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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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Topics - intrinsic_parity

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Apologies if this is not the appropriate spot for this question.

I am dabbling in scripting for mods, on Mac using IntelliJ as an IDE (or at least attempting to). I can't seem to get the debug/run config to work inside the IDE. Right now, it successfully opens the launcher, but crashes with a NullPointerException when I hit 'Play StarSector' on the launcher, even with all mods disabled.

The log has a bunch of warnings that seem to indicate it can't find the weapon and hull .csv files. Stuff like:

WARN  com.fs.starfarer.loading.WeaponSpreadsheetLoader  - Weapon [multineedler] from weapon_data.csv not found in store

and then the actual NullPointerException with a little context from right before:

INFO  com.fs.starfarer.loading.LoadingUtils  - Loading CSV data from [CLASSPATH: null]
WARN  com.fs.starfarer.loading.ShipHullSpreadsheetLoader  - Ship hull [drone_pd] from ship_data.csv not found in store
ERROR com.fs.starfarer.combat.CombatMain  - java.lang.NullPointerException
   at com.fs.starfarer.loading.ShipHullSpecLoader.o00000(Unknown Source)
   at com.fs.starfarer.loading.ShipHullSpreadsheetLoader.super(Unknown Source)
   at com.fs.starfarer.loading.SpecStore.ÓO0000(Unknown Source)
   at com.fs.starfarer.loading.ResourceLoaderState.init(Unknown Source)
   at com.fs.state.AppDriver.begin(Unknown Source)
   at com.fs.starfarer.combat.CombatMain.main(Unknown Source)
   at com.fs.starfarer.StarfarerLauncher.super(Unknown Source)
   at com.fs.starfarer.StarfarerLauncher$ Source)

I'm guessing it's something funky with setting up the paths, because the games runs normally outside the IDE, but I'm a Java noob, and can't figure it out. I tried to match the parameters passed to java in i.e. setting the saves/screenshots etc. directories, the java.library.path, the memory limits, and the class path. I did have to add Resources/Java to the class path for it to run, otherwise it was failing to find settings.json.

Looking at the log when the game runs normally, it seems it loads the CSV files from something called ABSOLUTE_AND_CWD, but it is trying to load them from the class path when I run it in the IDE.

I would appreciate any help, even just a nudge in the right direction.

General Discussion / Weird Missile Targeting
« on: February 08, 2024, 08:39:20 PM »
I've been noticing quite regularly that ships will target missiles at some enemy far away (nearly out of range) while being actively engaged with a ship right next to them. Sometimes the ship they are targeting with missiles is not even high on flux or overloading. It can be a problem if they need the missiles to deal with the ship they are directly engaged with.

Here is an example:

The conquest has had an eliminate order on the close ship for a while as well. I have also seen this with harpoons on my onslaught.

Has anyone else seen this behavior at all?

Suggestions / Internal fleet promotion buff
« on: February 07, 2024, 05:14:43 PM »
Currently, you are sometimes given the option to promote an officer randomly from your fleet, but you have to pay a story point. I don't really see how that can ever be worth it (paying a scarce resource) when you can easily pay like 2k credits to get a low level officer by just flying around the core for like 2 minutes, or you can go exploring and find level 5/7 officers for free.

Either it shouldn't cost a story point, or there should be some bonus to promoting internally, like being able to get an extra level or something.

Bug Reports & Support / Officer not leveling up
« on: February 05, 2024, 06:17:36 PM »
One of my officers seems to be stuck at level 5 and does not gain experience, despite being in combat and me having taken officer training, and officer UI showing they are not at max level and should be able to gain experience. My other officers have reached level 6. It might be a pod officer, but I thought they should be able to level up past level 5 if you take officer training?

Suggestions / Stable point nit picks
« on: December 05, 2023, 07:26:29 PM »
This has bugged me for a while, but it's so inconsequential that I never bothered to make a post.

There really shouldn't be any stable points in systems with just a single star and no planets. Stable points (lagrange points) are features of the restricted 3 body problem (2 large masses (planets/stars etc.) and one small orbiting body (satellite/station/ship/asteroid etc.)), they don't exist if there is only one large mass.

