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Starsector 0.96a is out! (05/05/23); Blog post: Colony Crises (11/24/23)

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Messages - TheLaughingDead

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The hellbore has special armor-removal mechanics and is functionally a torpedo. It takes advantage of an opening to do damage.
The HAG is constant pressure with anti-armor focus. It dictates the defensive stance of your opponent.
I don't think the Hellbore has any special armour-removal mechanics, it just has high hit strength, which determines damage to armour. Nothing crazy going on there!

What that means is if you are unloading on a ship with a HAG, it wants to keep it's shield up for the duration of the barrage because it will be punished if it doesn't. This shifts the focus much more heavily into flux management over pure tanking.  It also allows you to force a choice between two bad decisions...
...HAGs on a flux efficient build are great lineholders and will push back very strong ships until you are ready to deal with them.
I agree on the HAG keeping enemy shields up (it is a lot like the High Intensity Laser in that regard). Not sure that Sabots make for a great example, because as you mention, the enemy can drop their shields and eat the (since update, relatively minor) EMP damage and a couple HAG rounds. That, or employ point defense, which is really quite cheap flux-wise. The Squall example is better, because both the HAG and the Squall are able to fire for extended periods, so the enemy can't flicker the shield on or off for burst damage.
Not sure I agree that HAGs are "great lineholders". Ships are great lineholders. HAGs are just guns. Flux-heavy guns, at that. There are few ships that have the flux to even use an HAG effectively, let alone use it with other kinetic weapons at the same time! Without those kinetic weapons, the HAG is really quite weak against even light cruiser shields, so they don't really drive up flux fast enough on their own to push enemy ships back.

A couple decent paring of weapons are Sabots for the "two bad choices" shield-slap, and Breach SRMs. Breach SRMs are super tanky high ammo-count missiles that the enemy wants to take on the shields if you are trying to flux them out with shield pressure, and have the side benefit of special armor-stripping for more HAG damage if they drop, or dont have, shields for any reason.
A side benefit of the rapid fire is the incidental hits against missiles and strikecraft (and frigates) that get between you and your target giving you flux-free "point defense".
Breaches are nice, but if you have an HAG then you probably want to focus more on other missiles like Sabots or Reapers, Proximity Charge Launchers, Atropos, something that just does a lot of damage, to help with shields. The HAG should be all you need :D

The hellbore can make an opening hurt badly. Any time you would sling a reaper you could instead use your infinite hellbore ammo to do similar damage. While the HAG can arguably be used in these situations, it is less focused and doesnt have extra armor-shredding.  Removing armor is niche but it has it's uses. Fragmentation damage tends to be very high DPS, but does 25% damage against any defense. If you can make an opening for them with a Hellbore, you can do incredible DPS to a large ship/station. Reduced armor also simply takes more damage from any other things you have hitting it. Strikecraft (fighters/bombers) like to use Fragmentation weapons or light anti-armor weapons. If you have carrier support, or are a carrier with a hellbore, you can remove the armor to make the cheaper strike craft far more effective.
Hmm, not sure I understand your point here? Fragmentation damage will be just as effective whether the armour was stripped by Hellbore or HAG? I feel like, aside from stations and lumbering heavy-armour ships in particular, an HAG would result in more damage simply because of the sheer hull DPS the HAG boasts.

Suggestions / Re: Fleet Cap Penalty
« on: November 24, 2023, 02:37:35 PM »
Right, I can always increase the max ships in Settings but that's no longer the vanilla experience and I try to avoid that as much as possible. I vaguely remember you talking about the fleet cap in a blog post but I couldn't recall if the number 30 was an arbitrary limit, a technical limit, and/or a balance limit. Granted, I think anyone brushing up against the fleet cap and wanting more slots is probably trying an unorthodox style of play or some self-imposed limits, so the hope here was to only push the envelope a little and allow for some wiggle room. But, I get the line has to be drawn somewhere.
I think that Support Doctrine + Derelict Operations is a pretty natural "build" to arrive at, even for people new to the game just looking at the skill tree. I think that people who try to optimize, even a little bit, will take note that "hey, both these skills reduce deployment point cost, which allows for a quantity > quality type of play!" and most will try it out (albeit probably after trying personal combat/officered fleet first).

