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Author Topic: A Professional Critique Of Story Points  (Read 5942 times)

Ad Astra

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #45 on: May 05, 2021, 08:51:59 AM »

Related to the above, I'm going to point out regarding the ideas to replace SP use with specific gameplay elements: a bunch of them are good and desirable, but would also require 10 times the work to cover the same bases as the SP use they replace. Consider for instance all the different options to get out of a fight you'd need to create for every possible combination of the specific enemy faction (Hegemony, Tri-Tachyon, pathers and pirates are each going to react to things differently), whether the fleet type in question would be responsive to this particular offer (random patrol, a prowling privateer, or a vengeance fleet specifically sent to kill you?), whether the player is even presently capable of doing the thing ("cool, I can get out of this crack if only I had this item I had no way of getting at this stage"), etc.

Some also have effects I consider actively bad, e.g. requiring player-owned heavy industry to enhance ships means the feature is locked out to me for multiple cycles into the game. (Fix for this: Let player have direct, reliable access to faction heavy industry. But see above.)

That it would take substantially more work than just currency usage is very clear, however it would simultaneously reinforce and produce a clear solution to the more lackluster systems currently in game (mostly the ones I named above). There needs to be a reward for raising rep, right now we have nothing, the same with contacts, don't get me wrong I loved this update and it definitely shows a very good path is being taken, but those mechanisms still haven't consolidated in any substantial way that is worth your grind.
Hell I use your (absolutely wonderful) mod almost mandatorily so that high rep at least keeps pirates off my back, in vanilla?
I agree that adding dialogue options that involve factions recognizing you are kind of a big deal to them and backing off is considerable work (though I would not expect them to  be too extensive or anything), but it would tie the world together in ways that are very important. We are talking the difference between Fallout 3 and New Vegas kind of important with this, to validate your very existence and work within the game world, hell considering how every time a point is used, you get text prompts telling what you did, switching SP button for a rep check button and having a text prompt there would be practically equal yet so much more satisfying.

A sandbox game almost universally needs grind, it just needs to be fun and rewarding, right now only grinding for money (and story points I guess) is rewarding. Heavy industries is the sole outlier of getting something cool out of a colony outside of just cash. Grinding contact rep allows you to get more missions to grind faction rep :O and that would be lovely if faction rep was worth a crap, and it could be if you used it instead of those green prompts, again my problem with SP is that it is currently occupying dev time and gameplay opportunities that could be given to the much more engaging systems already within the game.

I agree locking any and all modifications behind heavy industry would be bad, but I just meant to have it behind owned docks (aka colony). It could also come the following way, your own dock or a high rep faction's dock allows for 1 special modification, your own heavy industry or high faction rep and comission allows for 2 special modifications, and finally the T5 allows for a third. That way you don't get your first superpowerful ship in 2 months, it adds progression, it adds the feeling of achievement and a rational investment and makes it feel real (but this is just putting examples, this would involve much more work than I'd advise and simply having it be tied to infrastructure would already make for a believable and interesting mechanic).

To put this into perspective:
Imagine getting a planetary shield just involved using a green point in your colony, imagine getting the Ziggy involved simply using a green point in the ship market and nothing else, no they involve quests, that's what makes them superior gameplay wise. You feel like there was a reason those things fell into your hands. This update added a tremendous amount of new missions and situations which could perfectly have involved acquiring some of the boons we get through SP right now. I would never have expected all of the opportunities we get through SP to even have been added (which is wonderful), but since all those opportunities are there, I just can't help seeing the fact that we get them through currency as a real shame, they could have been there to finally justify many of the grindy mechanics that are still empty once and for all.
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SCC

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #46 on: May 05, 2021, 09:03:33 AM »

Another issue, almost as important, is the use of SP to prevent/minimize save scumming.
That what you call "issue" is actually the entire point of story points.
Quote from: Alex
The general idea here is that “story” options in the campaign would either smooth out the flow of the game, letting you avoid a situation that would result in reloading a save – or grant you some long-term benefit.

As for losing ships with story points: ehhh, done that a couple of times. Story points are unlimited, so I didn't feel particularly attached to ship because of its s-mods, since it likely had few or none if I didn't feel attached to it, but rather because of what class that ship is. Losing an Aurora before acquiring its blueprint would hurt. Losing an Enforcer with heavy armour is regrettable, but acceptable (though, in my case, I didn't care enough about them to put any s-mods on them).

The more story points there would be to obtain, the more actions would allow earning them, the more generic they become, the more it resembles current "earn SPs though XPs" approach.

