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Author Topic: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler  (Read 2385 times)

gG_pilot

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2023, 11:01:47 PM »

Since my earlier post was long and I buried the lede, here was my (modified) suggestion:
Skills have to be designed such way, that  a casual/new player can read AND understand them under one minute.
Keep in mind, there is about 25 skills  to choose from (it means 25 minutes to read them, which sounds intimidating anyway, right ?)  When a new player opens that screen, see the wall  of text explaining each skill by  use of specific words and math relations, next think he will do is, press  uninstall and say all friends that this wierd game for  accountants.

Read  the headline of topic also helps:
Topic: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler

I  made better wording for my version, edited my previous post.  Jst roll few post back. I Made it  green so you can find it easy.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2023, 11:22:00 PM by gG_pilot »
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Megas

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #16 on: January 05, 2023, 05:04:51 AM »

I guess removing the range restriction would make it simpler too.  How can the player guess on the fly if his weapon at any given moment will get the full or any damage bonus from Energy Mastery?  (Pressing T on target then trying to read tiny numbers which one or both ships are zipping around like bugs in a shooter game takes too much time and is not an option when I need to act in a fraction of a second.)

Most of the time that I use energy weapons, it is either a non-SO small ship with ITU and ePD+IPDAI IR PLs, which have about 750 range minimum (and I try to snipe at maximum range), or a heavy weapon (plasma cannon or tachyon lance) on a cruiser or capital with ITU (or ATC on Paragon), which has 1000+ range (while ballistics on capitals have 1400+).  On the small ship, I have to assume I lose too much damage, and on the big ship, it is a safe assumption I will not get any bonus damage at all.
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #17 on: January 05, 2023, 08:52:34 PM »

Skills have to be designed such way, that  a casual/new player can read AND understand them under one minute.
Keep in mind, there is about 25 skills  to choose from (it means 25 minutes to read them, which sounds intimidating anyway, right ?)  When a new player opens that screen, see the wall  of text explaining each skill by  use of specific words and math relations, next think he will do is, press  uninstall and say all friends that this wierd game for  accountants.

I'll point out 4 Aptitudes (Combat, Leadership, Technology, Industry) times 10 skills each is 40 skills, not 25, so a brand new player, if they want to understand the paths, and took 1 minute to understand each skill, it'd be 40 minutes.  However, to understand the benefits of the skills requires actually being familiar with the game mechanics itself.  For example, is +2 flux per OP spent a lot from Ordinance Expertise?  Or is a small amount little?   Is having 2 more officers better than having officers which are 1 level higher?

Realizing Ordinance Expertise helps low tech capital ships percentage wise more than high tech destroyers and cruisers means being familiar with the ships themselves.  Knowing which officer skill to take depends on knowing the benefits and drawbacks of using smaller but more numerous ships.

For me, the general concept behind Energy Weapon Mastery is much easier to assess and understand it's value than something like the Tier 2 leadership skills or Neural Link (whose only math presented is instant switching threshold).   Energy Weapon Mastery gives you a bigger damage bonus at high flux and close range.  The exact bonus you get at any one time doesn't need to be calculated by the player on the fly.  The game does that and applies it.  If the player wants more bonus, they should simply get closer or let their flux ride higher.  Whether the bonus is meaningful or significant can't be determined from the skill itself however, as it requires understanding of the rest of the game and how it fits in.

I submit that the time spent parsing the text of the skills is trivial compared to the time necessary to actually understand how that fits into the game.  If these hypothetical new players have issues with Energy Weapon Mastery, how are they going to deal with the fitting screen, which has no less than 11 numbers displayed, with tool tips throwing on 25 (ship tool tip) and drop down menus filled with dozens of weapons or fighters which each have 9+ numbers defining them, along with some vague descriptions like poor or perfect.

Understanding whether your ships are actually benefiting from Energy Weapon Mastery means actually watching how your AI ships behave.  And knowing that you want Aggressive or Reckless to force the ships in closer, rather than staying at their max range, to get benefit out of Energy Weapon Mastery.  I'm guessing, although maybe Alex will correct me if I'm wrong, but I doubt the ship AI takes into account whether it has Energy Weapon Mastery in determining it's positioning and how high it wants it's flux level to go - which unfortunately means the only way to really leverage the skill on officers is either put it on a frigate, a non-ITU destroyer, or an SO cruiser (which conveniently prevents venting, so they'll likely be at higher flux for longer)  The AI capitals and long range cruisers won't use it properly.  On the other hand, I'm pretty sure the AI is aware of the Ballistic Mastery range bonus when determining how close to get.