With both these skills, 30-ship limit is a bit tricky to play with. I don't think the ship limit is the issue per se, but if the skills themselves changed so the DP reduction was smaller, but other bonuses were larger, it would allow more flexibility for people playing with a wide fleet rather than a tall one. I myself have contemplated doing this build many times, but I always butt my head against the fleet cap. I think the suggested style of play with Support Doctrine in particular is to still have 8-10 officered ships and boost the chaff, but it is hard to justify the value the skill gives if only half the fleet benefits from it (assuming each officered ship is 12-15 DP, which is pretty low for an officered ship).

Suggestions / Re: High Scatter Amplifier thought
« on: November 13, 2023, 11:58:08 AM »
I think this idea has a lot of potential, even for non-HSA hullmods. From a balance perspective though, current HSA nerfs beam range because (most) beams have great range, so giving them hard flux damage would make kiting a much more viable strategy.

In the proposed case here, some number tweaks would be required but I think it could work.
15% hard flux is really low, considering that a ship with okay speed and 1000+ range can likely actively vent that flux before it becomes a liability. For example, a Graviton Beam would spend 11 flux/sec to generate 200(!) shield flux/sec on an enemy ship from 1000+ range away. A High-Intensity Laser would spend 60 flux/sec to generate 250(!!!) shield flux/sec on an enemy ship from 1000+ range away, and the enemy can't drop their shield to vent that flux otherwise they eat the disgusting armour/hull DPS of an HIL.
Now, more feasibly, I believe that this change could work if the numbers were more 1-1, and/or if a speed nerf was included. So for example, if 100% of the flux cost was hard flux and the firing ship got a 20% speed reduction, I think there could be an argument for feasibility. Or if there were some hypothetical mechanic in which the firing ship generated hard flux equal to the damage dealt by the weapon, then the firing ship would be much less oppressive because the benefits of doing high damage at high range are in exchange for that 1-1 ratio (because often the player is facing fleets much larger than themselves).

But in general, I like this idea because it still retains the concept of (1000-range) beams being primarily support weapons. In this case, even though they would do decent DPS at a great range, they are still support weapons because they would also weaken the ships using them and leave them vulnerable to enemies. This makes spamming the ships less effective than having a couple to help out a sturdy frontline. Kind of like a support Sunder; slowish and squishy, but capable of putting out good damage from range.

Modding / Re: Mod request (joke topic)
« on: November 05, 2023, 05:22:04 PM »

Not going to lie, both of these look sick. Sacrilegious as it is, I think I like both of the symmetrical Apogees more than the base Apogee. Could just be the hot red though :D

I hope when/if more ships are added, they take a page from the Apogee book (even if it means dirty asymmetry). Looking at the brown Invictus brick makes me weep lol

It would become invincible.
Believe it or not, enabling God Mode in most games is not beneficial, and the novelty of it wears thin pretty quickly.
I think he was employing hyperbole.

This idea has probably been floated before, but imagine this:

You can equip modules related to armor/hull, shields, engines, etc in the same way we currently equip weapons. Each ship has certain slots, of certain varieties, in certain locations. The modules drop as loot, get sold at stations, and are produced at colonies with heavy industry just as weapons are.

But this would require a total rebalancing of the fleet meta. Imagine for example, a XIV Onslaught that's completely armor-maxxed. Heavy Armor, s-modded Shield Shunt, lvl 6/elite 4 officer, plus all of the armor modules it can fit that increase its armor value. It would become invincible.

Would this new feature add to the game by giving us more options, or would it just make things too complicated? Would it create a static meta where certain ships like the aforementioned XIV Onslaught totally dominate everything else?  What do you guys think?
I think this is (sort of) accomplished with hullmods. The difference is, hullmods are much less selective (most ships can use most hullmods), when you buy one you can use it for any amount of ships, hullmods can't stack, but you can have as many as a ship's OP allows. But despite these changes, ultimately the modules you bring up and hullmods as they exist now serve to do the same thing in different ways, by adding that extra layer of customization and flexibility in ship loadouts.

I don't think it would be a great idea to have both; it would just be too complicated and have systems that are too similar without being the same. If it were to be changed, I think adjusting the hullmod system to fill that role is probably better than adding an entirely new system late in development anyway.  But yeah, I could imagine an alternate universe where the game was developed such that there is a limit to the number of hullmods a ship can use (maybe even based on the type of ship), and the interface to install them is just like with weapons, and you buy them in a shop, etc.

