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Author Topic: Expand gameplay & avoid RNG based hyper-progression with Military Force Licenses  (Read 8104 times)

SCC

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I think you can wrap all that up in a 'risk/reward' evaluation, or more accurately a 'cost/benefit' analysis. Time is a cost, but if there is infinite time then it's not a factor. IRL time is a resource as well. At the end of the day, hard fights often don't give you enough value to justify the cost and risk when compared to alternative ways of acquiring the same rewards.
I guess the difference is that the cost is of the outside of the game resource, so I don't factor it in, because it's outside of the game.

I actually tried an ironman run recently and hated it. I ended up just playing super safe, avoiding any dangerous combats and it was very boring, but it felt like the risk of setbacks due to major loses in combat were just never worth while. I might make another thread about it actually.
I'm pretty good at the game and I think I don't like iron man less because I will lose progress, but because I might lose progress, and that makes me too anxious to take risks, and since I'm under no time pressure from the game itself...

intrinsic_parity

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I think you can wrap all that up in a 'risk/reward' evaluation, or more accurately a 'cost/benefit' analysis. Time is a cost, but if there is infinite time then it's not a factor. IRL time is a resource as well. At the end of the day, hard fights often don't give you enough value to justify the cost and risk when compared to alternative ways of acquiring the same rewards.
I guess the difference is that the cost is of the outside of the game resource, so I don't factor it in, because it's outside of the game.
I assume you are talking about IRL time, but I feel like everyone implicitly factors this into their decisions by deciding how much they want to grind, and how much they value the risk of wiping/set backs, even if they aren't thinking about it directly as a resource, so it still ends up factoring into the decision making process. If you didn't value your IRL time at all, you might happily take every fight with the attitude that if you wipe, you can just grind back to where you were and nothing is lost. 

I think in-game time is very much a resource in the game, but it's irrelevant since there is no in-game time pressure (although I think that might change soon based on some of the bread crumbs ever gotten).
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Thaago

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I think the only thing that really catapults me to late game too quickly is when I find the legion XIV nebula, because it is usually 3+ recoverable, powerful capitals. Sometimes I find it too early and have to wait a bit, but basically as soon as I've got a few destroyers, enough cash to cover the logistics of a phaeton, and have pushed named bounties to the midgame/have some pirate base or luddic path bounties, those Legion XIV's win the game. Heavy mods is different, but there's basically nothing short of massed ordos and possibly a high tech star fortress with a randomly excellent loadout that 3 D modded legions won't crush, and every fight with an enemy capital is another shot of adding another capital to the player fleet.

Finding a single capital is similar, but lesser as the window of how game changing it is is smaller than finding 3+.

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Morrokain

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Quote
The skill based challenge to overcome/outsmart/avoid superiorly powerful enemies is one of the most entertaining aspect of any game.

I would have to disagree with this. I do think it is entertaining for a lot of people and something that is important to include. I personally find a lot of enjoyment out of things like this.

However, to say that it's one of the most entertaining aspects? Maybe that's true if the pool of most entertaining things in a game has hundreds or even thousands of entries. Then it can be one of many. My point is that plenty of people actually dislike skill based challenge specifically and enjoy content absorption more than testing their limits within the game's ruleset.

Related anecdote:
Spoiler
I've been on both sides of the fence in the exact same game haha. I was annoyed back when World of Warcraft started to make things easier after Burning Crusade came out and I think the stat was like 2%? of the entire game's population of millions ever even saw endgame content because of its difficulty. They began dialing difficulty down pretty starkly in Wrath of the Lich King. Burning Crusade was quickly claimed to be the "glory days" of the game after that because it was so much harder.

Then, years later, I went on a vanilla wow server for some nostalgia, and was annoyed at finding that elite mobs were much less fun to slowly, skillfully, chip away at than I remembered when doing a quest I really had no business doing alone. I wanted the challenge only until I felt it was inconvenient, and then it quickly became grind.