So I think the stronger argument to simplify Energy Weapon Mastery is to make it so the larger non-SO AI ships get as much benefit out of it as they get out of Ballistic Mastery.  Right now, it is pushing you towards SO AI ships, simply because those ships naturally fall into the right parameter space to benefit.  Simpler skills means easier to code AI to take advantage of the skills.

About skill design and UI presentation in general, I'm for making the underlying numbers available, even if you have to click on a "?", hover over an icon, or hit F1.  I suppose you could overhaul the skill screen such that it gives succinct description, and you press F1 to see a full mathematical breakdown of what that actually means.  But if you restrict yourself to skills which don't affect numbers, you're going to have a very short list of possible skills in a game that is all about numbers.

I guess removing the range restriction would make it simpler too.  How can the player guess on the fly if his weapon at any given moment will get the full or any damage bonus from Energy Mastery?  (Pressing T on target then trying to read tiny numbers which one or both ships are zipping around like bugs in a shooter game takes too much time and is not an option when I need to act in a fraction of a second.)

If you're aware of your maximum range of your weapons, including any bonuses, then you can eyeball a percentage of your weapon range graphic in combat.  If you happen to know your ITU+Gunnery Implant Pulse Laser on your cruiser has a range of 930, then 600 is roughly 2/3 of the length of the range/arc graphic.  If you're at half the length, you're definitely within range.  Keep in mind, the ship distance reported by targeting the ship is from ship center to ship center which can be wildly off for the weapon to shield distance, which is why you need to use the range bands.  If I have a Tempest shield touching the shield of an Atlas, the distance reported is about 395 units, despite the weapon to shield distance probably being more like 50.
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gG_pilot

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #18 on: January 06, 2023, 12:27:33 AM »

I'll point out 4 Aptitudes (Combat, Leadership, Technology, Industry) times 10 skills each is 40 skills, not 25, so a brand new player, if they want to understand the paths, and took 1 minute to understand each skill, it'd be 40 minutes.
Yes,  I sucked the number from my thumb. 40 is even worst than i thought.
However, to understand the benefits of the skills requires actually being familiar with the game mechanics itself.  For example, is +2 flux per OP spent a lot from Ordinance Expertise?  Or is a small amount little?   Is having 2 more officers better than having officers which are 1 level higher?
One think is understand what is it for (how to use it), second is all the consequences.
For me, the general concept behind Energy Weapon Mastery is much easier to assess and understand it's value than something like the Tier 2 leadership skills or Neural Link (whose only math presented is instant switching threshold).
Yes, Some skills like Neural  link are true nightmare read whole text, just understand what it could do. I play game about 10 months but didnt understand neural link yet.
If the player wants more bonus, they should simply get closer or let their flux ride higher. 
Wrong. fix >>> If the player wants more bonus, they should simply get closer AND let their flux ride higher.
If these hypothetical new players have issues with Energy Weapon Mastery, how are they going to deal with the fitting screen, which has no less than 11 numbers displayed, with tool tips throwing on 25 (ship tool tip) and drop down menus filled with dozens of weapons or fighters which each have 9+ numbers defining them, along with some vague descriptions like poor or perfect.
  Well, description of some hullmodes is also questionable. (Rangefinder or those "fighter support modules", etc.) Main difference  is, when you fit  something on your ship you can do simulate battle then change it at no cost. Contrary, when you choose wrong skill, it takes time to find out and is expensive to change it. Therefore description of skills (and their design) should consume much more dev time and be more approachable than ship fitting screen.

