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Starsector 0.95.1a is out! (12/10/21); Blog post: The Pilgrim's Path (07/19/22)

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Author Topic: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either  (Read 3567 times)

Thaago

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #15 on: March 27, 2022, 10:13:45 AM »

I mostly do bounty hunting for money because it has the right combination of fun, speedy, and profitable, even if there are pretty periods in the bounty progression where the player needs to deliberately de-power their fleet in order for the bounties to be strong enough to be worth the time (I really wish there were more top bounties and that the progression was faster!). I often try to work my first colony in very early if I find a semi-decent world in the first ring of stars around the core so that I can use it as storage for ships/weapons and start growing ship production.

The most time effective money making would probably be a system bounty or two, or one pass of the first tier bounties, to save up enough seed capital and then smuggling though. Its risk free and very fast.

One possible thing that is not a solution on its own but could help: make it so that the player can't trade on the black market if they were detected going into orbit, or the amount they can trade is extremely limited, and increase the number of patrols on planets that don't have any at the moment. The sensor mechanics are already there and fun, so making players actually need to smuggle to do smuggling would help. Especially because the penalty for getting caught sneaking is a cargo scan which could result in tons of lost profits!
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Candesce

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #16 on: March 27, 2022, 11:06:36 AM »

One possible thing that is not a solution on its own but could help: make it so that the player can't trade on the black market if they were detected going into orbit, or the amount they can trade is extremely limited, and increase the number of patrols on planets that don't have any at the moment.
I think making it harder for the player to make money isn't the issue; a better path might be to just have large black market trades draw the attention of special pirate fleets, with their size influenced by the volume of trading.

Not like the fact that you're trading lots on the black market is a secret to pirates, and pirates aren't supposed to be trustworthy, so...
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Salter

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #17 on: March 28, 2022, 08:18:44 AM »

This is probably a personal thing but I think getting more story content just for endgame would probably solve alot of this. If you no longer have the training wheels and can basically zip around the sector with little effort. Half of the academy story is just getting your fleet in capable shape and even then you are just going to need even more to complete it.

Granted this is more a band-aid solution, but eventually you have to stop and restart the game when you have already done everything.
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Ahueh

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #18 on: March 28, 2022, 08:37:23 AM »

No offense but all of those sound like terrible changes. Instead of solving the root problem, you're here suggesting even more RNG and reputation grinding, both very unfun elements. The root of the problem is that there are ways to make crazy amounts of profit from doing relatively safe things. With proposed suggestions, playing as a bounty hunter would be the most miserable experience ever.

That's because you can't just implement them in a vacuum. You NEED a rebalance of trading, raiding, colony income, and blueprint/loot availability to make it work. The game is in alpha, yet people treat it like minor tweaks are all that's needed for release day.

I'll post my own (previously posted) list of rebalance efforts that would go a long way towards fixing the gameplay loop.

1) Add psuedo-random enemies for floating derelicts, orbital habitats, mining stations, and research stations. Lesser chance of enemies at weapons cache's. Enemy difficulty at these locales scale up with time, with a cap. Enemies at habs/stations/derelicts should be more difficult than equipment caches, etc.

2) Add psuedo-random enemies at ALL exploration quest objectives (probe, derelict ship, survey planet etc). These must be defeated before quest can be completed. Enemies at quest objectives scale according to current fleet strength (weighted by supply/deployment cost *and* by cargo space) Enemies spawned by quests overwrite standard enemies.

3) Reduce the number of enemy ships able to be recovered after combat. Compensate by increasing rewards from defeated enemy fleets in the form of credits or scrap. Increase the number of "floating derelict" player owned ships able to be recovered after a defeat. (To discourage my abuse of alt-f4).

4) Drastically increase the base cost and monthly cost of higher end ships. Increase price that ships are able to be sold for, incentivizing "trading up" when opportunity arises.

5) Rebalance trading, raiding, schematic procurement, and colony income accordingly.

I'll also echo the poster who added a suggestion for a mid-battle 'parley' system, as I agree that battle outcomes are currently too binary.
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SCC

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #19 on: April 02, 2022, 05:17:48 AM »

Half of the academy story is just getting your fleet in capable shape and even then you are just going to need even more to complete it.
You can actually do the entire thing with one or two ships, you just have to ignore all fights and pick non-violent solutions every time.

OmegaMan

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #20 on: April 03, 2022, 01:19:36 PM »


Quote
IMHO the best solution is making access to ships/weapons/hullmod blueprints much more difficult than it is now. Which is hard and requires big impactful changes:

You wouldn't have to do much to shift the balance.     If rare weapons and ships only ever spawned with quantity (1) that would help a lot.               

One other thing that would make the endgame more fun is occasional quests to obtain the Cyroblaster type weapons. 

vvvvvv
> Severely restrict Black Market purchases. Require the player to build up an underworld reputation before high-quality gear and ships can be bought, and severely increase the reputation penalties for being caught trading on the black market.
> Same goes for arms dealers: the blueprints they offer should scale with underworld reputation so the good stuff isn't available right off the bat.

