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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: Hyperspace Topography (10/12/22)

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Messages - TJJ

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The Cohh stream is a gold mine to find UI quirks.

... and then consider his PoV is of someone who plays games for a living, and (something I didn't know) studied game design at university!

Discussions / Re: More "Sim" like Sci Fi space fleet games?
« on: November 10, 2022, 12:34:13 PM »
Not sure if it's the kind of 'sim' aspect that you're looking for, but I've been having fun with Cosmoteer.

Designing ships is interesting enough, though there isn't yet a great deal of strategy to the combat, and the campaign layer is about where Starsector was ~10 years ago.

There's a (feature limited) demo on Steam, and a much older feature complete 'classic' version that can be downloaded from the website.

General Discussion / Re: No autosave? Seriously?
« on: October 09, 2022, 01:49:21 AM »
This has been gone over before many times, and I still don't think there's a magic bullet that gets you performant autosaves.

The best I can think of that'd be practicable, would be for every large but seldomly touched mutable object containing persistent state, to record the frame time at which it was last updated.
When auto-saving you record the frame time, then serialize these large objects in the state graph *live* while the game is running. Once this is complete, you'd check the current frame time to see if any of these objects changed since the auto-save began, and if so, repeat until they didn't.
Only now do you do the 'stop the world' portion of the save, and serialize the small, frequently touched portions of the state graph.

Anyone familiar with Java's Garbage Collector will recognize this solution, as it's kinda how the GC's generational memory compaction model works.

It would be a significant amount of work to retrofit to the game's existing state graph & save process, but not impossibly so.

Beyond that, optimization of the serialization process in general (i.e. not using an xml serializer) could improve saving performance across the board.

Honestly though, I'd rather see the effort spent on developing the game, not addressing a relatively minor QoL feature.

General Discussion / Re: anyone else despise the buoy mechanics?
« on: October 02, 2022, 02:42:28 PM »
Perhaps the buoys need to offer something more than just DP.
Mini-stations might be interesting; arm them with LRM batteries, fighters etc, so they can project combat power a reasonable distance from their location.

More generally though, corner camping has plagued the game from almost the beginning; it needs to be addressed as it leads to combat becoming stale & repetitive.
Perhaps reshaping the combat zone into a circle would be enough; no corners, no corner camping!

Discussions / Re: Games for bookworms?
« on: September 23, 2022, 11:31:03 AM »
So do you want a game that's an excellent adaptation of a book (series) ?
Witcher 1/2/3.
Or an RPG with tonnes of unvoiced dialogue you have to read?
Tyranny/Pillars of Eternity/Pathfinder:Kingmaker
Or perhaps an RPG franchise with tonnes of actual books in it for you to find & read?
Elder Scrolls.

Or maybe you don't want an RPG at all?
I honestly don't know how the Venn diagram of bookworm + computer game genres intersects.

Discussions / The Captain; free on Epic Game Store atm
« on: September 15, 2022, 03:12:41 PM »
I've only played for 30 minutes or so, but it seems to be an interesting blend of narratively driven point & click, with branching decisions & multiple endings, interesting moral dilemmas, a generous helping of humour, and what I think is rogue-lite exploration/combat.

Anyhow it's free atm, and IMO worth a play.

General Discussion / Re: realism
« on: September 12, 2022, 01:31:23 AM »
This topic has me thinking of an idea for a fun little mod; track the life of each crew member on each ship in your fleet individually.
Whenever someone dies, randomly pick a crew member from the ship.

See how long you can maintain some element of the original crew, and generate stats such as mean life expectancy aboard each ship in your fleet.
that would be interesting, but it probably would make the game be a bit laggy having to calculate all the crew, imagine having 10k crew


The real-time aspect of the problem is O(1), and the intermittent components are O(n).
It'd be a trivial mod to both implement & compute.

General Discussion / Re: realism
« on: September 12, 2022, 01:04:51 AM »
This topic has me thinking of an idea for a fun little mod; track the life of each crew member on each ship in your fleet individually.
Whenever someone dies, randomly pick a crew member from the ship.

See how long you can maintain some element of the original crew, and generate stats such as mean life expectancy aboard each ship in your fleet.

Discussions / Galaxy Genome; 2D Elite Dangerous for Android
« on: August 30, 2022, 01:22:17 AM »
Title says it all really; its the same 'huge, but shallow' sandbox concept that E:D gives you, but in 2D & for mobile.
Many of the game's systems unapologetically steal straight from E:D, at times to the point of plagiarism.
Though it's hard to criticise when this familiarity helps with learning the game.