Shad

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #47 on: May 05, 2021, 09:04:36 AM »

Some also have effects I consider actively bad, e.g. requiring player-owned heavy industry to enhance ships means the feature is locked out to me for multiple cycles into the game. (Fix for this: Let player have direct, reliable access to faction heavy industry. But see above.)

The question is: why does the player need to have enhanced ships. To me this is powercreep that has been gradually eroding the game's own lore.

Ships should have d-mods. This is the setting with lostech and whatnot. Even regular pristine ships are uncommon. The combination of colonies in 0.9 and insta-restore of ships effectively allowed permanent pristine fleets. Now, not only do we have pristine fleets, we also want to have extra free mods on top of them (something that used to be locked hehind very rare ships like XIV ships).

I personally feel it's not the right direction. The bar could to be lowered back to the early days, where 3-4 dmods on ships is the default, and then any ship improvement (like moveing from 4 d-mods to 2) would be an improvement and accessible in early game. While stuff like super pristine ship creation would be endgame content.
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #48 on: May 05, 2021, 09:16:21 AM »

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.

It's been stated a few times already in this thread, but needing SP to take a halfway diplomatic approach to things is indeed ridiculous.

For SP-using diplomacy options in general, the standard RPG alternative would be having points in a diplomacy skill, which can also have issues but at least maps to 'this is a thing the character was already known to be or not to be good at'.

While I agree it could be fleshed out or made explicit, I view story points in the light that they represent more traditional RPG skills that required rolls already.  This is why I see their earning and power similar to the skills as defined by the game (Combat, Leadership, etc).  However, instead of being limited to just spending skill points which on a piece of paper say that "I'm good at doing X because I get +10% to Y from now on", story points can also be used for  show, don't tell, and you're considered good at smooth talking Pathers because, well, you smooth talk Pathers during your campaign run.  Your character is in part what your character has done, not just the fact they get a 0-flux boost when not producing flux.  If you want a brilliant tactician, capable of picking only engagements they can win, and otherwise out maneuvering multiple fleets simultaneously and getting away, then you do that rather than picking a skill that says you can do that, and then potentially proceed to never use it on a particular game run.

You don't need to spend even more arbitrary points to unlock the skill that lets you use story points in such a fashion, because the story point is a skill point.  It's earned via experience.  It lets you do something you couldn't do before without it.  The only difference is also simultaneously a limited resource so that random RNG doesn't need to be pulled in to limit it.  That's it.  Otherwise, it is completely analogous.  Story points are the thing both unlocking  the skill and guaranteeing the success.  When you don't use a story point where you could, it could be viewed as the character not choosing to, or alternatively if you were in a pen and paper RPG, simply failing their roll.  The limited nature means you can't always succeed.  So you have to pick the points in the campaign run (in the story if you will) when you succeed and when you don't.

Imagine you're reading a summary describing an RPG session or Starsector campaign, that never mentions skills or stats and you knew nothing about mechanics, but just describes what happened.  If the Starsector character always smooth talked his way out of Pather encounters, then you'd assume he was really good at smooth talking.  If he only sometimes smooth talked his way out, you might assume he was merely okay at talking his way out, and that sometimes it just didn't work out.

Alex could have created a Charisma stat, an Intelligence stat, and added Diplomacy, Engineering, Tactics, and Management skills to the game.  Or added them to the skill tree or whatever (and he kind of did with Special Modifications).  Then let you rolled some computer dice each time to see if you succeed or failed.

But Alex has ruthlessly eliminated as much non pre-seeded RNG as possible at the campaign layer, to avoid save/reload incentives.  Now imagine you've got that system that lets you roll a diplomacy check with a 75% chance of success, which is pre-determined.  You try it, it fails, you reload and haven't and choose a different option.  Here, we completely avoid that, and simply say, if you want to spend the resource (i.e. it is that important to you that it's worth the resource), you succeed, no roll needed.  If its not important to you, you don't spend the resource and you fail.  And thus the skill is kept in check by the limited nature of the resource, and why you don't simply do it every single time, or if you do, you're significantly limiting your "skills" in other areas.

It is a bit different from a classic D&D RPG, but it is an RPG idea out there that has been used successfully. Fate points in RPG games are like that.  You're heroes, so you do heroic things, and the story just so happens to occur to show off that you can do these awesome things others can't when it matters most.

Could there be different methods in game to deal with such situations? Yes.  The same way I can imagine the game not having the Combat, Leadership, Technology, and Industry skill trees and instead having in game methods of becoming better at piloting and administration (spending credits on university courses, buying augments for your character).  Again, why have skill points producing arbitrary improvements or abilities?  Transverse jump and neutrino detector have been turned into quests already, proving it is quite doable.

