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Author Topic: Does anything genuinely benefit from the existence of story points and s-mods?  (Read 5481 times)

Melanoc3tus II

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Try as I might, I cannot think of any way in which the story point system has lead to better gameplay; it is extremely easy, however, to recall multiple ways in which they have made the Starsector experience objectively worse.

The ability to dodge fleets using SP trivialises movement on the campaign layer and effectively annihilates the retreat battle and all dynamics and considerations associated with it.

Easy bargains such as SP usage to render skills elite, increase the value of trade contracts, or mentor officers do not contribute any fun or dynamism to the game, serving only to needlessly obfuscate player choices and punish players for failing to adhere to a shallow meta-game of SP resource management entirely divorced from the setting and substance of the game itself.

S-modding adheres to the above fault but expands heavily upon it from multiple angles. Its permanence directly harms a player’s ability to experiment with different ship builds and fleet compositions, which is the core mechanic and attraction that the entire game is built around. The massive power creep it introduces is not only pointless but also an added lever to the already significant complexity of balancing the aforementioned core mechanic of the game, making Alex’s already endless work in adjusting for interest and variety harder. Last, but most certainly not least, s-mods are a colossal middle finger to the game’s setting and lore; the ability to take a tried and tested military vessel developed by a galactic power and operated continuously for hundreds of years, which is moreover produced from rigid and largely immutable schematics, and effortlessly make it simply and objectively better, is an absurdity. The fact that, to compensate for the power creep, major factions now possess large fleets of s-modded vessels is likewise laughable, and particularly so in that since story points are an entirely meta resource, there is an utter void of explanations as to how AI fleets find themselves to be s-modded in the first place.

A system for producing legitimate built-ins in the style of pirate and pather artifice, sacrificing OP and/or gaining assorted defects in the process, would have been a fantastic addition to the game. What we have at present took that idea and fused it irreparably with a pointless, limited meta-resource, the result of which is a travesty which fails in all aspects where an uncorrupted modification system would have succeeded.


In conclusion, my perspective on the mechanic is steeply negative. When time affords I’ll likely try to mod SP back out of game entirely. But there are always opinions on at least three sides of any given argument, so I’d like to inquire what other people make of the matter, and how your takes differ.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2024, 07:11:57 AM by Melanoc3tus II »
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Mattk50

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I like them as a resource concept, from a gameplay progression perspective it's really quite fun being able to upgrade your ships with them. I wish more NPC fleets had story point upgrades though, there are very few opponents strong enough to threaten an endgame story pointed fleet.

You might be missing that there's not really a limit to the number of SP you can get, once you hit max level you just kill remnants and you get tons of them, way more than you need to respec a fleet multiple times if you need to.

But, "story points" is a downright terrible naming convention. It's a name that only makes sense from a developer's perspective and is indeed completely disconnected from the rest of the game's setting, it feel so arbitrary.

It could be renamed to something like "Captain's insights", "Crew Knowledge", anything else that fits other than something "story points" both story and points are out-of-setting terms that make no sense to someone from the perspective of playing the game.
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Nettle

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But, "story points" is a downright terrible naming convention. It's a name that only makes sense from a developer's perspective and is indeed completely disconnected from the rest of the game's setting, it feel so arbitrary.

It could be renamed to something like "Captain's insights", "Crew Knowledge", anything else that fits other than something "story points" both story and points are out-of-setting terms that make no sense to someone from the perspective of playing the game.


SPs are not a currency or any sort of material concept within the universe. They are basically player agency tokens.
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Brainwright

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Eh... just no?

Retreat fights are already *** broken.  You should never want to to do a retreat fight, as you will lose most of your logistics craft.  Most of the largest and most vulnerable craft start within range of enemy guns.  It's a punishment, not a game mechanic.

Spending a story point to reduce grind in raising officers is a good thing.  Don't mess this up.  Though the elite mechanic is really more for fleet officers, not the player.  Players are always going to elite their skills.  There's no reason not to.

As for the permanence of s-mods, this isn't a problem for 99% of ships in Starsector.  Scuttle the old, rebuild or pirate the new.

The fact is, there are many times in a person's life when they, "give it their all," and do something extraordinary.  Story points reflect that.  Since so much of Starsector lets you decide the angle you want to approach the story, a generic title is appropriate.

There are things wrong with Starsector, and story points are not high on the list.
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eert5rty7u8i9i7u6yrewqdef

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Try as I might, I cannot think of any way in which the story point system has lead to better gameplay; it is extremely easy, however, to recall multiple ways in which they have made the Starsector experience objectively worse.

The ability to dodge fleets using SP trivialises movement on the campaign layer and effectively annihilates the retreat battle and all dynamics and considerations associated with it.

Easy bargains such as SP usage to render skills elite, increase the value of trade contracts, or mentor officers do not contribute any fun or dynamism to the game, serving only to needlessly obfuscate player choices and punish players for failing to adhere to a shallow meta-game of SP resource management entirely divorced from the setting and substance of the game itself.

