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Starsector 0.97a is out! (02/02/24)

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Author Topic: Planetary Surveys  (Read 46992 times)

Gothars

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #45 on: June 10, 2016, 04:18:00 PM »

I really like the straightforward mechanic, this could have enden up way more convoluted - I'm thinking of Mass Effect and Star Control here. The UI presentation with the planet looming big in the the background is quite pleasant, too :)

Plus it takes away the immediacy of something fun - sort of a slot-machine type gambling, finding out what the conditions are.

One related thing I didn't see mentioned is immediate consequences. It would be a nice touch if the acquisition of planetary data wouldn't be the only possible outcome of a survey. Maybe something nice happens, you find abandoned resources, or data about other places in the Sector. Or misfortune befalls you, raiders appear in orbit (->fight) or your ground team gets annihilated in a natural disaster. I think more possible outcomes make the slot-machine more fun.

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Cyan Leader

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #46 on: June 10, 2016, 05:12:35 PM »

A lot of thought has been made into the XP and levels, but have you considered splitting the type of attainable experience?

Like "Exploration XP" or "Combat XP".

Recently when reading previews of Civilization 6 I heard the devs arguing that civilizations that are nowhere near the coast should have no business getting tech related to the seas and would have to spend a lot of research points to get it and those who are close to it should have a lot of bonuses when researching such. Similarly for Starsector isn't it odd that the player can get something like missile specialization or combat aptitude when all he is doing is trading and surveying?
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Midnight Kitsune

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #47 on: June 10, 2016, 06:31:58 PM »

A lot of thought has been made into the XP and levels, but have you considered splitting the type of attainable experience?
I think the reason for a single XP type is because Alex is trying to follow the rule of K.I.S.S
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Deshara

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #48 on: June 10, 2016, 07:17:30 PM »

Assuming current topology stays the same, I like to commandeer and repair the broken stations like the gas siphon in Yma, Ashura, or all of Penelope's Star.

Another thing that's being thought about, but, again, just not something I'm ready to talk about. I would like all the abandoned/derelict stuff to play a role, though.

I really hope you keep the abandoned topology, even if you fully randomized the untouched topology (ie outlying planets like the two in jangala that have no history in the game are randomized but stuff like Penelope's star where everything in it has history and scars and just plays into the scene so well stays as is)

Also; Stellaris has this mechanic where you have to survey basically anything before you know what kind of resources it has to exploit, so every time the survey command is presented to the player "survey system" is right under it because you never know what kind of resources you're about to miss, making it basically so that you will NEVER have a reason not to survey everything.
However, about every solar system has an Anomaly (or rather, 70% do, 20% don't and 10% have two or more) that is revealed when you survey an object, which pops up with flavor text giving you a brief synopsis as to what weirdness it is that caught the surveyor's eye and what they might intend specifically to find out about it (two that pop up in mind are the presence of a dead ancient solar-sail vessel in orbit around a planet or a planet with no signs of sentient habitation that has a massive superstructure on it) and the general level of the anomaly (and therefor the natural risk that something will go wrong if you try to study it/the level of the officer required to safely study the anomaly) and how much risk of something going wrong there is if you sent the currently selected survey vessel to study it, leaving you to abandon certain anomalies for a time and come back to them when you're ready (I learned my lesson when I had a science officer throw on a space suit, go down a planet inhabited by titans to study them only to get stepped on)
Most of the anomalies don't really pan out to be a whole lot, most of them giving a really minor mineral bonus to any outposts established on the object with it, some of them wind up unlocking previously hidden quest chains (that you can crush as you find it) and some that wind up being big stuff, but all of them provide flavor text that helps to reinforce the theme of the setting.

As Gothars said before, it gives bonuses, or generates surprise content, that isn't necessarily accessed on your first pass. Most of it doesn't wind up being negative content (unless you jump the gun and fail the hazard check) so there's no reason not to survey an anomaly that you are otherwise occupying with an outpost, and many anomalies pay off an investigation with a one-time bonus that doesn't require occupation so there's reason to investigate anomalies that are on something you can't/won't occupy.