Could it perhaps be presented in a clearer, more lore friendly way in some cases?  Probably.  Are some use cases trivializing some game mechanics?  Also probably.  But these are similar problems with skill points, and I don't see the vast majority of players asking for skill points being completely removed or that they are a fundamentally bad system regardless of implementation.  I view improving your colonies to be extremely similar to the Colony skill which boosts production by 1, but instead of because of administration, you're stepping in and imposing a newer, more efficient organization scheme that lasts after you leave.  Both are just as "magical" or just as "due to experience".  Improving your ships is showing off your engineering skill - or potentially the engineering skill of the A-team of hundreds of crew you've assembled, showing off either intelligence or charisma.

Anyway, that's how I perceive them, but others can certainly perceive them differently.  Not all mechanics are equally immersive for all people.  To illustrate:

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.

I will point out, story points don't let you explode pirates, it lets you not encounter them in combat in the first place.  These are two very different things.  In a table top RPG, even those without hero points, you have your own personal genie in the form the game master who's entire job is to place carefully curated encounters in front of you that are level appropriate, and which you always have a high probability of dealing with via preparation and good choices. It's just that genie's service is free and doesn't cost you resources (except maybe pizza), and thus most people don't notice it as much.  The immersion potential is much higher, but those pen and paper systems are carefully balanced around the fact encounters are around your level.

Personally, for me, it reduces my immersion a fair bit knowing that if it isn't an obvious and contrived "run away" situation, we are expected to be able to handle it.  The universe is built around a small group of arbitrarily picked random strangers in essence, a really non-immersive concept to me.  In any case, I can totally empathize with it not feeling real or immersive, as Starsector is putting that ability to pick only "level appropriate" encounters in your face.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2021, 09:59:29 AM by Hiruma Kai »
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Ad Astra

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #49 on: May 05, 2021, 10:12:34 AM »

Could it perhaps be presented in a clearer, more lore friendly way in some cases?  Probably.  Are some use cases trivializing some game mechanics?  Also probably.  But these are similar problems with skill points, and I don't see the vast majority of players asking for skill points being completely removed or that they are a fundamentally bad system regardless of implementation.  I view improving your colonies to be extremely similar to the Colony skill which boosts production by 1, but instead of because of administration, you're stepping in and imposing a newer, more efficient organization scheme that lasts after you leave.  Both are just as "magical" or just as "due to experience".  Improving your ships is showing off your engineering skill - or potentially the engineering skill of the A-team of hundreds of crew you've assembled, showing off either intelligence or charisma.

What you are missing here is that one is meant to symbolize learning something, while the other means to symbolize moments of brilliance. Did you ever practice a skill? Well once you practice and learn you just have it, that's what a skill point represents (personally I'm also an advocate for mission locked skills btw). You ever threw a paper ball at a trash can without looking from far away and have it miraculously land in when you actually suck at that? That would be the sort of thing a story point represents. As they are right now they are too common and too silly and inconsequential in their uses (just like the paper ball throw). Suure, disengaging is nice because enemy forcing confrontation is broken as hell, but if you fix that broken as hell force of confrontation and allow for planning fleets around that mechanic then now SP sounds ridiculous. Getting the support of a ruling figure would be the sort of thing you want it to represent. BTW I also don't like %chance checks, I like the New Vegas style flat level requirement, you have it or you don't style.

Very few things throughout the game would belong in a moment of brilliance because this isn't a game with many "once in a lifetime" opportunities. Getting a Ziggy or a Cryosleeper operational, or even a Guardian, that's the kind of thing you'd only expect to happen in a "confluence of skill and purpose" as Darkest Dungeon Ancestor would say when your heroes crit. Talking your way out of paying a speeding ticket isn't a moment of brilliance, and if it is, then it can't be equated to a lifetime defining opportunity.

I'd be happy to have them stay as limited points you get on certain milestones and you can only use in playthrough defining moments, this implementation feels too flavorless compared to the rest of the game. Getting a Radiant with an alpha AI in it costs the same as buying oranges at discount prices or something.

To finish, do they work? Yep. Are they what they could be? Nope. Is what it could be far away from what we have mechanic wise? Also nope, and that's why I bother criticizing them, because making them nigh perfect isn't that far in work hours, it's just a philosophical design standpoint what needs to be contemplated.
The Devil is in the details, and the difference between a crappy Hollywood typical cheap plot and a masterpiece is often more subtle than you'd think, subtlety is the art of masters, and subtle changes to existing mechanics can be infinitely more powerful than shiny new stuff.
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Ryan390

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #50 on: May 05, 2021, 10:32:06 AM »

I've been saying for a while the focus on Star Sector needed to be the story content.
Everyone's obsessed over story *points* - but not seemingly interested in the actual story. Penny wise, pound foolish IMO.

