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Starsector 0.97a is out! (02/02/24); New blog post: Planet Search Overhaul (07/13/24)

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Messages - Kargul

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Mods / Re: [0.9.1a] Tahlan Shipworks 0.3.16
« on: July 01, 2020, 03:41:57 AM »
Hi, I'm currently on my third playthrough with this mod and I just love everything about it. The ships are beautiful, new weapons are great, and all this new stuff together with it's backstory makes it incredibly satisfying to explore the Sector. That being said, I have a question - is it possible to find all Rosenritten ships on one savefile? After exploring nearly all of the Sector twice, non including high level [REDACTED] systems, I've only been able to restore 2 Regalias, while only having a salvage option on 3 more. Is the way they spawn random with no guarantee to find all of them in one playtrough, or should I just keep looking for them?


Yeah, after thinking about this for awhile I must agree. I've even started a new playthrough just to challenge my own past experiences and assumptions, and I must say that you're completely right that facing potential roadblocks all the time while exploring would probably spoil the experience to some extent. Actually, now that I think about it I feel like what started my initial thoughts about the matter was probably more related to the variety of exploration-related encounters. As stated before, I feel like it all really comes down to adding new and varied choices for the player to make and encounters to experience, not simply making the grind longer/more annoying. That's also why I think making procurement missions harder isn't really necessary in this context. Having a safe but a bit more boring option for progressing isn't really a bad thing. Maybe the rewards should be a bit more balanced to make this way of progressing a bit more streched in time, or as you've mentioned adding some sort of sporadic blockades that the player would need to sneak by/fight trough would also be an interesting idea. Actually, when thinking about it I really feel like most of the currently present activities could potentially benefit by being expanded like that, without necessarilly making current variants more difficult, but by adding new, more complex (and potentially rewarding) ones.

Going back to the topic of exploration, I feel that it's not like all the rewards need to be locked from the player in one specific way. Well, thinking about it I feel like there's really nothing wrong with the player accidentally stumbling upon some amazing treasure troves by pure chance and accident. As you've said before, it's not like the world itself (not talking about [Redacted]) should really feel like it cares whether it is explored by the player or not. I just think that it would be really nice to have some new types of encounters while exploring, both threat/fighting related and not. For example, addition of more "passive" type of gatekeepers, on top of more "active" ones, like some kind of access codes that you would need to found while exploring other systems or by talking to other explorers in bars would make an excelent way of making exploration itself more varied, without making it necesarilly simply more difficult . I think that the example given before by Morrokain sums it up pretty well. There already are informations about locations of caches and ruins that you can stumble upon while scanning probes and derelicts, it would be great to see this system expanded even further. At the end the player is not the only person going on this expeditions, having a possibility to find a bankrupt explorer in a bar, ready to sell some vital information about some of his last interesting finds would be a nice, very natural possibility to have, adding a new layer to exploration gameplay. Of course, I'm saying that as a possibility on top of all the other ideas that we all came up with during this discussion.

The "high danger" sectors are pretty open access. It's impossible for every single jump point to be perfectly guarded. I mean, you'll probably die a few times before you get the hang of it, but after that the system is largely free reign. That entire attitude can change dramatically if the enemy fleet gets bonus speed+sensor range, or even if your own fleet gets a speed penalty inside the system. If you can't out run them and you can't hide from them, you are forced to face them. The only way to really explore such a system is to break through. It's not a hard obstacle, but it's very firm.

A system can also be hard gated just like the tutorial system. No one can enter or leave, and only transverse jump is viable. Maybe there's more than one system like that out there?