S-modding adheres to the above fault but expands heavily upon it from multiple angles. Its permanence directly harms a player’s ability to experiment with different ship builds and fleet compositions, which is the core mechanic and attraction that the entire game is built around. The massive power creep it introduces is not only pointless but also an added lever to the already significant complexity of balancing the aforementioned core mechanic of the game, making Alex’s already endless work in adjusting for interest and variety harder. Last, but most certainly not least, s-mods are a colossal middle finger to the game’s setting and lore; the ability to take a tried and tested military vessel developed by a galactic power and operated continuously for hundreds of years, which is moreover produced from rigid and largely immutable schematics, and effortlessly make it simply and objectively better, is an absurdity. The fact that, to compensate for the power creep, major factions now possess large fleets of s-modded vessels is likewise laughable, and particularly so in that since story points are an entirely meta resource, there is an utter void of explanations as to how AI fleets find themselves to be s-modded in the first place.

A system for producing legitimate built-ins in the style of pirate and pather artifice, sacrificing OP and/or gaining assorted defects in the process, would have been a fantastic addition to the game. What we have at present took that idea and fused it irreparably with a pointless, limited meta-resource, the result of which is a travesty which fails in all aspects where an uncorrupted modification system would have succeeded.


In conclusion, my perspective on the mechanic is steeply negative. When time affords I’ll likely try to mod SP back out of game entirely. But there are always opinions on at least three sides of any give argument, so I’d like to inquire what other people make of the matter, and how your takes differ.
Story points make some playstyles and ships viable, whereas otherwise they wouldn't be.
S-modding high commands on top of colony items and AI cores, increases system defenses to the point where they are actually useful against crisis events and Nex raids and invasions.
It makes a lot more colony systems viable as you can increase an industries production by one point, which frequently makes the difference between relying on imports or being able to supply yourself.

As for ships, certain ships would not be useable by the player without s-mods. The Nova is my favorite example. It has frontal shields with a 90 degree arc. This renders it entirely worthless for AI piloting or player piloting, unless you give it at least s-modded omni-shields. Typically, both s-modded extended shield and omni-shields is required to make any good build with it.
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robepriority

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TBH bonus XP is a pretty good balancing factor.

Thaago

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Being able to "recover" story points by scuttling/losing ships that have S mods on them was something I didn't realize was a thing for a long time (you get back the remaining balance of bonus XP left over from when the S mod was taken, depending on ship size). It makes spending them on early ships even more attractive - no need to wait for the "perfect" ship.
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Bungee_man

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It's worth noting that S-mods aren't necessary for a good build. A lot of people try to S-mod everything early and lock in a fleet - I generally go through midgame with one or two on my flagship and not much else.

Their value is less from an optimization perspective, and more from an immersion perspective. Realistically, most of the people building optimized meta fleets that can take on five ordos at once will generally use console commands to avoid having to grind whenever they want to change out an S-mod or try out a different set of Omega weapons. They let you add a little bit of custom, permanent thought into your flagship, marking it as your personal ship that is linked to your preferred build, fleet composition, and strategy, and would never be quite as good in the hands of anyone else. It stops being just another Onslaught that you could print ten of in a day, and becomes a unique ship with a history, an identity, and a little bit of extra performance. A Serenity, or Rocinante, or Millenium Falcon, depending on preference.

As for story points in general, outside of that, they're generally meaningful in ironman runs, where a single case of a fleet spawning in next to you could result in a wipe. Basically, they let you say "no, it wouldn't work like that, there's no way that mercenary fleet could reasonably track me all the way out in the edge of the galaxy with my transponder off", and continue along - they mitigate immersion breaks due to game mechanics not working out as you'd expect. Similarly, they'll let you get a bit of extra production if you need it, tweak an officer you like so you don't have to get rid of him, and so on - they let you smooth out the rough edges of your run, as long as you don't use them in excess.

Basically, they're meant to give you a bit of leeway in following the game mechanics as written - the whole meta around grinding them and using them everywhere as the endgame comes from the fact that the game isn't done yet, and people like playing it past the point where content has been added.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2024, 08:20:23 PM by Bungee_man »
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Zumberge

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But, "story points" is a downright terrible naming convention. It's a name that only makes sense from a developer's perspective and is indeed completely disconnected from the rest of the game's setting, it feel so arbitrary.

It could be renamed to something like "Captain's insights", "Crew Knowledge", anything else that fits other than something "story points" both story and points are out-of-setting terms that make no sense to someone from the perspective of playing the game.


SPs are not a currency or any sort of material concept within the universe. They are basically player agency tokens.

