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Topics - Gothars

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Suggestions / Make boarding a real choice
« on: October 11, 2012, 12:29:19 PM »
EDIT 2: New Interface Screenshots on Page 4!

EDIT: Further details and clarifications on Page 2!

I think the current boarding system suffers from a major problem: it offers no relevant choice. When it was new, Alex wrote:
The “board or scrap” choice doesn’t come up all the time, but it does have a cost – the player is likely to lose marines every time they do it, so it has to be an explicit call on their part.

But this choice is not real, because the possible costs involved are negligible. You get 100 marines for 3600 credits. If you capture for example a Medusa class destroyer you are likely to lose about 10 of those marines, or 360 credits. The Medusa sells for 12000 credits! So to not attempt a boarding would almost always be the wrong choice, even if you have so few marines that they are not likely to succeed. And to have few marines is another non-choice because of the huge gap between investment and possible benefit and because many marines guarantee a 100% success rate.

So here’s my suggestion to make boarding a real choice: Presume boarding in Starfarer was executed via ship-to-ship docking, the old fashioned way. The player chooses one of his ships to perform a docking  maneuver on the target ship. The ship will then only be manned by a skeleton crew, all other space is taken by marines (provided enough are available). E.g. a Hammerhead destroyer could carry 50 marines. After docking those marines commence boarding and try to capture the target.
Your causalities and the likeliness of a positive outcome depend on the ratio of marines on the docking ship vs. remaining crew and possible modifiers like character skills, officers, marine experience or even docking ship special properties (think Valkyrie-class Troop Transport).

Possible outcomes:

- The marines successfully overwhelm the crew and the ship is captured. Possible acts of sabotage or malfunction on secondary reactors, airlocks or ammunition depots may lead to explosions on the target and thus to light damage (and crew loss) on the docking ship.

- The marines overwhelm the crew, but the heavy fighting and sabotage have damaged central systems irrevocable. The ship can only be scrapped. Light damage on the docking ship is possible due to the reasons stated above.

-The marines are to few or to weak, they have to retreat and the docking ship has to disengage. Marines have heavy causalities, light damage on the docking ship is likely. The player can make another attempt at boarding.

- The enemy crew activates the self-destruction. The marines don’t manage to defuse it in time, the ship blows up. The marines suffer heavy causalities and the docking ship is severely damaged or even destroyed (depending on relative ship sizes).

- The marines are vastly outnumbered, the enemy crew manages to overrun the airlocks and capture your boarding ship. They escape with it, there’s a new enemy fleet on the campaign screen with that stolen ship. This is only likely to happen if you try to capture f.e. a battle cruiser with a frigate.

Here's a visualization:

This way boarding would be a dangerous undertaking, and the player would really have to consider if a ship is worth the attempt. And even then there's still the choice how much he wants to invest: it is enough to send a frigate, or do you risk damage on your cruiser?


Discussions / Star Citizen
« on: October 10, 2012, 01:14:34 PM »
I'm drooling, I'm drooling!

In short, this is THE space action game everybody has been waiting for! From the maker of Wing Commander and Freelancer! High end graphic! Simulation-grade realism! Singleplayer Campaign! Persistent Universe Multiplayer! Joystick and Occulus Rift support!  Only need to raise a few million dollar from the crowd! I'll be damned!



Discussions / Clockwork Empire
« on: October 09, 2012, 09:07:02 AM »

Clockwork Empire is Gaslamp Games' (Dungeons of Dredmor) next project, seems it will be a kind of intermediate between Dwarf Fortress and Anno, set in a alternative Victorian era. David Baumgart, Starfarer's graphic artist, is actually art director at Gaslamp Games, so it seems he works on both games parallel. I'm quite exited for this game, could really rekindle my love for constructive strategy. I just hope David still finds enough time to draw up some more cool spaceships for Starfarer :)
Here are some bullet points from the website:

- Dynamic, city-building, citizen-simulating action. Every imperial subject has a purpose and agenda of their own, and their interactions are rich, exciting, and often lethal!

- New “procedural extrusion” technology lets you design your colony the way you want! Buildings are procedurally generated and extruded directly from the aether to your specifications!

- Tame the uncharted continents by land, sea, and air! Set forth in mighty Zeppelins to do battle with Sky Pirates, or take to the seas in search of fortune and probably sea serpents!

- Losing is still fun! When your colony fails miserably, earn medals, promotions, and titles as befits a true politician and scion of the Empire!


PC Gamer interview and preview.

I have a faint memory that this was already reported and that the issue lay with the AI calculating beams as hard-flux damage dealer. But it could not find that report, so better safe than sorry.