All of which I think would suit Starsector really well. Of course, the flavor text and themes of the anomalies themselves in Stellaris are frequently high, soft scifi and revolve around the discovery of precursor aliens and stuff like the, but the events and payouts could be tuned for Starsector's harder scifi/lower fantasy. For example, the fewer outposts you're supposed to make (I know you want to naturally cut down on the "plague the galaxy" playstyle, due to the player interface not currently supporting a galactic RTS style gameplay) could be supported by making it so that more of the anomalies could be one-time bonuses or quest chains that don't require occupation to be exploited, most of which are small-time stuff but the feintest chance of a huge payoff to be worth en-mass late-game exploitation (like finding a section of the original XIV fleet that didn't make it to the Sector way back when that wound up being left to drift that could be recovered)
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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #49 on: June 10, 2016, 07:34:42 PM »

A lot of thought has been made into the XP and levels, but have you considered splitting the type of attainable experience?

+1 on this, surveying is an interesting feature, but I really can't imagine myself compromising combat performance (by not taking tech/combat skills) for any reason. Well, except maybe first time as test for new mechanics.
Whatever financial gains it could provide will probably become obsolete by sufficiently late game (when you have more money than necessary), but there is no such thing as being too good at combat.
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Megas

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #50 on: June 10, 2016, 07:40:13 PM »

Quote
It might make liner ships useful!
I like to see Valkyrie made useful.  The liners have made the Valkyrie obsolete.  Who cares if the Valkyrie can use a few more guns than liners; Valkyrie still has poor combat stats.

Quote
but there is no such thing as being too good at combat.
Definitely.  There is so much useful stuff for combat that the only way I can get them all is to cheat for XP.  (I do not want to waste time grinding past level 70+ for every game.)
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Alex

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #51 on: June 10, 2016, 08:28:39 PM »

Neato! However, are there any plans in place for things to go spectacularly wrong?

Maybe planet conditions adding small chance of casualties (unstable tectonics?) Or maybe some resources that cause casualties when uncovered (survey crew discovers hostile mutants when one gets mauled) or even common resources screwing with the player (common organics with a chance of carrying some kind of diseases that sicken/kill crew, widespread ruins having an errant landmine.)

I don't mind the idea of crew cost not being factored into surveying, but a planet with 75% hazard rating should take some kind of a toll.

Hmm - not particularly; was thinking about that but a random chance for things to go bad in an unavoidable way doesn't sound like such a good idea. As far as "taking a toll", that was actually the original thought about it - raising the maintenance cost of an outpost, among other things.



Also do the crew just vanish after you use them in a survey? I'm cool with that btw.

They don't, only supplies are consumed. Crew and machinery are required but not consumed.

I think it's ok to have a 'progress bar' for a survey, but it should be one you can just leave and come back to later. For really mean planets it might be interesting if it was substantial - like a month or something. Also the skill level of the crew could effect the amount of time needed!
What if each condition like "rich ore deposits" was a bar the player had to fill up? Each day of the survey the player would make, say, 10% survey progress to any random condition the planet may have.

Higher skill levels would improve the quality of surveying without impacting actual effectiveness. Here's an example:

Level 0: 10% progress to a random condition. Progress is random and alternates between conditions.
Level 1: Lists all conditions as "Uknown" until surveyed. Lets you see how many the planet has. Progress among them is still random
Level 2: Shows unsurveyed condition's category such as "Minerals" or "Volatiles" or "Gases".
Level 3: Shows the actual conditions without surveying. The player still needs to survey them to make use of.
Level 4: Lets the player choose which condition to survey first and focus on them instead of spreading the effort.
Level 5: Lets the player survey from a large distance away, with dimishing effectiveness based on distance. The fastest way is to orbit the planet but if for some reason you want to stay away you can still survey it at a much reduced speed.

None of these impact the actual effectiveness of surveying a planet while giving plenty of reason for someone to invest skillpoints into it if they want to.

On a separate note i would like to see survey "weapons" and different hull mods (not just one). Asteroid belt/ring survey could be done in the battle screens and have players orbit and dodge a hail of asteroids while the "weapons" survey them. Survey "weapons" would also double as target painters or scanners that increase accuracy or missile tracking against that target, including a higher chance to ignore Flares/Chaff.

