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Starsector 0.95a is out! (03/26/21); Blog post: Skill Changes, Part 2 (07/15/21)

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Author Topic: A Professional Critique Of Story Points  (Read 4694 times)

Amazigh

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #15 on: May 03, 2021, 07:22:30 PM »

(For me, the worst offender here is that one Luddic Church vigil fleet that you have to get out of your way to scan a thing. Somehow it costs a story point to offer them supplies? Why?)
Personally, this specific situation (and others like it where you have to spend a story point for your character to remember how to use their tongue.) were the points in the game that story points felt like a bad system.

Using the ludd vigil fleet as an example of how a good chunk of SP choices could be reworked:
Currently you have two options to deal with them, 1: Kill them. 2: Spend a story point and some supplies,
I'd propose the following options, 1: Kill them.  2: Give them a large quantity of supplies to have them move away and repair.  3: Spend an SP to reduce the number of supplies they want, with you being able to stack this choice to eventually have them leave for "free".

The idea behind my proposal, is that the first two options are logical, and make sense in a realism sense. But the third option, of spending SP to reduce the supplies needed, potentially even to nothing, would be the equivalent of passing a "speech check" in other games.
Basically, this means that SP are your "speech check" equivalent, so rather than having a rng chance to persuade characters, you can spend an SP to guarantee that result.
Also having it cost multiple SP to get them to move for free, ties in with how easy it can be get a large stock of SP stored away. And as this is a "relatively major" thing, you'll have to spend a few SP to get it for "free". A counterpart to this, is negotiating a higher delivery contract for example, that should only cost 1 SP, as it's a much more minor "speech check" equivalent.

In short: make SP usage in conversations a "speech check" equivalent, with the number of SP used to pass a check scaling with how important/hard what you are doing is.



Where I might tweak the system is paying a SP before the battle to designate a "high value" target or some such that would give it a higher chance for recovery.
This is an idea i really like, would be a good change imo.
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Megas

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #16 on: May 03, 2021, 07:43:35 PM »

Re: S-Mods. S-Mods are a sidegrade to what we had in 0.91 and to while certain hull mods are obviously more "automatic" than others, it's no better/worse in my opinion that Loadout Design 3 that just gave a flat bonus to OP. There was no thought to that or meaningful choice if you simply picked up the skill. From my vantage point, S-Mods are just part and parcel with an evolving loadout feature for the game. You are never forced to build in any hull mod and I find that S-modded enemy ships are not that common. If gives the player a slight advantage if they choose to invest in maxing out their fleet and it makes you think about permanent alterations to a ship, which can have long-lasting consequences on ships that stay with you the whole game.
There is one huge disadvantage of s-mods instead of Loadout Design 3.  You cannot build new ships with those s-mods (without wasting more story points).  This means if player does not want to add s-mods to new ships, he must recover ships lost in battle, and those ships will probably need a very costly Restore to make them pristine again, unless player has Field Repairs.  But Field Repairs works slowly, only good for a ship or two at a time.

If not for Field Repairs (which I still think takes too long to remove d-mods), I probably would be complaining every other post about how losses in combat are devastating and replacing or restoring ships are too expensive.

Restoring Ziggurat (from alpha site) to pristine is extremely expensive, well over a million credits.  I used Field Repairs to make those d-mods go away.
« Last Edit: May 03, 2021, 07:46:51 PM by Megas »
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Sundog

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #17 on: May 03, 2021, 07:52:25 PM »

This is of course telling about how I like my games, but my feeling is that if breaking the rules of the game is a good thing (outside some kind of meta context of course), then it points to flaws in design.
Exceptions to rules are rules themselves. In a lot of ways, I think SP is analogous to king's castle in chess (or perhaps pawn promotion would be a more appropriate analogue). I think I might see what you're saying though. A perfect game should have few, simple, elegant rules that don't require exceptions. FTL is a good example because experts (and only experts) can reliably beat it in spite of it relying heavily on RNG. Starsector is very different though. It's an RPG (meaning complete failure isn't really an option) and it's much more complex due to a vastly larger scope (meaning it's impractical to polish the rules to the point where they always work out perfectly).

I'd furthermore note that many of the places SP show up don't have to do with circumvention but with, to paraphrase myself, tazing my stupid meatsack of a character into taking basic actions.
Sure, I can agree with that, along with plenty of your other specific points. Generally though, most of your complaints seem fairly minor to me, even when I agree. That's just me though.

