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Author Topic: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.  (Read 19756 times)

lStealtherl

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #30 on: December 25, 2013, 07:15:00 AM »

I never felt that CR had any huge negative impact (or hardly at all) to my playing style since I'm not the guy to wants every ship or lead huge battlefleet. I usually roleplay on my own in this scarce quest/mission sector together with ghost officers and their ships. I've had great experiences due to the CR implementation, which further added some depth to my imagination. I have ghost friends -.-"

For entertainment I usually go max Combat route first, since when you get larger fleet, opponents usually flees which was a tedious chore to chase after, in my opinion. And I like to set artificial difficulty to myself. Never found starting campaign difficult at all.
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Steven Shi

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #31 on: December 25, 2013, 07:18:54 PM »

Had some minor trouble with CR when it was first implemented - my fault for playing the game like before. Took some time to read the tool tips, experimented a bit and no more problems.

Frankly, I think CR is a great addition to prevent players from steam rolling everything by mid-game but it does need to present this new concept in a way that's more easily understood for casual players who just want to go pew pew (may I recommend SPAZ for those that don't like reading manuals?).

In any case, it is quite easy to win battle, earn money/ship and keep CR around 80%, and I have a hard time understanding why some people complain about the difficulty. Of course the game will be hard if you don't learn the more  intricate rules and just try to play it like a mobile game.
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Megas

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #32 on: December 25, 2013, 07:39:47 PM »

Because CR punishes some play-styles and fleet or skill choices and builds (that were fun and viable in previous versions) and forces other play-styles and choices some may not like just to be effective.  (e.g., must have some Fleet Logistics by level 30 or forget it.)  Just because someone can survive a game with CR does not mean he has to like it, especially if his favorite play-style before v0.6 was ruined in v0.6.  Since the game is an alpha, this is precisely the time to voice our concerns so that Alex can either rip CR out (yeah, right!) or fix it so that CR is less troublesome... before the game is finished.
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Debido

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #33 on: December 26, 2013, 09:19:58 AM »

All of Megas' points are true in respect to CR and fun. I think people forget that how people enjoy a game differs.

There seems to be a lot of pious defence of CR, and excusing the current state of the build on the people buying it, that people should go download a mod for the game.

Really @Valkyrial?

All it means really is that this update was obviously too advanced for the majority of people to mentally grasp

That's just demeaning to the community and insulting to the people who purchased the product. If people don't understand the game mechanics then they haven't been educated or had it communicated properly - and THAT is the fault of the developer.

If you're selling a product to an end user that is incomplete, you are still obliged to inform them of it's operation of what is and is not working, and how to properly operate it. What do you get when you buy it?

"Please note that Starsector is a work in progress. The current alpha version is available for download now, and we’ll be releasing new versions as we add new features."

But this is not properly communicating to the consumer what exactly they're getting and what the current state of the game is as it changes every few months. There also needs to be acknowledgements that it is not balanced, and that they're feedback on what needs balancing is important.

Better yet, knowing it's not balanced from the start and that there is no economy yet - give them more money to start off with, give them a constant supply of cash for a couple of in game months. Have different difficulty levels with different cash flows or starting amounts.

There also needs to be a better communication with the gamer upon getting into the game, starting with tutorials, have build announcements and affected game play information. Giving someone a half baked build without explanation is just setting up the customer for disappointment.

There should also be a 'Kerbal Space Port' type website as well, and a link within the game menu that opens up the web browser to a fairly polished website showing the mods available to freely download and enhance the game.

And after the person has exited Star Sector at the very least there should be a form that pops up that asks if they'd like to leave feedback addressing the various aspects of the game that are complete, and to upload the savegame data (vanilla games only). This allows Alex to gather both human feedback as well as specific data analysis of player usage and be able to make comparison. There has no doubt been thousands of man hours of gameplay cumulatively put into this game by everyone, and none of the usage data has been analysed to determine how to best balance the game.

The point is, even as an alpha product it is presented in an unprofessional manner. Users are not emailed when new builds are available and without Google they'll have trouble finding the Starsector wiki.

On another tangent and most worryingly there is no official completion date or milestones, if I was a stakeholder for a commercial project with no scheduled milestones or completion date I'd pull my support and funding straight away. No commercial project starts without milestones or completion dates - it just doesn't happen.
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xenoargh

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #34 on: December 26, 2013, 10:35:34 AM »

All that said... it's really time-consuming to build, collect and analyze that kind of data, and a lot of it will tell you the obvious or lead to bad conclusions.