From a gameplay perspective, it also seems pretty inconsequential. Technically you can build a comms relay in an empty system to check missions or prices, but you can also just go to a different system to do that, so I really don't seem much gameplay reason to to have them there.

So I propose they should not exist in empty systems, and I feel like that shouldn't be a particularly complicated change.

Also, you could technically do a better job of putting stable points in realistic places, and it's not very complicated where they should be, but doing it fully realistically would result in a lot more stable point which would kinda break the balance.

It would make me happier if the ones that exist were in the right place though, even if they didn't all exist. But it's admittedly not very important.

Suggestions / Squall Nerf
« on: May 27, 2023, 09:24:51 PM »
Squalls were nerfed in this patch, but it has proven pretty ineffective, because the nerf did nothing to reduce the fundamental strong aspect of the squall: long range, 0-flux, kinetic damage. The slow power creep of missile hullmods and skill buffs over the last several patches (particularly the increases in ammo, and the additional damage and ROF from elite missile spec) have also steadily increased the power of all missiles.

But the secret strength of the squall is its HP. It has enough that it can't really be shot down effectively, and it also saturates the PD meaning other missiles will get through, and the target is effectively wasting even more flux firing it's PD weapons for no benefit.

IMO, the best nerf would be to reduce the missile HP so that squalls can actually be shot effectively down by good PD. Even then it will still saturate PD, but at least it won't get its full effect while doing that.

Suggestions / Officer training
« on: May 22, 2023, 12:31:19 PM »
This suggestion was motivated by my observation that officers from pods are frequently bad because of the randomized skills, and it feels bad to fire them all immediately. However, IMO, a handpicked level 5 officer is better 95% of the time than a random level 5, and hand picked 6 with two elite skills is better most of the time than a random level 7 with 5 random elite skills. That means that unless you explore super early before you find officers (which I don't like to do since I don't have the cargo to haul loot or the ability to survey lots of planets right away), you are very rarely taking pod officers.

I have also found that changing fleet compositions substantially mid campaign is a PITA if you have to fire and retrain officers for the new composition.

I had a couple ideas:

A simple idea for the pod officer issue is to make some (or all) pod officers not pre-trained, but still let them some of them level up beyond a standard officer (or have more elite skills or whatever). Honestly, I think the progression of leveling up an officer is way more fun than getting and random free officer.

A bigger idea is to have a way of changing/retraining officer skills. IIRC there are some mods that do this by letting you construct an academy where you can leave officers and also train them to have different skills. That might be a little too easy so maybe changing skills could cost story points, while simple aggression changes could just take time/money. You could also allow officers to gain experience over time at the academy. Certainly if it took an industry slot, I don't think that would be unbalanced, and it might even be fine as a structure. Or you could just have a few established faction academies that you could use if you are on good terms with the faction.

Being able to leave good officers that don't fit in your current fleet at an academy would generally be a huge QOL improvement.

I also think that having a way to retrain skills would make mentoring an officer feel way less mandatory, since you could just retrain if you get a real bad set of skills on a level up.

Suggestions / Improving the Refit Screen
« on: May 16, 2023, 09:09:17 AM »
With the addition of S-mod bonuses/maluses I think there are some changes to the refitting UI that could improve the experience substantially.

The big problem related to the new s-mod system is that you cannot test the impact of s-mod bonuses/maluses without permanently committing to the s-mod (or save scumming which is a PITA). It would be great if you could undo s-mods as long as you haven't left the refit screen (or maybe as long as you haven't undocked or something).

In addition, there are now several stat modifiers which are not reflected in the refit screen stats. I know the energy weapon mastery flux cost reduction doesn't show up in the weapon flux generation stat, and I believe the effects of s-modding armored weapon mounts and expanded magazines are not shown as well. I would like to see the effect of these modifiers (and any other hidden modifiers that I cannot think of at the moment).

Along those same lines, weapon range modifiers are not shown when displaying ranges. It would be convenient if we could see the final range after modifiers have been added. Maybe show the modified range in parentheses after the base range in the weapon stat sheet you get when mousing over. Same for ammo counts. It did occur to me that this change might be more work 'under the hood' since the weapon stat UI currently does not consider any modifiers and is used elsewhere in non ship-specific contexts.