Thaago

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #18 on: May 03, 2021, 08:13:31 PM »

I think you have some valid points about story points devaluing certain aspects of the game like sensors/stealth, and there are certainly some places in the story where story points are used clumsily.

A lot of your critique boils down to simply not liking their being a unified resource that is awarded alongside XP that gives free stuff. Which is fair enough: its a bit of a weird abstraction of general levelling systems. Most leveling systems gives levels or skill points or attribute points etc in exchange for doing game actions on top of usual awards. Some free bonus that has to do with intangibles instead of tangibles: story points are the tangible reward counterpart to that. It doesn't help that the same resource that gives tangible benefits is also the analog of 'luck points' or 'hero points' from tabletop RPGs that allow for rerolls in bad situations (avoiding fleets, emergency repairs, and recovery of ships). Its a LOT to cram into a single unified system.

It would be like in an RPG if the GM gives me a hero point every fourth of a level that I could instead exchange for gold. There a breaking of the 4th wall which is pretty strange: hero points have to do with me the player adjusting the narrative, but gold is something my character earns! It feels better when those two things are kept separate and helps immersion.

But at the same time a lot of your points lack substance beyond not liking there being a unified resource. The sections on promoting officers and using story points for colonies is especially egregious... its disguised with will smith genie references (which are funny, I did laugh) and hyperbole about the player character being incompetent and lots of twisty sentences, but there isn't actually any argument in either of those paragraphs for why those are bad other than 'story points are bad'. As these same specific instances are being implicitly used as evidence for story points being bad (as thats the thread title), thats not good enough: its a circular argument.

Taking my stab at trying to interpret, I'm sorry if this mischaracterizes: you want there to be specific resources and actions that the player needs to do to get benefits rather than a general resource. Eg: officers from the fleet would require a text minigame or something to 'mentor' them. Ship improvements should require hunting down unique ships. Colony improvements should require building a particular sequence of buildings, etc, instead of their being a unified 'free stuff' resource. In some ways I agree with you: each of those examples would offer increased immersion and might be fun to figure out. But in other ways I disagree because I think a lot of things would just become a grind or have obvious solutions after the first playthrough that are not fun to do but just autopicks. Conversation options in particular that offer benefits... yes they could have some other tradeoff or have some other requirement, but thats just a matter of doing a cost/benefit analysis once, and most of the options in game are purely beneficial autopicks (because they cost a free stuff point).

There's also a benefit to having a unified resource: the actions have an exchange rate that needs to be considered. The battle get out of jail free isn't free, it costs me an S mod. The conversation options that are 'no brainers' actually aren't: they cost a resource. Etc. That to me is engaging because I need to balance the uses and the situation changes.
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #19 on: May 03, 2021, 08:30:47 PM »

First off, I think your post is good feedback.  As opinion, as you say, some people are going to disagree, but it is thought provoking, and appreciate the effort that went into it and a number of your points seem quite valid to me.  I can agree that some uses are not up to a sufficient standard, with potential for improvement, but I don't think the idea in and of itself is necessarily bad.  Execution can vary, but I have seen similar things used successfully elsewhere.

On a conceptual level, I despise story points. In a broader sense, what I hate is arbitrary mechanics. It’d be like if I started an FTL run and had a magical ‘explode enemy ship’ button that I could use X number of times a run. It has nothing to do with the rest of the game, I didn’t in any way earn it, it actively hurts the entire rest of the game and makes me much less engaged, and it doesn’t even have any thematic or mechanical engagement with the game besides, essentially, lowering the level of thought required to play it.

Personally I don't see story points being any more arbitrary than an experience bar and skill trees.  I would also argue that in the case of story points, you did earn them, in the same way that you earned skill points and progression down skill trees.  Certainly there were enough posts stating there were not enough of them that Alex hot fixed an increase to the gain rate post level 15.  What the appropriate rate of earning is certainly up for debate and likely going to depend on personal preference.

However, to say you don't earn them, is like saying you don't earn credits in the game either.  By definition, story points have something to do with the rest of the game, you can't get them without actually doing something significant in game that gets you experience points.  Arguably, credits are earned easier than story points - you can get those by simply sitting in your ship orbiting a planet, with a commission or for the first few cycles of the game.

I've seen similar concepts done in a number of other pen and paper games, like fate points in Fate, or hero points in Pathfinder, or force points in Starwars D20.  The later two examples are explicitly refreshed by leveling, although doing cool stuff in story can also have them be awarded by the GM.  Kind of like how the story line in Starsector hands out story points in a few places.  Fate points in Fate let you occasionally declare things about the situation at hand, briefly pulling overall narrative control into the hands of the player instead of the game master.