Mechanics-wise it has everything you'd expect; exploration, bounty hunting, piracy, couriering, trading, planetary landings, mining, some form of a narrative, achievements.

It makes heavy use of autopilot, which is a good fit for the constrained controls of mobile gaming, and allows it to be played without absolute concentration.

Not a bad little time sink for when you're traveling; I hope the dev continues to add to it.

Discussions / Re: Which game is suitable for vacation?
« on: July 13, 2022, 03:55:00 PM »
Crusader Kings 2.
You'll start playing on the flight there, and will still be playing on the flight back. Your holiday destination will be a mere distraction!
Then, after playing for several thousand more hours at home you'll boast to your friends that you've mastered the game. (but you'll be lying)

Life absorbing.

CK3 is nice too... but it's yet to receive the decade of DLC to really flesh it out

Discussions / The Last Starship; sign up for the Playtest!
« on: July 10, 2022, 03:18:23 AM »

I'm a bit late to the party on this one, but the folks at Introversion (of Prison Architect fame) are showing off their latest project.

There's a couple of dev progress vlogs on their Youtube channel, a playtest you can volunteer for & various feedback channels.

Looks like a fun concept to me.

General Discussion / Re: One mining can supply 20 colonies?
« on: July 07, 2022, 03:20:51 PM »
One thing is clear; the in-game explanation of this stuff needs dramatic improvement.

Discussions / Re: Final Theory (tactical 4x-lite)
« on: June 24, 2022, 04:16:57 AM »
Base game is 80% off on Steam atm; £1.85 for me.
Though DLCs are only discounted if you buy them bundled; -10% for Deluxe(2xDLC), or -15% for Legendary(all 4 DLC).

If you already own the base game then you aren't charged for it again when buying the bundles, so you're only out of pocket a few pennies if you opt to give the base game a try before investing in the DLC.


Gotta be honest, 2 hours in and I'm bored.
For what is touted to be lightweight, both the strategic layer & tactical layer seem unnecessarily slow & drawn-out.

Why is the galaxy map so big?
Why do the factions start so far from one-another?
Why are players limited to a single action per turn?
Why is there no drag&drop for giving orders?
Why aren't there any keyboard shortcuts?
Why are all the star systems so miniscule & generic looking?

Specific to the tactical combat:
Many actions are blocked by unskippable animations.
The tactical decision making process seems very rote; order your actions so you don't block your ships, focus fire, choose appropriate anti-shield/armour weapons, position your support ability ships correctly.
Planning your manoeuvres so you can utilize your fixed-forward weapons efficiently seems to be the most complex decision, but it's still rather simplistic.
This simplicity leads to every battle playing out the same; it gets very stale very quickly.
It's typically bad decisions by the AI, not finessing your own play, that delivers most victories.

Also, turn-based, largely deterministic, yet there's no undo to reverse mis-clicks? not a fan.

The vast majority of battles seem to be landslides, yet the way they've made the auto-resolve woolly and unpredictable, and the finite nature of galactic resources, encourages the player to play out every battle to ensure optimal outcomes.
The evolution of the Total War franchise over the past 20+ years has demonstrated how to do auto-resolve well; this isn't it.

If they wanted to deliver engaging turn-based tactical combat I think they should've gone for something more akin to Table Top X-Wing, or Battlefleet Gothic, (or the ancient PC game Critical Mass; look it up!),

- Lose the grid
- make manoeuvring a key consideration
- introduce battle damage mechanics so ships can lose capabilities in combat forcing the player to adapt their strategy on-the-fly (could even persist between engagements)
- give us some space terrain
- Admirals & captains would've brought some much needed character to 'battlecruiser #20', and seems like a natural fit given the strict fleet size/number limits.

It's a swing & a miss for me I'm afraid.
Not engaging enough, and too repetitive.

Discussions / Re: Which game is suitable for vacation?
« on: June 22, 2022, 07:27:04 AM »
I find "Outer Wilds" to be a pretty relaxing and enjoyable game.

Yup, loved Outer Wilds.
I would similarly recommend The Witness.

Discussions / Re: Final Theory (tactical 4x-lite)
« on: January 11, 2022, 05:05:04 AM »
thanks, will give it a look.

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