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Author Topic: Highfleet... ugh  (Read 12774 times)

xenoargh

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Highfleet... ugh
« on: August 04, 2021, 02:15:36 PM »

Alex, Highfleet is like every choice you've ever made that made Starsector clunky and rough-feeling, compounded and never, ever fixed. 

Every UI felt like, "hey, it works, move on" and every decision made, from, "let's not give players any useful information" to "let's implement the worst aiming system ever" is just... wow.  Like, for something this ambitious, the whole thing feels so rough.  I didn't even get far enough in to figure out whether the ship-building mechanic is utterly broken, balance-wise (almost certainly "yes", based on a few things I looked at, though).

I recommend playing it for a "what if I made all my systems deliberately obtuse" understanding of game design.  I don't recommend it to anybody just wanting a new game to play right now; for $30, this was one of the faster things I've ever decided to stop sinking time into, lol.

Yet it's all over YouTube and it looks like it's a bona-fide hit; SteamSpy thinks 100K units shipped. 

If Starsector doesn't absolutely wreck those numbers when it hits Steam, I'm going to be rather shocked; it's a far better video game.
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 02:18:19 PM by xenoargh »
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Deshara

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #1 on: August 04, 2021, 02:22:02 PM »

i was literally just starting that game up when i checked the forums & saw this post lol will be back soon with furious feedback or furious praise
weird preliminary complaint tho; idk what any of the options do. theyre toggles but i cant tell if theyre telling me the thing it says is what it's set to or if it's telling me that clicking the button will set it to that lmfao like, i cant tell when it says fullscreen if its saying its fullscreen or if clicking that will set it to fullscreen, & i cant tell whether its in fullscreen bc the game minimizes when i click off of it either way. weirdly ambiguous options. i could probably figure it out by googling what dithering is since thats the only immediately evident option in the menu, but, im not gonna do that
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 02:26:34 PM by Deshara »
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xenoargh

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #2 on: August 04, 2021, 02:48:03 PM »

I suspect it's going to be one where the fans furiously defend it because "ooh, you can do so much stuff", and the rest of us just quit playing it or quietly refund it, because more features != better games, lol.

Honestly, for $30... I kind of expect it to ship with a reasonable amount of polish.  Like, better than, "meets minimal requirement for business case".  At least by the time I bought it, it had already been patched once; apparently 1.0 had a fair amount of CTD bugs  ::)
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Deshara

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #3 on: August 04, 2021, 03:07:50 PM »

i... wonder if the ppl who made this game know what "romani" means... im p sure they were just trying to allude to the roman empire, but man thats unfortunate lol
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 03:09:43 PM by Deshara »
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xenoargh

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #4 on: August 04, 2021, 03:28:28 PM »

He's Russian. I think it's a deliberate triple-entendre; they're trying to roll up the Gypsies, the Romans and 'Murica into one vague image, lol. It is a little odd, though; "let's launch a pogrom against the Romani" would never fly in a game made in the United States, lol.

I totally agree with RPS's review on this one. I think it's funny that they refer to Deadnought, which was another game I ended up excoriating in review.
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Deshara

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #5 on: August 04, 2021, 03:31:47 PM »

i hadnt even entertained the possibility that they did it on purpose. i tried to look up who made this but didnt find much before i got bored & gave up, but finding out its a russian specifically is, uh
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Deshara

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #6 on: August 04, 2021, 03:46:22 PM »

im really trying not to make this into a "deshara liveposts highfleet" thread but i find it interesting that the name Daud came up in highfleet for a superior very early. i wonder if that's a coincidence or if ss & highfleet both pulled the name from a common source. not sure who i'd have to ask about that

edit: okay so ive gotten my impression in & you know what this reminds me of? there was a roguelike game where ur character hijacks a steampunk mech of esoteric design & function & u have to figure out the hard way with no instructions how to operate it by yourself. i dont remember what it was called. thats what this game feels like, outside of the combat. & i really like that. i get why people wouldnt, but i do.

as for the combat, yeah coming from SS it does feel like a huge downgrade. judging by the performance of the enemies i get the sense that its, to some degree, supposed to feel like playing the lovechild of QWAP & lunar lander, but if the game had had buttery smooth combat that felt good to play i dont think anyone would have been complaining about it so that justification only goes so far.

also idk if this is my eyes but i find the ship customization stuff completely unscrutible. one of the problems with having the ship blend together to make a sensible cohesive whole where the individual parts of the ship just look like greebles on the general silhouette is that i find it completely impossible to make out what's what. my eyes just glide off of all of it. it feels like a color blindness test that i'm failing. the game thus far hasnt really given me the oppertunity to build a ship but, and this is the first time in my entire life i've ever thought this, im really dreading having to customize a spaceship

aside from that the one thing that i find completely objectionable is the mouse controls for the guns. it feels like a game that was made to be played on console, that wasnt made to be played on console. which is a problem. there is a degree to which it is okay to make players wrestle with awkward controls & the way aiming works goes just over the line
« Last Edit: August 04, 2021, 05:42:39 PM by Deshara »
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Alex

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #7 on: August 04, 2021, 09:14:31 PM »

(I'll say, gamedev is hard and I don't want to criticize things in terms of design decisions and so on. That feels like it'd be presumptuous of me - so many things are likely going on behind the scenes. So I'll just talk about it in terms of my experience with it, which is <checks> at around 3.5 hours right now.)