They're all arbitrary in a sense, but do provide a limited resource that lets you go above and beyond on occasion, breaking the rest of the normal rules, and thus letting the characters feel more special and unique because they're breaking the rules the NPCs can't.  Simply because they're the main characters of the story taking place.

I want to be clear that I'm not criticizing the various systems and mechanics that are accessible via story points; I hate the points themselves. In every instance in which they are found within the game right now, story points do one of three things; devalue an existing mechanic or system, circumvent the same, or directly harm the game's foundations.

Experience is perhaps the ripest target, but at least that gives me a sense that I’m growing and becoming more adept. It is, ironically, a far better way to make me invested in my character than story points are.

How do you see story points as a difference from skill points, a limited resource generated by the gain of experience, and spent to devalue existing mechanics (industry tree fuel logistics for example) or circumvent mechanics (transverse jump in the tech tree circumvents a large amount of potential encounters on the campaign map, and makes smuggling or escape in systems trivial in many cases)?  "Directly harming the game foundations" is a bit more of a nebulous term to me, I'll admit.

Story points, however... The easiest way for me to sum them up is to compare them to cheat codes. The kinds I used to abuse a decade or so ago when I began playing computer games. I can distinctly remember the day I realized how much I was cheating myself by using them to circumvent the game, the challenges, the fun presented to me. Story points leave me with that same awful, hollow feeling; and in many cases, the way they're used is barely a step removed from a console command, or in the case of SP disengage, literally equivalent to a console command.

That strikes me as a question of overall difficulty then.  I can use "cheat codes" (i.e. modify game files) to make the game harder as well.  Many mods and the game itself can be tuned to one's desired difficulty level.  Many, many people use the save and reload functionality, and I do as well depending on my desires for how I'm playing the game at the time.  Some uses of story points mitigate the potential losses a human being can cause through mistakes (being inattentive, literal misclicking F instead of D while piloting an Onslaught, etc), which I prefer to save and reloading.  Having played through an iron man respawn or two, respawning is not always the best use of my time.  However, I feel risking something and failing forward, is overall better gameplay instead of reloading the exact same fight 3 times, and story points at least in theory can help facilitate that, as another resource you can lose instead of your entire fleet.  Yes, they do make the game easier, but so do skills, credits, commissions, and a host of other things you can earn by playing the game.

If the game is balanced with them in mind, then I can't see it as a cheat code, it's an resource you're expected to use.  Currently, I'm pretty sure you're expected to spend story points on hull mods for a number of your ships to be able to handle end game triple Radiant fleets or the <new redacted> end game bounty with a classic fleet composition (as opposed to say, Derelict Contingent or Phase Mastery/Systems Expertise solo chain Doom).  Whether the game is currently balanced and at the correct level of difficulty with them is a different question, but in principle, it should be possible.  Rate of gain is a large part of tweaking that.

But I'll get to that in a moment. These things do not make me feel like I’m writing my own story, or that my character is having moments of brilliance, or that I’ve in any way earned something.

This is fair.  I have used story points on some of the non-violent story line options, but there's no real way to change the overall story line.  On the other hand, branching story lines in computer games are a gigantic pain and take massive amounts of effort relative to the payoff players get from it.  As for feeling having earned it, that I still feel is related to the number you have on hand.  If players received 1 story point per level, and 1 per 4 million XP after 15, I'd bet spending a story point would feel far more earned.

I do feel building in hull mods with story points is basically saying "This ship is important to me".  For most players, I'm willing to bet they don't double or triple s-mod every ship they get their hands on throughout a run.  Again, rate of gain can adjust how significant that particular feeling is to me.

There's not even a reason to call them story points. Again, they have a connection to the game about as solid as frog snot; you could call them magical genie lamps and it would be just as appropriate, and in fact would probably be more appropriate given the way they're used. And no, not Robin Williams genie. Will Smith genie.

I could see them as luck points perhaps, in the case of guaranteeing recovering a derelict or escaping without a fight.  Although improvements to industries and ship hull mod integration strike me as not lucky.  Main character points, or single player game points perhaps.

At the end of the day, these are a resource which not intended to scale exponentially with stage of the game like credits or ships, but are more of a slow but steady gain (at least past the first 6 or 7 levels) for actually doing things which earn you XP.  Past a certain point, credits become meaningless, you have access to all the ships you could possibly want, which would trivialize certain problems.  Who cares if your fleet blows up when you can replace the whole thing from what I've got sitting in storage and constantly producing more.  Bribes for the Hegemony?  Sure, I've got tens of millions.