You can build data-analysis tools that give out ELO for a given ship design, for example, but it's pretty worthless if the real reason it's "OP" is because it's a fan favorite because of how it looks and gets more play-time dedicated to it, rather than how balanced it actually is. 

Like, for example, the Enforcer, which is one of the best ships in the Vanilla game (imho) vs. the Hammerhead.  I suspect that a lot more newbies gravitate to the Hammerhead, simply because of the iconic design, vs. the ugly look of the Enforcer.  So Hammerhead ELO (when averaged across all players, all player-times) is probably superior. 

The above trend is probably especially pernicious during the early stages of development, because a lot of planned things that will influence final balance don't exist yet.

TBH, I think it's worth a lot more to the developer to spend more time interacting with the customers.  I get much more worried when I see Indie developers get into their shells and quit paying attention to feedback than I do if their front-end website isn't fancy enough :)

On the release dates / milestones issues, I don't really have any complaints.  Most of the stuff that takes a long time takes a long time for obvious reasons (building major framework stuff is not fast, getting it polished enough to present is even less fast, and there is only one coder on this thing). 

If this was a project with a 2-4 coder team, that's a little different.  I've often wondered if this wouldn't go a bit smoother with a second coder on the team, tasked with polishing areas where the fundamental design is done so that Alex can do the big initiatives and not have to keep returning to areas where time allocation says, "no" but feedback says, "yes". 

But that's something that largely comes down to money, and there isn't tons of it to throw around.  Alex isn't starving to death or looking over cardboard boxes for their insulating properties, but I'm sure he's having months where he wonders whether he can fix his car. 

That said, I'm quite sure that taking the title to Steam Greenlight or Kickstarter, or both, would address that pretty easily; the game's gotten this far and has pretty solid fundamentals based largely on word-of-mouth, and a major update will put the game back into the limelight in terms of getting some free press.  The money's there, in short.  Alex doesn't want to do that, and that's a business decision; I'm sure there are good reasons for that, starting with over-exposing a game a little too early and risking negative feedback trauma.
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Debido

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #35 on: December 26, 2013, 01:39:26 PM »

All that said... it's really time-consuming to build, collect and analyze that kind of data, and a lot of it will tell you the obvious or lead to bad conclusions.
Or it could lead to valuable insight into player trends, player progress, fleet composition, over utilised and under utilised features or ships.

...The above trend is probably especially pernicious during the early stages of development, because a lot of planned things that will influence final balance don't exist yet...
By looking at trends you can then influence the desired final game balance.

TBH, I think it's worth a lot more to the developer to spend more time interacting with the customers.  I get much more worried when I see Indie developers get into their shells and quit paying attention to feedback than I do if their front-end website isn't fancy enough :)
Customers don't always know what they want, interacting with them doesn't always give you the right information and sometimes they outright lie for some other reason or benefit. The information collected from the customer needs to be backed up by facts that can be collected from actual product usage. If you only listen to a small number of customers who yell loud enough, you can miss out on addressing the large number of silent customers.

On the release dates / milestones issues, I don't really have any complaints.  Most of the stuff that takes a long time takes a long time for obvious reasons (building major framework stuff is not fast, getting it polished enough to present is even less fast, and there is only one coder on this thing).
Building major framework is not fast. Giving players the right information at the right time to best understand the game and get the best out of what is currently in the build should be much easier. How difficult is it to script a text pop-up? A tutorial or two? Educating users is the key to gaining customer acceptance as well as managing their expectations.

That said, I'm quite sure that taking the title to Steam Greenlight or Kickstarter, or both, would address that pretty easily; the game's gotten this far and has pretty solid fundamentals based largely on word-of-mouth, and a major update will put the game back into the limelight in terms of getting some free press.  The money's there, in short.  Alex doesn't want to do that, and that's a business decision; I'm sure there are good reasons for that, starting with over-exposing a game a little too early and risking negative feedback trauma.
Negative feedback trauma can be handled by setting their expectations and actively involving them in providing feedback. If you set no expectations, or high expectations with fancy graphics and videos they will be let down. If you actively seek feedback on exit or on game crashes, then it acknowledges their feedback and reminds them the product is still undergoing work. If milestones were set Alex could have a in-game information display informing the user when the next release is to be available, and alert them if a new one is available for download with a direct link.