So! I absolutely love how ship movement is handled in HighFleet. Yeah, very much lunar lander vibes, but then I totally loved that game way back when, too. And it feels so weighty, and the visuals are absolutely gorgeous. Doing stuff like dodging an incoming missile feels great. And I haven't resented needing to manually land ships fairly often - well, except for that one time when it blew up *after* the game already gave me control of the second ship I was trying to land, and so I had to re-do the landing and just land the big clunker solo so it wouldn't blow up post-landing. But I digress.

The mouse aiming, I have more mixed feelings about. I can see the appeal of that approach - it makes aiming more difficult in a way that requires building up skill to do well. But with even the slightest enemy fire hitting you glitching out the interface so you can't actually see the arrow at all - and with the huge bullet decals - that just feels like too much. But, if you set glitching to low in options, that actually takes care of the issues with the arrow, though not the bullet decals - heaven help you if you're in a corner of the playing field :) Overall, I think the combat feels pretty great and I wish there was more of it.

The ship design/refit screen, I bounced off it super hard. Maybe it's my failing, but I spent like half an hour trying to install a gun on a ship and could not get it to work. I'm not sure if the UI was bugging out - it's possible, since it does that a fair bit - or if I was just missing something fundamental.

The radio intercepts etc - I like the concept, but anything that makes me click and drag with the middle mouse button is just so physically uncomfortable for me that I can't get into it. I love the feel of the UI, though, and the idea behind it. And the what-to-recover-post-combat thing is really neat. And just in general, the heavy-UI aesthetic is good and I appreciate how hard they've leaned into it.

Overall, so far... mixed feelings, I'd say, but more on the positive side? I'm not sure if I'll find a way to make progress in the campaign that feels fun, or if you *have* to do the radio intercepts manually to do alright. Right now, honestly, I'm wishing there was a "just jump into the combat" way to play it. I definitely need to spend more time figuring out the campaign, though... I just don't know enough about it. That's part of why I want more combat - I'm reasonably comfortable with that part of the game and just want to play it more :)
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Deshara

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #8 on: August 05, 2021, 04:29:22 AM »

i like the lunar lander thing too. i think the docking sequences, with the camera getting really unhelpfully close to the ship, is an amazing way to really contextualize the ships. I found myself wishing starsector would have the same sort of thing, just a really gratuitous money shot of your flagship as you drag it into a station's wetdock. also opening the game with a lunar landing docking sequence was a really good way to introduce the movement mechanics IMO. i was a bit weirded out by the game starting with a lunar lander minigame but upon realizing that actually the whole game was gonna be that i was quite pleased with it

ive figured out the refit screen & how the controls & everything for it works, was able to refit the huge cruiser the game starts you with into a strata strike cruiser. but having said that, i still am completely unable to actually look at a ship & figure out what it's made out of enough to actually refit a ship shy of completely scrapping it (& having myself grounded for days on end as a result). if there was a button that made the armor & hull invisible so you could see what was underneath without having to mouse over every tile (and even then most of the time it highlights the hull itself) i'd find it a lot more usable but as is  :-X

i have a mouse where the middle button is a separate button just under the scroll wheel, and clicking in the scroll wheel just toggles it between clicky scroll mode & frictionless scroll mode (when my SO gets upset & yells at me absentmindedly flick it without realizing it & it makes them drastically more upset for it lol zzZZOOOOOOOOOoooooooooooooooommmmmmZOOOOOoo--). ANYWAY, the moment I opened up the SigInt screen, clicked one of those dials and then turned it I went, "Oh, NO. I feel so bad for anyone who doesn't have my exact mouse." But since I have the exact correct mouse, I can say the SigInt stuff is basically (otherwise) perfect. The signals being on a timer with degrading quality over time is :chefs kiss: mue perfectimisimo. Also the fact that most of what comes through on it is inane chatter (Id know all about that) makes it even better. Thinking about it, it reminds me a bit of the neutrino detector in SS, which I also enjoy way more for all the false positives. something about spying on radio transmissions that really Feels Right when you're just getting unwanted info on people's water shipments & the pulse frequency of the next star over. theres also a natural frustration to, intercepting perfectly transmission after transmission talking about people's milk deliveries, then intercepting an important piece of military intel but the only piece of the broadcast that was important got lost bc u didnt do it well enough -- which I love. It makes me strain myself to do better every time I get a signal, which makes me laugh when I get from it perfectly decoded gossip about the local pet groomer