The game was fine, overall (in previous versions) - it just needed the story narrative finishing, maybe add a few new ships and some extra polish.
It's just been going in circles for a while now and we have new features that a large chunk of the community don't like.
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Shad

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #51 on: May 05, 2021, 12:56:55 PM »

If you want a brilliant tactician, capable of picking only engagements they can win, and otherwise out maneuvering multiple fleets simultaneously and getting away, then you do that rather than picking a skill that says you can do that, and then potentially proceed to never use it on a particular game run.
This is a stange argument. By this logic a new player will never be able to play a good general in, say Total War they need to "git gud". Or as another example, a vet player playing M&B will always be a swordmaster, even if his character is supposed to be a trader/scholar.

Skills exist to explain what a character is good at, and complement, support or offset player skill. And they are essential to keep the feeling of progression.

Quote
Imagine you're reading a summary describing an RPG session or Starsector campaign, that never mentions skills or stats and you knew nothing about mechanics, but just describes what happened.  If the Starsector character always smooth talked his way out of Pather encounters, then you'd assume he was really good at smooth talking.  If he only sometimes smooth talked his way out, you might assume he was merely okay at talking his way out, and that sometimes it just didn't work out.
The issue is that SP lets you always talk your way out, even if you are supposdely doing a run as a principled Hegemony officer, or a technocrat that hates pathers with a passion. Doesn't matter, SP fixes everything, guaranteed. And shatters immersion in the process.

Quote
It is a bit different from a classic D&D RPG, but it is an RPG idea out there that has been used successfully. Fate points in RPG games are like that.  You're heroes, so you do heroic things, and the story just so happens to occur to show off that you can do these awesome things others can't when it matters most.
I have 2 problems with this statement:
1. Fate points are not like that. In mosst games they are an extermely limited resource, which is often saved until a truly dire moment (not to resolve a routine ambush, but to surive an otherwise lethal boss fight). In many systems, fate doesn't even guarantee success, they just give you another chance.

2. I don't like the idea of the character in Starsector being a fated hero. Just like in mount and blade. Your character is a human. You a being of flesh and blood like everyone else. You can be beaten, captured, or raided and defeated. You control the level of risk you want to put your character under, from patrolling home Hegemony systems when comissionned, to expliring te sector fringes.
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Megas

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #52 on: May 05, 2021, 01:18:51 PM »

Some also have effects I consider actively bad, e.g. requiring player-owned heavy industry to enhance ships means the feature is locked out to me for multiple cycles into the game. (Fix for this: Let player have direct, reliable access to faction heavy industry. But see above.)

The question is: why does the player need to have enhanced ships. To me this is powercreep that has been gradually eroding the game's own lore.

Ships should have d-mods. This is the setting with lostech and whatnot. Even regular pristine ships are uncommon. The combination of colonies in 0.9 and insta-restore of ships effectively allowed permanent pristine fleets. Now, not only do we have pristine fleets, we also want to have extra free mods on top of them (something that used to be locked hehind very rare ships like XIV ships).

I personally feel it's not the right direction. The bar could to be lowered back to the early days, where 3-4 dmods on ships is the default, and then any ship improvement (like moveing from 4 d-mods to 2) would be an improvement and accessible in early game. While stuff like super pristine ship creation would be endgame content.
Because we used to have +OP% skill(s), but we do not anymore.  s-mods (and Special Modifications) are the replacement for +OP% skills.

Because nearly all baseline ships are OP starved, and being OP starved is no fun.  Ships enhanced with more OP (or s-mods) are more fun.

Originally, there were no d-mods, and all ships were pristine.  d-mods may have been added to make pirate ships weaker than player (and major factions) with pristine ships.  Pristine ships were and are the baseline.
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Morrokain

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #53 on: May 05, 2021, 03:09:52 PM »

I'll briefly chime in here and say that I like Story Points as a general design concept: a rare resource that let's you do cool things. There are a couple ways that I would improve the system as it currently stands.