I suppose you could overhaul the skill screen such that it gives succinct description, and you press F1 to see a full mathematical breakdown of what that actually means.  But if you restrict yourself to skills which don't affect numbers, you're going to have a very short list of possible skills in a game that is all about numbers.
Yes. On mouse over, player get a text explanation of 200 characters most. Some numbers are allowed. (for example current Ordinance Expertise is ok. )Then on F1 you  get precise math formula or more detailed description/use case.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2023, 03:25:52 AM by gG_pilot »
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SCC

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #19 on: January 06, 2023, 01:13:54 AM »

When a new player opens that screen, see the wall  of text explaining each skill by  use of specific words and math relations, next think he will do is, press  uninstall and say all friends that this wierd game for  accountants.
How is that a bad thing? This accountant game genre called "RPG" is doing pretty well. Alex might want to tap into that market.

BCS

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #20 on: January 06, 2023, 01:46:04 AM »

How is that a bad thing? This accountant game genre called "RPG" is doing pretty well. Alex might want to tap into that market.

I wholehearedly agree with you but for most people "RPG" means "there's quests and you talk to people a lot".
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Megas

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #21 on: January 06, 2023, 05:03:39 AM »

If you're aware of your maximum range of your weapons, including any bonuses, then you can eyeball a percentage of your weapon range graphic in combat.  If you happen to know your ITU+Gunnery Implant Pulse Laser on your cruiser has a range of 930, then 600 is roughly 2/3 of the length of the range/arc graphic.  If you're at half the length, you're definitely within range.  Keep in mind, the ship distance reported by targeting the ship is from ship center to ship center which can be wildly off for the weapon to shield distance, which is why you need to use the range bands.  If I have a Tempest shield touching the shield of an Atlas, the distance reported is about 395 units, despite the weapon to shield distance probably being more like 50.
Even with visible range bands (which is useful mostly for seeing maximum range of weapons), it is too much work (number crunching and/or guessing) to see if my ships are close enough if I want the ships further away than touching each other.  The only thing that gives a number is T on target, which is not always an option, and the numbers are too small to read at a quick glance.

If Energy Mastery needed a range restriction, it would be easier if Energy Mastery worked by individual weapon range, like the number of explosions generated by Rift Cascade Emitter.  Then again, that would ruin mixed weapon loadouts like beams and hard flux weapons together, so maybe not.


How is that a bad thing? This accountant game genre called "RPG" is doing pretty well. Alex might want to tap into that market.

I wholehearedly agree with you but for most people "RPG" means "there's quests and you talk to people a lot".
In a video game, RPG to me means encounters, killing things, and taking their stuff.  When in towns, click at all the chests or otherwise take everything not bolted to the floor.  Classic murderhobo behavior.  And the NPCs still think your party are the greatest heroes appointed to save them from the demon lord maou final boss.

Bonus points when world map flashes every few steps and shoves an encounter down the player's throat to make him sick of encounters and associated background music, and player needs to grind for levels and/or loot just to be strong enough to not get crushed by encounters, and maybe check off some achievements that depend on them.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2023, 05:33:02 AM by Megas »
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gG_pilot

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2023, 10:12:54 PM »

If you're aware of your maximum range of your weapons, including any bonuses, ...
If you happen to know your ITU+Gunnery Implant Pulse Laser on your cruiser has a range of 930, then 600 is roughly 2/3 of the length of the range/arc graphic.
Even with visible range bands (which is useful mostly for seeing maximum range of weapons), it is too much work (number crunching and/or guessing) to see if my ships are close enough
@ Hiruma Kai >> The numbers and their presentation is a bit can of worms. I am not aware of range of my weapons. And I am in doubt there are only  few who are. I tried  to find out what is my  actual weapon range, and it is not as easy as it looks. Some bonuses are additive, some are multiplicative, some adds to base range which modifiers all those previously added. Only reliable number I could find is by Mod TIMID - "Too  much numbers"
A challenge for you, what is range of Afflictor ship the system weapon with Injector  hullmode?

Funny enough, I found out that great usage of current Energ-o-Mastery is sort of improved PD. Basicaly it  works like the skill PD.  When your ships is overwhelmed, then even Mining_lasers delete fighters/rockets quickly. Is it intended?
Perhaps my previous suggestionshould be changed like this :
Base :
Minus 10% flux generated by Energy weapons.
Elite :