also i like the world they're building. i was worried with the romani empire that they were just gonna go straight "italy circa 2,000 years ago", but they didnt & im very pleased with that. It reminds me so much of Deserts of Karahk that when I looked up the dev & saw that his youtube channel has the Deserts of Karahk credits saved to it I sat through the whole credit sequence to see if he'd actually worked on the game (didnt see that he did tho)

while typing this i tried to screen an enemy warfleet with 2 full strata cruiser's worth of cruise missiles, did it wrong & the entire volley looped back around & targeted my own fleet LMFAO 10/10 would incinerate my own fleet with a barrage of nuclear warheads again. Oh! The way that the game handles campaign-level long range strikes by loading in a combat map with the target fleet & the missile & just treats it like a mini-battle with the game's normal combat mechanics is really neat & a very good idea


I'm quite enjoying it thus far. It's awkward, but it's an awkwardness that really captures the feeling of commanding an old warship. Sometimes in a bad way, but mostly in (IMO) good ways. I think i've circled back around on my litmus test from earlier; I don't think I'd enjoy the game as much if it were a smooth, frictionless experience. Wiping my own fleet with a poorly fired barrage of cruise missiles feels right. It makes my fleet feel like something that shouldn't be in the hands of an idiot (read as: me), which makes them feel more real & compelling -- for me anyway

edit: i had to get out of bed to come add, i can't stop noticing this; when the ships are parked with their legs down, don't a lot of the smaller ships look like the mechs from ghost in the shell?
« Last Edit: August 05, 2021, 04:56:00 AM by Deshara »
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Sundog

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #9 on: August 05, 2021, 06:38:50 PM »

If Starsector doesn't absolutely wreck those numbers when it hits Steam, I'm going to be rather shocked; it's a far better video game.
Agreed! Only real hiccup I foresee for Starsector when it hits the shelves is players finding ship movement controls counter-intuitive. I still strafe the wrong way sometimes when my flagship is facing downward.

Highfleet has a lot of rough edges, but I'm enjoying it quite a bit. It's very similar to Starsector in the ways I care about most.
But, yeah. I deffinately see where you're coming from, xeno. Playing Highfleet makes me all the more appreciative of Alex's commitment to explaining every aspect of Starsector as clearly as reasonably possible.

And the what-to-recover-post-combat thing is really neat.
Yep! Post battle salvage is one of the few things I think Highfleet does better. If Starsector didn't already have a perfectly serviceable system in place I'd suggest that you do something similar. Based off of what I've seen so far, I also think the strategic layer of Highfleet is much better than Starsector's, but that's not what Starsector is really about/built for, so it's not a fair thing to compare.

The only thing Highfleet has that I think Starsector needs is a fair and effective way to discourage fighting the same battles until a flawless victory is achieved. I've griped before about how I think iron mode and save-scum mode are both poor fits for Starsector, and I think something similar to Highfleet's morale penalty for retrying a fight could solve my complaints. I've given a lot of thought to the best way to create something like that for Starsector, so I'd be begrudgingly willing happy to draw up a detailed suggestion, if you think it's something that should be addressed.

Alex

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #10 on: August 05, 2021, 06:54:46 PM »

Yep! Post battle salvage is one of the few things I think Highfleet does better. If Starsector didn't already have a perfectly serviceable system in place I'd suggest that you do something similar. Based off of what I've seen so far, I also think the strategic layer of Highfleet is much better than Starsector's, but that's not what Starsector is really about/built for, so it's not a fair thing to compare.

Hmm - I think the games are different enough that it doesn't make a lot of sense to compare, yeah. E.G. the post combat salvage is a neat thing in HighFleet but I don't particularly think porting that system over to Starsector would be a good idea. For HF, it plays within the larger context of small-scale campaign time pressure that's present throughout. And the strategic layer... it's just apples and oranges, really! It does some neat things at the expense of a lot of freedom; again a fine choice to make, just one that produces a very different result.

(And likewise for detachments; I think they work in HF largely because of how limited movement is - which is fine! but, right, very different. And I'm not sure how much they really add to the game - there's the cool factor, but it's also just a bit of a chore. I suppose it's another take on "why wouldn't you always deploy the biggest ship", which in Starsector's case is handled differently. Maybe I'll see more of a use for them later in the campaign, aside from just using them always being the right choice when approaching your average ... city? outpost? town? whatever the right word for 'em is.)

