Fractal Softworks Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 7

Author Topic: My thoughts and impressions  (Read 11538 times)

Blaine

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
    • Email
My thoughts and impressions
« on: October 28, 2018, 06:47:05 PM »

Quick background: I played Starsector in 2014 and again in 2016, picked it up again recently, and like probably everyone else, I've played a pile of space-based 4X/strategy/trading/combat games over the decades.

In my current (vanilla 0.8.1a) game, I've re-familiarized myself with the fleet navigation mechanics. I know how to interdict and catch smaller fleets, how to anticipate and avoid larger fleets, employ stealth, travel safely, and so on. I've learned to manage my fuel and supplies, as well as where and how to restock on the cheapest supplies and how to get the best resale value for survey data and et cetera (pretty much Sindria, AKA Starsector Walmart). I'm fairly happy with the officer, mod, and outfit loadouts on my small fleet, which combat-wise are currently a Heron (that I had to sneak out of Sindria after buying it from the black market), a Medusa (that I was super-lucky to find for sale on the open market), two Wolf-class frigates, and a Mule that I use as my flagship.

My commander is heavily invested in Industry and has Navigation 3, which is why I'm now >$900,000 in the bank, ready to invest in fleet/combat skills moving forward, and preparing to take a commission somewhere for access to the good stuff.

That's where my saved game is currently stalled as of this evening, because every faction is enemies with every other faction, with just two minor exceptions. Obviously I'll need to pick one if I really want to enjoy more of the fleet battles side of the game, but having tons of enemies is obviously also very limiting. I'm heavily inclined to side with Sindria due mainly to the fact that supplies and fuel, the most vital resources, are plentiful and cheap there. Then again, Sindria only seems to control a single system. I suppose I could also stockpile thousands of Sindrian fuel elsewhere before picking sides if desired.

It seems pretty bonkers to me that virtually everyone is enemies with everyone else. I wonder if this behavior is intended and/or if that will change in 0.9.0.

Speaking of fuel and such, the early game, as everyone who posts on this forum seems to be aware, is indeed really rough on new players. Emerging from a gravity well right next to a Scavenger deathblob; being unfamiliar with the predator-or-prey, flee-or-pounce fleet navigation mechanics; accidentally entering a gravity well with transponders off and being instantly pounced upon by the local space police; returning to a familiar planet after your first survey mission, only to find no fuel or supplies for sale (happened to me); Spathi frigates; and many other factors, all contribute. Granted, some people just need to do the tutorials and/or RTFM and/or pay attention, but I did all of those things and it was still a bumpy ride.

You guys don't know me, but if you did, you'd know that I'd be the last person to advocate for dumbing a game down, hand-holding, or in general making games easier simply so that they're more "accessible." Still, there's such a thing as gentling the learning curve, and before release on Steam I think the game probably needs... something extra to ease the transition: not a lessening of what's there at the game's core, but a buffer before new players get there, if you will.

This post is already a novel, so I'll wrap up for now by touching on do-nothing/cowardly/Spathi AI. Clearly every board regular is aware of the issue, and now that I've played for a little while, I too have experienced it on numerous occasions. Attack Frigate? More like Aback Frigate, amirite fellas? Self-preserving AI behavior is actually very realistic and Sun Tzu, but well... Sun Tzu isn't always Fun Tzu, if you know what I'm saying. Yes, there are counters, and I've read the two big discussion threads about SpathAI, but Alex says he's trying to tweak this in 0.9.0 and I definitely think that's a good thing. Backpedaling frigates are pretty annoying, especially when CR and supplies affect players and the AI asymmetrically (AI can afford to lose battles/burn out its fleets; the player really can't).
Logged

TaLaR

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 2496
    • View Profile
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #1 on: October 28, 2018, 10:37:01 PM »

Being aggressive with frigates requires precise judgement on when attack is safe/useful and when it's pointless suicide.
AI lacks such judgement (and it's not an easy problem to solve), which is why it plays safe. This is an error in itself in some contexts, like SO ships, but anyway that's where we are.
Also, AI's definition of 'safe' is not really safe enough - it's basically try to approach and see what happens. Which easily leads to death against 4xTL Paragon or similar mod-ships.