It's a completely different feeling when you have 30 or 45 story points invested in your fleet at end game in 0.9.5a than end game in 0.9.1a, where all ships were interchangeable.  It becomes much more of an investment than merely the ships.  That is likely hours of effort poured into the fleet that you can't simply replace at the drop of hat. Or spending a story point on bribing the Hegemony feels far more costly than spending a million credits.  That right there does feel like a story change, as that's literally preventing a war with Hegemony solely through you ability to fast talk or charm the inspectors, which by rights should is an incredible feat of persuasion.  I mean, the alpha core can't seem to convince the Hegemony to stay away and save themselves, so how does a mere mortal as yourself do so?

As noted at the beginning, I agree not all options are good enough at this point.  There's room for improvement, but I don't think it's necessarily the wrong direction.  As noted by others, I feel the campaign version of Starsector (as opposed to missions selected from the main menu) is closer to a pen and paper RPG in progression than a rogue-like FTL or Hades.  A campaign is intended to be much larger investment, and thus it should be really, really hard to reach a respawn condition, as it's potentially hours of progression lost.  Losing something valuable, but less than the sum total of the run is a much better balance point in a game like this, in the same way that spending a hero point is much better option than a random string of critical hits dictating a Pathfinder character died in some meaningless side encounter.  It's a real cost, but its not the whole game, and making you reach for the reload button.
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Draba

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #20 on: May 03, 2021, 08:55:21 PM »

I lean towards not liking story points, but there is enough for the things I want(s-mods, elite skills, mentoring, historian) so I do not mind too much.
Just jumped in for 2 notes.

There's a conversation, of course, about making certain hullmods less stupidly good and/or less mandatory, but that's a separate conversation and probably ends with needing to improve the AI, which sorely needs to be done.
Some of the quirks of the Ai can certainly be super annoying.
You mentioned "improving the AI" pretty casually, I think it's worth emphasizing that generally is a massive amount of work for possibly minimal gains.

You are never forced to build in any hull mod and I find that S-modded enemy ships are not that common. If gives the player a slight advantage if they choose to invest in maxing out their fleet and it makes you think about permanent alterations to a ship, which can have long-lasting consequences on ships that stay with you the whole game.
While using s-mods is not mandatory, the game has to be adjusted with people having them in mind.
Capitals can get ~90-100 free OP, that's a ton of extra capacity+venting that'll make a very noticeable difference.
The new redacted threats are already a PITA to fight for conventional fleets with full 3 s-mod ships.
Without mods I'd guess only frustration or doom/SO/monitor/paragon cheese is left.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 05:35:21 AM by Draba »
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Captain Rizz

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #21 on: May 03, 2021, 11:11:01 PM »

Quote
Perhaps introduce the concept of D-mods that are resistant to restoration, or a special suite of D-mods that are particularly nasty and costly to remove. Hell, introduce more D-mods in general, I'd say. Pristine ships are supposed to be noticeably good, yes? I mean, I%u2019ll note that ships tend to get somewhat stingy amounts of OP; what if you pumped up the base OP on all of 'em, but then D-mods cut into OP, or if there was an OP reducing D-mod?
I particularly like this. D mods aren't enough of a penalty IMHO, you can easily remove them and perfect ships aren't exactly rare. Make D mods more ubiquitous and OP reducing and the mechanic becomes worth it. I also like the idea of having a proficiency in salvaging and not just RNG. Oh you found a paragon floating in deep space? Well, you can take it but it has 8 Dmods because you suck. Likewise a player investing heavily in salvage tech (For want of a better term) can make a living by flipping ships they've found.
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Tartiflette

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #22 on: May 03, 2021, 11:52:26 PM »

I just think that "circumventing rules" (ie, avoiding a battle that you shouldn't, salvaging a ship that shouldn't be salvageable) as opposed to "investing experience" into your character or ships (ie, colonies improvements, mentoring officers, elite skills, etc) should cost a LOT more story points.

Maybe 5 points for a single ship salvage and 10 points to avoid a battle. Then it would properly feel like making a decisive genius action borne out of experience.

As for hullmods, what if they cost 1SP per 10 OP? Baking in expanded mags to your Onslaught: 1SP, Heavy armor: 4SP.


Story points were supposed to give you a "get out of jail" card to avoid loosing all you fleet in unfair battles, and they do that. But they also further increased the value of your ships because of the SP invested in them. In that regard they are a failure to address the core issue: precious ships cannot escape battles quickly enough to be saved in case of trouble, disengagement battles are un-fun, and unwinnable.