Kind of the same idea that Tartiflette was talking about earlier. My thoughts are basically the same: this sounds like it could be very neat it there were very few total surveys. As soon as we're talking about several systems' worth of planets, I think that starts to break down - going into too much detail in the mechanic given its scope.


I really like the straightforward mechanic, this could have enden up way more convoluted - I'm thinking of Mass Effect and Star Control here. The UI presentation with the planet looming big in the the background is quite pleasant, too :)

Ha - the first iteration was a bit convoluted, with three survey levels (though it only got partially implemented). At some point I hit myself over the head with a brick and made a concerted effort to dial the complexity waaaaay back :)

Glad you like the planet! I'm super happy with how that came out.

(Side note: so, no-one's going to mention the neutron star in the first screenshot, huh?)

One related thing I didn't see mentioned is immediate consequences. It would be a nice touch if the acquisition of planetary data wouldn't be the only possible outcome of a survey. Maybe something nice happens, you find abandoned resources, or data about other places in the Sector. Or misfortune befalls you, raiders appear in orbit (->fight) or your ground team gets annihilated in a natural disaster. I think more possible outcomes make the slot-machine more fun.

Hmm. As mentioned earlier, not too keen on random and unavoidable bad things happening, but aside from those, have been thinking about similar things. Perhaps surveying a planet "wakes up" a pirate fleet hiding nearby, perhaps you run into other surveyors. Also definitely thinking about what form a quick profit - i.e. salvaging something, either from ruins of from particularly rich natural deposts, w/o establishing an outpost - could take.



A lot of thought has been made into the XP and levels, but have you considered splitting the type of attainable experience?

In my experience, these kinds of systems lead to problems.

You can build a character that's great at everything, eventually - but you have to grind everything to do it, including things you don't enjoy. You're also forced to do things your character is bad at to get better at them. Which makes sense in theory, but also contributes to an inverted difficulty curve.

Also, some game mechanics may not have enough XP-boosting activities, or the ones they do have would be highly repetitive to do if you *had* to do them to gain experience in that one area. That's solvable by, well, having more things to do, but - aside from it taking more dev-time and being harder to balance - not every area of the game has the same amount of room for interesting and not exploitable XP-gaining activities.

Plus it doesn't really make that much more sense! How does experience surveying help you with, I don't know, manufacturing ships? You could make an argument that it does, but it's thin enough that an argument that knowing about missiles would help with building ships as well would hold about as much water.

If you take this to its logical conclusion, you end up with a TES-like system with individual skills gaining levels when you use them, and before you know it the player is standing on a trap trigger in a fire while jumping and casting a healing spell to level up. Not that I've ever done that. I would never do that! Ahem.

I'd just as soon not go down that road at all. You get XP, you gain levels, and can spend it however you like. It's cleaner and more interesting in terms of builds, and the "realism" gains from doing it the other way are dubious at best.


Recently when reading previews of Civilization 6 I heard the devs arguing that civilizations that are nowhere near the coast should have no business getting tech related to the seas and would have to spend a lot of research points to get it and those who are close to it should have a lot of bonuses when researching such. Similarly for Starsector isn't it odd that the player can get something like missile specialization or combat aptitude when all he is doing is trading and surveying?

I'm not sure I like this analogy for split XP. One that fits better, I think, is if you had - in Civ 6 - different researchers for different technologies, and couldn't reassign them to other duties.


+1 on this, surveying is an interesting feature, but I really can't imagine myself compromising combat performance (by not taking tech/combat skills) for any reason. Well, except maybe first time as test for new mechanics.
Whatever financial gains it could provide will probably become obsolete by sufficiently late game (when you have more money than necessary), but there is no such thing as being too good at combat.

I think the current lack of end-game expenses (or anything else) is what's underlying the assumption that money will be a non-issue in the late game regardless of any investment in money-making things.