Anyway, if you don't want frigates to run around you, bring counters. Faster frigates of your own, fighters or player piloted ships like top frigates/Medusa/Aurora. If you didn't, you failed at fleet composition level and deserve to suffer for it :)
Though really, even player piloted Onslaught doesn't have that many problems catching stuff with it's Burn Drive. Just don't expect to catch anything with Paragon (one of slowest ships overall, if you include ship system effects). Well, aside from above mentioned suicide-volunteers who mistakenly approach on their own.
« Last Edit: October 28, 2018, 10:41:38 PM by TaLaR »
Logged

Blaine

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2018, 11:27:44 PM »

Yeah, I had a suicide volunteer approach my shiny new Medusa in its first deployment and burst into flames almost immediately. It's not as though they never approach or that you can never catch them. Then again, I'm not THAT experienced in fleet combat yet (in 0.8.1a, anyway). I've only done a couple handfuls of pirate mop-ups and bounty hunts, a dozen or so automated defense clean-ups, and some cooperative mid-battle join-ins, mostly on the side of independents in hyperspace. Maybe once I'm fielding bigger ships in larger fleets, I'll see more and more annoying keep-away behaviors.

That said, I personally never really expected frigates to rush in to be slaughtered by, say, a heavily-armed battlecruiser. The fact that many ships will keep their distance from your heavy-hitters can be tactically useful in itself, because it's essentially a large-coverage, if slow, area denial mechanism for outclassed forces. Probably some people expect to run around blowing things up left and right with their fancy big ships versus weaker opponents, and become frustrated when that's not feasible.

I'll have a better idea about that come next weekend, I expect. I love carriers, though, so it might be less of a problem for me in general anyway.
Logged

TheWetFish

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 138
    • View Profile
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #3 on: October 29, 2018, 12:38:31 AM »

The good news is that most of the issues you have identified are known and due to be fixed in 0.9 , so that's nice 

Long trips and subsequent surprise lack of availability in markets can be somewhat mitigated by relying on the markets a little less, for example setting up supply drops of stabilized cargo pods 

Please do be aware the forum is not the sole source of opinions on the AI is and other opinions may vary.  There is a bit of a push at the moment to better distribute successful veteran knowledge regarding ship builds for offensive AI use.  It is ongoing work but hopefully it will help in the long term 
Logged

Blaine

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #4 on: October 29, 2018, 04:44:09 PM »

I joined up with the Hegemony, added a Falcon XIV flagship, a Centurion (ordering it to escort the Falcon XIV is a major force multiplier), and a Shade to my fleet, hired two more officers, and parked the combat freighter and a few other civilian ships. I have more large-scale battles under my belt now, and my officers are coming along nicely. I also tend to gain more supplies than I lose, plus loot and fuel, so I suppose I'm doing okay at not over-deploying. I'm discovering that finding battles, not winning them, is the tricky part.

There are a lot of small fry that aren't worth bothering with, and then there are in-system powerful faction patrols (often two of them close enough to assist one another) that tend to both outnumber and outclass me. I can scout them out by jumping in through fringe gravity wells, pinging them down, and keeping away from them successfully, and I have Transverse Jump for emergencies, but actually engaging them is a different matter. Of course, I still have a long way to go in learning the exact ins and outs of the game balance and what exactly different ships and loadouts are capable of, but I'm pretty sure a same-sized fleet plus a larger fleet helping them would be tough for anyone to handle.

I've had the most success seeking out bounty fleets that aren't too large. They tend to outnumber me significantly, and often there's more than one fleet in the target system, but pirate fleets are also usually loaded with D-mods, which more than evens the score.

Faction vs. faction fights that I can join in on seem rare to nonexistent in-system, although I can occasionally find some in hyperspace if I hang around long enough.