I encountered this in normal gameplay, but here's a way to reproduce in the simulator: Take a Paragon and let it be heavily damaged (I used 2 bomber wings). Then spawn a cruiser ( I used a support Dominator) and activate autopilot. The Paragon will keep firing it's ineffective Tachyon Lances, but will never attempt to get the cruiser in range of it's other weapons. So the fight does not end.

This could also be related to AI personalities, but I have no way to test that.

e/ Sidenote: The autopilot wins the mission Forlorn Hope with a standard outfit.

Suggestions / Just some small suggestions..
« on: September 30, 2012, 01:09:43 PM »
...that don't need their own thread. Here goes:

A indicator for the flagship on the tactical map
- right know it can be difficult to identify your own ship on the map, at least if your fleet is big and especially if you have more ships of the same class as your flagship. There is the blue frame that indicates your camera position on the combat screen, but that does not help if you're using target view, video feet or if your fleet's in a tight brawl.
Maybe just a different marker than the green square.

Allow menu access in the fleet-encounter screen (the one where you communicate)
- This would be irrelevant in most situations, but there are exceptions: if you accidentally run into a superior fleet and want to reload. Now you can at least quickly auto resolve, but since Alex said that he might be disabling that option against superior fleets it could become annoying.

Let PD weapons ignore the hold fire order
- They hardly contribute to flux build up and their deactivation is the reason I often hesitate to hold fire (with x) and instead disable the offensive weapon groups manually. I really see no situation where you would want to silence your PDs.

Here's the Kickstarter :

Since there is a bit too much talking at the beginning, here's an old engine demo:

And if you you don't know Nexus...
You like space games? You like big, hulking cruisers lumbering through space and pounding away at each other, ripping their hulls to shreds? Nimble frigates, send out to stealthy close in to an enemy's vulnerable rear? You like swarms of fighters maneuvering alongside them, ready  to dash into dogfights at your order?  You like to play tales of dauntless space adventuring, while acquiring parts to customize and upgrade your fleet? You want all that packed into an epic story?

All that was Nexus, and I believe Nexus 2 can be more that that! This is the closest we got to a modern, high profile space game in years! And as long as Homeworld 3 doesn't happen it might be years until another game like this comes along. This must happen!

Suggestions / Show losses in the reinforcement window
« on: September 27, 2012, 07:40:08 PM »
When in combat, I don't always notice the text message about the destruction of an allied ship. Or in big fleets I just loose track. Or I don't know if my fighters are in repair or lost.
I think for all those situations it would be handy to be able to view disabled or destroyed ships during combat. The little reinforcement window you bring up via tacmap or with "g" would be a suitable place. It could be visible either below or above the current infos:


I really wonder, never found them to be useful in support, strike or assault role.  Except the Salamander, which can be great.  The other "primarily" EMP weapons are the Ion Cannon and the Tachyon Lance and I never use those or heard of anyone who's fond of them. Sure, there are still situtaions were they are nice to have, but those are too rare to justify the huge OP investment. Other weapons like the phase beam are good, but I feel that's not thanks to their EMP aspect.
So, what do you think?

I listed a few shortcomings. To address one or some of those might be a good way to buff EMP, so I added suggestions to some.


- does not influence shields in any way
That makes EMP weapons particularly useless against 360° shielded ships. If their shields are down they dont have the flux to do much damage anyway, and you'd probably rather want to deal hull damage.

how about a delay in shield reactions if it's hit with EMP? Turn speed and deactivation time could be servery hindered as long as it is under EMP fire, heavy EMP bombardment like from Ion cannons could make turning and deactivating impossible

- can only influence sprite area that’s facing it
That doesn't sound too bad, but considering EMP damage is the only kind of damage that is limited by this it's a major drawback. For example, a support ship that managed to flank an enemy cruiser and deliver EMP damage to it's side does little to help it's allies fighting the cruiser from the front. Salamanders don't have this problem.

a ship-wide effect could make it a good choice to keep firing. If for example hard flux was induced with hull hits, or the flux dissipation rate were diminished. 

- damage can’t exceed a certain maximum
Once a system is out it is out and will be online again after a few seconds. Further EMP damage has no influence on this. For other damage type weapons it is always an option to keep firing and deal damage, even if it's not the optimal type.

For this the solution would be the same as for the area problem: a ship-wide effect.

- can not inflict permanent damage
System are disabled for a brief moment (~ 10 seconds for medium slots I think), so EMP damage generates at best a window of opportunity, not a permanent tactical advantage. I don't think that's a bad thing or should be changed, but it is certainly a important difference to other weapon types.

- Can not/hardly damage weapons near the sprite center
So theoretical a ship could be EMP immune because of its turret and engine placement. That's not so much of a problem because the vanilla sprites don't feature many center weapons. It could be bad for mods though.