1) I agree that using SP as a "get out of jail free card" for fleet encounters doesn't feel very good from an immersion standpoint. Mechanics-wise I get the reasoning but it definitely does devalue retreat battles and good fleet navigation. I'd argue that that particular use of them should be removed OR limited to easy mode. The other potential solution would be having the number of SP required to escape scale heavily depending on the situation - mainly rep and fleet size/strength difference. This is what AO's negotiation feature essentially does. The other thing about negotiations is that there is a chance - though potentially small - that they will fail even in otherwise ideal circumstances. Imo, this is actually pretty important as it provides a relatively controllable risk. Someone mentioned Xcom and I think along similar lines there.

2)
Have your cake and eat it too (this sounded nicer than "compromise"): What if SP uses were unlocked by skills and/or possession of existing assets in the game? As in: no amount of heroics will let you restore a wrecked Onslaught you found in the boonies, or dodge a fleet twice your size, unless you already demonstrated a baseline capability in those areas. This also has the benefit of making skills (another area of, well, controversy) more interesting.

This is a really interesting concept to me. Tie story point acquisition to achievements within the overall campaign rig - which then allow you to do other cool things you previously couldn't. That would certainly provide a rewarding sense of progression. This also ties into:

3) Just generally I'd avoid allowing SPs to circumvent existing mechanics. (Ie disengaging, scans, etc.) Instead, they should unlock alternative challenges or otherwise allow things to be done that otherwise couldn't - like S-mods and salvaging unsalvageable wrecks. I also don't think they should be a progression "tax" to dialogue or progression but rather unlock new paths in either the story or the natural flow of said progression. In this vein, colony boosts probably need to go as well.

That's my two cents. Keep in mind I'm basing this opinion off of relatively limited experience. A lot is taken from what other people have said. I'll probably go into more detail when I'm more knowledgeable about the system as a whole.
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Ryan390

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #54 on: May 06, 2021, 04:24:50 AM »

I think generally having less bigger fleets flying around and making really large fleets harder to acquire would also help with the disengage thing.
The end game can be reached far too quickly / easily and owning a big ship like a capital ship isn't really a big deal or take that long.

So everyone's flying around with massive fleets so the avoiding mechanic starts to become really important in certain situations.
I'd personally prefer the game to be a bit slower pace and seeing a massive fleet with an Onslaught and a bunch of heavy cruisers, should actually be a big deal.
Appreciate that's quite opinionated and not to everyone's taste though.. Start with a tiny shuttle and grind a way to a frigate, I'd personally enjoy. Yet currently I can get from a shuttle to a cruiser in about an hour or so..

I agree with your point #3 the SP mechanic shouldn't be in replace of existing features, but just a mechanism to unlock alternative segments in the game or provide a boost to an existing feature. So using SP to upgrade ships, is really cool for example.

In terms of disengage you could reduce the effectiveness of it, say sacrifice an SP, then choose which ships will get left behind as a sacrifice, letting your main ship go and a couple of others.

So basically reducing the effectiveness of it drastically, but still getting *some* benefit from having SP.
If you had like 30 SP saved up and you get an unwinnable / unescapable encounter, it wouldn't be fun not to leverage any of that SP to at least escape *some* of your ships, right??


« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 04:26:34 AM by Ryan390 »
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Megas

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #55 on: May 06, 2021, 04:38:06 AM »

So basically reducing the effectiveness of it drastically, but still getting *some* benefit from having SP.
If you had like 30 SP saved up and you get an unwinnable / unescapable encounter, it wouldn't be fun not to leverage any of that SP to at least escape *some* of your ships, right??
Those thirty points eventually become a drop in the bucket if colonies enter the picture.

I just learned that historian doubles his costs after every colony item you buy.  That is a gotcha.  Moral of that story?  Only buy things from him if you cannot get them any other way.  If you want pristine nanoforge, steal it from Kazeron.  Need synchrotron?  Steal it!
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Megas

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #56 on: May 06, 2021, 04:51:37 AM »

I think variable costs need to go.  If those costs are powerful, then make the base cost more expensive, but do not scale them to ludicrous.

For me, that just means I want to hoard points in case I want to pay for something that costs 64 or more story points.

If variable costs stay, make it very clear from the beginning that costs vary so player does not shoot himself in the foot and find out the hard way later.
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #57 on: May 06, 2021, 07:12:26 AM »

If you want a brilliant tactician, capable of picking only engagements they can win, and otherwise out maneuvering multiple fleets simultaneously and getting away, then you do that rather than picking a skill that says you can do that, and then potentially proceed to never use it on a particular game run.
This is a stange argument. By this logic a new player will never be able to play a good general in, say Total War they need to "git gud".

I think I failed to communicate my meaning here clearly.  When I say "do that", I'm referring to the character in the game, not the player.  For example, in a choose your own adventure, sometimes you're presented with options like: Fight the goblin with a sword, talk the goblin out of fighting, cast a spell to put the goblin to sleep.