Any tips for finding fights would be much appreciated. I can absolutely find some, but if possible I'd like more options; from what I can tell, options are fairly limited until I have a fleet large and powerful enough to brawl it out within faction systems.
« Last Edit: October 29, 2018, 04:47:03 PM by Blaine »
Logged

Alex

  • Administrator
  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 18360
    • View Profile
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #5 on: October 29, 2018, 04:54:38 PM »

Hmm - I'd suggest switching gears slightly and fighting REDACTED in warning-beacon systems, if you haven't done that already. By the time you're able to take down the "boss" level <stuff I won't go into detail by spoiling>, you should also be in good shape to take on faction patrols, though being able to take down said boss-level stuff is more or less the current "endgame goal" anyway. And the fights are easy to find there.

(A tip, if you haven't figured it out already: the type of warning beacon indicates the danger level of a REDACTED system.)
Logged

Blaine

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #6 on: October 29, 2018, 05:53:35 PM »

Hmm - I'd suggest switching gears slightly and fighting REDACTED in warning-beacon systems, if you haven't done that already. By the time you're able to take down the "boss" level <stuff I won't go into detail by spoiling>, you should also be in good shape to take on faction patrols, though being able to take down said boss-level stuff is more or less the current "endgame goal" anyway. And the fights are easy to find there.

(A tip, if you haven't figured it out already: the type of warning beacon indicates the danger level of a REDACTED system.)

Oh yeah, I actually stumbled into some minor, seemingly non-aggressive REDACTED around the gravity well on my way back from a survey one time. If a system is along my route, I'll often pop in to at least get a system map. I'm aware of warning beacon levels because they're explained somewhere in-game, possibly at the end of the introductory missions.

Thanks, that's an excellent tip and definitely expands the options. It's also a good reason to take a fast, stealthy scout and just roam around mapping systems.
Logged

Alex

  • Administrator
  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 18360
    • View Profile
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #7 on: October 29, 2018, 05:59:40 PM »

Good luck :D

Quicksave early and often
Logged

Blaine

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #8 on: October 29, 2018, 06:34:36 PM »

Quicksave is life in this game, although I try mightily to avoid save-scumming.

Since this is kind of my personal blog thread (apologies, but I had several subjects to touch on and didn't want to spam up/interrupt current threads), I'd like to express my amazement that there are an incredible number of mods filled with professional-quality ship and weapon sprites that are fully in line with the default sprites. Most are totally original, but even the kitbashed ships and variants are typically so well done that they don't look like copy-paste jobs. By my count, there around three dozen of these mods available and up to date currently.

It's incredible. It seems Starsector has attracted an entire cult of professional sprite artists and/or people who love the game so much that they're willing to pay professionals to make more.

I mean, a lot of games have mods, but art is the most prohibitive aspect of fan modding after voice work.
Logged

Nick XR

  • Captain
  • ****
  • Posts: 461
    • View Profile
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #9 on: October 29, 2018, 09:00:50 PM »

Glad you're enjoying it Blaine!  Some things that took me longer to appreciate than I'd like to admit that you might not have noticed yet:
  • High tech ships aren't really any better than mid-line or low tech, but they cost a LOT more to deploy, and heaven forbid repair
  • Burst DPS kills

I personally love enforcers, with reapers they can have enough firepower to kill almost anything, and you can give them to the AI to fly and rarely do they get killed.

Blaine

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #10 on: October 29, 2018, 09:30:06 PM »

Hey, thanks for the tips!

  • High tech ships aren't really any better than mid-line or low tech, but they cost a LOT more to deploy, and heaven forbid repair

Interesting. I've noticed that high-tech ships seem to have specialized uses requiring more specific tactics, such as EMP phase frigates. I guess you'd call them situational.

The Shade frigate is also notable for having the highest hyperspace range of any solo frigate in the vanilla game (for that matter, possibly the highest range of any solo non-tanker), since it holds 50 fuel and gets 1 fuel/LY. It's high-maintenance, but its 25 cargo is more than enough to hold the needed supplies to last as long as its fuel does, so for this reason I use it as a solo explorer. Just don't ever get caught.