The above two seem like good improvements.
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Salter

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #21 on: April 03, 2022, 02:02:29 PM »

Half of the academy story is just getting your fleet in capable shape and even then you are just going to need even more to complete it.
You can actually do the entire thing with one or two ships, you just have to ignore all fights and pick non-violent solutions every time.
You can but are you even playing the game at that point?
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Ahueh

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #22 on: April 06, 2022, 01:20:41 PM »

Half of the academy story is just getting your fleet in capable shape and even then you are just going to need even more to complete it.
You can actually do the entire thing with one or two ships, you just have to ignore all fights and pick non-violent solutions every time.
You can but are you even playing the game at that point?

No, which is why it shouldn't be an option.
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Schwartz

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #23 on: April 07, 2022, 07:17:14 PM »

I think the main thing is that OP doesn't enjoy combat. The game is at its core a good combat sim. Everything else was added later. If you don't enjoy that part of the game, you're left with a much thinner experience. And even if you do enjoy the combat, the game has a definite arc where progress beyond some point carries less and less meaning.

The only thing I would call a satisfactory extension to this without being predictable would be attempts to improve the emergent storytelling of the game; that is, a network of events and AI that produce a continuing shift in story politically, financially, militarily that involves the player. All other endgame additions are just staying the inevitable "Game Over". Crusader Kings accomplishes this by its The Sims: Medieval Bloodlines take on storytelling, for example. Or Dwarf Fortress which is by its nature a fantasy storytelling sim that goes into great detail. This is probably not the intended trajectory for SS though. As much as I would like to see dynamic power politics in the game.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2022, 07:40:52 PM by Schwartz »
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Ahueh

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #24 on: April 08, 2022, 11:18:53 AM »

I think the main thing is that OP doesn't enjoy combat. The game is at its core a good combat sim. Everything else was added later. If you don't enjoy that part of the game, you're left with a much thinner experience. And even if you do enjoy the combat, the game has a definite arc where progress beyond some point carries less and less meaning.

That wasn't my takeaway at all. If anything, OP wants more combat (as indicated in the suggestions section, where he specifically advocates for adding more risk to the mid/late game).

It's the lack of risk which makes playing the game optimally so boring, and thus the reason that the game still feels like a combat sim with "everything else" tacked on. Risk of destruction by combat should be integrated fully into every aspect of the game, whether you're trading, raiding, exploring, questing, colony building, or bounty hunting.
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Linnis

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #25 on: April 08, 2022, 11:18:57 AM »

Not really. Combat is simply not rewarding compared to other stuff the player can do in the campaign world. Trading and building an colony can get you to rich-unstoppable status way faster than combat.
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michail

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #26 on: April 09, 2022, 01:00:59 PM »

I think the main thing is that OP doesn't enjoy combat. The game is at its core a good combat sim. Everything else was added later. If you don't enjoy that part of the game, you're left with a much thinner experience. And even if you do enjoy the combat, the game has a definite arc where progress beyond some point carries less and less meaning.
I do enjoy combat, just not as much as exploration. When the game presents a strong enough argument for it, it's really good and fun (well, unless the AI screws you over). The game doesn't do it often enough for me, unfortunately. Most battles seem optional, like ghost vaults or teleporter rooms in DCSS, but those - which I generally pounce on, or at least consider very seriously - always come with a promise of Good Stuff should I meet the challenge. It's very easy to avoid fights - heck, apparently I've been dodging perma-hostile scavengers without realizing it all this time - and not a whole lot of in-game reasons not to. This is subjective, of course: what's one person's easy bounty money is another's "nope, I'm gonna die", and I'm closer to the "I'm gonna die" end of the spectrum. Improving myself would be a solution, but it requires motivation, and the game should ideally provide it. Touhou keeps me going by having a really short replay cycle, DCSS - by the virtue of RNG-caused failures happening mostly early on and the rest being my own fault and easy to analyze. I can't say for sure what would keep me going after harder fights in Starsector. Ruthless Sector is very close with its take on battle difficulty, it's quite fun to strike the balance between XP bonus and my skill level and it does nudge me often enough to deploy less ships and pilot better.

The only thing I would call a satisfactory extension to this without being predictable would be attempts to improve the emergent storytelling of the game; that is, a network of events and AI that produce a continuing shift in story politically, financially, militarily that involves the player. All other endgame additions are just staying the inevitable "Game Over". Crusader Kings accomplishes this by its The Sims: Medieval Bloodlines take on storytelling, for example. Or Dwarf Fortress which is by its nature a fantasy storytelling sim that goes into great detail. This is probably not the intended trajectory for SS though. As much as I would like to see dynamic power politics in the game.
This would be wonderful. The most memorable and fun fight I've had was like this: a Nex invasion fleet I absolutely had to defeat. A natural outcome of current state of the game world, with ample time to prepare, challenging with great rewards and big stakes. Nex's invasions make for great boss battles tbh. It doesn't have to be done the Nex/4X way, either - I have a feeling that contacts have a great potential for making the world more alive. They currently don't make any long intricate stories because they don't (to the best of my knowledge) interact with each other and exist just to be quest givers.
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Billhartnell

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #27 on: May 13, 2022, 07:32:41 AM »

I think the main issue is that ships are too cheap.
Nah.