Managing client expectations can be tricky, these methods won't work on everyone, but enough that the game can be consumed by players on a larger scale leading to greater income and hopefully faster development of the game.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 03:24:18 PM by Debido »
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Zelnik

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #36 on: December 26, 2013, 02:52:40 PM »

I am glad to see that this thread produced good conversation and not a flame war.
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heskey30

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #37 on: December 26, 2013, 09:37:53 PM »

Debido, a lot of these suggestions are coming from a culture that is probably predominant in software companies.... but very against indie game design philosophy. Indie games are designed more like art than software. The focus is on the game, not the customer, which is what the customer wants anyway. That doesn't mean there can't be a tutorial or anything in the final version - there should be, because that would make the best game. It does mean that in this alpha stage, Alex is not going to babysit us. Instead he will work on major features. It also means that, while he should and does take advice from us as his alpha testers, we are not "always right" as companies like to call their customers. He is the game designer here and his vision and expertise are what have made this game what it is so far.

I am not saying this is inherently a better way to make games - just that you should be aware of this. This mindset has made some really great games, and also some failed projects. But many people here, including me, prefer it this way and have a hard time seeing it any other way. It's a little like you are speaking a different language, actually. :P

Oh, and as for the balance thing - balance is not as important in a singleplayer game. Nothing is blatantly overpowered in this game except for the player. A little variation is actually good - there is variation in the real world, and that makes it interesting. For example, the enforcer should be one of the best destroyers to have in a fight - according to lore, it was designed expressly for it, and it has stood the test of time. But if it was weaker, it would just be a cheap old rust bucket with a lot of heavier weapons - which is still interesting. It's not that the game shouldn't be balanced - it's just that putting as much effort into balancing this as is put into balancing a multiplayer game is unnecessary. People use ships for their character as often as for their ability.

As for CR, it was probably a bad campaign mechanic to implement early. It's not necessarily done badly, it's just a punishing mechanic. While it is good as part of the big picture, it just feels bad with the game as it is because we don't have the rest of the picture. It is not a good idea to crack down too hard on it now, in my opinion.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2013, 09:39:27 PM by heskey30 »
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Linnis

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #38 on: December 26, 2013, 11:13:35 PM »

There is two ways to go about this.

1. Make something everyone likes.
2. Make something a few like alot, while the rest not as much.

I think the choice has allready been made.




Also on the note of there should be this, there should be that....
 Please know that "Fractal Softworks" is nothing like "Activision", resources are limited.
Know that if there is a feedback function in the game, we get less ships. There is a reply to every post, we get less features. That is a fact.
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Steven Shi

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #39 on: December 27, 2013, 06:50:24 AM »

Most successful businesses know not all feedback are valuable. Heck, the majority of feedback are counter productive from people who just want more of the same and have no idea what elements makes an enjoyable game. A game that caters to the majority's whim will certainly be easy, bland and mediocre.

I hope the devs stick with their vision of a semi-complex logistic system to limit certain 'play style'. The pre-CR game was wayyyy too easy to build up a fleet quickly and steam roll everything (it still is btw). The AAAs are forced to cater to the masses to turn a profit but a small indie does have the option of trying to create something new/unique - who knows, Starfarer might even become a classic rather than becoming just another run of the mill tablet game where winning comes easy and reward weights as feathers.
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Debido

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #40 on: December 27, 2013, 05:08:40 PM »

Indie games are designed more like art than software.


How you design something doesn't necessarily have anything to do with how you going through the process of creating it, but if you're trying to make out that indie games have some sort of intrinsic intangible value by placing the words 'indie games' and 'art' in the same sentence then I'd suggest you play more AAA games as they're not all generic. Certainly for every "World of Warcraft" there is a "Skyrim", every "Flashpoint Red Dragon" there is a "Spec Ops: The Line". There are many soulless indie derivatives running around on PC's, tablets and iPhones every day as much as there are AAA steaming piles like "Thor: God of Thunder".

That doesn't mean there can't be a tutorial or anything in the final version - there should be, because that would make the best game. It does mean that in this alpha stage, Alex is not going to babysit us.

Yes he does. He is selling a product and he needs to give them the proper information on it. Not toss sell the game and say 'Go figure it out for yourself, the information is out there somewhere' (figuratively, never literally spoken). You may want to argue that people shouldn't need to be spoon fed, but a lot of people don't have the time to figure things out or go find the documentation or blogs. The best way to make someone dislike your software is to not properly inform them of how to use it. Period.

Instead he will work on major features.

That's fine, just needs to keep people informed more effectively of the changes he's making.

I am not saying this is inherently a better way to make games - just that you should be aware of this. This mindset has made some really great games, and also some failed projects. But many people here, including me, prefer it this way and have a hard time seeing it any other way.

Structured processes don't fail, people do. Structure helps to reduce the risk of human failure. Human's are inherently faulty, just look at the Nocebo effect.

