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Starsector 0.96a is out! (05/05/23)

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Messages - JT

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1
Mods / Re: [0.8.1a] Interstellar Imperium 1.19.0
« on: May 31, 2019, 08:15:59 AM »
I think what Mr. Nobody is trying to say is that we should make 10 a little louder and use that, rather than making the dial go all the way to 11.

2
1.  Is it possible to choose WHICH vanilla factions are available at game start?  Or are vanilla factions hard coded?  Or even remove all vanilla factions?

I think the game's core scripts expect at the very least for the Pirates and Independents to be mandatory, but I'm not sure about the rest.  For instance, the Distress Call ability has a dependency on the pirate faction.  I'm not positive if that means that the faction actually has to have bases somewhere to work -- what little digging I've done in the API suggests that if it can't find a market for the faction, [edit]the fleet[/edit] won't appear.  However, I could be wrong and it might work even if the faction doesn't "exist" in the Nexerelin sense.

Yes, realized I had RC7. Will see if things work out now. THX! And congrats on the great mod work!

Histidine is the fellow to thank for Nexerelin, and Zaphide for the original Exerelin. ;-)  I haven't done a single bit of publicly released mod work for SS, actually.  (Privately I've been planning on re-introducing boarding mechanics and adding more roleplay features, but I've got the Java skills of a garden variety sponge and my heart hasn't really been in it. ;-))

3
Loving the new "livelier" factions with rebellions and whatnot since my last playthrough in early 2017.

I did find one minor annoyance over the last couple days of play.  When playing as something other than "Your" faction, in factions where 1) selling weapons is illegal, 2) there is no military market, and 3) we are commissioned members... it's impossible to contribute to preventing a rebellion.  Even if you have over five hundred crates of weapons for the government, they won't accept them on the open market... and selling them on the black market will help the rebels instead.

Thus, I think we need dialogue with the station/planet administrator that permits donating arms or even ships to the local defence force or counter-insurgency.  Because trading in arms is illegal, they could offer a fee relative to your faction relationship, down to negligible at 50 relationship (e.g., at 100 relationship, they'd give 100% of the market value of your weapons, at 60 relationship, they'd give 20% of the value of your weapons, and at 50 or lower they'd give nothing).

Without that option, the only way to intervene and suppress rebellions in your own faction where arms trading is illegal is to buy out every weapon and marine on the black market, which is a bit gamey for my tastes, especially as it will have the faction breathing down your neck for smuggling rather than praising you for enforcing their legitimacy as a state.  (It'd be nice if there were a way of enforcing rebellion status by removing weapons and marines from all the markets in active rebellion areas, but that might be difficult to track.)


Hi, trying to get back to Starsector for a game or two, but have some weird Access error crash on fleet dialog:
...
Could it be an outdated LazyLib or something?

Are you running 0.8.1a release candidate 8?  I had accidentally been running 0.8.1a RC7 and had similar crashes.

4
Mods / Re: [0.8.1a] Buffalo MkIIs v0.0.4(WIP)
« on: July 21, 2018, 12:39:04 PM »
Hi Regoso!  I found a bug which manifests itself in a very unusual way.  The bug itself is simple, but the consequences are corrupt save games. =)

1) When using this mod alongside Combat Analytics, that other mod stores data in the saved game that includes the names of the ships and the names of the ship classes.
2) This mod contains invalid Unicode characters in three of its variant designs: the Furious Love, Salvager, and Miner.  Each has an invalid "0x16" hexadecimal character in front of the name.
3) When Combat Analytics writes this invalid character to the saved game, the save file becomes corrupt (the game's XML parser cannot read a 0x16 hexadecimal character).

The error might not be obvious if you're using a basic text editor, but essentially, here's how it looks:

"Salvager"
"Miner"
"Furious Love"

e.g., the Furious Love, in hexadecimal, is:

16 46 75 72 69 6F 75 73 20 4C 6F 76 65

If you're using a good text editor it should be possible to see those invalid characters and delete them directly, but if using Notepad or something else, it should still be possible just to copy and paste the following valid strings over top of the displaynames in the three affected files: buffalo2_42_FL.variant, buffalo2_42_M.variant, and buffalo2_42_S.variant:

"Furious Love"
"Miner"
"Salvager"

The good news: If your savefile has been corrupted, it should be possible to locate any of these strings using an advanced text editor by editing your saved game's campaign.xml, and then to delete the "space" between "class" and the given variant name.  For instance, you might see a "Buffalo II/Hairyback class Furious Love Destroyer" -- but in fact between "class" and "Furious Love" is a space and an invalid unprintable character.  Put your cursor in front of the F and hit backspace twice, and then hit spacebar once, and it should be fine.  Likewise for the Miner or Salvager.