More expensive ships just means people grind more smuggling to get the fleet they want, and are that much more likely to ragequit on losing a fight.

It would make salvaging ships to sell more viable though, assuming the ships are made expensive through an increase in base price. Are bounty prices also calculated based on the value of the enemy ships?

It is odd that the outstanding benefit of combat isn't credits ,loot, or taking out competitors, but XP gain. Trading is far easier if you have the first 2 science skills, Bulk transport and a couple other industry skills whose names I forget ATM and the commission stipend scales with your level. It likely stems from the all-or-nothing nature of fights in this game. If trading wasn't so powerful getting back on your feet after a fleet wipe would be even more of a slog, and almost every hostile encounter is either a victory, a full fleetwipe, or a pursuit that only your frigates can escape unless you burn a story point. You'd think pirates would try extortion occasionally, much more profitable to steal a full cargo ship than to scavenge its exploded hulk after all, or that you could capture ships and crews rather than destroying them all.
« Last Edit: May 13, 2022, 11:02:46 AM by Billhartnell »
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Immahnoob

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Re: Exploration, combat, and why I eventually stop doing either
« Reply #28 on: May 14, 2022, 06:11:28 AM »

I think the main thing is that OP doesn't enjoy combat. The game is at its core a good combat sim. Everything else was added later. If you don't enjoy that part of the game, you're left with a much thinner experience. And even if you do enjoy the combat, the game has a definite arc where progress beyond some point carries less and less meaning.
I do enjoy combat, just not as much as exploration. When the game presents a strong enough argument for it, it's really good and fun (well, unless the AI screws you over). The game doesn't do it often enough for me, unfortunately. Most battles seem optional, like ghost vaults or teleporter rooms in DCSS, but those - which I generally pounce on, or at least consider very seriously - always come with a promise of Good Stuff should I meet the challenge. It's very easy to avoid fights - heck, apparently I've been dodging perma-hostile scavengers without realizing it all this time - and not a whole lot of in-game reasons not to. This is subjective, of course: what's one person's easy bounty money is another's "nope, I'm gonna die", and I'm closer to the "I'm gonna die" end of the spectrum. Improving myself would be a solution, but it requires motivation, and the game should ideally provide it. Touhou keeps me going by having a really short replay cycle, DCSS - by the virtue of RNG-caused failures happening mostly early on and the rest being my own fault and easy to analyze. I can't say for sure what would keep me going after harder fights in Starsector. Ruthless Sector is very close with its take on battle difficulty, it's quite fun to strike the balance between XP bonus and my skill level and it does nudge me often enough to deploy less ships and pilot better.

The only thing I would call a satisfactory extension to this without being predictable would be attempts to improve the emergent storytelling of the game; that is, a network of events and AI that produce a continuing shift in story politically, financially, militarily that involves the player. All other endgame additions are just staying the inevitable "Game Over". Crusader Kings accomplishes this by its The Sims: Medieval Bloodlines take on storytelling, for example. Or Dwarf Fortress which is by its nature a fantasy storytelling sim that goes into great detail. This is probably not the intended trajectory for SS though. As much as I would like to see dynamic power politics in the game.
This would be wonderful. The most memorable and fun fight I've had was like this: a Nex invasion fleet I absolutely had to defeat. A natural outcome of current state of the game world, with ample time to prepare, challenging with great rewards and big stakes. Nex's invasions make for great boss battles tbh. It doesn't have to be done the Nex/4X way, either - I have a feeling that contacts have a great potential for making the world more alive. They currently don't make any long intricate stories because they don't (to the best of my knowledge) interact with each other and exist just to be quest givers.
The problem is that Alex has clearly stated that he doesn't want Nex to be part of the base game, not even as AI battling each other for supremacy.
So yeah, "dynamic power politics" is gone down the drain.

I honestly think this is the biggest mistake Alex is making. Imagine if after our first one or two colony, we could have our faction just colonize themselves (and the current factions doing it themselves as well) and then because of territorial disputes and other issues, wars would arise without the player necessarily having a go at it, now I haven't played in a while so I don't know what Nex is capable of but from what I remember it was a pretty passive mod with the player having to start the mega wars.
We'd have to make resources like fuel, supplies, weapons, hulls, food, etc more meaningful and less planets would be viable for colonization just for that purpose (to limit resources that can be had overall) so you'd have to actually engage if you don't want to "lose".
I think in this case enacting a colony should just make it so that you enter a state of the game where if you lose your faction, you lose the game.
Obviously, the end game is supremacy, what else could it be? But even this can tie into something bigger since the factions themselves are remnants after the gates have closed off, so unifying the whole thing to then engage into different questlines explaining the situation in the "universe".
From there you can basically do anything storywise but at least gameplay is a whole lot more meaningful in terms of combat, immersion and the world being "alive", you know?
Since I'm not a guy that is into "exploration", I don't have any ideas for that, but I'm sure my "suggestion" (just Nex++ basically) is pretty open-ended and allows a lot of freedom.
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