I see no real solution for this one, but at least a ship-wide effect could reduce the theoretical immunity to a theoretical resistance.


Bug Reports & Support / Minor bugs with the patrol order
« on: September 19, 2012, 03:48:57 AM »
After toying with that order for some time I noticed the following things:

- 1 Xyphos Wing is regarded as sufficient for "patrol", but mightier ships like the Tempest or Hyperion need additional craft

- The AI doesn't hesitate to assign strike craft (tested with Piranhas) for patrol, even if more suitable ships are on standby

- Ships with patrol order stay fixed and motionless on their target, there's no behavior involved that could in any way be considered patrolling. I don't know if the behavior is faulty or the name is just misplaced.

Suggestions / New midline capture order
« on: September 17, 2012, 02:34:15 PM »
Currently you have two orders to capture a nav-buoy, "capture" and "assault". The first sends a single wing or frigate, the second sends all available combat craft.

Assault is not suitable for the early phase of an engagement since it detracts your big ships from their tasks.
But in gameplay reality I often find a single ship not enough to capture an objective, especially if you know that it will have to compete with enemy ships. So, naturally, I want my capturing crafts to have an advantage. That leads to awkward situations, I have to give escort orders, those mix up the capture assignments and it all degrades into micromanagement (and CP waste). The whole point of the objective based command system is to avoid that, right?

The simplest solution I can think of would be to introduce a new capture order between "capture" and "assault" that sends either two frigates/wings or a single destroyer, depending on availability and speed/distance. I don't care what it's name would be, I will just call it "raid" for simplicity.
That way you could "capture" objectives on your side of the map and "raid" those in disputed territory. No more watching frustrated as the talon wing is chased away by some broadsword as you saw coming from the start. I think it might even lead to some interesting new strategies, guessing where the enemy will just "capture" and "raid" there, deciding if to spread or strengthen your capturing forces...
As a side effect it would help fleets with to few light craft by enabling destroyers to capture.

An added function could be to convert the "raid" order once the objective is taken (as happens with assault) into something like "protect" which will cause  a single frigate or wing to stay behind and keep enemies from easily recapturing.

So, what do you think?

Discussions / Gothars' Gallery of Tactical Space Games
« on: September 16, 2012, 11:47:25 AM »
This is an attempt to create a list of interesting tactical space games that did not get the attention they deserved. Actually, there are few tactical space games that got much attention, since it's a niche genre.
What I mean by "tactical" is that you have a small number (including "1") of ships and the game confronts you with situations in which you have to make intelligent use of all your ship's abilities to exploit enemy weaknesses and cover your own. So games that have a wide strategic approach like most 4x games, or games that a purely action-oriented shooters like Freelancer would probably not fit here.

If you want to suggest a game that might fit in the list please do so, part of why I'm doing this is to get to know new samples of this rare species. The other reason is to give fellow (soon-to-be) genre-fans a chance to discover some treasure they might have overlooked before or discuss the old ones.

Nexus - The Jupiter Incident

Nexus is a game from 2004 that will get a sequel this autumn. You navigate a hand full of ships via target markers trough the 3d space. Subsystem management and upgrading and clever use of weapons, special systems and fighter wings are at the core of the gameplay. The graphics are still very beautiful and it has a well really written and engaging story-line.
It's a bit hard to get into the game, because you have to get used to the indirect ship-movement control and the the tactical options are very limited at the beginning, making combat lengthy. But it get's better fast, and I have to say it's one of the best game experiences I had.

Availability: It's available on steam for 10€.


Some gameplay:

Cinematic trailer:

Game intro:



This is a peculiar little round-based game. It mixes unmatched precise ship-movement control and unforgiving difficulty with a silly cartoon-animal style. Between rounds you control the direction, orientation and facing of your ships, attempting to get hits on enemies vulnerable rear or underside while protecting your own. There is not much more to the gameplay, but those simple ingredients allow for a surprising range of tactical options and threats. The graphic is very simplistic, ships are unicolored and untextured, but it has a certain aesthetic to it and is not hard on the eyes.
The engagements are tied together by a simple journey from planet to planet, in which you have (sometimes hilarious) encounters with arrogant space-deer and one-legged flamingos. Truly unique in every aspect.

Availability: It's available on the creator's website ,  steam (and x-box live) for about 10$.


Gameplay explanation:

A let's play


Faster Than Light needs probably no introduction, as one of the first games that launched with the help of a successful kickstarter-campaign it does not really fit in the category "overlooked".  Still, the gameplay is so tactic-oriented that it has to be on the list. It's a space rogue-like where you have to manage and upgrade your crew and ship in order to flee from an pursuing enemy fleet. For more info look in the thread or on the game's website . Price is currently 10$.