Yeah, that.  I usually go with the term "Protagonist Points" and assume that they're a blanket auto-succeed on a skill check that would, in another game, involve rolling speech/engineering/bear lore/perception/whatall else.  Though come to think of it, based on what the tooltip says on the character creation screen, Starsector is designed (or being designed) with ironman play in mind, right?  Viewed like that, being able to use a resource to quickly repair your fleet or disengage is more or less a buffer to keep the player from being completely boned by an ambush or other unforeseeable event.  So at least in that respect, the SP system has merit.
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Amoebka

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based on what the tooltip says on the character creation screen, Starsector is designed (or being designed) with ironman play in mind, right?
It absolutely isn't, and Alex doesn't seem to understand ironman games at all. Playing Starsetor ironman is definitely doable (I do it myself too), but it's an undeniably a much worse experience than playing it with saves or playing a properly designed ironman game.
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Serenitis

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Pursuit/Retreat fights are unbearably dull from either direction, and I am glad I can press a (completly optional) button to ignore them in any capacity.
Even if turbo-retreating does cost you supplies to recover the CR it loses.

Building in hullmods is a replacement for the old Loadout Design skill that gave all ships more OP, which was so critical to the use of some ships that the player was compelled to always take it in order to not inadvertently being playing some kind of restrictive challenge.
It was effectively a "skill tax". And the AI literally could not use it at all under any circumstances, so the player got a big permanent advantage as soon as they took the skill.
Picking which specific ship to buff using a seperate resource that both the player and AI can make use of is much nicer.

I am also glad that "ironman" play is entirely optional in Starsector.
If it were not I would have never bought it.

Y'know, looking at all that there's a common thread: It's all optional.
You don't have to press the green text to run away.
You don't have to press the green button to make a ship better.
You don't have to restrict your save/load ability if you don't want to.

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Amoebka

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If retreat battles are dull and unfair, the solution is to rework them, not handwave the issue away with green points.

If certain ships can't function without s-mods, the solution is to buff them, not handwave the issue away with green points.

If leveling up officers and getting the skillsets you want takes too long and is too RNG dependent, the solution is to rebalance it, not handwave the issue away with green points.

That's the main meta-issue with story points. They are band-aids masking design and balance flaws within the game.
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eert5rty7u8i9i7u6yrewqdef

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If retreat battles are dull and unfair, the solution is to rework them, not handwave the issue away with green points.

If certain ships can't function without s-mods, the solution is to buff them, not handwave the issue away with green points.

If leveling up officers and getting the skillsets you want takes too long and is too RNG dependent, the solution is to rebalance it, not handwave the issue away with green points.

That's the main meta-issue with story points. They are band-aids masking design and balance flaws within the game.
That's the main meta-issue with story points. They are band-aids masking design and balance flaws within the game.
I was going to add this to my reply, but decided against it.
Given the game isn't finished and is bound to go through plenty more balance changes, the last function of story points is to work as a fix for unbalanced or unexpected issues.

You can't just buff some ships like the Nova. If it's given 150 or 210 arc omni shields on top of having a free Alpha core, it will be busted in Remnant fleets possibly even outperforming Radiants.
What keeps them balanced in player fleets is either you only get one with a Beta or Alpha core, or you can get 4 with no cores. In either case they are not supported by reckless ship spam to fight alongside them.
Removing story points, while keeping ships like this useful in player fleets would require major changes to the hullmod system, including the addition of hullmods that remove other hullmod penalties.
While that is fine when all ships that are going to be in the game are in the game, currently the development is not yet in that position.
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Lawrence Master-blaster

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You might be missing that there's not really a limit to the number of SP you can get, once you hit max level you just kill remnants and you get tons of them, way more than you need to respec a fleet multiple times if you need to.

But that's a problem in itself. The choice of "Do I want to elite a skill for myself, or do I want to Mentor an officer, or do I want to S-mod a thing" doesn't really exist long term. You can just do it all.

Quote from: Amoebka
Alex doesn't seem to understand ironman games at all. Playing Starsetor ironman is definitely doable (I do it myself too), but it's an undeniably a much worse experience than playing it with saves or playing a properly designed ironman game.

What does that even mean? What's a "properly designed ironman game"?
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Mattk50

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But, "story points" is a downright terrible naming convention. It's a name that only makes sense from a developer's perspective and is indeed completely disconnected from the rest of the game's setting, it feel so arbitrary.

It could be renamed to something like "Captain's insights", "Crew Knowledge", anything else that fits other than something "story points" both story and points are out-of-setting terms that make no sense to someone from the perspective of playing the game.


SPs are not a currency or any sort of material concept within the universe. They are basically player agency tokens.

Yes, and the point of what i wrote is that it's a problem that such an extremely important mechanic in the game boils down to "story points" or "player agency tokens" as you put it. It's too detached from the game itself, the naming is awful.

To illustrate my point, let's rename other things in the game to follow the same naming convention as story points.
flux -> shield points
Hyperspace Topography -> Overworld points
Deployment points -> encounter points
credits -> trade points
Marines -> Soldier points

"Story points" is awful! They are meant to represent special things your fleet can do based on rare insights you and your crew gain from experience, there are much better ways to represent that concept like i mentioned in the previous post.
« Last Edit: April 03, 2024, 02:24:40 AM by Mattk50 »
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