  • Burst DPS kills

I was tipped off to this by FooF's armor guide. In general, I try to incorporate burst DPS into any ship that can mount burst weapons to help defeat armor.
Logged

intrinsic_parity

  • Admiral
  • *****
  • Posts: 2073
    • View Profile
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #11 on: October 29, 2018, 10:13:28 PM »

High tech has a much higher skill ceiling in player hands, but in the AI's hands, it is pretty mediocre for its deployment cost. I much prefer a high tech flagship, but I will only let the AI pilot beam variants because it doesn't know how to manage flux well.
Logged

Blaine

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 72
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #12 on: October 30, 2018, 07:13:57 PM »

Moving right along, although this isn't actively causing a problem for me, I don't see the wisdom in making the core system economy so limited and fragile that it's almost pointless to use.

If I want cash and rep, I can take my fleet out on survey missions and return with far more supplies and almost as much fuel as I departed with, as well as piles of weapons, the mission payment, and likely AI cores and survey data. Granted, maximizing these profits requires a respectable skill point investment.

And that's it, really. I've done smuggling using combat freighters with transponders off, sensor-reducing hull mods, going dark, avoiding patrols, etc., and while this can be very lucrative (especially if you meta-game by, for example, stashing illicit goods in storage and coming back to grab them en masse later when the heat dies down), it gains you no rep and also harms the economy of the resident faction, which is bad if you've got a commission with them. Smuggling in enemy territory is possible, but requires far more caution and sneaking around, and is a very significant time investment.

Trading is, of course, pretty much limited to missions and shortage events only; and you'd better have the goods already stockpiled in storage nearby, or chances are you won't be able to find enough of the requested good within the time limit to complete the mission or fulfill the demand.

Very quickly, making money becomes an entirely one-dimensional affair. You accept a mission, spend one or two minutes in transit, clean up automated defenses, load up on salvage and loot, survey some planets (if applicable), receive tens of thousands of credits and rep gain, then come back and sell off or stockpile the loot. There are other ways, but they're very limited, far riskier, and typically result in harming economies and/or rep loss.

Maybe I've missed something? Hopefully, this is set to change in 0.9.0 with the official advent of player-controlled colonies.

Edit: Yeah there are bounties, I haven't forgotten those (although I forgot to mention them), although personally I see them more as scheduled fleet battles with an extra bonus. They're almost just another flavor of survey mission, except with more combat and less surveying.
« Last Edit: October 30, 2018, 07:18:53 PM by Blaine »
Logged

Embercloud

  • Commander
  • ***
  • Posts: 120
    • View Profile
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2018, 01:16:10 AM »

A new way of making money will emerge with 0.9. Colonies and manufacturing
Logged

Algro

  • Lieutenant
  • **
  • Posts: 64
    • View Profile
    • Email
Re: My thoughts and impressions
« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2018, 01:55:29 AM »

It's always interesting to see someone's perspective on this game because everyone's playstyle seems to differ.

For me, I enjoy playing this game without save-loading at all, as a result, I always go towards owning only high-tech ships with bare minimum med-tech ships.
The reason behind this is
1) High-speed travel with relatively low fuel consumption
2) Shields being repeatable in usage while armor wears out
3) Beams are my weapon of choice (for the AI that is)
4) Blue engine trails = best trails

My main revenue comes from taking bounty jobs and cleaning them with said elite squad of ships. From this, you may see how I find the AI Wolf teammates to fit my playstyle perfectly (they don't die, barely at all with the right equipment) and absolutely kill (lightweight ships) in packs.

I find trading much harder and keep far from it. In versions before, I use to keep a few cargo ships to haul food around to sell to those distress buyers and that was it. As I result I barely turn off my transponder (My high tech ships always have a high 'speed floor' in mind to run from any threats)

Hopefully, this gives you some hints on how to play the game
From someone who plays Ironman mode
Logged
Pages: [1] 2 3 ... 7