Having some systems that would open up for exploration only when player acquires transvere jump ability would be really nice addition I think. Especially when taking into account that something like that is, to some extent already implemented in the game, just in different context. Regarding high danger sector, I don't really feel like there would be a need to actually force player into fighting all the time. What I mean is, of course it makes sense to have systems so heavily guarded that break trough is the only option, but I don't see it in any way excluding an existance of diffrent levels of threats and rewards, with some of them giving the player an actual ability to use his/her sneaking/smuggling skills to evade danger, or maybe acquire some special information/items opening up new options. It all really comes down to creating not only new challenges, but also giving player many different ways of overcoming them. Just like FooF said, it's always good to have many alternatives, becouse having them creates choices, and having more choices is always a good thing in sandbox games like Starsector. In this context it really comes down to balancing challenges and rewards in a way where different playstyles can be incorporated, with some problems having multiple possible solutions to them, and some beeing locked in one, specific way, possibly favouring one specific playstyle over the other. I think that an additional benefit of this approach is that it  creates a new layer of replayability and roleplay, something that works really well in many of the best open world RPGs, because it basically allows to make every playthrough an unique experience.

I understand what you mean now. It is that you want progression to be tied to exploration distance to be tied with difficulty. Kind of similar to what Morrokain wrote.

Well, I don't necessarily mean that exploration should be the only/main way of progressing in the game, I'm simply stating that as it is right now it can be easily exploited to get tons of money and jump right into colony management, mostly forgetting about it from this point on.

Which is fine by me even if it doesn't make too much sense story wise currently.

And here I must say that I very much disagree. Correct me if I'm wrong, but from what I recall the game literally takes place in ruins of a huge, galactic scale civilization, 306 years after it's collapse. Exploration getting more dangerous and rewarding with distance travelled from currently inhabited space makes perfect sense in this setting. I'm not saying there are no alternatives to this approach, just that in the context of current lore it seems logical to be that way.

Want to explore? You will have to fight for it!
I don't like the idea of gatekeepers. It sounds really artificial to me and less like living, uncaring universe.
Well, I don't see any reasons for the mentioned gatekeepers to not be literally just that - an entities, or some sort of other challenges that make it necessary for the player to actually fight, in one way or another, to access some very valuable salvage locations, or maybe even some special spaceships. Imagine someting like a legendary spaceship of long forgotten class that can be found drifting in some desolate system that was used by the Domain as a weapon testing playground. Or, for example a uniqe ship like that being in a possesion of another explorer/legendary pirate that you need to fight in order to capture it. I think that that's exactly what FooF had in mind when first talking about this concept, and that's very much what I was thinking about. Especially in the context of challenge progression, addition of some very high reward locations, like some sort of quarantine or weapon testing zones, together with some sort of defences blocking access to them would make a great expansion of current exploration system. What's also so great about all of this is the fact of how easy it would be to actually incorporate it all in game lore/narrative. We already have the setting being remnants of a derelict galactic civilization, so why not expand on this concept?

Regarding the procurement missions, I don't really think that they generate as much money as looting reaserch stations or planetary ruins and selling AI cores directly to factions (Tri-Tachyon specifically). You really can get literally millions of credits very fast just by hopping around black holes and neutron stars when going for a simple scanning of a planet/derelict ship/probe contract.

There's very little point in doing short range scanning intel missions when just having a few tankers is enough to go basically everywhere and do much more lucreative contracts.
What more lucrative contracts? Short range scanning missions, special story mission excepted are practically identical to longer ranged scnaning missions. What is the end game?
Yes, that's true that the intel missions/cotracts of given type are, in their structure, identical to each other, with only difference being pay. I've used this example to point out, that in current context, when the player assembles his/her first exploration-capable fleet there's not really much of a challenge progression going on until the point of creating first colonies. There's simply not much incentives and roadblocks for the player to not go straight for the best exploration-related rewards and jump right into colony managment part of the game. Basically, presently in the game, from the moment you can go anywhere in the Sector you very quickly get to the point when you actually don't really need to explore anymore, because there's not really anything making it worthwhile. Of course, as I already stated, I was writing all of this in the context of the current state of the game, with static Sector and no further gameplay changes in mind. When you take  what Alex and FooF said, about possible implementation of some sort of "gatekeepers" and Sector's evolution into account my initial sugestions become in part redundant, because the problem I pointed out gets already solved, just in diffrent, probably much more interesting way.