Blog Posts / Re: Salvors in the Ruin, a digital painting story
« on: October 31, 2023, 02:35:16 AM »
Ahh, I love some good old-fashioned 'horror-tinged tomb raiding'  :D

Sometimes I'll be playing Starsector, going through the motions like I normally do, when I look at the artwork and a little detail catches my eye. Then I spend five minutes just squinting at the little piece of artwork and admiring the atmosphere/sci-fi bits and bobs/tiny details. It really adds to the experience. Seeing the process for a novel piece is cool!

I think I'm neutral on with or without the background guys. Part of the horror aesthetic is muted by the smallness of the room and the bright glowing doorway, but just seeing the piece makes me think of a temple room four times the size with a tiny blip of light and a line of coffin crates going on seemingly forever into the darkness. So it definitely carries some of that feeling of "we are very, very small."

Unfortunately this game isn't nearly buggy enough for a modern release, I think the dev needs to regress some recent updates and maybe unfinish some mechanics. And no post-release roadmap for making features that were promised for release? Frankly abysmal.

Suggestions / Re: Controller support
« on: October 17, 2023, 09:27:32 PM »
I second that controller support would be great to see, for all the reasons listed, for accessibility, etc.
Making a prediction though, I doubt that even if it did happen it would happen before 1.0.
Seems more like a 1.0 feature along with UI and other more QoL or user options/experience improvements.

I would prefer frigates and destroyers appear at the sides in any battle big enough to spawn objectives. Anything smaller than a cruiser in big battles is usually there for escort and objectives capturing duty anyway, and sticking frigates in the rear would just slow them down on the way to objective grab.
Yes, imagine if the player could deploy ships anywhere along the lower border and in two or three ranks. You could have the heavy line ships in the middle, faster defenders on the line flanks, some speedy point cappers/skirmishers on an edge (or both edges), and the squishy carriers in a back row. Not only would it provide massive QoL for the beginning of combat (not having to spend command points rearranging the fleet) but it provide a tactical advantage to have everything already in place and able to capture points faster. And if the system remembered the order of ships, the player wouldn't have to change the arrangement every time; they could just start the battle and jump straight into the combat!

How do i optimize my fleet for maximum pilum saturation

Why would you want to though? I the only one who finds Pilums to be nigh worthless?

I mean I love the idea of an artillery type missile to launch from beyond normal range, but the Pilum just massively underperforms in every way imo
And this is now that it's better then it was a few versions back, where I had never once seen one actually hit anything because even a disabled Onslaught could outrun them.
Pilums used to be very binary in their usefulness. I remember doing a mass pilum fleet, and the enemy AI simply had no idea how to deal with all those missiles. Their AI was so skittish you could just grind them down with little resistance. Before reaching that critical mass of pilums though, they were absolutely useless.

Now I consider them to be a budget item. Cheap, better than nothing.

General Discussion / Re: On SO Eradicators
« on: September 14, 2023, 08:34:48 PM »
General gameplay trope - the guys with ranged weapons and more casualty-averse tactics tend to be the good guys, and vice verso for the bad guys. As for fighters, it's sort of codified by star wars: if a space battle consists of a bunch of fighters and carriers on one side, and a bunch of large warships on the other, then the first group will usually be the side the heroes are on.
As Nettle so succinctly pointed out, fighters result in pretty high casualties! I might agree they are "good guy" fodder in movies and the like because a fighter is naturally going to be the underdog in any ship vs ship battle, and also because a fighter is an individually piloted ship that allows a character's skill to be shown off without being diluted by the capabilities of other crew members, but I really don't see that applying in any way to Starsector. The way Starsector is completely disconnected from in-game casualties (going as far as their being a basic commodity to buy, sell, launch out the airlock, etc) coupled with ships often being hundred or thousand crew affairs, lends the setting more of a "life is cheap and the price is often paid" air than that of a "scrappy underdogs fight against the evil empire while lamenting every loss" air.

If we're taking gameplay mechanics into account then Tri-Tachyon ironically has a much better return on investment (human life) than any other faction in the game. Their high-tech ships often require fewer crew and expose those crew to less danger by virtue of stronger shields and less reliance on hull/armour tanking, including some of the most survivable fighters in the game! Not to mention that TT likely doesn't engage in outright war as often anyway because they rely on economic influence and sneaky underhanded tactics to maintain their 'major faction' status. Of course, TT is also quite callous with life due to their corporate dystopian hellscapes and their often ethically amoral research projects, but again, that is found a bit in pretty much every faction (owing to the setting).