5
Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.8a (Released) Patch Notes
« on: May 03, 2017, 07:59:23 PM »
-The number one problem is still missing the "quicksave" promt. For new players who have nor parsed the UI yet the promt is just not visible enough. I'd say go ugly big on this one. Maybe progressively growing font?

We can take a page from Ludeon and Rimworld on this one, since in spite of a few minor hangups here or there, RimWorld's UI is almost always top notch:

1) "Marquee entry"; along with an audio cue, any new alert will actually appear a few pixels away from its original location and then drop into position.  This movement exploits the eye's natural tendency to track moving objects and is an excellent attention getter.

2) "Bouncing"; every so often, an important alert will "bounce" on the screen; it will travel in one direction a few dozen pixels to the same distance it would have when it appeared, all the while decelerating as if affected by gravity, until it accelerates into the opposite direction and falls back into its original position.  (In RimWorld's case, all of these alerts are aligned on the right-hand side of the screen, so they bounce to the left.)

3) "Pulsing"; if an alert letter hasn't been acknowledged for a while, it will glow with a halo according to its standard colour, enough to shade a small proportion of the peripheral vision in that colour, which then recedes back into the icon.

Any/all of those cognitive psychology tricks would work to draw attention to the prompt.

All that said, I think the best option would just be to get rid of the mandatory quicksaves and just suggest the player do so.  It's sort of silly to be forced to save the game to progress, since we've been trained over the past ten years or so to expect games to autosave on their own; especially in a single-savefile system like Starbleeper has, it's almost to the point of being contrary to our wishes to save except when we want to as well.  In ironman mode it'd be fine to include a guaranteed autosave, and in non-ironman the player should have the option of saving or not saving as part of that play mode is to choose when/if one wants to lose progress deliberately by saving before a particularly risky endeavour -- not quite scumming, but close.

6
Maybe add an ASP 'AAA' service? if the player pays ASP: change the distress call icon and dispatch an ASP tanker when the distress call is clicked?

That's a kinda cool idea.

I'd suggest a new ability rather than disabling the existing one, though, since making distress calls sometimes has nothing to do with calling someone for assistance.  Making distress calls can also be used to lure pirates and/or to lure prey, after all.  Calling A.S.P. Autofactory Association is less likely to be used for other than its intended purpose.

7
Blog Posts / Re: Economy Revamp
« on: May 04, 2016, 12:55:41 AM »
Since "bigger icons" is out and "numeric overlays" is out, how about a special icon meant to represent "caselots" for a given commodity (like the board game Risk)?  It might not solve the problem entirely, but if there was a special "crate" or "barrel" icon that was readily distinguishable as being a multiple rather than another unit of the commodity (sounds like a challenge for David to distinguish supplies against ;-)), then you could replace the first few icons at the bottom (front) of the icon stack and it would help indicate very large quantities.  Say if the commodity load is greater than 50, then caselot icons would begin to appear, each representing 5 units, with 25 actual icons or some such always included in order to give a sense of scale.

This would create a disparity where ~49 commodities would appear bigger (49 icons) than 50 commodities (5 caselots + 25 icons), but that could be tuned to taste -- lowering the allowed number of "actual" icons, setting the required number of "actual" icons to equal the same threshold where caselots appear, etc.

We actually tried that, using MoO2 as inspiration - remember how science/food/production/pollution stacked and had 10x icons? Didn't work very well in Starsector due to the sheer number of different icons and their more representational nature. MoO2's icons were very abstract and there were only 4 categories, for 8 total icons, contained in three very clearly designated rows on the screen. Meanwhile Starsector has .. uh, what, 16 or something base for 32 total? (somewhat) arbitrarily placed on the screen. The market screen is already visually noisy and this just made it worse because suddenly the number of different icons doubled.

Were there unique "caselot" and "individual" icons for each commodity, or a re-used "caselot" graphic for every commodity?  I was actually suggesting the latter -- the same "caselot" graphic would be used for every commodity, and then the individual units of commodities themselves would distinguish that stack from the others.  Envisioning it in my brain, the only problem would be that it would start to "same-ify" the commodities rather than make it busier, since very large markets would just show a crapton of crates.  If the crates were hue-shifted to be similar to the commodities they represent, it might even accomplish the effect of "square" shapes representing lots and "dynamic" shapes representing individual loads, which might also work for better cognitive flow.

I'm probably just laying down track on a spur that's already miles behind your thought trains, though. ;-)

8
Blog Posts / Re: Economy Revamp
« on: April 29, 2016, 10:57:08 AM »
Since "bigger icons" is out and "numeric overlays" is out, how about a special icon meant to represent "caselots" for a given commodity (like the board game Risk)?  It might not solve the problem entirely, but if there was a special "crate" or "barrel" icon that was readily distinguishable as being a multiple rather than another unit of the commodity (sounds like a challenge for David to distinguish supplies against ;-)), then you could replace the first few icons at the bottom (front) of the icon stack and it would help indicate very large quantities.  Say if the commodity load is greater than 50, then caselot icons would begin to appear, each representing 5 units, with 25 actual icons or some such always included in order to give a sense of scale.