Homeworld 1+2


These RTS games should be known to most space game interested PC-gamers. The scale of combat and the number of involved vessels makes it questionable if this is a tactical game as defined, but there are still a lot of tactic elements in it and the series is too important not to mention it.

The first game features an epic story, in which the player leads the people of Kharak in the search for their lost home world, which lies in the middle of an ancient hostile empire. Ships are produced on board a giant Mothership, which hyper jumps together with it's fleet from mission to mission. Homeworld introduced full 3-dimensional space, in which units can move up and down as well as to the sides, allowing for advanced tactics. Being from 1999, the game's graphics are quite dusty, as are the controls, but the aesthetics, atmosphere and superb narrative can still fascinate.

Homeworld 2 (2003) continues the story and gameplay of the first part. In my opinion, story and atmosphere are somewhat behind it's predecessor, but the graphics and controls are much more modern and easier to get accustomed to for a new player. Besides, it has a still active modding community, so by now you can fly ships of every sci-fi universe you fancy, be it Star Wars or BSG.

Homeworld 1's great intro:

Homeworld 2 trailer

Availability: As far as I know there are no digital versions available, so one would have to buy physical copies from amazon or ebay. Or find other ways. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

You did not really aspect a description here, did you? ;)  Well, the combat and the outfitting of the ships allow for involved tactics, so it definitely goes on the list.

Star Wolves

In this tactical action-rpg you lead a group of mercenaries in their struggle for wealth and glory in a galaxy ruled by mega-corporations and threatened by a unknown enemy. The Star Wolves operate from a carrier converted transporter that travels from system to system, doing trade and missions.
In combat every character pilots a fighter-sized craft and you have to make good use of various special abilities (and the smart-pause function) to win. As you progress through the semi-open story you upgrade the characters skills and buy new upgrades for their fighters. The graphics are nice but not too fancy, the same could be said about the story and the out-of-combat gameplay. The tactical fights and the rpg-progression are where the game is really fun, it reminded me a bit of a Baldur's Gate in space.
There was also a Star Wolves 2, but it felt more like a mission pack for the first part. I never tried part 3, but it has still the same engine as the first part.


Some gameplay:

Availability: It's 10€ on steam.

Bug Reports & Support / Deleting text with backspace
« on: September 14, 2012, 04:07:28 AM »
Noticed this for some time, forgot to report:
There is a delay when you delete text (character/ship name) with backspace. If you tab the key it doesn't react at all, if you hold it for about a second and release you can delete singe characters, if you hold it longer it suddenly deletes everything fast.

Suggestions / Different colored UIs for ships of different epochs
« on: September 11, 2012, 07:45:42 AM »
Just a little idea that could add some flair. The command centers on the ships of consecutive epochs are very different (the high tech ships having neural interfaces and stuff), so why not reflect that in the UI? It could be made switchable and customizable for mods.

Suggestions / More differentiation for carriers
« on: September 02, 2012, 02:31:38 PM »
Flight Decks are currently very limited in their flexibility, a ship either has one or not. (With the exception of the Astral, which has three.) The lore speaks of different flight deck sizes, wherein the Gemini has a "tiny" one originally intended for mining drones, but that has no actual game play consequences. It repairs a wing just as fast as the Astral.

Would it not be more interesting when composing a fleet, if carriers would actually differ in what is  after all their main functionality (or exactly not, but just a byproduct)?

A pretty obvious solution would be to give the carrier decks different repair times, or rather different modifiers for fighter repair times. So a talon wing takes about 5 seconds to repair, if the Gemini had a repair speed factor of 2,0 it would take it 10 seconds. Or a piranha wing takes about 15 seconds, maybe the super automated Astral with a factor of 0,66 could service them in 10. (Btw. it would be nice to see the base repair times of fighter wings in their description, it's quite relevant.)

It seems to me as clueless non-programmer a relatively simple thing to add, which would make carrier choice much more interesting. Right now it's for example a no-brainer to ditch my condor as soon as I get a Venture or Gemini, and the Astral is just unnecessary costly for everything but very heavy bomber runs.

A more elaborate expansion of that approach would be to introduce holding capabilities to flight decks. Maybe a condor could service two wings at medium speed, while the venture could handle just one, but slightly faster. That would allow to fine-tune carriers further, and it would go well with the those older suggestions of being able to park currently useless wings inside a carrier instead of sending them irrevocable off map (or for surprise attacks). Well, to much effort for the current development stage, I guess, so let's focus on the main suggestion.

Suggestions / Pictures for ship systems in Codex
« on: September 01, 2012, 04:39:59 PM »
Just a small thing, probably already on the list. The system pictures exist and all other codex categories got pictures, so it would be obvious to put them in.

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