General Discussion / Re: On SO Eradicators
« on: September 14, 2023, 04:01:02 PM »
Continuing with this trend, it could be interesting for the League to make "casualty-averse shock-and-awe enthusiasts" their hat, in keeping with their laissez faire every man for himself ethos
This is NOT League's ideology at all. Individual planets get to manage themselves with minimal (allegedly) intervention from Kazeron. Most of them are dictatorships, oligarchies, monarchies, or other forms of societies that don't respect individual freedoms.

The League, at present, definitely gets painted as bad guys and hypocrites in the story, but the flavor text surrounding their markets indicates that, at least internally, they present themselves as very free, non-homogeneous, and individualistic. I think the intent is for there to be a twist, where they initially look like the good guys fighting for freedom, but are secretly just as bad - right now we just see the second part, with the first being found in various flavor materials. Aesthetically, they do the things you'd expect the good guys to do - long-ranged missiles, faster, lighter ships, and heavy use of fighters.
I don't really view long-range missiles, faster + lighter ships, or heavy use of fighters as having anything to do with being a good or bad guy?

General Discussion / Re: Why not put it on Steam Early Access?
« on: September 12, 2023, 09:36:11 PM »
I think the extra revenue that Alex would gain from steam right now is probably enough to hire a part time developer to fasten up the work or for simply mainaining the steam sales, probably even more.
This has also been discussed to death and it's well known that hiring another person at this point would actually take more time to get to 1.0 and the dev team might lose focus, not to mention extra costs. The game is in a late stage of development and you'd need to catch up that person so so much where you'll waste half of a patch time just so another dev can join the team. You also then lose time on communication and organization that didn't exist before.

Only thing I could ever see them getting is extra help for PR stuff. If somehow the game explodes in popularity once again before 1.0, and this forum gets many new users, that would take a lot of "free" time from Alex. I know how he likes being personally involved here so hopefully it doesn't come to that, but that honestly the only thing I could see that gives a net positive on time saved.

Good thing there's a ton of knowledgeable people here so most questions get answered by forum users, and pretty quickly. Alex needs to come in here and there to clear up confusion but I like to think we help out a bit on the forum hours side.
Especially considering that the development appears to stretch out further and further over time, I don't think the extra time to train and acclimate to a new hire would necessarily result in an ultimately extended dev-time, though I definitely agree it is a possibility (just like with any game). I feel it is more a matter of comfort versus efficiency though. The question isn't "Would adding another developer ultimately make the project faster/more polished/earn more money/etc etc", but more "How stressful would it be to add a new developer(s), deal with hiring, training, misunderstandings, conflicting design goals, etc etc". So more a matter of mental health and comfort.

Of course, that is just my take on it. Theorizing about whether a new hire would do well for the project in the long-run is completely pointless as the final decision is down to the developer(s) and what reasons they find most important.

Suggestions / Re: Better ways to get strong enemy fleets
« on: August 26, 2023, 03:45:42 PM »
Everything starts to be bad AI in circumstances where it doesn't work.

Yes, which is why Alex codes AI to err on the side of caution. Ships being "too timid" may sometimes be frustrating but it's a lot better than them being overly aggressive and randomly blowing up.
I think the point is that sometimes the AI 'being too timid' is bad AI. Ships randomly blowing up is frustrating, but watching your fleet slowly get picked apart because the AI is too timid is also frustrating. Both are bad AI based on the situation they find themselves in. This isn't to say I think the AI should be changed to be aggressive, but I think more options for fine-tuning AI (beyond personality, or perhaps further part of it) would be welcome. At least options that don't require esoteric knowledge of equipping a Mining Laser and then linking it with certain weapons to modify their firing behaviour. This at least could be an option without the Mining Laser right? Or to change some of the tags on weapons or weapon groups to make them act in different ways, that would be interesting to see implemented.

Suggestions / Re: Better ways to get strong enemy fleets
« on: August 22, 2023, 10:14:50 PM »
Gotta say, thanks for the mod! And I agree, often people talk about AI for individual ships, but there is also commander AI to consider and that could make a big difference (when paired with decent ship builds).

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