, salvage at just the right time, and then e-burn or even sustained burn away if they try to chase you. Further, the stealth logistics ships are unknown to any faction, so your hopes of getting them in the transition to early-midgame (where they would be at their maximum use) is more or less random (you would have to find a blueprint and get the sold production slots to build them). Overall I think good steps were made in this patch towards making exploration more risk/reward oriented, but at the moment it is still far too easy to abuse the systems.

My suggestions to fix this would be some mix of the following:
- Up the speed of Remnant fleets to be equal to a sustained burn at burn level 8 from the player. This would make them terrifying unless you invested at least a little in either faster ships or stealth.
- Give them the ability to e-burn. This could work too, but is less scary than the above.
- Let Tri-tach sell the phase logistics ships. They need to be more common if they are to be useful.
- Make it so in order to get the best stuff from Research Stations, Mining Outposts, and Orbital Habs, you need a certain threshold of salvage ability (be that from salvage rigs, or ships with the salvage hullmod). This would obviously require some UI work to warn the player that they might miss out on things if they are not properly salvaged, but it would at least put some barrier to entry on the gameplay and make it so that the best salvage fleets aren't just one fuel ship and one cargo ship (low investment).


Skills and Fleet Balance

This is a touchy subject, I know there's been multiple threads on this, so I'll just lay out some impressions in dot point form.

- I really like the idea of rewarding the player for having a balanced fleet of a certain size. I completely changed up my usual style of endgame gameplay in this patch (capitals, lots of them) to actually making use of frigates and more medium destroyers.

- The skills reward Frigates and Destroyers a lot but they do not do much if anything for capital ships, so in my experience, against the hardest fleets in the game (we'll come back to this later), capitals aside from the Radiant and the Ziggurat are extremely underwhelming. They are too slow to avoid getting swarmed by the main mass of Remnants, and you can't realistically take those fleets in a head-on battle, which makes them actively bad to bring along. This would be different if you weren't limited in back-up ships, but every ship you bring over 240 deployment points makes your main 240 weaker due to the effects of certain skills.

- Derelict Contingent and Story-pointed Safety Overrides are obviously broken - I know Alex knows this, but it can't avoid mentioning it. So much of people's response to 'the endgame is hard' is to just cheese it with these mechanics.

- Battle Size setting now has an even worse relationship to balance than before. What I assumed was meant to be strictly a performance setting, Battle Size now has now has a negative impact on the balance of the game. If you're smart you set the battle size such that it is as close as possible to matching up with 180 deployment points as a maximum, such that you get the most out of your skills (not that I did this, I played at max battle size the whole time). Conversely, if you set the battle size low enough, you can use it to just 1v1 the endgame threats with the Ziggurat and thereby basically avoid playing the game altogether. Unless it is actually a necessary performance setting (doubt it with modern computers) I would remove it. Decide upon the intended battle size and stick to it.

- Dedicated carriers seem a lot worse now. They were undoubtedly too strong in previous patches, but I fear this is an overnerf. The ability of them to be able to project force at huge distances is supposed to be balanced by their fragility, but their ability to project force has been sorely reduced. They are at their best now as dedicated Longbow Carriers, which while it can be useful, doesn't often make up for their battle vulnerability especially against later fleets.

- Automated ships skill - I had been looking forward to this one a lot and it did not disappoint. The Radiant is obviously an insane ship and it is definitely can be worth giving up the other very strong skill to get access to it. I also understand limiting its combat readiness and the ability to use more remnant ships with it - however I feel as though it is also the only reasonable option, and it would be nice if the balance was a little more straightforward, e.g. 'you can take 1 Radiant (w/alpha core), or 2 Brilliants (w/alpha cores), or 4 Glimmers (w/alpha cores)' etc. It is also a shame I think that there is no Domain capital on par with the Radiant that you could salvage and choose.

- Phase ships are completely off the balance scale. I'm not really speaking from experience here, but next to 'just use DC and SO' the most common response to how to beat the endgame content is 'just use a DOOM and Harbringers'. Pretty easy to see why when you think about it, they can functionally ignore range, can burst down shields, and can wield the best anti-hull weapons in the game for maximum effectiveness. Not sure how you fix this one, maybe you can do it by just tweaking the appropriate skills (perhaps to limit their max combat readiness peak time) but I'm not sure.

- Edit: Forgot to mention Reliability Engineering. It is perhaps the single most important officer skill for late-game engagements, especially for frigates, and especially given the bonuses extra CR provides and the likely length of those engagements. It's extremely strong and I don't know whether you want to make that worse or other skills like Damage Control better.


Endgame Content and Balance

I'll just lay out my points in dot point form again here.

- The Ziggurat and unique weapons are extremely cool, but since they are unique (and the weapons are not infinitely farmable) they encourage save scumming, or not playing with them if you're trying to play ironman unless you know you are going to win a battle. The risk you take as an ironman player in using them infinitely outweighs the reward. If there was some mechanic which could let you recover the Zigg despite having actually lost a battle, and some way to get access to more Tesseract weapons, this would not be an issue.