Regarding the morale system, well, I don't really agree that all kinds of internal challenges are uninteresting by default, but I guess it really comes down to taste. And again, I 100% agree about Mount&Blade morale system itself not being interesting (it actually always annoyed the hell out of me). What I've meant was that adding some sort of morale system for crews of the ships to Starsector could, in the context of already existing mechanics, possibly create new interesting challenges and rewards, and with them new choices for the player to make. But again, seeing that it doesn't seem possible to integrate such system at this point in the development I don't really see a point in discussing it further.

Ultimately all I wanted to achieve with my initial post was pointing out to a problem of basically a big hole in current in-game progression, mainly because I love the exploration part of the game and I think there is still a great unused potential in it.

If I could expand on the OP's idea a little:

I think what he/she is getting at is the idea of "Gatekeepers" that are like the gear-checks of other games, whereby if you don't have a certain tier of character, (in this case, fleet size/composition) the game is prohibitively hard. For a sandbox game, being able to explore is a boon but I kind of see what the OP is getting at: we have warning beacons for [Redacted] systems but nothing is compelling me to enter outside of my own curiosity.

That's pretty much exactly what I've meant. I think that some sort of "Gatekeepers" system combined with Sector evolution mentioned by Alex would create an amazing milestone-style progression during the middle parts of the game. Actually, Starsector already has things like that, with examples being the mentioned Red Planet, Cryosleepers and even the early resource gathering phase before the player is able to do any substantial exploration. I simply think that the challenge behind all this things makes the rewards feel much more valuable.

I think that a good example of this milestone progression is Terraria, where the gameplay loop itself is pretty simple and consists entierly of resource gathering, exploration and boss fights. Terraria's progression structure is very much based on the concept of gatekeepers. Each time when you progress you are faced with a challenge that you need to overcome, and with each challenge come both vertical (opening up of new potential challenges) and horizontal (new tools and resources, new ways of solving problems) progression.
I think what makes Starsector a very unique game is the potential of integrating some system like this, maybe in less limitng fashion, and consistently integrating it in both game lore and narrative. The game taking place in basically what is a part of ruined, decaying super-civilization opens up amazing possibilities for different small stories about legendary spaceships, planets, both planetary and orbital facilities,quarantine zones, space monsters etc. Having all of this combined with the Sector evolving as the player progresses through the game would create absolutely exceptional exerience, something that hardly exists in any currently available videogame. 

Thanks for relpying so fast! I 100% agree that the distance itself doesn't really need to be the metric for progression. I've only used it because I was thinking about the game world in the current, static, non evolving way. Player-driven changes and evolution of the Sector is something I didn't consider, and to be honest it's absolutely brilliant concept that I don't think I've ever seen realised in any substantial way in other games. Actually, the only thing that this reminds me of is how in Star Control 2 the galaxy was dynamically changing with time and depending on the actions taken by the player. It would be amazing to see something like that in Starsector. I'm happy that what I've written turned out to be helpful and can't wait to see the game evolving in the future.

After falling in love with this game and playing it for more than 60 hours I 've got some thoughts about it's challenge progression, specifically related to the middle part of my playthroughs.
First, let me explain what I mean by challenge progression. At this moment Starsector offers two kinds of challenges to overcome for the player and diffrent tools to do so. The first kind is internal problems that the player needs to face, and the second are all the different external threats, both in star systems and in hyperspace. Internal problems are mostly related to logistics - fuel, supplies, crew and money management, and external are all your enemies and enviromental dangers like hyperstorms, dangerous stars etc.

At the beggining of the game the most important challenge is getting some initial funds to buy new ships and equipment. It takes some time and the player has many diffrent tools that can be used to achieve this, like early delivery contracts, some small scale trading, smuggling and early salvage. Most external threats need to be solved mostly by running away. It works pretty well and the moment when you finally can buy some new ships and fully equip them is very satisfying.