Finally, I would like to see all of the relevant bonuses/maluses for a stat in the mouse-over tool tip. So for instance if I mouse over the dissipation, it would show the base dissipation and all modifiers so I could see where my dissipation is coming from (same for weapon flux generation, capacity, speed etc.). I think that would be helpful, especially for newer players.

Suggestions / Teaching the AI about 'fleet power density'
« on: April 20, 2022, 12:42:16 PM »
In my opinion, a significant portion of the common complaints about the AI stem from the AI failing to consider the broader context of combat. Issues with chasing, small ships 'getting in the way' in big battles, ships getting caught out of position or overextending, lack of aggression in clearly winning situations etc. all are potentially examples of this. I think that giving the AI some information about the 'density' of fleet power in combat could be a way to incorporate information about the broader context of battle into the AI's decision making process.

Abstractly, density is a measure of 'quantity' per unit of 'space'. For instance the term very frequently refers to 'mass per unit volume'. In this case, we're talking about trying to understand how much 'combat power' is in a certain area of battle. More specifically, that could mean 'how much enemy and friendly DP is near a certain point'. Lots of ships/DP in a small area = high density, few ships in a large area = low density.

Actually taking a density measure and producing some useful decisions/actions for the AI is the challenge. I don't necessarily have a definite idea about how this should be implemented, I just think that's the sort of information that a human uses when analyzing the battlefield to identify where ships should be. Density allows for identification of things like isolated ships, or the 'main enemy force' or the 'closest significant engagement'. Computing both enemy and friendly combat power density and comparing them also allows for identification of regions where one side is outnumbered/outgunned allowing for more intelligent attempts to assist allies, or exploit enemy vulnerability. It also gives the AI some ability to predict how an engagement will go without actually engaging. Often times, I think the AI is too reactive because it bases decisions on current flux levels, and sometimes by the time the flux levels reveal that the situation is bad, it is too late to do anything about it. I think these concepts could also be used to differentiate AI aggressions levels in an interesting way.

DP or FP can be used as a proxy for 'combat power'. You could definitely do more complicated/detailed analysis to get a better representation of 'combat power' at a specific point, but I'm not sure if that's necessary.

One suggestion for a simple implementation would be some sort of DP/FP weighted clustering of ship locations that is computed for the entire fleet/combat scenario periodically. Then individual ships can have access to that information whenever they make decisions. Personally I think clustering is elegant because it analyzes the entire space at once and identifies points of interest (cluster centers) automatically.

You can also do something like dividing the space into a grid and computing the combat power at each grid element, but that could potentially create performance issues depending on how fine the grid is, and you also need to figure out what regions of the grid are relevant to any particular decision. It does potentially give ships a clearer picture of their situation though.

Suggestions / Combat Bonus XP improvements
« on: March 27, 2022, 08:07:53 PM »
I've seen quite a bit of discussion about how the bonus xp system can be min-maxed, and it's leading me to believe that the system has perhaps incentivized some unintended and undesirable gameplay.

IIRC, the idea of increased bonus xp for harder battles was to encourage the player to take harder fights. I fully support that goal, and I do think the system is achieving that to some degree, but it seems like what it has also done is encourage the player to do weird niche strategies like soloing everything or avoid using officers or using very particular builds, which doesn't necessarily seem like the sort of gameplay that should be incentivized over everything else. Particularly, I think building officers and designing ships to go with those officers is really fun, and being incentivized to completely ignore officers (because of the large DP cost of officers in the bonus XP calculation) feels pretty bad. Not that those edge cases are necessarily bad ways of playing the game, but they really don't feel like the sort of play styles that you should get forced into if you want to min-max bonus XP and story points.

Solution 1: just balance better 4head
In some ways, the system is incentivizing the player to find the strategies whose true power level is furthest from the power level assumed by the bonus XP calculations. The obvious thing to do is to just identify these edge case builds and either improve the calculations to account for them, or nerf them. In particular, I think the current system might over-value officers, but it's such a situation and fleet specific balance that I'm not sure if a good balance can really be struck. To me just trying to balance everything seems like it will result in an endless whack-a-mole of new edge cases, but maybe a good balance can be struck eventually. I think more balancing is always necessary to some degree anyway though so maybe this approach can work.