This would create a disparity where ~49 commodities would appear bigger (49 icons) than 50 commodities (5 caselots + 25 icons), but that could be tuned to taste -- lowering the allowed number of "actual" icons, setting the required number of "actual" icons to equal the same threshold where caselots appear, etc.

9
Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.7.1a (Released) Patch Notes
« on: December 06, 2015, 03:45:06 PM »
Hey that's not fair! It makes it even harder to be a pirate or smuggler :) We accept, nay approve, of our own faction trying to abort us as soon as we start the game because only the strong deserve to survive, but enough is enough:

As a pirate or smuggler you rely more than other factions on stealth, yet all our ships are now the least stealthy. Our shielded cargo holds are now canceled out by the D sensor profile. You need that for going dark when you bring contraband into a market for pirate missions. Lorewise it's also hard to imagine why pirates wouldn't put all their resources into stealth since their prosperity and indeed survival depends on it with the whole sector arrayed against them.

Perhaps* people who have problems either getting jumped by pirates or not being able to catch any just aren't good enough at SS yet. There is stealth, there are terrain effects, there are ally battles. When you're weak, it isn't hard to join chases with police fleets if you want to fight pirates to get XP, or stick close to safe areas and patrols if you want to avoid them. SS has a real, lovely challenge at the beginning with delicious complexity and reverses. Why can't people just think critically, scheme, and machinate better instead of whinging for easier fodder? I know a lot of people complain about difficulty, but at least one person really, really likes that difficulty and nigh perverse challenge.

(I've been play testing as a smuggler/pirate for ideological reasons since the game falsely portrays them as bloodthirsty raiders when in fact they're just a separate polity whose  pluralistic philosophy threatens regimes like the loathed authoritarian diktat or the totalitarian church)

But yea re: fleeing pirates, no faction should give you a rep hit for fleeing battle. I can't explain why; just that it's like fried eggs with the flavour of strawberries. Seems out of kilter.

*definitely

I'll note that playing as a pirate isn't currently part of the vanilla content -- it requires a mod to realise as a starting scenario.  That said, you shouldn't simultaneously complain about difficulty and ad hominem on others for not being good enough. A logician would pounce on that one with tooth and flame. ;-)

The vast majority of pirates are sloppy, unregulated, and inexperienced people who resorted to piracy out of either desperation -- too poor to afford good stuff -- or a simple lack of basic decency -- so they're lacking in the sort of rigid discipline and structure that would promote proper maintenance.  The D-hulls also suit a very plausible in-lore explanation: these are ships that would have been brought to the breakers but have instead, through creative bookkeeping, been "disposed of".

Really, the only thing I see that needs to be fixed here is to make regular non-degraded hulls available for purchase in pirate ports on (more frequent) occasion -- so a player pirate can pick those up as he goes, and perhaps even start out with one (rather than a D-hull) on the basis of being a cut above the rest.  The "elite" pirates are noble browncoats who care more about personal freedoms and independence against increasingly totalitarian regimes, and are both cunning and intelligent enough to maintain consensual chains of command and discipline... translating to properly refitted hulls, repaired through old-fashioned sweat and blood, that are the rival of mainline autofactories.

10
Mods / Re: [0.65.2a] Starsector+ Vanilla Enhancement Mod 2.10.0
« on: December 05, 2015, 04:00:10 PM »
Heh, I was actually about to jump on here to say I had just found the loader in the campaign plugin, but I guess that's too late now. =)

Fighting Eclipse's formatting was like herding cats. Netbeans is a little more forgiving on the formatting, at least, and I can disable most of the annoying adjustments. But I do seem to recall that there is an official language specification for formatting when I was reading up on it, although I'm no longer confident I'll be able to find it and it could have been someone's tutorial now that I thnk about it.  Mainly, I use a non-standard indentation style (opening braces on the same line, closing braces are indented) because I grew up originally on indentation-as-syntax languages -- BYOND/DM, technically, but Python also, yep.  Having the braces interrupt the flow of indentation by ensuring they are at the same level of indentation does a world of harm to my comprehension, even given the (mere) year of formal C++.

[edit] And done! Priority MOD_SET per Alex's recommendations in the enumeration's Javadoc, and all is well. Thanks mate!

11
Mods / Re: [0.65.2a] Starsector+ Vanilla Enhancement Mod 2.10.0
« on: December 05, 2015, 02:52:15 PM »
Anyway, I figured I'd simultaneously put up and shut up and just go ahead and re-introduce the old style boarding mechanics in the mod I've been quietly working on, but I have a question:

How do SSP_FleetEncounterContext and SSP_FleetInteractionDialogPluginImpl override the vanilla classes?  Does the mere act of extending vanilla classes and overriding their functions automatically apply those changes to the vanilla functions? Or am I not noticing a classloader somewhere?  (I guess if we're counting that's two questions, but both are co-dependent.)