- Following up from the above, I think the final bounty fleet should be infinitely farmable as end-game content to get the new weapons. Encourages the risk reward gameplay I mentioned above - want the best weapons in the game? Beat the best fleet in the game! Bring along your omega weapons and risk losing them to try and win!

- Because of the way Remnants are (extremely strong shields, huge range, reasonably fast) the best fleets to kill them almost always wind up being high tech, not just phase, because they have the best shields, flux management, and speed that allow them to get in into range, and the speed to flee when they are overwhelmed. This makes them good at picking off the Remnants one by one and grinding these huge fleets down, the Remnants have no way to pin the high tech ships down with their central mass. They just get 1v1'd until the fight is over. Compare using a midline or lowtech fleet that has to actually contest the central bulk of remnants and its no bueno, you can't reasonably beat 2-3 Radiants in a head on fight even with a couple of long range capitals and destroyers, especially given they can just warp away behind their frontlines if things start to go wrong, or warp in to take advantage of a ship that is slightly out of position. If anyone has a midline or lowtech fleet (with no cheese, no ziggurat, etc.) that can defeat the 4x Radiant all alpha core bounty I'll gladly eat my words here, but I could not at all make it work.

- The Coronal Hypershunts being able to add 1 industry is cool, but until there's some punishment for using Alpha Core administrators or some threat to your systems that can actually theoretically force more investment in defenses over industry, its pretty useless for the amount of investment you need to do it. Just investing a lot of money and time to be able to make marginally more money when you can already make functionally infinite just by founding more colonies. Would be much more interesting imo if it supercharged your ability to defend your systems and there was some sort of threat that (while not requiring it to be defeated) would be significantly easier if you did have it. An Omega invasion that only happens once every 20 years or something similar perhaps.

- Unique Weapons are very cool, and I do really enjoy the idea of missiles with an unlimited capacity but that cost flux to fire. A few of them don't seem overwhelmingly broken either, and I hope to see more regular missiles like this to be employed in more protracted engagements. I would like to suggest however that the missile officer skill slightly increase the rate at which missiles reload, perhaps at a cost of less extra missiles if this becomes a change in design philosophy.

- Using story points to build in hullmods is cool and good, but I wish there was more reason to not just pick the highest costed mods to build in. Maybe a limit on the max amount of OP you can build in rather than a limit on the number of points you can spend, and each story point just gives you access to that hullmod-specific OP.


Overall

I very much enjoyed this patch and look forward to more in the future. I am concerned about endgame content and balance, but I trust you'll be able to hammer out the kinks over time.

2
My first attempt to do the Tesseract bounty was interesting, I tried to capital spam it, was utterly destroyed, came back with another fleet, was destroyed again, the third time it actually chased me into a system I controlled and it was defeated (and bounty completed) by several of my patrols. Since then I've developed a well-balanced fleet and am able to beat all of the other hardest bounties, so I'd like to be able to fight it again, but after taking many many other bounties, and then trying to just hard re-roll the bounty missions to find it again, I haven't been able to find it. Does anyone have any advice about how it works?

3
Bug Reports & Support / 'Harder' bounties are often easier
« on: April 08, 2021, 09:33:15 PM »
When talking to a contact who gives bounties they often will put the harder bounty under the 'whatever you've got works for me' menu option, while the 'more challenging target' selection has the far easier target. And this isn't just a about incorrect pricing of bounties either, they can be worth over double the price.

Edit: I'd like to add to this that trying to get the 'hardest' bounty is a pain that either requires years of waiting or constantly save scumming to reload the options. I no longer need bounties for the money, it's kinda silly to have to wait for the opportunity this long.

4
Bug Reports & Support / Ships Keep Slamming into One Another
« on: April 08, 2021, 04:54:10 AM »
Most of the cases this happens it is completely avoidable by the AI, but for some reason they really don't respect the space of each other, especially for frigates, but sometimes even for capitals, see the short clips posted below.
https://i.imgur.com/INXfpX7.mp4
https://i.imgur.com/cFnwkS0.mp4

5
I know a lot of people are struggling with the endgame atm, so I figured a thread for this would be a good idea. Please try to avoid builds that are reliant on the current cheese (Derelict Congingent & ships that are only good with a SP Safety Overrides).

Here's mine atm:
Spoiler
[close]

This fleet is capable of taking down any [REDACTED] fleet, given appropriate tactics, but I'm currently grinding story points before I try take on the hardest bounty fleet (the first time I tried to capital-spam it and that ended very poorly).

Edit: Here's my skill setup too, I'd probably do it a little differently now and not double dip so far into Leadership, but getting coordinated maneuvers and wolfpack is very good since frigates are a must against endgame fleets (cheese and unique ship use excepted).
Spoiler
[close]

6
Suggestions / A Recovery Skill
« on: April 07, 2021, 05:28:57 AM »
While I know there are skills that make it so your ship(s) are almost always recoverable after combat, one thing I would like to see with the introduction of the
Spoiler
Ziggurat
[close]
is a skill or maybe even an expensive hullmod that 100% allows you to recover your ship, and further, if you lose the whole battle, turns that ship into a derelict you can locate and recover later (perhaps using story point(s)). At the moment I really don't want to use that ship against the harder threats in the game even though it might be fun because I'm playing without save scumming, and this sort of unique lose-able item really does encourage that behaviour.