You might not have a "character sheet", but you're suddenly defining the character on the fly.  If you choose fight with sword, you've decided to define your character as one who is trained with at the very least with a sword, if you choose to talk, you've defined the character as being diplomatic, and if you choose to cast spell, you've defined them as being studied and magical.  The reader has done nothing but pick a choice, but the character has now been defined by doing and succeeding at the thing that they are good at.  This is contrast to having a character sheet that say +10 to diplomacy rolls, and yet rolling a critical failure despite it or going down a story path that never utilizes diplomacy.

The advantage of this system is that by not relying on random chance, you don't have a fraction of the player base running into unlucky runs where a character is defined at being good at diplomacy, and rolls a failure every time.  Imagine taking a skill that gives you a 50% chance for success, as opposed to not having the option (essentially 0%) and you have 10 meaningful diplomacy rolls that can change the course of events over the story line.  Every 1000 players is going to literally fail every roll despite being "good at diplomacy".  I've certainly been in table top sessions where the expert in a subject critically fails their roll every time it comes up, while a dabbler happens to roll a 19 or 20, and succeeding.  It usually results in jokes around the table, but it is a bit jarring to have a character be described as "expert", while their story shows they are not.

On the other hand, by making it spend a rare resource, you can allow the effect to be much greater.  If I take a skill that automatically makes every point in the game where I could be diplomatic have a 100% chance of success, without cost, then I can't make the effects of diplomacy very powerful.  Someone with the skill is just going to pick that option every time.  If I do make it cost, the power can be increased proportional to the cost, as then you run into situations where you can't pick it, or at the very least, picking it every time comes at the detriment of something else.

Or as another example, a vet player playing M&B will always be a swordmaster, even if his character is supposed to be a trader/scholar.

If the vet M&B player has decided to roleplay as a trader/scholar and specifically not a swordmaster, why are they using their skills to break character?  They can simply fight poorly.  Having a game present an option to you, the player, is not the same as the game forcing you to take that option and breaking character.  Its the same as a game providing a nice dialog, a neutral dialog, or a hostile/evil dialog.  Just because the evil option is there, doesn't mean you have to take it if you're playing a nice character.

Skills exist to explain what a character is good at, and complement, support or offset player skill. And they are essential to keep the feeling of progression.

I'm am simply pointing out a skill on a character sheet is not the only way to explain what a character is good at.  Characters in a novel don't have characters sheets, yet we often can identify what they are good and bad at by what happens during the the story.  The character is good at things that they've succeed at in story, especially if they've done it multiple times.

Story points are certainly there to help complement or offset player skill, just like skills on the skill tree.  If the player failed to out maneuver the enemy fleet and escape on the campaign map, now the character can step in and say, yes, I really did out maneuver the fleet.  Of course, this is also a complaint that many have about story points, the player is not suffering the punishment of failing that particular mini-game and thus are bypassing game mechanics.   The other complaint in this thread is the particular punishment for failing the mini-game is too much for certain fleet compositions, and should be able to be reduced by other character (non-player skill test) mechanical means, perhaps by buying mines, or spending supplies, or correct dialog options.

Mechanically, from a game design point of view as opposed to an immersion point of view, these are all very similar.  Fail the mini-game, pay a small price (supplies, credits for mines, story points, damage to some of your ships), and if you ran out of those particular resources, pay a big price (destruction of a portion or all of your fleet).  If the prices are too high for a player, they'll reload and try again - or do something different with the power of foreknowledge.

You can also configure your fleet to be much better at the mini-game to help your ability to win it in the first place, but at the cost of other things (like combat capability).  A fleet of all SO, UI, ADF Hounds with 12 burn and 305 speed can always disengage except maybe against Pathers.

About the only thing different between story points and skill points, is their gain and usage rates (their economy if you will).  Skill points are fewer, and capped.  Story points are more common, uncapped, but are used much more frequently.

I have 2 problems with this statement:
1. Fate points are not like that. In mosst games they are an extermely limited resource, which is often saved until a truly dire moment (not to resolve a routine ambush, but to surive an otherwise lethal boss fight). In many systems, fate doesn't even guarantee success, they just give you another chance.

Now we're arguing over implementation, I'm merely arguing that story points are not inherently bad, and are akin to skill systems, which many people seem to like (given the existence of the role playing game market).  I admit it is a different take on skills and character description than is traditional or common.