That aside, I think there'll be plenty of reasons to invest in non-combat skills. At a very basic level of what industry might do, consider having access to a ton of displosable ships vs lots of disposable ships and a tough flagship, vs a very tough flagship and no displosable ships. That seems like it'd be more a playstyle and tactical/strategic decision, rather than one option simply being better. Then there's the potential to gain access to higher-end stuff more quickly, and having it be replaceable, and... other things.
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Alex

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #52 on: June 10, 2016, 08:36:30 PM »

Forgot to respond to this!

I really hope you keep the abandoned topology, even if you fully randomized the untouched topology (ie outlying planets like the two in jangala that have no history in the game are randomized but stuff like Penelope's star where everything in it has history and scars and just plays into the scene so well stays as is)

Yeah, definitely. Stuff like Penelope's Star is staying put; just because a place doesn't have markets doesn't mean it's not going to be handcrafted.

Spoiler
Also; Stellaris has this mechanic where you have to survey basically anything before you know what kind of resources it has to exploit, so every time the survey command is presented to the player "survey system" is right under it because you never know what kind of resources you're about to miss, making it basically so that you will NEVER have a reason not to survey everything.
However, about every solar system has an Anomaly (or rather, 70% do, 20% don't and 10% have two or more) that is revealed when you survey an object, which pops up with flavor text giving you a brief synopsis as to what weirdness it is that caught the surveyor's eye and what they might intend specifically to find out about it (two that pop up in mind are the presence of a dead ancient solar-sail vessel in orbit around a planet or a planet with no signs of sentient habitation that has a massive superstructure on it) and the general level of the anomaly (and therefor the natural risk that something will go wrong if you try to study it/the level of the officer required to safely study the anomaly) and how much risk of something going wrong there is if you sent the currently selected survey vessel to study it, leaving you to abandon certain anomalies for a time and come back to them when you're ready (I learned my lesson when I had a science officer throw on a space suit, go down a planet inhabited by titans to study them only to get stepped on)
Most of the anomalies don't really pan out to be a whole lot, most of them giving a really minor mineral bonus to any outposts established on the object with it, some of them wind up unlocking previously hidden quest chains (that you can crush as you find it) and some that wind up being big stuff, but all of them provide flavor text that helps to reinforce the theme of the setting.

As Gothars said before, it gives bonuses, or generates surprise content, that isn't necessarily accessed on your first pass. Most of it doesn't wind up being negative content (unless you jump the gun and fail the hazard check) so there's no reason not to survey an anomaly that you are otherwise occupying with an outpost, and many anomalies pay off an investigation with a one-time bonus that doesn't require occupation so there's reason to investigate anomalies that are on something you can't/won't occupy.

All of which I think would suit Starsector really well. Of course, the flavor text and themes of the anomalies themselves in Stellaris are frequently high, soft scifi and revolve around the discovery of precursor aliens and stuff like the, but the events and payouts could be tuned for Starsector's harder scifi/lower fantasy. For example, the fewer outposts you're supposed to make (I know you want to naturally cut down on the "plague the galaxy" playstyle, due to the player interface not currently supporting a galactic RTS style gameplay) could be supported by making it so that more of the anomalies could be one-time bonuses or quest chains that don't require occupation to be exploited, most of which are small-time stuff but the feintest chance of a huge payoff to be worth en-mass late-game exploitation (like finding a section of the original XIV fleet that didn't make it to the Sector way back when that wound up being left to drift that could be recovered)
[close]

Thank you for the breakdown - heard about that aspect of it and was actually wondering how it worked.
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Deshara

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #53 on: June 10, 2016, 09:02:49 PM »

Forgot to respond to this!

I really hope you keep the abandoned topology, even if you fully randomized the untouched topology (ie outlying planets like the two in jangala that have no history in the game are randomized but stuff like Penelope's star where everything in it has history and scars and just plays into the scene so well stays as is)

Yeah, definitely. Stuff like Penelope's Star is staying put; just because a place doesn't have markets doesn't mean it's not going to be handcrafted.

