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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: Hyperspace Topography (10/12/22)

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Author Topic: Planetary Surveys  (Read 43616 times)

Linnis

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #60 on: June 11, 2016, 04:21:02 AM »

Alex, I know you are holding back on playing stellaris but there are some lessions that could be learned! The best would be the "events" that happen when you survey planets and stars. I have hundreds of hours now and I still see new events...

Yeah most of it is flavor text and at the end with an option of going down quest lane for more of the same thing or get an immediate reward of some kind. But the point is that the flavor texts are so awesome and the quests generated always fit the empire your playing.

It made the early game really cool and added so much flavor and emmersion, do try it out, the early game of stellaris IS amazing and *cough cough* steal *cough*
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Megas

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #61 on: June 11, 2016, 05:42:56 AM »

Re: Attainable experience
So that is its jargon term, maybe.

Yes, I dislike that concept.  I would do stupid stuff like "standing on a trap trigger in a fire while jumping and casting a healing spell to level up", as Alex puts it, if that is easiest way to get one of the top-tier skills of the game.  It also tends to be more complicated all-around.

Actually, you kind of had to do stupid stuff in Ultima IV to get all eight karma/XP meters before you can become the avatar.  You cannot attack non-aggressive yet angry monsters (kills compassion), you cannot run from combat (kills valor), you must donate blood at the healers at figurative gunpoint (kills sacrifice if you refuse), you need to prompt questions from NPCs and answer correctly (raises/kills humility).

Dynamic difficulty is yet another concept I really dislike.  The game tells players "Hey, want to win? Don't play too well or you will die!  Feign incompetency and live!"  Might have a point if it has unlockables or acheivements (yet another thing I dislike - pointless grinding and busywork for the sake of the game patting you on the back).
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VuNut

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #62 on: June 11, 2016, 06:50:47 AM »

Speaking of discovering unexpected things, it'd be pretty amazing to survey a planet and discover that there's a rudimentary colony there already; one that has been isolated since the collapse and never managed to reach anyone or get back to space. There's bound to be a few, especially on the low-risk worlds.
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Alex

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #63 on: June 11, 2016, 10:15:08 AM »

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.

Yeah, exactly! Doesn't feel like the right place to add a ton of complexity to, if it's just something on the way to outposts and not a final destination.

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.

Don't know yet :) Surveying itself is core, but stuff like this, while extremely cool, is more optional - so it's a question of picking out the bits that fit in best with the core stuff.

Speaking of discovering unexpected things, it'd be pretty amazing to survey a planet and discover that there's a rudimentary colony there already; one that has been isolated since the collapse and never managed to reach anyone or get back to space. There's bound to be a few, especially on the low-risk worlds.

Yeah, that one particularly would be very neat.


... even get your ships magnetically dragged in

Black holes have that mechanic on lockdown.


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...

Well, 10 officers is probably going to require skill point investment. And if multiple fleets are a thing... as you say, a lot is subject to change.



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.

This feels like it makes a lot of things more complicated. For example, market condition effects would need to care about how accurate your survey of them was. Do things (such as ore mining) function at the estimate effectiveness or the real one? If it's the estimated one, then it doesn't make sense for over-estimates to exist.

Then, every time you level up the skill, you have to either be notified of all the changes (of which there would be many, right? pretty much every condition would change a bit) or you'd have to go looking through all of them.

Let's take a step back: what's the benefit here? What problem is this trying to solve, compared to the approach from the blog post?


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.

Yeah, totally agree. One would guess there's probably a sweet spot for this somewhere where it might work, though. But in general, time delays that don't have a gameplay reason aren't a candidate for skills reducing it, they're a candidate for being eliminated.

That said, you could make an argument that surveying could take time so that it could be interrupted by hostiles. That could be interesting, but would have to happen pretty often for that to be worth adding a delay.


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.

Hmm, yeah. I think that might be a different skill, though - "Salvage", perhaps? There's also a danger here that doing the one-shot plundering will feel like a waste at anything below maxed out skill, because you're not getting all you could. Might be alright if there are enough opportunities to do it that it's not a concern, though.

Very much thinking about this already! Great minds think alike and all that :)

As far as feeling "cheated" - the survey skill will have some other benefits. In addition, low-hazard worlds never get some of the top-tier resource conditions. I suppose it's theoretically possible that *none* of the high-hazard worlds roll anything worthwhile, but then it doesn't feel like one-time bonuses would help here, that just doesn't stack up against "spent skill points".


Alex, I know you are holding back on playing stellaris but there are some lessions that could be learned! The best would be the "events" that happen when you survey planets and stars. I have hundreds of hours now and I still see new events...