Solution 2: cap bonus xp %
If you add in a cap on bonus XP, then any fleet composition that can reach that cap in a given fight and win is equally good (from a bonus xp perspective), so that leaves a lot more room for balance. It doesn't necessarily push the player to fight the most difficult possible fights, but at least it still pushes the player to not fight the safest possible fight and take some risks without the incentive towards niche strats. Hopefully the cap can be high enough that reaching it is interesting while there are still a wide variety of strats that work well.

Suggestions / Balancing Income
« on: March 27, 2022, 02:47:32 PM »
Income sources are a topic of discussion that has been hot recently but has been a major subject of discussion for the last few patches. I decided to write up a big long post containing my experiences with and thoughts on various forms of income (both personal and second hand through discussion), as well as things I think could be changed to improve the game. I'm going to reiterate some stuff that's been said elsewhere, but I think it is useful to have one thread addressing all income sources since they are all balanced/valued against one another and any discussion will inevitably lead to discussion all of them.

I think it's useful to broadly categorize active income types into three groups: trade, exploration, and combat. Of course there is also passive colony income, but I am going to ignore that for now because I think that aspect of the game (late game) is mostly unfinished, so not worth nitpicking at the moment. I also categorize income sources into: bar missions, intel board missions, and contact missions. I'll start with a tldr overview of my thoughts on those income types and sources, and then go into each one (and some sub categories) specifically.

Types: For me, trade is the most imbalanced income source because it's easy, fast and risk-free. Specifically smuggling where the profit margins are large. Combat is the fun way to make money, but there are still issues with the risk/reward balance that often incentivize me to not take the most fun fights. Exploration is enjoyable the first time but becomes much more tedious and much less exciting once you know what's out there. I also think the risk/reward on exploration is not necessarily where it should be.

Sources: I think contacts are really not where they need to be this patch and there's a ton of room for improvement and expansion of those mechanics. IMO, contacts should be the reliable/consistent source of normal missions. I think the bar should be the equivalent of 'events' in rogue likes, i.e. high variance opportunities that can be cool/interesting and have the potential for very high value outcomes but are as often bad as they are good. Intel IMO should be more about finding open world opportunities to make money like shortages, vulnerable trade fleets, rumored fleet wrecks or stations etc rather than just a source of scripted missions. General mission boards drive you away from interacting with the carefully crafted characters and worlds, which I think is a bad thing. I think giving those sources of income clearer identities would improve the gameplay experience and also give more control over the balance of those income sources.

The fundamental problem with trade has been that there is little risk, so any attempts at balancing by reducing profit margins just make it more grindy without actually addressing the reasons why it would be preferable to other income sources (low risk). The main solution that has been proposed numerous times is adding combat threats to trading. The obvious solution is just to add some pirate activity (possibly scripted, or just randomly generated) proportional to the value of your cargo under some circumstances, for instance, buying lots of goods at a market spawns a pirate fleet that chases you because it saw you buy the goods and wants to steal them from you. For trade missions where you have a specific world you are delivering to, there can also be faction specific hostilities, e.g. TT fleets trying to stop delivery to hegemony worlds.

In addition, I think there are two major sub-categories of pure trade: open world trade and missions.

open world trade
Legal open world trade is I think is one of the more controversial topics. It's currently not really viable because of very high tariffs. My understanding is that one of the design goals of the game is to not create profitable and legal static trade routes with no risk since that will naturally result in some low risk/grindy income sources which will be preferable to more fun income sources like combat. However, there have been many people that have expressed the desire for that type of gameplay. The way that this could work IMO is that profitable legal trade would require you to find/develop a source of low cost goods through contacts. In practice that would mean having some way to lower tariffs at a specific market which might look like doing a string of quests for a port official (contact) to reduce tariffs so that you can buy goods profitably on that world. I think having it be restricted to single worlds (so only specific subsets of goods, and the quests can be balanced based on the world etc), and having a large amount of effort required through quests, in addition to the suggestions about adding combat to trade would be enough to ensure that legal trade would not be superior to other forms of income while still being viable.