By my example I hope that I am demonstrating how subjective challenge and grind really are. To be fair, I appreciate that the OP made a point to give his/her opinion under the context of "what I think is good for Starsector and its target audience" as I think that is better way of looking at it all around. A single game cannot satisfy every playstyle after all. Some are contradictory to others. But with enough careful scaling and customization options, you might be able to get close.
[close]

I've always been a fan of locking out some content behind progression gates and I think Starsector would benefit from this concept in many ways.

I think I'd rather do it through a rework/feature iteration of the existing commission system itself instead of designing a whole new system to do something similar. Capital ships in particular I feel should be more of an endgame thing/considerable achievement to acquire. For me, I would take more risks to get one if they were and that would be fun to me even considering losses. I remember Alex made a point a looong time ago that losing ships wouldn't feel bad if the reward was worth it or the alternative was more costly, so the cost/benefit analysis aspect of design definitely comes into play here as well. The problem is "benefit" and "cost" are hard to actually narrow down when the subjectivity of what does and does not constitute grind is a huge factor.
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Grievous69

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There really is no hope anymore for gaming. It devolved so much that people now ASK to gate gameplay behind certain things, they can't feel satisfied without it. If you had this talk 10 years ago people would tell you that you're insane. Sorry for this edgy "minority" opinion but for me, playing games is about fun and killing time, not getting virtual pats on the back for completing some challenges just so I can experience the full thing. Maybe I just played too many older games but I feel like new folks can't enjoy something if they don't get bombarded with unlockables and achievement pop ups every 5 minutes.

In case I wasn't clear, I don't have any problems with challenging games, in fact I like it when a game gives me a hard time so I actually have to think about what I'm doing instead of just going autopilot mode. What I don't like is narrowing my options to progress through certain games without grinding for something or paying real money (obviously not the case here but you get my point). You can give a game complexity and depth without making it a chore and hiding actual fun ships and weapons. On the other hand, getting everything immediately is also not fun so I like it when there's a good medium ground (which is the case right now).

In short, playing a game shouldn't feel like a job.

@Alex
I apologize if it came out super harsh. It's just weird to me that someone would start a suggestion thread and then immediately dismiss all opposite opinions in the first post.

EDIT: I agree that current rewards feel pretty underwhelming, it's really not worth trying to do difficult bounties. Even if you lose just a single ship it's still a major blow and you're back to square one.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2021, 03:46:13 AM by Grievous69 »
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Please don't take me too seriously.

Megas

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There really is no hope anymore for gaming. It devolved so much that people now ASK to gate gameplay behind certain things, they can't feel satisfied without it. If you had this talk 10 years ago people would tell you that you're insane. Sorry for this edgy "minority" opinion but for me, playing games is about fun and killing time, not getting virtual pats on the back for completing some challenges just so I can experience the full thing. Maybe I just played too many older games but I feel like new folks can't enjoy something if they don't get bombarded with unlockables and achievement pop ups every 5 minutes.
I hear you.  I have a fondness of games from the '80s and maybe '90s, when some of the annoying modern gaming concepts either did not exist or at least were not widespread.  Also, many games back then did not take long to finish.  In case of arcade games, the point was to get rid of the player with hard difficulty (and have the next guy insert more coins), not have him hooked on a MMORPG for hours day after day.  Also, hardware was more primitive back then, which meant frivolous or minor QoL features may not be included due to limitations, especially memory limitations.  Sprite flickering was a problem for early console games.

That said, there were gates back then, either beef gates or explicit keys.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2021, 04:17:10 AM by Megas »
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sqrt(-1)

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The #1 problem I see with this suggestion is that it would blindside new players who wouldn't be aware you have to have permission to use certain ships.
0.95 is already going to have legality stats with ships. Having different tiers of this should be pretty straightforward.
And again, particularly the legal fleet size should conditionally be scrutinized by factions. Since powerful ships require higher deployment points, license tiers based on this variable could be sufficient perhaps.