If you only got 1 story point per level, and 1 per 4 million xp, you'd probably not be using them avoid routine ambushes.  You'd be using them to avoid fleet ending ambushes.  Simply because you do it 15 times by level 15, then you've got no story points left.  Personally, if routine ambushes are a threat to my fleet, I'm doing something wrong.  I think I've used story points to avoid encounters somewhere between zero and five each run, and never late game.  Late game, the only true threat I can't reach clean disengage status on would likely be the <new redacted> encounters, which you have to specifically request - they don't come and find you.

As for spending the resource and only getting a chance, as I mentioned earlier, Alex has made as much campaign layer RNG as possible to be pre-seeded, so making it chance based seems unlikely to fit with that.  And there are systems where spending a "fate point" or whatever resource is guaranteed to work.  Or certain mechanics simply succeed if you spend the appropriate resource.

What you are missing here is that one is meant to symbolize learning something, while the other means to symbolize moments of brilliance. Did you ever practice a skill? Well once you practice and learn you just have it, that's what a skill point represents (personally I'm also an advocate for mission locked skills btw). You ever threw a paper ball at a trash can without looking from far away and have it miraculously land in when you actually suck at that? That would be the sort of thing a story point represents.

They certainly can be viewed that way.  They could also be viewed as the character having been somewhat skilled at it all along, and are only now doing it because A) They didn't need/want to before, or B) They tried to before, but failed.  Both viewpoints seem to be equally valid to me.

Just because I've spent time practicing my internet forum debate skill, doesn't mean I'm going to convince everyone I'm right 100% of the time. :)

As they are right now they are too common and too silly and inconsequential in their uses (just like the paper ball throw). Suure, disengaging is nice because enemy forcing confrontation is broken as hell, but if you fix that broken as hell force of confrontation and allow for planning fleets around that mechanic then now SP sounds ridiculous. Getting the support of a ruling figure would be the sort of thing you want it to represent. BTW I also don't like %chance checks, I like the New Vegas style flat level requirement, you have it or you don't style.

That strikes me as a fair complaint, but that's a matter of implementation, not that the entire concept is flawed inherently, which is what I'm really arguing against here.

Although, as mentioned above, you already can totally configure fleets to guarantee to escape from virtually all fleets.  If your entire fleet's speed is higher than the fastest ship in the opposing fleet, they can't force an engagement - they can harass you as you leave, cause a loss of CR and thus supplies, but you're not forced to fight.  Try a fleet of hounds with maxed speed (SO + UI) and jet around a red remnant system - you can leave any engagement you want without fighting an escape battle.
« Last Edit: May 06, 2021, 07:16:24 AM by Hiruma Kai »
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Ad Astra

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #58 on: May 06, 2021, 09:42:10 AM »

They certainly can be viewed that way.  They could also be viewed as the character having been somewhat skilled at it all along, and are only now doing it because A) They didn't need/want to before, or B) They tried to before, but failed.  Both viewpoints seem to be equally valid to me.

Just because I've spent time practicing my internet forum debate skill, doesn't mean I'm going to convince everyone I'm right 100% of the time. :)

That strikes me as a fair complaint, but that's a matter of implementation, not that the entire concept is flawed inherently, which is what I'm really arguing against here.

Although, as mentioned above, you already can totally configure fleets to guarantee to escape from virtually all fleets.  If your entire fleet's speed is higher than the fastest ship in the opposing fleet, they can't force an engagement - they can harass you as you leave, cause a loss of CR and thus supplies, but you're not forced to fight.  Try a fleet of hounds with maxed speed (SO + UI) and jet around a red remnant system - you can leave any engagement you want without fighting an escape battle.

Hmmm, I'd find that conception of story points too convoluted to be advantageous for them as a viable explanation, the greatest problem mechanic wise is that their use is far too general to be a specialized skill (you use them everywhere), and at the same time far too specific and expert like (justifying the capability of installing special modifications and also talking your way out of an AI inspection through the same type of resource is difficult at best). This makes it feel like money, not a skill you invested in or like a moment of skillful resolution. Skills are specific so they properly convey that feeling of investment into a certain field, and that's also the best argument in favor of not being able to get every skill in any given playthrough, the notion of invested character time and effort in certain abilities. On the motive of not always being successful, well, I prefer to make skills a differential between being capable of dealing with a certain situation or not, imagine if you were better at forum discussion you just might have pulled through when you couldn't, that's how a skill acts, chances make for different types of dynamics, but as has been said, it's not good for a game with quicksave, and personally I think chances are lazy implementations that get dragged on from Tabletops when they probably shouldn't.
Chances might be good for a story generator or turn based RPGs, not for this kind of skill based/strategy game.