>>a  range based rule only. (avoid combination of more conditions)  It is for elite pilots focusing Energy AND short_range ships
All Energy non PD-weapons  get 20% dmg boost firing a target up to 600 range. At longer range, bonus dmg linearly decline.Eventually bonus damage at 1000 range reaches zero.
--------------
@Megas >> Yes, tiny numbers are not good enough.
UI  improvement
If skill keeps his range limitation,  it should graphically  (not a tiny  number) express  that. e.i. when game shows  arcs and range of yhe active weapon, then there should be a bold/green/dark_orange/ whatever circle range, (which is distinctive to current weapon range UI),  to let player know:" here bonus comes". What you hink  ?
« Last Edit: January 07, 2023, 10:58:54 PM by gG_pilot »
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Hiruma Kai

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #23 on: January 08, 2023, 10:35:14 AM »

@ Hiruma Kai >> The numbers and their presentation is a bit can of worms. I am not aware of range of my weapons. And I am in doubt there are only  few who are. I tried  to find out what is my  actual weapon range, and it is not as easy as it looks. Some bonuses are additive, some are multiplicative, some adds to base range which modifiers all those previously added. Only reliable number I could find is by Mod TIMID - "Too  much numbers"
A challenge for you, what is range of Afflictor ship the system weapon with Injector  hullmode?

Unfortunately, Starsector doesn't come with a manual, it just comes with a tips text file (and the next tip button at the main screen).  One of the tips is:

Quote
"Percentage increases are additive. Percentage reductions are generally multiplicative.",

Although I agree some of the descriptions could be improved.  Ballistic Rangefinder makes it clear it acts as if the weapon stat card had a higher range, as opposed to things like Advanced Optics or Elite Point Defense which just are flat additions which are only affected by penalties.  However, I agree that just reading the latter two it is not obvious where it comes into the range equation.

On the other hand, I routinely slap something on a ship I don't understand, and then put it in the simulator to see what it actually does.  It's practically required to understand some mods with heavy scripting.  The risk free simulator is a really powerful tool for understanding how things work before going into combat.

So Unstable Injector's -15% range to weapons multiplies the final range result.  An Advanced Optics,  Integrated Targeting Unit, and Gunnery Implant Afflictor with a tactical laser would have that laser's range go from 1000 to 1250 (+10% ITU+15% Gunnery), from 1250 to 1450 (+200 flat Advanced Optics), and then down from 1450 to 1232.5 (-15% from UI).

As for the Afflictor's ship system, it is a system, not a weapon, so is unaffected by Unstable Injector.  Which can also be tested in the simulator.  The only modifier to ship system range I know of is Systems Expertise, which is +50%.

But experimentally, you'll find the base Affilictor Entropy Amplifier range is about 1500 units (this from center of your ship to the closest collision box of the other ship I think), with or without the Unstable Injector hullmod.  There is an out of range/ready text in the lower left, so it's pretty easy to tell if you are currently in range.  Knowing how far you have to go to get in or out of range is either compare to your known weapon ranges, or more often for me, judge just based on experience using the thing.  It is roughly enemy capital large ballistic range, if unskilled.

However, I do take your earlier point that skills can't be tested in the simulator without taking them first, which is a cost discover how they work.  So making sure those are clearer than the hullmods and weapons is a fair request.

@Megas >> Yes, tiny numbers are not good enough.
UI  improvement
If skill keeps his range limitation,  it should graphically  (not a tiny  number) express  that. e.i. when game shows  arcs and range of yhe active weapon, then there should be a bold/green/dark_orange/ whatever circle range, (which is distinctive to current weapon range UI),  to let player know:" here bonus comes". What you hink  ?

I think it is a reasonable suggestion.  You could do it on the range indicator.

You could also change the brightness of the weapon graphic, so it is brighert than normal in proportion to the damage bonus you are getting.  So it would fade from 600 to 1000, as well as be brightest when high flux, and normal looking at 0 flux.  Since there's both a range and flux component to it.  It would also tell you when the AI weapons are benefitting as well, which might mean you want to back off from them.  Having it be part of the range band just makes it useful offensively for the player.  Changing the shot graphic itself helps both offensive and defensively.
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Amazigh

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Re: Make Energy Weapon Mastery simpler
« Reply #24 on: January 08, 2023, 08:25:35 PM »

I think it is a reasonable suggestion.  You could do it on the range indicator.

I actually really like this idea. Having it when you have the skill having an extra pair of lines rendered on the weapon arcs for energy weapons to show the ranges for the skill would be a really nice addition.
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