Smuggling is the other form of open world trade which is currently unbalanced, but in the opposite way. You can make massive amounts of money with no risk (and very little effort or skill in general) by buying cheap on the black market and selling to shortages on the black market. The above solution of adding combat threats is I think a very important aspect of making smuggling less OP, but I think there is another issues, and that is that there are some specific illegal goods (drugs, organs and heavy armaments), with oversized profit margins due to much higher base prices. I think there should be some specific risks associated with these goods, for instance, dealing drugs would attract attention from criminal organizations whose business you are cutting into. Dealing in heavy armaments might attract some investigations by the hegemony etc. These risks also could not necessarily directly require combat to resolve, but just force the player to interact with the game world and do stuff that is fun (quests for drug lords to avoid their wrath etc). I think something definitely needs to be done to make smuggling more interesting and make the risk/reward more comparable to other income sources.

trade missions
The second category of trade income is trade missions. I think particularly the bulk transport missions are a problem because they scale directly with your cargo capacity, so if you put 10 atlases in your fleet, you will get massive bulk transport missions which have no risk and huge payouts. You could just add proportionally scaling threats (hostile fleets that attack you) which I think would work ok to tone down the risk/reward issues, but isn't super interesting, although probably necessary. Personally, I think these missions should be primarily contact missions, so that you need to put in some effort leveling up your contact before you can get access to the massive pay days. Having them available freely in the bar is a problem in itself IMO.

The problem with combat income is always that there is high risk involved in combat, but high rewards can snowball quickly. Addressing the frequency/accessibility of combat missions is one way to allow for higher rewards without making the game too easy once combat is mastered and risks can be minimized.

I think there are two main sources of combat income: bounties, and piracy
I've said it before, but my suggestion is to make all bounties come from contacts (and possibly the bar) and completely remove intel bounties. I think intel bounties are inherently flawed because it's so difficult to ensure there are appropriately difficult missions available for any player at any time in the game. Contact bounties ensure that the player can always control the level of bounties they are seeing, and thus that should solve pacing issues. Contact importance can also be used to control the pace of the player gaining access to high reward bounties (i.e. high importance contacts give very high reward bounties but very infrequently, and it also requires time and effort to level up or find high importance contacts, while low importance contacts can be a better source of consistent but lower value bounties). I think in general, driving the player towards contacts is also a good idea because in the current game, it's very easy to ignore that entire system.

I do think that there would need to be some adjustments in the bar missions that give potential contacts to accommodate this. One idea is that system bounties would become bar missions that lead to military contacts, and person bounties become only available after you acquire a contact. I think in general you would need to get more opportunities to find contacts though to make this work, although that could be balanced by giving lots of low level contacts, so that you still need to work hard to develop higher level ones that would give you the best missions.

Another suggestion is to adjust the frequency of high paying bounties so that you could have higher payouts that might encourage more risk taking. Larger payouts for high end bounties would make them much more desirable, and as long as they were a rare opportunity, I don't think they would snowball too hard. I think you could also do more special one-off bounties at different levels of difficulty too (like the crazy end game one off end-game bounties you can get from contacts now, but for all stages of the game).

For me, the most glaringly imbalanced income source was farming trade fleets. I could easily find a trade fleet with 500k+ value of cargo (heavy armaments + supplies + heavy machinery, and with a shortage the profits can be even larger too) but with a ~100-150k bounty fleet equivalent of guarding ships. The risk/reward is insanely better than real bounties, and it's in hyperspace so there are basically no consequences besides maybe a small rep ding. Even if your fleet is small, you can leave goods in cargo pods in hyperspace and they will hang around long enough for you to come back after selling or storing some stuff. Basically if you can kill a normal hegemony patrol (a few cruisers at most), you can hit trade fleets that pay out significantly more than the highest tier of bounties.

I've made comments about it before, but those trade fleets need defending ships equivalent to a bounty fleet worth the value of the cargo IMO, or at least somewhat comparable. There also could be escort fleets that scale with the number of recently lost shipments or stuff like that. I also think it would be cool if the whole 'intel about trade fleets' bit was a more fleshed out, so there was some interesting gameplay associated with finding targets (maybe from pirate contacts) and maybe even finding or creating moments/windows of vulnerability where there are less defenders for a certain trade fleet etc. Right now you can basically just fly around in hyperspace and you will find good trade fleet targets pretty easily.