Yeah, that's kind of why I don't want to. Going along very similar lines in this particular area, it feels like.

Dynamic difficulty is yet another concept I really dislike.  The game tells players "Hey, want to win? Don't play too well or you will die!  Feign incompetency and live!"  Might have a point if it has unlockables or acheivements (yet another thing I dislike - pointless grinding and busywork for the sake of the game patting you on the back).

Reminds me of someone beating Oblivion with a level 2 character, specifically build to avoid levelling up, iirc.

Generally dislike the concept, too. But I think there are ways to make it work, as long as it's not hamfisted. For example, say the amount of attention factions turned on you was proportional to the amount of trouble you caused for them. Basically "dynamic difficulty", but there's an in-game reason for it, and that doesn't feel bad.
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Megas

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #64 on: June 11, 2016, 10:31:04 AM »

@ Alex: Sure, game getting harder as a result of logical consequences are fine.  If I openly attack a Hegemony fleet then become public enemy #1, I am perfectly okay with that.  Game getting harder more than normal because I perfect played the last round feels cheap.  Low-level run is exactly the sort of thing that dynamic difficulty encourages.
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Alex

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #65 on: June 11, 2016, 10:39:19 AM »

Yeah, I think we're on the same page here.

My point was just that you could make "dynamic difficulty" without making it awful, it's just the arbitrary, unavoidable, punishing-good-play aspect of certain implementations of it that makes it bad. And there's probably a good deal of room for what one might consider "punishing good play". I mean, if the Hegemony sends out a task force dedicated to hunting you down because you've been such a pain, that's "punishing good play" on some level, but is also perfectly reasonable.

So it's not all black and white, but "dynamic difficulty" as a concept tends to be maligned, where I think the problem people have is really with the specifics of the implementation. Or maybe I'm just defining dynamic difficulty too broadly to include things that don't suck :)
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Dri

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #66 on: June 11, 2016, 02:29:51 PM »

So, looking quite some time ahead, does this mean that the next big patch will include serveys and outposts? :o
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DatonKallandor

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #67 on: June 11, 2016, 03:16:09 PM »

Yeah, I think we're on the same page here.

My point was just that you could make "dynamic difficulty" without making it awful, it's just the arbitrary, unavoidable, punishing-good-play aspect of certain implementations of it that makes it bad. And there's probably a good deal of room for what one might consider "punishing good play". I mean, if the Hegemony sends out a task force dedicated to hunting you down because you've been such a pain, that's "punishing good play" on some level, but is also perfectly reasonable.

So it's not all black and white, but "dynamic difficulty" as a concept tends to be maligned, where I think the problem people have is really with the specifics of the implementation. Or maybe I'm just defining dynamic difficulty too broadly to include things that don't suck :)

The famous Oblivion dynamic difficulty problem wasn't so much that the difficulty scaled, it was that it scaled to a stat that was far too broad: "Levels"

It's not a problem to scale combat power of enemies to player level, unless it happens to be a game where you can and will level up by getting better at talking or crafting without ever getting better at fighting and that's exactly what Oblivion was.

There was also the minor fluff issue of bandits suddenly getting access to equipment was supposed to be ultra rare and ridiculously expensive, but the real issue was that it scaled combat power of enemies to a stat that could be a non-combat stat. The part where it breaks the world logic can (and has been since) solved by making dynamic difficulty variable and not global.

There are situations where it makes sense to encounter tougher and tougher enemies that start tough and only get stronger with the player (think Mordor), places where enemies start low and only scale to a certain point (think the Shire and surrounds) to give the player something to maybe come back to and go "damn I remember when this was hard, I am awesome now" and places that are in-between that. The important things with dynamic difficulty is that you never get rid of the moments where the player can encounter something that makes him go "oh wow, this place is hardcore I can't take this yet" and "I remember when this was hard I am a badass now".
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Megas

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #68 on: June 11, 2016, 03:58:14 PM »

Dynamic difficulty: Spoilered because I do not want to derail this too much with more discussion...
Spoiler
Quick examples of dynamic difficulty I have in mind:

* I grab the shield powerup in Gradius, and all of sudden, enemies that did not shoot much now saturate the screen with bullets like in a bullet-hell shooter.  Was better off never getting the shield.

* EA football (Madden or others):  I pick the overpowered all-star team and give the CPU a very weak team.  After clobbering of the other team for the first half, the wimp team suddenly gets much stronger, and shrugs off and outruns my defenders.  Game gets tied rather quickly.  What was the point of picking a god-team if the cheating AI wimps become bigger gods later?