Objective things can be proved, and are true regardless of the people discussing them, you generally don't have an opinion on whether something is objective, it just is. The goal of the game, and what is 'fun' are very much a matter of opinion i.e. not objective because they depend on the person playing (and making) the game. You can see this by observing that different people find the same gameplay more or less fun, so there can't be an objective 'fun value' assigned to it. You're free to say what you think makes for enjoyable gameplay, and we are free to disagree. It's all a matter of opinion.
5 > 2

I don't want any gameplay aspect to be taken away, but would like to extend the gameplay content instead of having it severely choked down after 2-3 hours, as of now.

If you are one of the few who truly don't enjoy kiting more powerful enemies, to sneak your rust bucket fleet through superior enemy lines for great reward, etc. and rather only find joy in defeating every enemy fleet based on plain flux battles, with the sole challenge being resource expenditure, then you could still find this.

Low tier ships, tactical advantages of small fleets, sub-capital sized ships, stealth mechanics, etc. were implemented into the game for a reason. It is objectively contrary to the intents of the game to have those gameplay contents made virtually irrelevant almost immediately after the start of the game, particularly with RNG.

Gradual progression, continuous gameplay depth, skill based challenges, etc. are a clear staple of good game design.
« Last Edit: January 02, 2021, 05:24:11 AM by sqrt(-1) »
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DatonKallandor

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I do agree that the early and midgame are over too quickly, and often because of a single lucky find of an ultra-expensive colony item acquired at no risk whatsoever. Strongly disagree with the license lock stuff to couneract it though. Keeping the items that are worth hundreds of thousands of credits behind missions, rep and most importantly combat is probably the solution. Because combat is the point of the game and the mechanic every other system feeds into.

Just have high-value items protected by combat either immediately (derelict guards, pirates trying to take it after you grab it, etc.) or very close to getting it (combat mission to get the item as a reward, a reputation that is raised through combat that leads to getting the item).
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Megas

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I like the lucky finds!  Player cannot rely on them, but when they happen, it feels great.  It also feels less gamey, which is nice.

Since the valuable stuff is either irreplaceable or a tedious grind to raid them back, I hold on those highly valuable artifacts until I can use them!  I could sell them, but it takes too much effort to get them back, if I can.  Better to spend that effort just playing the game.

Just have high-value items protected by combat either immediately (derelict guards, pirates trying to take it after you grab it, etc.) or very close to getting it (combat mission to get the item as a reward, a reputation that is raised through combat that leads to getting the item).
If it gets too annoying to find one, there is always raiding, and some of the prime targets are poorly defended.  Their best defense is stability rating.  I do not want to decivilize the colony, after all.

Gradual progression, continuous gameplay depth, skill based challenges, etc. are a clear staple of good game design.
More like popular game design.  If consumers want it, well, I guess give it to them?  Of course, developers want people to be conditioned to accept odious design or gameplay features like frivolous achievements (that may be used as a gate), grinding, and/or random loot boxes as the next normal.

As for gradual progression, that sounds like glacial progress where player needs to grind for hours - yuck!  Keep it simple (and not too difficult), like powerups in an arcade game.
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FooF

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If you are one of the few who truly don't enjoy kiting more powerful enemies, to sneak your rust bucket fleet through superior enemy lines for great reward, etc. and rather only find joy in defeating every enemy fleet based on plain flux battles, with the sole challenge being resource expenditure, then you could still find this.

"One of the few?" Where are you pulling that from? I don't like doing any of the things you're describing. And it's not "plain flux battles:" it's fine-tuning loadouts, positioning, exploiting moments of opportunity, etc. I don't just smash fleets into one another and 9-times-out-of-10 I'm greatly outnumbered. I just don't like "rust-bucket fleets." Why deride those who don't share your preferred playstyle?

The early game is over too early, I agree, but (to the OP's suggestion) gating all military ships behind glorified commissions seems too harsh to me. I'm with DatonKallandor in that combat is probably the solution. Make the combat more difficult or keep rewards that advance the meta-game too quickly behind missions that involve combat. All that said, you can't forsake the occasional lucky find via exploration. That, too, is a playstyle that the game rewards.