The problems arise when suddenly you realize that with very few initial investments you are able to basically travel to any system in the Sector, making any kind of gradual progression from the core worlds to the further reaches literally non existent. There's very little point in doing short range scanning intel missions when just having a few tankers is enough to go basically everywhere and do much more lucreative contracts. I've seen some people suggesting that the problem lies in the rewards related to exploration being too big. Personally I think that's the other way around - it's not that the rewards are too good, it's the challenges related to exploration being too easy to overcome.

And that's where we go back to the diffrent kinds of challenges that I mentioned at the beggining. Middle parts of the game simply lack both substantial internal and external challenges that the player needs to overome, making the time needed to reach current endgame simply too short.  I was thinking about this problem for some time and I think that I've got some ideas that can potentially make midgame more satisfying.

First of all I think that existing externall challenges should be made more serious, especially the ones related to exploration. Hyperstorms and in-system enviromental threats like black holes or pulsar beams are, at the moment, mostly an annoyence. They don't really pose any serious threat as long as you've packed enough supplies and fuel. For all the hours I've spent playing the game there was only one situation when I've actually run out of supplies, and it was mostly related to my own stupidity and not any external factors. I think that it would be great to see some more serious effects of all this diffrent threats, especially in the earlier stages of the game. Things like some of the crewman dying because of them, ships without solar shilding getting more seriously damaged when in hyperstorm or under in-system enviromental conditions, addition of some automated defences killing some of your crew when salvaging planetary ruins and orbital habitats/stations if you don't have enough marines (if there are already derelict defense drones in space, I think it would make sense for some kind of automated defences existing directly in ruins and on stations), addition of [REDACTED] fleets scouting the hyperspace around the most dangerous systems.  Also, regarding the most valuable finds like research stations or extensive ruins, it would be nice to have something not allowing to actually get to their riches right away, like hidden access codes that need to be discovered during exploration or bought in bars from scientists or other explorers.

For internal problems, I think that the most important and potentially interesting addition would be some kind of crew morale system, in some ways similar to this form Mount&Blade. What I'm thinking about is a system consisting of a fleetwide and ship specific morale, both related to each other and affecting other parts of the game. The base fleetwide morale could be affected by the total number of crews (so, basically number of ships) or total number of crewmen, or maybe both. Basically, at the beggining of the game the morale system would play very little initial role, because of small size of player's fleet. With the fleet growing it would make morale management more and more important, adding a completely new challenge to the midgame. The morale could be affected by, again, diffrent internal (skills and perks, whether or not the crew is getting payed enough) and external (winning//losing battles and ships, accidents during salvage, crew losses related to enviromental dangers) factors. With the morale falling too low it would be great to see situations like crews panicking during battles, or maybe even defecting to enemies.  It would also make a great way (in addition to supply management) of creating a soft cap for fleet size limit, making it possible to, for a moment, having more ships then currently possible, but adding a risk of actually losing some of them because of mentioned problems.

Of course, all of the mentioned challenges would need a new ways of dealing with them, so for example, making hyperstorms and enviroment more dangerous would make it impossible during early midgame to explore distant/more dangerous systems, forcing players to gradually progress by first doing less dangerous contracts. It would also create a great opportunity for incorporating a system of a player-created stashes, used during far-reaching escapades for refueling and resupplying on the way back, and it would additionally make all the enviromental safety skills/ship mods muuch more important and valuable. The same goes for the crew management, adding a new opportunity for player choices to incorporate new kinds of skills, both for player character and for officers. It would also create a new interesting conflict between creating potentially bigger or more flexible fleets.

TL;DR There's not enough new challenges introduced when player progresses from early to middle parts of the game, limiting the array of new choices the player has and in the effect wasting a great potential for extended gameplay options.

There's a multitude of ways the midgame can be expanded and I can't wait to see what you think about my ideas and what diffrent thoughts you have on the matter.
(Also, I'm sorry for potential spelling/grammar erros, English is not my native language and I'm also ill at the moment :| )

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