Unlike rogue-lite games, Starsector doesn't reward risk taking, and has a very "all or nothing" combat system. That's a tough combination that needs mitigating tools such as story points, however blunt a solution they are at times.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2021, 12:30:08 AM by Tartiflette »
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SCC

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2021, 12:17:34 AM »

I'm not advocating for hardcore mode here; in fact I'd argue in favor of quicksaves when you touch base or make difficult accomplishments and just reload, personally; but there's no meat here.
It's quicker, yet more consequential to spend a story point.

The player considers salvage. There are a lot of choices here to make;
My choices:
Do I want this ship? If not, scrap.
Do I want this ship only a little and d-mods are inconsequential? If not, scrap.
Do I have enough fuel to take the ship back? If not, scrap or leave it be.
Crew, supplies and outfits aren't choices when salvaging, as salvaged ships I didn't already have in my fleet spend time mothballed until I go to my base of operations, where I will easily enough acquire enough supplies and crew to run the ship, and where I have all the weapons I need to make it work. And if I needed to take one more spreadsheet ship not to miss out on some ships I want, I would take it, toss it into the pile of all of my spreadsheet ships and forget about it for the rest of the game. Salvage rig isn't much different from freighters or tankers.

I feel like you're more complaining that base salvaging is too simplistic, than that there's a story point option to recover ships.

Incidentally, restricting D-mod types doesn't make sense, especially if there's any system in place that's supposed to allow for civilian or logistics ships to potentially put up a fight at all (which there is), so it's kind of nonsense both on a thematic and mechanical level. I'm a bit baffled that the separation was made. I do understand the lack of Compromised Storage on non-logistics ships; such ships generally don't have enough cargo space for that to matter, I suppose, but even though I get that one I'd still argue against its exclusion on a personal preference level. Anyway.
Combat d-mods on spreadsheet ships would be freebies (though it doesn't really matter for civvies now, since there's no maint reduction anymore) and compromised storage is a freebie on a combat ship (-1 burn sometimes hurts, sometimes doesn't).

RogueSynth and Starship Legends]
I don't like that I have to complain about SL, when Sundog already knows what are my issues are and that the mod simply is not for me, but alas. This is less for salvaging and more for ship customisation. SL did not make my ships more personal or let them be better through more effort. It let them acquire random traits that are randomly beneficial or harmful at random intervals. The best you can do is make all your random traits on random ships positive. It doesn't make ships personal, quite to the contrary: it takes away control from me and overlays a static noise of traits on my ships and I can only hope that good traits are the important ones and the bad traits are not. At best it's ignorable, at worst it's irritating. Sorry Sundog.
As far as I understand, RogueSynth is similar, but with a set of traits, instead of traits being entirely random.
If all you want is to tell me that it's okay to have suboptimal ships, then I have to tell you that base game d-mods are doing it just fine for me.

For other mods that upgrade your ships with credits... with credits... That comes back to not being a cost at all, really. Well, I assume other mods you mentioned make ships better with credits, I never played them. Story points currently are more precious than credits.

It goes without saying why this circumvents the mechanics, but how does it devalue them? Well, it means that the entire system for shipbuilding requires less thought, less consideration. It means less because you can now 'cheat' it out of quite a bit of value. Once again, I'll point out how uncomfortably close this is to just flat-out cheating.
I like s-mods more than +OP from Loadout Design. It makes my ships more personal, because I have to spend some pretty valuable resource on them and upgrades are per-ship only (though s-mods become a bit annoying late game and for industry players). Of course, all OP boosters could also be removed. That would probably prompt a rebalancing of many ships and hullmods. I would say that it would be a bit strange, to have no option to expand on so important aspect of fitting your ships.

As for how the player themselves become an elite? Considering this is a permanent change to the main actual player, it should of course be quite difficult to acquire such a thing. Using 0.91a as an example, what if I saved up three of my level up points to become an elite in salvaging? That's a relatively simple example, and it's also a decent reason to do to more things; snap off the level cap, thus continuing to reward the player with experience for the things they do, which they can then invest in becoming a legend, which they ought to be by the time they get into their two-hundredth 500DP invasion war fight thing.
I'm actually surprised you complain about some skill points requiring 1 1/4th skill points and not about them costing skill points at all, if you have an issue with them. Anyway, it's mostly because personal skills don't provide any story point sinks by themselves, so they can be elited to alleviate that.