To Morrokain's point, I do think that military Capitals should probably be impossible to buy directly. Salvaging them, finding them orbiting dead planets, getting them as mission rewards...all good...but finding them on the Open Market? Even the Black Market shouldn't be dealing them, really. With the emphasis on smaller fleets next patch, Capitals should be rare, and costly investments. Maybe you acquire them mid-game but being able to field them should be an end-game thing.

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SCC

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Contacts could be used to allow the player access to good cruisers and capital ships and other goodies, whether directly (like the teased custom order thing) or by granting temporary access to military market at a price.

Morrokain

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There really is no hope anymore for gaming. It devolved so much that people now ASK to gate gameplay behind certain things, they can't feel satisfied without it. If you had this talk 10 years ago people would tell you that you're insane.

Older games are actually where I'm basing a lot of my opinions. I don't even really play new games with a couple of exceptions. I don't think anyone would call me insane 10 years ago for suggesting that gates are helpful. I'm honestly not sure why you are so against them and why every time they are brought up you immediately go to worst case scenario mode.

If the result was something like you implied where you only had 3-4 starting ships for the first 60 hours of gameplay or something I would understand, but as far as I can tell nobody wants that nor are they suggesting that.  ???

I'm not being sarcastic here: Do you know what gates actually are? Like from a game design perspective? Maybe there is a misconception here that gates mean locking a bunch of stuff away and forcing grind. While that can certainly be one use for them, that's not the only way they are used and I'd even argue that forcing long grind periods are a bad way to use them. The best way to use them is to keep the gameplay fresh - not stale - by introducing new mechanics or player options. Maybe that's not exciting for veterans who are used to all the mechanics and having all the options already, but it creates a better experience for new players. "Spoon feeding" content gets a bad rap, but there is a reason that virtually all games do it to some extent. I spoke about it in great detail in this thread.

I like gates specifically because they are an alternative to RNG. I don't mind RNG as a whole, but I think that relying on it too much for difficulty progression has some flaws - such as the 2-3 hours catapulting into midgame experiences suggest. Remember that means it can swing to the other side and actually force grind if drops are unlucky too. That's inherently the nature of RNG. As a dev, I like the idea that gates can compartmentalize difficulty for the uninitiated and encourage deeper learning of the mechanics before jumping. It's actually a pretty important thing to do. That being said, I'm also not suggesting that the player be locked in the starter village for seven years each new campaign start either. Each stage of the gates needs to be fun in order for that to work effectively. If a part isn't fun, I think the focus should be on making it more fun rather than allowing it to be skipped.

I don't want playing the game to feel like a job and I think that is a little melodramatic considering what I was suggesting. I'm not trying to turn this into an MMO or anything. Its pretty easy to allow gates to be skipped if the player knows what they are doing. Another route would be to have a setting to disable gates and allow deeper campaign progression immediately at the player's choice. Kind of similar to the fast start option.

I like the lucky finds!  Player cannot rely on them, but when they happen, it feels great.  It also feels less gamey, which is nice.

*snip*

More like popular game design.  If consumers want it, well, I guess give it to them?  Of course, developers want people to be conditioned to accept odious design or gameplay features like frivolous achievements (that may be used as a gate), grinding, and/or random loot boxes as the next normal.

As for gradual progression, that sounds like glacial progress where player needs to grind for hours - yuck!  Keep it simple (and not too difficult), like powerups in an arcade game.

I like lucky finds too. I don't think those should go away. Glacial progress? How so? I sometimes get the impression (maybe I'm wrong) that those who think along these lines treat ships in the same way as you would treat fighters in a beat-em-up 1v1 game like Street Fighter. Pick a new one each time (or your favorites) but they should always be available from the start.

If that is true, I understand the appeal. However, for me, that is not a good way to go about this kind of game simply because that implies that all ships are equal in performance when that likely will never be the case. (It wasn't the case in Street Fighter as well.) I want plenty of choices in each stage of the game, and each stage should be fun. I don't want access to everything right at the start though. I'm the type of gamer that likes looking forward to something - having a goal and working to achieve it and then enjoying the reward. So in that sense, some lucky finds are too strong and the addition of gates would be nice.