The only thing Highfleet has that I think Starsector needs is a fair and effective way to discourage fighting the same battles until a flawless victory is achieved. I've griped before about how I think iron mode and save-scum mode are both poor fits for Starsector, and I think something similar to Highfleet's morale penalty for retrying a fight could solve my complaints. I've given a lot of thought to the best way to create something like that for Starsector, so I'd be begrudgingly willing happy to draw up a detailed suggestion, if you think it's something that should be addressed.

Counter-point: the morale system in HF only works because of you can't really load/save freely. If you could, you'd just reload anyway, right? Regaining fatigue again plays into the time-pressure thing and it takes a while, so it's a significant penalty. I almost think that system is there in the first place *because* you can't load/save freely and the game needed something that could stand in for it... which it's quite good at, since you get sort of a set of "lives" (that you can slowly regenerate) for the course of the campaign.

I will say that it felt weird to me that you lose a campaign resource for a meta-action like restarting a fight... but, I mean, games do gamey things sometimes, so, ok, fine!
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Sundog

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #11 on: August 05, 2021, 07:43:43 PM »

(And likewise for detachments; I think they work in HF largely because of how limited movement is - which is fine! but, right, very different. And I'm not sure how much they really add to the game - there's the cool factor, but it's also just a bit of a chore. I suppose it's another take on "why wouldn't you always deploy the biggest ship", which in Starsector's case is handled differently. Maybe I'll see more of a use for them later in the campaign, aside from just using them always being the right choice when approaching your average ... city? outpost? town? whatever the right word for 'em is.)
Yeah, completely different systems for different goals. The ability to detach a smaller fleet could be useful for a handful of situations in Starsector, but it would cause so many problems that don't apply to HF, due to the simplicity allowing players to manually control all fleets at once. I really like both schemes, but they're not compatible at all.

btw, I wasn't convinced Highfleet's fleet-splitting feature would be useful or interesting at first either, but now I absolutely am.

Counter-point: the morale system in HF only works because of you can't really load/save freely. If you could, you'd just reload anyway, right?
Right, but that's an accidental, assumptive straw-man argument  :P
It doesn't apply to what I had in mind, which I've been planning (as a feature for ruthless sector) for many months prior to the release of Highfleet.

Regaining fatigue again plays into the time-pressure thing and it takes a while, so it's a significant penalty. I almost think that system is there in the first place *because* you can't load/save freely and the game needed something that could stand in for it... which it's quite good at, since you get sort of a set of "lives" (that you can slowly regenerate) for the course of the campaign.
Absolutely.

I will say that it felt weird to me that you lose a campaign resource for a meta-action like restarting a fight... but, I mean, games do gamey things sometimes, so, ok, fine!
Fine, yeah, but not good. Ideally game mechanics like this have some sort of lore explanation, like expending a resource to grow a new clone or somesuch. I think one of the (many) reasons Dark Souls was so successful was that it did this well.

Alex

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #12 on: August 05, 2021, 07:52:13 PM »

Right, but that's an accidental, assumptive straw-man argument  :P
It doesn't apply to what I had in mind, which I've been planning (as a feature for ruthless sector) for many months prior to the release of Highfleet.

Ah! To me "similar" meant sharing in that meta-action-for-campaign-resource quality, since that felt like the main feature of that. I mean, how else are you going to restart a battle? "It was all a dream!" (or, more charitably: "well, that simulation didn't go well, let's try it for real this time!") via a story point, perhaps? :)

(Edit: and, I really need to get further along in HF's campaign. There's a fairly strong "but I don't wanna do the radio intercepts" element involved in learning more of the campaign mechanics, though, so I'm dragging my feet a bit...)
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KDR_11k

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #13 on: August 05, 2021, 10:48:44 PM »

Counter-point: the morale system in HF only works because of you can't really load/save freely. If you could, you'd just reload anyway, right?

I think if you give players a reasonable way to deal with losses without completely crippling their campaign most will likely use that system over save-scumming. I mean, a lot of story point actions can theoretically be done by save-scumming as well but having an SP option makes it feel more legitimate to use that.
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Sundog

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Re: Highfleet... ugh
« Reply #14 on: August 06, 2021, 12:11:00 AM »

Ah! To me "similar" meant sharing in that meta-action-for-campaign-resource quality, since that felt like the main feature of that. I mean, how else are you going to restart a battle? "It was all a dream!" (or, more charitably: "well, that simulation didn't go well, let's try it for real this time!") via a story point, perhaps? :)
I'm fairly confused by this whole thread of conversation. It's somewhat off-topic anyway...

(Edit: and, I really need to get further along in HF's campaign. There's a fairly strong "but I don't wanna do the radio intercepts" element involved in learning more of the campaign mechanics, though, so I'm dragging my feet a bit...)
Oh, god, don't remind me... Thank you for not adding a bunch of obtuse mini-games to Starsector. I like the landings, conversations, and salvage minigames just fine, but I think I'm going to start ignoring all radio intercepts as a 'self imposed challenge'
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