Yes, I'm aware that fleet sizes were made smaller
Are you sure you really played the 0.95a update? Heh.

I'll take a second to potshot the idea of bribing inspections costing a story point; for Lobster's sake, it already costs me credits if not a fight, and with the new contacts system there could easily be other costs involved; maybe a favor I need to do for some Hegemony official; and this is another one of those accursed situations where for some reason I am incapable of taking a simple, obvious action; saying 'yes'; without the help of Will Smith.
I'm guessing that bribes cost SPs to make them have more consequences. Bribing expeditions and inspections seemed cheap enough previously.

And then there's colonies. I don't really mind the nerfs; sure, they were strong. Personally I never managed to make them broken or all that strong but maybe that's because I avoid using AI cores. If that's the case, and you'e balancing them around AI usage, you clearly do not have enough consequences for AI usage. If it becomes grindingly hard to make colonies without AI after this, that'll have been a mistake. But that's okay, because you gave me the option of having Will Smith sprinkle his fairy magic all over my colony to make it better.
I wouldn't mind AI inspections being ubribeable, period.

(Then again, I'm not a fan of the current iteration of hyperspace travel anyway. Yes, sure, it accomplishes the goal of making sure you can't just set a course and then tab out for a bit.
But I do travel by just tabbing out for travel! I did in 0.9.1 and I still do now, though now I slap Solar Shielding on all of my ships because whether I steer manually or just beeline it, storms are obnoxious, especially for bounty hunters. I kinda wish I could start out with Janus device, it makes exploration less tedious. It's also a reason why I never played with mods that put Remnants in hyperspace; not only those fleets would be fairly easy to deal with, they also would interrupt me and have to check in on situation more.

Where I might tweak the system is paying a SP before the battle to designate a "high value" target or some such that would give it a higher chance for recovery.
SS is not a casino, I don't want to pay to get (un)lucky. If I get really unlucky and don't win anyway, then I get no salvage at all.

You call it genie magic or cheat codes but it's more like choosing where to aim your shot to me. If everyone has a 6-shooter in a crowd of enemies, you have to prioritize your targets. The problem is that the player has a machine-gun right now so they can be a lot less discriminating!
I always thought of SPs as player character's time. I promote a crewman to an officer because my PC spent time on that. I mentor an officer, or rather, my PC spends his time on that. I can dupe some pather because my PC spent reading up on Ludd that one time. SPs as time isn't even far off from how it works, anyway.

Without mods I'd guess only frustration or doom/SO/monitor/paragon cheese is left.
Or the Radiant.

Gothars

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2021, 12:27:36 AM »

I agree with the assessment that story point are simply too ubiquitous. I never had less than 30 and spent them at (what I felt was) a liberal rate.

For me a good change would be to
- get less story points by just leveling.
- have the amount of story points required to do certain things be more fine grained, as Tarti explained.
- have other things besides leveling generate story points. It should not be repeatable actions (that you could farm) but certain milestones. For example, getting your first capital ship, your first colony, your first successful escape, your first time being caught smuggling. That would incentivize players to explore all aspects of the game, I believe.


It is probably too much to ask, but it would
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Kanil

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #25 on: May 04, 2021, 12:45:00 AM »

Maybe 5 points for a single ship salvage and 10 points to avoid a battle. Then it would properly feel like making a decisive genius action borne out of experience.

I already rarely consider either of these options worthwhile. If avoiding a battle was 10 points, I'd just go back to loading a save.
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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #26 on: May 04, 2021, 12:53:31 AM »

(ISS Laharl): Taking hull damage, captain.

To FooF: You make an excellent point regarding salvage destroyed VS disabled that I hadn't considered. Still, I think the other alternatives I offer are enough to give the player meaningful choice without incentivizing unfun options; but I do admit that my suggestion regarding control over disabled VS destroyed doesn't seem workable under current conditions. Given that I've already advocated for AI improvement however, I don't think it's off the table in the long term. As for LD3, you'll probably not be surprised to hear that I'm glad it no longer exists. While I prefer it to S-mods since it at least worked within the game's systems, I didn't particularly care for how bland yet mandatory it was. Story points are definitely in a first pass stage, yes, but the crux of my argument is simply that they're undesirable by comparison to potential; that is, they're a very badly calculated opportunity cost.