I think exploration could also use a face-lift. I think it's a bit too easy to get stuff most of the time. There needs to be more action and also more uncertainty involved IMO. Right now, the world feels mostly 'empty/abandoned' where I think it should feel more 'unexplored/uncivilized'. Most of exploration is just finding abandoned stuff and taking it. I think in principle, you should rarely find anything valuable without some strings attached. IMO, you should always be both excited and concerned/scared when you find anything because you don't know what's going to happen next. There should almost always be some risk associated with the rewards.

One big thing is that all the stations are abandoned. It would be cool if there were also active stations scattered around, particularly if the active stations had better loot but with defenders. Abandoned stations could be mostly lower value (maybe with some variance to give occasional scores) IMO, or they could be frequently booby trapped, or even occasionally defended by remnants/drones. Finding a TT research station with some angry mercenaries defending it, and then beating them to steal their cutting edge stuff is much more exciting than finding a loot piñata abandoned station. You could also add some more interesting decisions, like finding an independant orbital habitat and choosing to raid it and ruin/hurt your rep with the indies for fat loot, or maybe take a quest from them etc.

I also think that the systems with lots of scavenger flying around should be more common. Having to contend with scavengers who could be hostile makes exploring/scavenging much more interesting. I think most instances of abandoned/derelict ships and stations should have some scavengers around if they are not pirate traps or something like that.

I also think adding some variation to exploration missions would be good. I.e. instead of just a 'scan this thing' fetch quest, you get some dialogue like 'we lost contact with out probe, go find out what happened', and then there's a chance of it being a fetch quest, or an ambush or a quest chain with more steps etc. That would also make more sense coming from an exploration contact rather than an intel board mission.

I'm not sure what can be done to improve the planet scanning aspect of exploration. Maybe having exploration contacts looking for certain world types (and willing to pay a premium for certain scan data) would be cool. You could also have contacts that you can pay for tips about stuff you might find, i.e. rumors of abandoned ships/stations, or reports of habitable planets. Depending on the reputability of your contact, these reports might be more or less accurate... or they could even be traps!

Income Sources
The Intel Board
I've discussed this a lot now, but I'll say it again: I think most missions should be moved to contacts and the bar, and the intel board missions should be mostly about rumors/information about open world items and events. Stuff like trade fleets, abandoned ships/stations, system bounties, pirate stations etc are what belongs there IMO, not specific missions/quests like person bounties. I think contacts give more control over the balance and pacing of missions, and both the bar and contacts feel more personal/immersive. I think it also just makes more sense for individuals to be giving people they've worked with missions, rather than giving them to random people by publicly posting them.

The Bar
My biggest issue with the bar is that it becomes very static and predicable once you learn the small set of missions you can see. As I said earlier, I think that the bar should be more akin to 'random events' than a mission source. I think that 'standard missions' like cargo transport and bounties should be either entirely relegated to contacts, or the bar versions should be much more spicy. For instance, maybe bar cargo missions have a much higher chance of ambushes/attacks, or bar bounty missions don't give you any intel on the target fleet and there is a higher variance in target strength. To me, bars are thematically more about random/exciting stuff happening where you never know what the outcome will be. Even something like the ship heist mission feels like it should have a much wider array of outcomes (maybe sometimes you fail entirely, or the ship is damaged, or maybe it's not even the ship that was advertised etc.). I also think that a larger pool of possible missions could make the bar feel more varied, and I'm sure that sort of stuff is in the works already.

I also think the bar events that give you monthly income for colony production should be contact missions instead and should be more clearly advertised/described.

I guess the other function of the bar is a way to make contacts, although you expect the average contact in a bar to be a bit lower in importance. I still think those first contact missions should be a bit more random unpredictable, and you should only get reliable/standardized missions once you've developed the contact. I also think there should be more ways of developing contacts besides the bar.

Like I said, I think contacts should be the main source of missions. Particularly since they provide a believable in-world mechanism for missions to scale with the player appropriately.