7
I paid a story point to the historian to learn there's a blueprint stuck inside a Coronal Hypershunt, except there's no way to loot one.



8
Suggestions / [AI Skill] Minor Disappointment
« on: April 01, 2021, 11:33:40 PM »
I was really looking forward to trying out the AI skill with the Domain
Spoiler
Drone Battleship that is guarding the cryosleepers.
[close]

I understand it's most likely not balanced or designed for player use atm, but I think at least having a rough equivalent to the
Spoiler
Remnant's Radiant
[close]
from the Domain side being salvagable by the player would be neat.

9
Bug Reports & Support / [0.95a-RC12] Xyphos Fighter Infinite Overload?
« on: March 31, 2021, 08:08:30 AM »
As the title suggests, it seems as though once a Xyphos fighter gets overloaded it stays permanently (?) stuck in that state until it happens to get destroyed and replaced.

10
Bug Reports & Support (modded) / Crash to Desktop
« on: August 01, 2019, 04:40:54 AM »
This is the error I'm getting consistently when, in a specific bounty hunt battle, the fog of war starts to clear and I start seeing the enemy ships:
One of the ships I'm encountering in this battle is one I have yet to encounter yet, a ship from the Ship/Weapon pack called the Cathedral Class Hubship - the reveal of which is what I assume is causing the crash in some capacity.
My starsector log file is way too big to be uploaded to pastebin, but I couldn't even find a specific error in there that seemed to match what is recommended.
Here's a list of my mods:

11
Suggestions / Sabot Missiles are Too Strong
« on: July 28, 2019, 02:03:07 AM »
Just a note r.e. Vanilla balance - Sabot missiles are too strong. They are not only the most efficient missiles for taking down an enemy's shields (especially as-mounted on Longbows), but they also completely avoid most PD systems due to their flak implementation.

What I recommend:
1. Nerf the shield damage of Sabots - I modded this into my game by reducing emp dmg from 400 to 300, and regular dmg from 200 to 150, and they still work great.

2. Introduce a new shield-damaging missile which does not flak but also does more shield damage than the Sabot.

12
Suggestions / Please add an option for Auto-Saves
« on: July 26, 2019, 11:39:10 AM »
I understand saving takes a while, but what takes even longer is rebuilding hours of gameplay after it crashes and you haven't saved in a while. I just lost like 4hrs of gameplay and am very sad.
A possible suggestion to stop it being intrusive: Autosave whenever you enter or exit a system if there hasn't been an autosave in the last 5 or 10 minutes.
Furthermore: This would make ironman mode actually matter, since you seem to be able to save-scum in ironman regardless if you so wish.

13
Suggestions / Risk, Reward, and Colonies
« on: June 06, 2019, 09:34:36 PM »
The Problem
I've played through Starsector vanilla a few times up until I have explored the whole available sector and the game no longer has any challenges left. During the early/mid-game there is a very real sense of danger - getting intercepted by a larger fleet can have real implications in terms of damaging all that you've worked to achieve. You can lose progress, and this makes the game interesting and suspenseful, having this risk/reward. However, this all changes once you start a colony. I understand that changes have been made to the economy in the most recent patch to power down the advantage colonies bring - but I do not think it is enough. As it stands - the worst consequence you seem to be able to incur as a colony-owner is to have it be raided and temporarily cost more than it gains. This is little more than a time penalty in most scenarios. Once a colony can start to support your fleet costs, there doesn't seem to be much more left than to explore the universe, or make more money if you need to for colony upgrades. It is at this point that the game seems to lose a sense of danger - ships are replaceable, and there's little to no chance of losing so much money that you'll be in a bad situation.

Possible Solutions
In many ways this issue reminds me of playing Mount and Blade Warband. In the early game you have a 'fleet' that can be easily crushed by larger entities, you have to work hard to maintain them by doing things to earn money. In the mid-game you can start to acquire fiefdoms which you have to protect for them to produce you a small amount of income, perhaps just enough to maintain your 'fleet', but at the same time you also need to be doing other things to generate additional income or influence over lords, which creates an interesting tension. In the mid-late-game you get larger fiefdoms which need to be actively defended by a garrison of your own troops otherwise you can completely lose them, however these generate such advantage that you start to get a more permanent economic foothold and can more easily recover from defeat. It is only in the true late-game where it seems as though you have accrued enough advantage to never lose. The issue with Starsector, it seems to me, is that at no point in the mid-late game can you actually lose the advantage you have gained in the way you can in Mount and Blade. Battles feel meaningless when there is next to no consequence to rebuilding. I don't know if something more akin to Mount and Blade's system of actual conquering is better, but I think that some risk akin to this needs to be put in place.

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