To Amazigh: My personal solution would be to simply add a few more branches of dialogue, with different resources or connections you can exploit. I like the point you make about 'speech checks', but that's something that could be easily fitted into, say, a skill you grow either by level up or by use, rather than limited points; it does not, for example, make sense that a character that talked their way in and out of multiple nasty situations suddenly finds themselves blubbertongued because I ran out of story points. Skill checks, and the increasing ability to pass them, suggests growth and specialization. Story points do not.

To Sundog: While I agree Starsector is sort of an RPG hybrid rather than a straight sandbox, the same can be said for Skyrim or Minecraft or Terraria or Starbound, all of which have elegant and well-designed rules without the need for handicaps. Well... It might be disingenuous to say that about Skyrim considering how broken it is a lot of the time, but for sake of argument, let's pretend I mean the community-patched version of Skyrim.

To Thaago: Hoo boy I was afraid when I saw you responded. In regards to your first paragraph, I'll note that while I'm an avid player of TTRPG's, Pathfinder specifically, neither myself nor anyone I know actually uses the hero points, because they just muddy the waters of the perfectly good mechanics and systems in place. I don't mean to say that the book is sacrosanct; for example, when playing 2nd Ed D&D with my father, we changed the rules multiple times to account for things that just seemed stupid. But good mechanics engender good story and a fun experience, and using some kind of resource that's completely out of the game's bounds to manipulate said game is always... Disappointing, at least for me.

I'm glad you liked the joke! I felt it was representative of my feelings. Having said that, I'd argue against the idea I was being hyperbolic; that was very accurate to how I felt and my perception of my character in those moments. Where you *are* correct is that I don't support my points nearly well enough, and I'll have to compose some extra paragarphs for the essay to address that.

You don't really mischaracterize me much; you put it perhaps more simply than I'd like, but essentially yes, I want to play the game by the game's rules using the game's systems. To that end, SP feels like a disconnected arbitration meant only to either allow me to cheat, make things easier for me, or lock off nice things from me, without any connection to the world of the Persean Sector and the rules by which I play. Going back to the TTRPG thing, I'm a very mechanics focused person, but never to the exclusion of story; rather, for me, an excellent rules system encourages and fertilizes the ground for an excellent interactive experience. In this analogy, story points feel like a lackluster first draft of some dude's attempt at their homebrew version of D&D but they're calling it something else. The unified resource argument rings a bit hollow for me because it feels like a lazy blanket attempt rather than putting specific work into each of the sections it affects.

Things that are grindy or are autopicks are, of course, flaws, and should be treated as such. This is why I also take issue with things being too dominant or mindless, like SO, but these are things that can be solved simply with balance work and expansion of design space. It's quite possible you're misinterpreting me somewhat but I feel that we would have to have a personal conversation to match wavelengths.

To Hiruma Kai:

I already mentioned my distaste for similar points in TTRPGs, and the reason is the same; yes, you can argue that I did objectively earn it because I did the thing that got me the point, but it doesn't feel earned. You could say I earned victory over those pirates by typing in a code that made them all explode, and in a certain sense that'd be true, but it wouldn't be... real, I guess. Yes, I did acquire the points, but I didn't do anything for them, and their uses don't make me feel like I earned the things I use them for. Subjective, I know, but they're a very subjective-focused resource; it's in the name.

Since you mention it, I actually strongly dislike the balance of most of the skills as they stand, but I overall appreciate that the more I accomplish as a captain, the better I get at being a captain. The more you do thing, the better you are at thing; very old hat, but perfectly reliable and understandable, and an easy path to at least some immersion and sense of progress.

Mitigation of mistakes is something that should also be part of the game though. What would an actual captain do to allow for mistakes? Well, not some fourth-wall magic well of cheats. The other things you mention that make the game easier are the answer; they need better balancing, sure, and it should be more comprehensive, but I should feel like an experienced and prepared captain BECAUSE I'm an experienced and prepared captain, not because I'm discount Aladdin.

The point about 'this ship is important to me' is... Well, okay, the way I play the game is extremely, extremely long-form and with huge fleets, so while I do develop favorite ships over time, there's no way, in the long run, that it'd be worth it to single out one ship as special. That's admittedly just due to how I play, but honestly, if Starsector continued to encourage smaller fleets, smaller battles, and shorter playtimes, I don't think I'd play it any further; there are other games that already do things like that. I don't really have an argument for that since it's whatever Alex wants to do with it, though; entirely subjective.

Saying it's closer to pen and paper than a roguelike is accurate. But that doesn't mean it needs to take on all their aspects; nor does it mean aspects found in such games are actually a good idea. Shadowrun is pretty much the only system where I even slightly liked their 'points' system, and it should come as little surprise that this is primarily because it's the least obtrusive and most woven-in one that I'm aware of.