Spoiler
Also; Stellaris has this mechanic where you have to survey basically anything before you know what kind of resources it has to exploit, so every time the survey command is presented to the player "survey system" is right under it because you never know what kind of resources you're about to miss, making it basically so that you will NEVER have a reason not to survey everything.
However, about every solar system has an Anomaly (or rather, 70% do, 20% don't and 10% have two or more) that is revealed when you survey an object, which pops up with flavor text giving you a brief synopsis as to what weirdness it is that caught the surveyor's eye and what they might intend specifically to find out about it (two that pop up in mind are the presence of a dead ancient solar-sail vessel in orbit around a planet or a planet with no signs of sentient habitation that has a massive superstructure on it) and the general level of the anomaly (and therefor the natural risk that something will go wrong if you try to study it/the level of the officer required to safely study the anomaly) and how much risk of something going wrong there is if you sent the currently selected survey vessel to study it, leaving you to abandon certain anomalies for a time and come back to them when you're ready (I learned my lesson when I had a science officer throw on a space suit, go down a planet inhabited by titans to study them only to get stepped on)
Most of the anomalies don't really pan out to be a whole lot, most of them giving a really minor mineral bonus to any outposts established on the object with it, some of them wind up unlocking previously hidden quest chains (that you can crush as you find it) and some that wind up being big stuff, but all of them provide flavor text that helps to reinforce the theme of the setting.

As Gothars said before, it gives bonuses, or generates surprise content, that isn't necessarily accessed on your first pass. Most of it doesn't wind up being negative content (unless you jump the gun and fail the hazard check) so there's no reason not to survey an anomaly that you are otherwise occupying with an outpost, and many anomalies pay off an investigation with a one-time bonus that doesn't require occupation so there's reason to investigate anomalies that are on something you can't/won't occupy.

All of which I think would suit Starsector really well. Of course, the flavor text and themes of the anomalies themselves in Stellaris are frequently high, soft scifi and revolve around the discovery of precursor aliens and stuff like the, but the events and payouts could be tuned for Starsector's harder scifi/lower fantasy. For example, the fewer outposts you're supposed to make (I know you want to naturally cut down on the "plague the galaxy" playstyle, due to the player interface not currently supporting a galactic RTS style gameplay) could be supported by making it so that more of the anomalies could be one-time bonuses or quest chains that don't require occupation to be exploited, most of which are small-time stuff but the feintest chance of a huge payoff to be worth en-mass late-game exploitation (like finding a section of the original XIV fleet that didn't make it to the Sector way back when that wound up being left to drift that could be recovered)
[close]

Thank you for the breakdown - heard about that aspect of it and was actually wondering how it worked.

Yeah essentially it's a randomized way of discovering stuff like the fluff text of the derelict systems of dhuzak and Pelope's star that works like your plan for surveys only they can grant one-off bonuses (like discovering a fossilized but recoverable hulk) or kicking off a quest chain. Actually the derelict systems in-game now are some of my favorite content, but then I love to explore and dig up fluff in games like this where the theme grabs me
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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #54 on: June 10, 2016, 09:13:17 PM »

I like the deliberate simplicity in the surveying mechanic- I feel like there would be enough to keep track of (I'm assuming) with the setting up of outposts and markets afterwards. This route makes it feel necessary but not a significant bump to those prepared to colonize.

I do wonder though, how many campaign events will involve surveying, like faction missions, and whether or not surveyable planets might have existing civilization, presumably cut off after the Collapse.
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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #55 on: June 10, 2016, 09:16:30 PM »

To Alex's side note: Neutron Star!  Nothing like a high dosage of radiation and gamma ray burst to liven up the day. :D Or hell, even get your ships magnetically dragged it if it's the right kind of neutron star, a magnetar.  I don't think the Solar Shielding hullmod will help too much against those Gamma ray bursts though, heh.  Come to think of it, wonder if you could take crew attrition while in it.  Huh.  It's incredibly difficult to block them without resorting to dense elements like Lead, and they tend to have...undesirable...effects on humans.  Nice that you can cower behind planets to avoid them, though - it's the little details that count. ;)
« Last Edit: June 10, 2016, 09:18:59 PM by The Soldier »
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TaLaR

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #56 on: June 10, 2016, 09:26:16 PM »

That aside, I think there'll be plenty of reasons to invest in non-combat skills. At a very basic level of what industry might do, consider having access to a ton of disposable ships vs lots of disposable ships and a tough flagship, vs a very tough flagship and no disposable ships. That seems like it'd be more a playstyle and tactical/strategic decision, rather than one option simply being better. Then there's the potential to gain access to higher-end stuff more quickly, and having it be replaceable, and... other things.