Yeah about not being an inherently flawed concept I can agree, almost any and every resource can be made to work if modified and adapted in proper ways, after all this isn't reality, you have ample leeway to make things fit and work. My criticism to them was mainly based on the fact that I feel they are used for things other available resources could be used instead (properly earned as rewards for certain activities and feats), and through doing that they also end up distanced from their possible more interesting uses as powerful definitive choices to be made. I like limited points per playthrough to be used in certain specific instances where you decide if you want to take a certain path or another, games that added that to class choice (to name a possibility), did it nicely, for example Dragon Age Origins with your specialization, and Outward with breakthrough points.

Finally, when I talked about escaping I meant disengaging from the enemy, personally I'm doing a frigate only (not even logistic ships) run right now, and I can escape anyone at all, however it doesn't make a lot of sense that a capital heavy fleet could even force a confrontation with me or pursue me. This inability for a big fleet to catch to a speedy small one would give fast pickets and specialist chaser fleets a more important role to play within the game, indirectly helping against the usual capital spam on almost every single fleet you see in missions.

This could be fixed with a check that calculates for example (average fleet speed -number of ships*average ship size).

If a difference of more than 50% of that exists between a fleet and another, the slower one can't force engagement without having to break formation and lose the ships that slow it down (engagement without big ships).
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Chaos Blade

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Re: A Professional Critique Of Story Points
« Reply #59 on: May 11, 2021, 07:18:48 AM »

I think the issue with Story Points is that it reminds me to Eclipse Phase Moxie, at least in concept, but not in execution

It isn't an unusual resource in pen and paper but, generally you use these sport of points to, for instance, allow rerolls on a check, or to stack the deck on a roll, or turning a critical fail on just a fail, but that is the issue, there is a skill check and an RNG that happen, and either the player can use the moxie to give themselves another chance, to soften the blow or to stack their deck (depending on how and when the moxie usage is invoked, obviously)
This is the first problem, because we really don't use skill checks, and we don't see the RNG, so we can't use the points in this way in game.

But there is another issue, and that is how Moxie is accumulated and that has to do with, well, Game Master rewards.
Generally these points are given as incentives, or because the characters did something impressive, or difficult, or ROL played in character even when it was in their detriment

So, at the end of the day, the fist problem with story point is in how we get them, it isn't because we managed something epic, or tru a tale of daring do, or what not, it is earned with levels and with exp. doing things nets you story points.
That is a problem because while having clear ways of earning them should be a goal, they should be earned by going out of your way, of doing something that isn't regular or expected, it is a prize and a great one.
So just getting them break the game

I'd say we do need interpersonal skills, we do need skills period, I'd say current skills are less than skills and more perks, they do too much and change too much but have no real granularity
I am not a better frigate driver, or better with lasers or what not, I don't invest on those skills, I pick a perk that gives me this stuff, but that is another issue.


What I am trying to say if Alex wants story points, we are going to need more RPG mechanics, we are going to need character stats that are used in those interactions and we are going to need skill checks and we are going to need ways to go above and beyond what is expected of a starfarer in setting to EARN the story points that we can use to make our lives more interesting* and maybe easier

*Because that is another idea in RPG for story point, you make things more difficult, willingly, at the cost of SP and if you succeed, you get your investmend and more

Another avenue as an alternative for skills is reputations, not in the faction reputations but more in the Elite Dangerous sense, how good you are in combat, how good in trade and exploration, how trustworthy you are (completing missions, responding to SOS, assisting other fleets)
That could give a basis for how good or impressive you are, beyond factional rep.
So if you have a rep for trustworthiness, bluffing and bulllshitting a customs official seems more possible, same with facing a big fleet, sure, they outnumber two to one, in tonnage and hulls and points, but you are the demon of the mist, of course they could be persuaded to look for prey elsewhere, and so on and so forth.
We would still need some sort of RNG and skill check, but it could be a basis for those interactions not needing points, or making story points more of a matter of easing the difficulty/stacking your deck

We'd still need a different way of getting the points than through simple progression, but coupled with that sort of check, story points could be seen as a facilitator or something.
In the first example, you try to *** past the custom official and fail and use the story point to make it seem like a misunderstanding, I mean you need to chip in for the widows and orphan fund, but, that way you wouldn't get a reputation hit

I mean that is how I see SP being used, it isn't a genie, it makes recovering from a mistake easier, or avoids you getting into a shooting engagement with a particular faction and/or limits the fallout for the failure
« Last Edit: May 11, 2021, 08:19:52 AM by Chaos Blade »
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