One major issue I had on my first play through was that I just didn't find good contacts for a long time because I was doing mostly intel board bounties, which quickly out-scaled the bar missions that would give contacts. I think that low importance contacts should be much more common and easy to acquire, but should give low value missions. Also, removing intel board missions would force you into contacts to get good missions, which I think is a good thing. Then there should be a mechanism for leveling up contacts (maybe they have special quests that you can do to improve their importance) or having them introduce you to more important contacts etc. To me, that is a much more natural way of limiting/slowing the progression towards very good contacts and missions without just having very low chances of meeting a high importance contact.

I also think there should be more ways to get contacts besides going to the bar, for instance, maybe doing system bounties, or relieving a shortage of goods might give you a contact opportunity.

Another issue I had with contacts was that the difficulty of missions felt inconsistent i.e. sometimes the 'harder' bounty felt much easier than the 'same difficult' bounty.

I honestly don't have much experience with trade contacts, because the normal bar missions were just as good and easier to find, so I think that could be improved. But I am also definitely a combat oriented player so my experience might be a bit biased.

Suggestions / Show Hard Flux in the Combat UI
« on: January 14, 2022, 09:14:38 AM »
I know this has been suggested before but I think the new patch has made it even more relevant.

The new patch has added a couple mechanics that interact much more directly with hard flux:
- Polarized armor means hard flux directly determines combat stats
- new phase mechanics mean that hard flux is essentially the limiting factor for phase ship survivability/escapability since soft flux will be quickly dissipated in phase

In addition, I think seeing hard flux in combat would be very valuable for diagnosing when ships are high on flux due to being under pressure, vs when they are applying pressure and not necessarily in danger.

Also I think it might help players learn/notice when their loadouts are overfluxxed.

I think previously, it was suggested that hard flux should appear as a darker bar inside the main flux bar, and that still seems like a good and easily implemented solution.

edit: apparently there is already a little notch that shows hard flux that I somehow never noticed, but I think the suggestion of showing hard flux as a darker portion of the main flux bar would be easier for (dumb) people like me to see.

Suggestions / Defend without automatic assignment
« on: January 11, 2022, 05:46:59 PM »
I really like the behavior associated with defend orders on ships, but the system for automatically assigning ships to defend orders is pretty clunky for that purpose. I want an order that functions like an escort order for the purpose of assignment, with the ship behavior of a defend order.

An example: I want to do things like have a group of frigates defending a lead frigate without bigger/slower ships getting assigned and trying to keep up.

I can usually achieve what I want, but I often have to spend lots of time reassigning/manually assigning ships to get what I want, for instance I have to manually order everything to search and destroy if I want only a small subset of my ships defending.

Suggestions / Manual selection of weapon group behavior
« on: January 10, 2022, 07:48:22 AM »
I feel like strike (and maybe a few other weapon tags) should be settings in the weapon group UI. Being able to set tags like 'strike', 'general', 'shield pressure', 'finisher' etc. on weapon groups would really fix a lot of annoying AI behaviors that the player is forced to work around, and I think as long as the default settings mirror the current behaviors, it shouldn't be a major issue in terms of learning curve (default auto fitting would give the same behavior as now).

Trying to bake all the right behaviors into the AI for any possible loadout and context just seems like a fools errand.

Also, I can understand a hesitation to add more complexity on the player decision front because it can be challenging for newer players, but I think that's preferable to hiding the behaviors behind a black box AI that the player has to learn to work around anyway. I think it could potentially even make the game easier to learn by more directly communicating the way the AI works.

Suggestions / High Scatter Amplifier Idea
« on: December 23, 2021, 06:15:55 PM »
What if the hard flux was applied only at lower ranges, but the beam retained its full range? I.e. your graviton still has 1000 range but only does hard flux inside 600 range. Alternatively, you could do %hardflux based on range, or even have hard flux trailing off before the max range to limit kiting (although I think low percentage hard flux at longer ranges would not be enough to do anything significant with CR the way it is). I think you could use the current HSA range values for hard flux and a weapon like a phase lance would be much more usable.

The tough part would be teaching the AI what to do with those weapons. Although maybe current behavior might be functional for %hard flux.

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