Ton of disposable ship could become viable at some point, but 10 officers softcap and 25 ships total hardcap seriously limit efficiency of such approach in current version. Of course, it's probably subject to change...
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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #57 on: June 10, 2016, 10:04:17 PM »


I wonder how the Hegemony is going to react to your setting up shop in their system... I mean, I'm assuming the pirates are paying *somebody* off to go unnoticed right under the Hegemony's nose.

<Agent spam intensifies>

Aside from that, I love how the conversation of this new feature is going on. It would probably bring even more feed back once the system is released in an update.


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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #58 on: June 11, 2016, 12:45:11 AM »

As far as making a survey skill or set of survey skills which are useful to have at any level and not something that you'd either be guaranteed to never have or always take to max rank, I might suggest treating the survey skills as data interpretation skills rather than data collection skills. You perform a survey and collect complete, accurate survey data regardless of your survey skill, but the survey report is only as accurate as your skill in data interpretation allows it to be. A zero-skill surveyor might interpret the data to indicate that the location has a feature with a value of X, with the true value X' being within 50% of X in either direction; higher survey skills would reduce the maximum error. The value of X would preferably be set the first time the player viewed the survey data at a given survey skill level, so as to avoid repeatedly viewing the survey reports to collect enough random points around the true value to find a much more accurate estimate of the true value than that which is reported in the game.

You could be assumed to keep the raw data in storage somewhere and reevaluate the data each time your character's survey skill improves, regenerating the survey report to provide a more accurate interpretation of the data, which removes the incentive to put off surveying until the character maxes out survey skill (or at least reaches a point where the accuracy of the report is within acceptable limits), and because the data itself is complete and accurate you have little reason to redo the survey "in case something was overlooked the first time around."

If it's felt to be necessary, you could also add a merchant type that can be paid to provide a higher-accuracy interpretation of survey data that the player has collected, so as to reduce the risk of making a bad choice for outpost placement for players with low survey skill; if the cost is sufficiently high, if the maximum accuracy of reports gained by the merchant is still worse than the maximum accuracy of reports generated by a player character which maxes out survey skills, or if there are other drawbacks to giving the merchant access to your survey data (e.g. the survey report is now in the public domain or is the merchant's property and so you cannot legally sell it or cannot legally sell it at full value, or it can come to the attention of factions with which the merchant is aligned and result in fleets of that faction paying unwanted visits to an area you were considering setting up shop in, or it makes the surveyed world a potential location for other factions to set up shop if they previously had no information on the area or were in no rush to set up there because they thought no one else was interested in it), you'd still have an incentive to improve the character's survey skill, but it wouldn't necessarily be essential.

As far as tying survey speed to survey skill goes, my own opinion is that it'd be better not to do so. I tend to find that things that increase the rate at which a task is performed have either so much of an effect on the time taken as to be nearly essential or so little practical impact on the time taken as to be nearly worthless, and, worse, a lot of times a large part of the reason for getting them is tedium-reduction.
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Gothars

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #59 on: June 11, 2016, 02:48:28 AM »

Perhaps surveying a planet "wakes up" a pirate fleet hiding nearby, perhaps you run into other surveyors. Also definitely thinking about what form a quick profit - i.e. salvaging something, either from ruins of from particularly rich natural deposts, w/o establishing an outpost - could take.



You know, it might be worth some thought if this should be tied to the survey skill level. While I completely agree that getting a permanently better planet with a higher skill would be too enticing, getting a better chance at a one-shot bonus could strike a good balance.
A downside of the current implementation is that you might feel cheated under certain conditions. Imagine a case where you invested a lot in the skill and then all the interesting "high risk" planets turn out disappointing and you end up settling on some low risk ones. Wasted skill points! If you at least got some better one-time bonuses that would mitigate the issue.

I'm thinking of a wide range of things; stuff like ships, weapons, (shipwrecked) officers and hidden missions.






« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 07:02:36 AM by Gothars »
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