Needing things besides a reload button is an entirely fair point though.

To Draba:

I'm well aware how difficult AI development can be. But that doesn't change the fact that there is a clear and pulsating need for it. The salient options are to either dumb down the game until the gap is closed, or develop the AI until the gap is closed. Duct taping over the issue or trying to circumvent it would be lazy. I don't think it's fair to suggest the gains would be minimal in this case, and I also think it's worthwhile to point out that Alex has no end of potential support from this community if he so asked; I believe a few people have already manipulated the AI in a number of ways. It's up to him of course.

To Captain Rizz: I like everything you said.

To Tartiflette: Your name scared me too!

While I agree with your points on a surface level, especially the need for a mitigating tool, I still hold that story points are far too ham-handed an attempt, and more thought should have gone into better and more integrated systems.

To SCC:

It's accurate that I think base salvaging is a bit simplistic, but I don't think it's as simplistic as you make out. Though, it feels like this is more a difference in our respective playstyles and what we want out of the game. Compounded somewhat by your thoughts on SSL, though I agree it could use slightly less randomness. The two obscure mods i mention; one uses credits, the other trade goods. Hardly a difference, but I appreciate the concepts they were trying to introduce. I do want methods to make ships better, but they should make in-world sense.

Lessee, already addressed LD3...

"Are you sure you really wanted the update?" Yeah, admittedly, some of the core concepts of the update give me the somewhat sobering feeling that this may become a game I can't enjoy.  I... Don't relish dwelling on that.

If bribes et al are too cheap, there's a much easier solution to that. Not even talking straight credits here, there're other costs that could be conceptualized, a couple of which I referenced, but I'm admittedly quite tired at the moment.

And as for 'time spent', what you're talking about is experience. I say this above, but if I have one story point, say, and do something that you'd think any human being with memory would be able to do again... But can't, because I'm out of points... That just looks stupid and is immensely frustrating.

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SCC

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #27 on: May 04, 2021, 01:15:06 AM »

As for hullmods, what if they cost 1SP per 10 OP? Baking in expanded mags to your Onslaught: 1SP, Heavy armor: 4SP.
Would this really make me want to spend SPs on cheaper hullmods, or would this simply make me want to spend SPs on "safe", expensive hullmods (for example, when will a high-tech ship not want hardened shields or a capital ship not want ITU?) so that I don't accidentally waste one of two (or three) slots on a hullmod that is actually suboptimal?

It's accurate that I think base salvaging is a bit simplistic, but I don't think it's as simplistic as you make out. Though, it feels like this is more a difference in our respective playstyles and what we want out of the game. Compounded somewhat by your thoughts on SSL, though I agree it could use slightly less randomness. The two obscure mods i mention; one uses credits, the other trade goods. Hardly a difference, but I appreciate the concepts they were trying to introduce. I do want methods to make ships better, but they should make in-world sense.
I care less about integrity of the universe and more about the gameplay (I care about both, but lore isn't what kept me playing SS for years). Credit costs are less important than SP costs.
The level of randomness in SL I would accept is if I could set traits I wanted to have, or at least positive ones. Optimal traits are the target, everything else is suboptimal and only a stop at the road to perfection - unless, of course, late game threats didn't require me to optimise my traits, so they would be simply useless. This would also defeat the point of SL, wouldn't it? I would rather have it left out entirely. I don't have to use a mod.

If bribes et al are too cheap, there's a much easier solution to that. Not even talking straight credits here, there're other costs that could be conceptualized, a couple of which I referenced, but I'm admittedly quite tired at the moment.
I wouldn't mind other ways to stop expeditions, but that doesn't make SP bribes less meaningful, since SPs are valuable.

Tartiflette

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #28 on: May 04, 2021, 02:54:22 AM »

Would this really make me want to spend SPs on cheaper hullmods, or would this simply make me want to spend SPs on "safe", expensive hullmods (for example, when will a high-tech ship not want hardened shields or a capital ship not want ITU?) so that I don't accidentally waste one of two (or three) slots on a hullmod that is actually suboptimal?
That would be the goal, right now using SP on anything but Hardened Shields, ITU and Heavy armor is a waste of free OPs. If those expensive hullmods did cost more, there would be a trade-off.
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Gothars

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #29 on: May 04, 2021, 03:38:42 AM »

With staggered SP cost you might still want the most expensive hullmods for your flagship, but on support ships, frigates etc. the cheaper ones would be very attractive.
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