Contacts could be used to allow the player access to good cruisers and capital ships and other goodies, whether directly (like the teased custom order thing) or by granting temporary access to military market at a price.

Yeah that's along the lines of how I'm thinking about it too.
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intrinsic_parity

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I personally find enjoyment from making meaningful choices (and trying to make the best choices). One use of progression gates is to create meaningful choices, for instance, locking access to faction military tech behind commissions creates very interesting decisions about what faction to side with (potentially with some mutual exclusivity). If the player has access to all tech regardless of what decisions they make, the decision to take a commission is much less meaningful. I don't like grinding, and I don't care about the 'satisfaction' of unlocking things. I like mechanics that create meaningful decisions, and I think unfettered access to ships and tech makes things a lot less interesting, you just go with the best stuff every time and pass on 50% of the content in the game.

IMO, constraints on the player, and figuring out how to work around them, is the key to enjoyable gameplay.
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Megas

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@ Morrokain:
By glacial progress, I meant extending early-to-mid game through obnoxious elements like the OP's idea of effectively making most ships illegal and making most patrol like highwaymen, forcing the player to grind more or simply stick to the few core worlds with no patrols, which is extending the game by not letting the player have nice things for a longer part of the game.

Currently, the pacing is okay (compared to other games, I played worse), although I would not have a problem with it being faster than it already is (because I like endgame most and early-game the least).

Rambling about other things...

Small ships.  Frigates are obsolete fast because of PPT and big enemy fleets (and their cowardice since 0.8a).  During 0.65a, they were optimal (thanks Logistics for forty-plus frigates, smaller endgame fleets, Navigation, and less cowardly enemy AI).  Today, most are obsolete after my very first or second fight, before I leave Corvus.  It would be nice if frigates were useful like they were during 0.65, or even 0.7.x against light enemy fleets.  (Lasher could solo some pirate fleets before 0.8a.)  Destroyers (aside from Drover) falter once I start fighting capitals regularly.

Huge profits:  Take pristine nanoforge, which player may not find.  (I had few games where I did not find one until after I built my final fleet and effectively won the game.)  Player sells it and has enough to buy a capital hull or a single colony structure.  That helps, but does not speed up things that much.  Capital blueprint?  If I sell it on Open Market, tariff eats a huge chunk of money, and I might be able to buy a high-end cruiser.  If I sell it to Black Market, I get enough to buy capital/structure, but then the zombie pirates get better hulls and playing whack-a-mole gets more annoying.  More likely, I learn the blueprint immediately so I get different unknown blueprints after I raid New Maxios or other industry world again.  (I kind of learned how priority works so my patrols do not use junk hulls I am forced to learn to make blueprint raiding useful.)

The Legion14s could be strong because player find several in close proximity (as Thaago points out), patch them up and arm them with Open Market junk (which works with low-tech) and wreck some pirates.  Next release may make this easier because story points can be used to make ships recoverable.

As for looking forward to things, I would look at faction relations, space lord things like colonies, limited special items like planetary shield or the new exotic weapons like that black light disintegrator or ice-thrower, or powerful items found only as loot from powerful enemies like Sparks.

As for standard equipment like ships and weapons, if the player makes lots of money in an instant or stumbles on a lucky derelict, let him have it!
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Morrokain

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@ Morrokain:
By glacial progress, I meant extending early-to-mid game through obnoxious elements like the OP's idea of effectively making most ships illegal and making most patrol like highwaymen, forcing the player to grind more or simply stick to the few core worlds with no patrols, which is extending the game by not letting the player have nice things for a longer part of the game.

Hmm, ok. So what makes something nice vs not nice?

Also, for those who are concerned about grind, what is the longest acceptable timeframe to get to your intended game state? For Megas, that's endgame warlord sim as he already said.

@Grievous69
At what point would you say you are enjoying the campaign? I know you already said that you don't like frigate combat because it takes too long, so is a cruiser generally when combat becomes enjoyable? Or maybe more specifically - what do you enjoy about combat?
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