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Author Topic: Addressing Early - Endgame progression  (Read 378 times)


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Addressing Early - Endgame progression
« on: January 20, 2020, 09:18:33 AM »

I started typing this out in response to this part of this post in this thread:

[...] On the early game, it's by far my favourite part. When every credit counts, when every ship matters, that's when I think this game is at it's best.
With which I agree.

In my opinion, it currently feels like you're being rushed along into colonisation - the beginning of the end-game - from the moment you start.

 One of the primary reasons is the absolute proliferation of carriers - You can't really succeed against them without fighters of your own - a few wings of half-decent fighters can be a nightmare that persists longer than your frigates' CR - so you're being driven to get what are relatively expensive and high-upkeep vessels quite early on.

Another is fleet size in general. The scale of fleets/ battles seems to have only increased since 0.65. That's not necessarily a bad thing, but the player will often be severely out-gunned. Throw in carriers and that's a lot of ships the player's losing, assuming they don't just reload and avoid the battle. So again, you're constantly being encouraged to increase the size and power of your fleet to scale with the ever-increasing threats you'll face.

Two things further compound this:
First there's the scaling of bounties, which in short order become relatively huge in payout and corresponding enemy fleet strength and/or distance from the core. Meanwhile, system bounties seem to diminish in frequency. The player can often find themselves in a position where their fleet isn't strong enough and/or lacks the range to take on the lowest-paying fleet bounties, and there are few options for profiting directly from combat. Taking a commission and going after enemy merchant fleets is usually my go-to - which again puts the player at risk of entering situations they aren't prepared for as faction fleets are generally a few times more powerful than the average priate fleet of equivalent size - forcing the player to further arm-up.

The second is the fleet cap. If you only have a certain number of ships you can bring with you, most of the frigates and eventually destroyers are going to have to go, to make the most out of your fleet composition. This means your fleet's slower and more cumbersome, which means being forced into more battles where you absolutely need carriers because there absolutely will be enemy fighters - further diminishing the value of the majority of frigates and some destroyers.

Finally there's colonies themselves. They are a practically endless, practically uninterrupted stream of supplies, fuel, crew, ships and credits. Your primary moneysinks are gone, and you're making profit on top. This enables the player to acquire and maintain an end-game fleet fairly effortlessly - but up til that point the player is dragging themself up to keep up with the escalating threats they must deal with throughout the course of gameplay. It goes from just scraping by on your ships, weapons, supplies, fuel and funds, to any losses you take being practically inconsequential. In other words, you go from watching everything - supplies, fuel, funds, ships, crew - ticking down to 0 and scrambling for things to help you avoid that - to everything always ticking up.

Combat and management of your own fleet are taken a few steps back - There's no difficulty to setting up a profitable colony, and once you have it properly established you're swimming in cash. Pirates and Pathers aren't a huge threat, and NPC factions aren't aggressive enough in trying to sit you back down - I don't imagine most of the powers that be in the sector would be too happy about some random space-bounty-hunter or trader and/or ex-faction officer setting up a new society.

1) The other factions - which have been established in the sector for a long time - should have a more over-bearing presence, especially if your colony/ies are closer to the core. Tri-Tachyon want to buy out your industries. The Hegemony demand a tithe. The Luddic Church attempt to convert your population and use their influence for their interests. The Diktat want to influence you against the Hegemony, the Persean League want you to join them.

In other words, you should need to sacrifice something significant to keep the other factions happy. If you decline to do so, open war has to be costly even if it doesn't quite reach the colonies in question.

2) The player must buy/commission their colonies' fleets. This could be a simple slider that drops down when you click the fleets% bit in the colony management UI - funds to allocate for fleet construction/acquisition, upkeep and maintenance - up to a maximum determined by what currently determines max number of fleets. It could have even greater depth - The player has the option to manually compose the fleet out of available hulls, and give it its mission - Patrol X jump-hole, stable location, planet, ring system.

3) Allow the player to commission faction fleets to find and/or engage pirate/pather bases that threaten a market's stability.

4) A state of open warfare threatens the stability of worlds likely to be affected by it, and those which provide ships, weapons etc to fuel it.

5) Less take-home profit from industry and exports. #1 covers this to a degree, but currently the player invariably ends up with more money than they know what to do with.