I obviously want to include SS+ compatibility -- thankfully that part is easy to build into my own overrides -- but I'm worried about the clashing of the overrides (load order precedence). I have some C++ programming skill, but Java's a new animal to me (especially with IDEs that insist on overriding my formatting because they actually defined formatting as part of the bloody language specification =P).

12
Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.7.1a (In Development) Patch Notes
« on: December 04, 2015, 05:06:08 PM »
Is this how people normally tell Alex on how to make changes to the game? Maybe I'm just new here but it seems to set the tone of saying the developer doesn't know what he's doing. Though I believe otherwise.

I've been known to be pretty bad for this too. I chalk it up to momentary indignance and forgetting to wait a bit before posting angrily. Well, that and I'm a frothing loon half the time. ;-P

But yeah, I think the explosions are one of the selling points of the game, actually. They're extremely satisfying.

13
Mods / Re: [0.65.2a] Starsector+ Vanilla Enhancement Mod 2.10.0
« on: December 03, 2015, 05:54:33 PM »
As someone who was a fan of the boarding mechanics in the Starblargher versions prior to this one (I always pull my hair out when Alex simplifies a gameplay system that didn't need simplifying), will we still have the option of boarding with crew and marines, or will the new vanilla style take over (I notice "boarding changes" in the changelog as something removed)?  SS+ had an option for easier boarding and boarding of multiple ships, so it'd be gravy if we could have old-style boarding too unless the change was in hard code.

[edit] Wow, going over the FleetInteractionDialogPluginImpl, I can see why you trimmed this out. I wonder why Alex made those variables private rather than protected?  Looks like a hard override of init() too... blech. =)

14
Mods / Re: [0.7a] Nexerelin v0.6.9 beta (test release 2015-11-29)
« on: December 01, 2015, 08:52:13 PM »
Don't recall what the last number is; probably transparency (or lack thereof). [255,0,0,255] should be "pure" solid red and is the default vanilla Pirates color. Increase the zeroes to add blue and green to darken it.

It's an RGBA colourspace -- the last number is "alpha", which is opacity, yep.  To darken you actually have to decrease the red -- e.g., 204,0,0 is 80% as bright as 255,0,0.  Any time a number increases, it adds more light in a given wavelength, which mixed together approaches white light.  Everyone always tried to explain everything in the primary paint colours and it just confused me until I thought of it as light adding up, which makes far more sense (although my brain still has trouble figuring out how red and green make yellow).

15
Announcements / Re: Starsector 0.7a (Released) Patch Notes
« on: November 23, 2015, 09:00:34 AM »
A couple days later after having played this build some more, I realised how much I wanted to mention: Stian really outdid himself in this update, and since his "self" was pretty freaking awesome to begin with, that's scraping the ceiling of transcendence.  The sheer mass of sound effects and Alex's touches with the murkiness added to the soundscape just pull this update together as having some of the best sounds out of any modern sci-fi space game.  Almost makes me want to retract that age-old suggestion post about having a game option for no non-local sounds in space, because the sound effects really are just that good (but I still really do like that suggestion...).


Personally, I find that mandatory start of game tutorial sequences get old rather quickly. It's all well and good to have a tutorial available, but if the game's enjoyable enough for me to want to replay it several times, I really do not want to have to run through the tutorial every time I start a new character (and certainly not the same tutorial), and I'd really prefer not to have to keep around an old save file from the end of the tutorial sequence in order to skip it. The 'sink or swim' approach may not be all that friendly to new players, but if the starting conditions are reasonably fair, it's a lot more enjoyable, at least to me, when starting a new character after having already played at least one character a reasonable amount of time than having to go through the same old tutorial sequence yet again.

Mandatory tutorials tend to be awful -- 100% agreed.  We can take a page from a genre buddy here, though, and do it like Escape Velocity: Nova.  The old salt offers to teach you everything he knows about starships, and all you have to do is click Yes to have a decent tutorial.  Click No, and he bids you adieu and leaves you the hell alone.

Hmm, now I want to play EV Nova again...

Anyway, the problem with the current setup in Starfarctor is that you have a dialog-based system which specifies your starting scenarios, so it's difficult to shoehorn the player in as an amateur when the scenarios already imply a fair bit of experience.  But if there were an option that let you strike it off as, say, the son or daughter of an experienced captain who tries to teach you the trade, then Bad Things Happen(TM) and you take over the family business (piracy, military, trading, smuggling, whatever), followed by choosing how you end up by following the remaining starting scenario options.  Seems like it could work!

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