* Hypothetical FPS:  I clear first level with 90% kills.  Second level proceeds as normal.  Another game, I clear the first level with 100% kills, I get much stronger enemies, and they move faster, and their attacks are one-hit kills... or suddenly, the expected items are gone!

Bonus or replacement bosses that appear due to superb gameplay (e.g., Akuma from the Street Fighter games or Reptile from the first Mortal Kombat) do not count.
[close]

Summary:  I do not want the game to metagame and adjust the game based on my game record.  Enemies that are stronger later are that way due to logical progression (go from safe Shire to deadly Mordor; zombie infection slowly expands), not because I got a perfect score at the shooting gallery (instead of 99%), and the house thinks rocks should fall to deny my victory.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2016, 04:05:41 PM by Megas »
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VuNut

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #69 on: June 12, 2016, 04:15:58 AM »

A good but not essential benefit of upping the survey skill could be forewarning of possible temporary negative events that a planet can have, maybe letting you start the outpost with the countermeasure(s) already applied at a small discount.
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Gothars

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #70 on: June 12, 2016, 05:03:27 PM »

the survey skill will have some other benefits

Can you talk about those? :)


Would be cool if you could survey all kinds of things to learn more about them. Maybe survey neutral/allied colonies and stations to get intel (and sell it to their enemies). Or suns, to predict upcoming solar events and get a tactical advantage. Or com relays to see who's listening in with their bugs. Or just deeper lore information on all kinds of space born artifacts. It could be a general "invest ressources to learn more about this" skill.

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The game was completed 8 years ago and we get a free expansion every year.

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Alex

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #71 on: June 12, 2016, 05:15:21 PM »

There was also the minor fluff issue of bandits suddenly getting access to equipment was supposed to be ultra rare and ridiculously expensive, but the real issue was that it scaled combat power of enemies to a stat that could be a non-combat stat.

My feeling is that it was already bad, and then this aspect of it just made it very bad :) Buut, yes, in general agreement here.

Can you talk about those? :)

Haven't entirely settled on what they are :) Some thoughts are generating "survey data" you can sell, granting increased XP, providing minor resource extraction bonuses to outposts, some active abilities that make surveying easier/less expensive/etc, possibly access to the "Surveying Equipment" mod, that sort of thing.


Would be cool if you could survey all kinds of things to learn more about them. Maybe survey neutral/allied colonies and stations to get intel (and sell it to their enemies). Or suns, to predict upcoming solar events and get a tactical advantage. Or com relays to see who's listening in with their bugs. Or just deeper lore information on all kinds of space born artifacts. It could be a general "invest ressources to learn more about this" skill.

Hmm. With extra lore, this presumes a very large chunk of content existing, that doesn't exist :) Hinting at things in descriptions is one thing, but having more information to dig into *everywhere* is quite another.

The sort of thing is an option, though. One thing I don't want to do is add mechanics that are just sort of hanging out there design-wise, not connected to anything else.

For example: "predict upcoming solar events" - that would be cool, but not if it's a one-off. If solar events play a larger role in the campaign, then yeah. Likewise with the intel thing, if collecting intel in this way is part of how "faction war" functions, then that'd be a neat thing to tie into skills. Otherwise, it's probably too much effort for a "random" unconnected feature. I think things like this are great if they're simple individually but interact to create higher-level dynamics.
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Zarcon

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #72 on: June 13, 2016, 06:19:22 AM »

So stinking cool!!!  :)

Love it.

My excitement level for Starsector just increased a bunch, because so far it's mostly been a combat sim, to now bring in outposts and creating your own domain, so amazing!!!

(I knew outposts and such were one day gonna be in the game, but this makes it feel more real and immanent.  :P  )
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There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.
Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.

Mr. Sterling

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #73 on: June 13, 2016, 01:33:55 PM »

sounds great but i hope you add that ability to have more then 1 fleet at a time. i e be able to hire a captain to be in control a second fleet (or more) to do trade runs or defend areas etc.

with that in mind make is so you can design the ships and loads of said ship they will use as well as their skills.
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Zarcon

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Re: Planetary Surveys
« Reply #74 on: June 17, 2016, 12:28:38 PM »

Oh.  I saw a comment about previously unknown small colonies being discovered in Surveying and it brought a question to mind.

Are there Aliens in this Sector of Stars?  :P  (Sorry if this is already addressed or obvious.)

Or just stranded humans?
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There is no instance of a nation benefitting from prolonged warfare.
Thus it is that in war the victorious strategist only seeks battle after the victory has been won, whereas he who is destined to defeat first fights and afterwards looks for victory.
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