6) Increased demand from all industries and structures - to the point it results in the market in question generally having to import from outside its faction, and for stockpiles and what the player adds to them to actually matter.

I got some further ideas about having the player be more involved in the actual governance of their populations, and their population's disposition to the faction. Tax rates, conscription to raise marines and crew for fleets, etc. - but that's beyond the scope of this discussion.

Fleet cap:
From what I know of it, I don't believe the planned exceed-fleet-cap-for-increased-supply/mo will resolve this element of the vicious cycle. It's still a hard cap because the game punishes you disproportionately for exceeding it.

 I think the actual supply upkeep and fuel consumption of all those ships alone are enough to for the player to want to keep it sane. If not, a fleet-cap of supplies/mo or DP or OP simply makes so much more sense in my mind - you're not forced to try and fit frigates, destroyers, big bois and carriers within the same 30 ship limit.

1) Drastically increase the frequency/max number of simultaneous system bounties.

2) Bar bounties. A pirate boss' underling might want you to raid a convoy for him, an independent trader captian might be seeking revenge against the pirate that destroyed his fleet. A disgruntled League officer wants you to assassiate his captain. These would more consistently be of a smaller scale.

3) Give bounty-fleets a "threat level" by which the player can filter them, along with distance and faction/paying faction. It might even be worth giving bounties a dedicated menu.

All in all, allow the player to go after bounties they can comfortably beat at practically all stages of progression. Individual ships, smaller fleets of varying factions, up to the omni-present huge ones.

Big old can of worms this one, I'd suggest checking this thread:

My take is that carriers should be somewhat rare. The autoforges that produce fighters are difficult to manufacture correctly, LPCs corrupt themselves after extended use (LPCs as consumables?), fighter pilots are hard to train (Fighter pilots as a separate resource to crew?) - so there aren't that many floating around in the sector.

Exactly how to go about making them rare/harder to sustain/less incredibly powerful in combat, I'm not sure - but the intent is to reduce their incidence especially amongst smaller fleets, to help reduce the impetus the player feels to constantly up-arm themselves.

Generally I feel that destroying fighters in combat should have more of an impact. Alternatively or in addition, that interceptors be made infinitely less threatening to frigates and above, fighters quite a bit less so, and bombers unchanged - while their effectiveness vs one another is also generally unchanged. And/or frigates and above should have a better time of combating them too - being able to fire PD weapons (Or any weapon targeted against a fighter) past/"through" friendly ships otherwise in the line of fire - in the same way fighters themselves can - would help.

Fleet Size:
Balancing the size of NPC-faction fleets against Player-faction fleets, and the player's own fleet sounds like a delicate task. After all the maluses to production and profit, that might be enough to diminish the average size of what the player comes up against depending on what actually influences it. Changes to fleet cap mechanics could also affect the composition of NPC fleets, with larger numbers of frigates and destroyers being more common - as opposed to the few, plus many cruisers and carriers that is the current standard.

Finally something largely unrelated - please allow the player to blacklist hulls/weapons/fighters from their faction fleet compositions.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2020, 09:25:24 AM by Morbo513 »


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Re: Addressing Early - Endgame progression
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2020, 09:47:03 PM »

Bar bounties that generate against a wider variety of targets, including merchant fleets, is a cool idea. Generally, I honestly just don't play with colonies. They are boring to babysit/manage, there's no interesting choices to make, and they catapult you into the boring endgame where you just lug your paragons around killing everything until bored.

The game is best while you're still making risky prospecting/surveying trips to the outer constellations and grabbing some delivery contracts and bounties on the way to and fro to help ends meet, checking markets for juicy ships, weapons, and mods to buy, and smuggling illegal cargo because you've run out of ways to pay your crew through legitimate means and you need money for more supplies yesterday. I'm sure plenty of people like colonies, and I get that they serve as a reward to exploring and finding nice planets, and that they can (via Nex) do other cool stuff. But they're not fun, at least for me. I'd love to see more support/content for the exploration gameplay loop of planning expeditions. A mode where the focus was survival and there were no markets, just a journey through unexplored systems, trying to collect enough resources from random drops and avoid patrolling danger fleets of pirates, Redacted, etc. and make it from one side to another of a giant sector in one piece is probably my optimal SS experience. Add in some more crew management and it's basically Battlestar Galactica mode.