Oh, and as for the balance thing - balance is not as important in a singleplayer game.

Balance determines time spent in a game and time between 'achievements' that give people some artificial sense of achieving something. Different people have different levels of ability and amount of time available to spend on a game to 'achieve' and be satisfied by that achievement. Catering to different people means modifying variables within the game to increase or decrease the 'difficulty' that determines how frequently they 'achieve' or achieve the final goal of the game. If the majority of people buying the game are not satisfied within the amount of time spent playing with a game that has a fixed 'difficulty/achievement' curve, then less people will be happy with the game, there will be less buyers, Alex won't receive as much profit share and the future of Fractal Softworks as a business entity is in doubt.

As for CR, it was probably a bad campaign mechanic to implement early. It's not necessarily done badly, it's just a punishing mechanic. While it is good as part of the big picture, it just feels bad with the game as it is because we don't have the rest of the picture.

Again my point on properly informing the customer, the customer has to go look for 'the big picture', they get punished and they don't know why. CR is great and is doing exactly what it's meant to be doing, and I imagine that Industry is going to be help reduce that negative effect on the player when it's implemented. If Alex had put in information in the game like 'I've put in CR which will force you to reduce the size of your fleets, this will be eased later by Industry when it's implemented. Until then, see how big you can make your fleet!'. Now CR becomes a challenge and it would be important to gather information on when players are struggling to grow there fleet due to CR, how many fleet points? What is the fleet composition? How successful is it in combat? By having this information you can implement Industry and determine how many supplies it will give the player to *** the effect of CR and supply usage etc. for example.
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Sunday

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #41 on: December 27, 2013, 06:48:56 PM »

All I know is I've stopped playing this game since the first CR version. It isn't really a difficulty issue with me, either --- I'm fine playing dwarf fortress or nethack or any number of games that I've never succeeded at, because I actually enjoy playing them, even as I play them badly. And I still check out the blog for this game and the forum occasionally to see if the devs have changed the game into something I want to play.

But I play Starfarer for the combat, and the game just isn't fun to me with CR. Similarly, I used to recommend this game to people on other forums, and I don't really do that anymore, because I can't recommend that others play a game that I don't enjoy. In fact, CR makes it feel like the game is punishing me for trying to have fun.

Not saying that it won't be fun in the future. Nor am I demanding that the devs do what I want. They can do whatever they want, as far as I'm concerned. I've already more than gotten my money's worth from the game, and even if I hadn't, they don't owe me anything. Moreover, I would never say that they're bad devs --- they are plainly far more talented at game design & programming than I will ever be.

On the other hand, I think it's valuable for the devs to know people's perspectives. After all, they presumably wouldn't have released the game and set up a forum dedicated to it, if they didn't want people to tell them what they thought.

And I, frankly (as well as apparently a bunch of other people), don't have fun in the game with CR as it is currently implemented. So it goes, I guess.
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heskey30

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #42 on: December 27, 2013, 09:06:49 PM »

I was only talking about the way indie developers go about making their games, and I did say that it is not necessarily better. But it is a legitimate way to make games and has been successful in the past. The point is, Alex does not need to do anything except make this game. Right on the front page it says that this is not the final product, and that you are buying the game at a discount early when you spend your money on this. As a bonus you are gaining access to ongoing builds. "Builds" does not imply a polished product, finished or not. It is simply whatever work he has accomplished so far on the way to the end destination. Alex's builds are actually very balanced and stable compared to many public alpha games so count yourself lucky!

About the structured processes thing: who is making these structured processes? Humans. And humans are interpreting it anyway. So all structure does is add another layer of failure while making the development process less agile and more stressful for some people. It's different if you are working with a big team - then structure is more useful to maintain order. But a single person or very small team does not need a lot of structure.

On balance: Yes, the game should be playable by different skill levels, but ships don't need to be perfectly balanced to each other because the player is not bound to one particular ship or another and it's always fun to find something that is a little stronger. Only blatant imbalance can make things boring in singleplayer games. Are you talking about the same kind of balance as I was? Maybe I misunderstood.  But either way, collecting data from the game is more of a luxury than a necessity in a singleplayer game. Feedback is good enough. If people are unhappy they will say something as they are now, and if not, what's the problem? Maybe data can find patterns that people cannot see, but I have not heard of any singeplayer games that are uncannily good because of this data so I am skeptical of its value to cost in time.
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Zelnik

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #43 on: December 28, 2013, 11:00:34 AM »

I was going to post something, but my destroyer was just obliterated by a wave of fighters when I suddenly started a combat and could not so much as TURN MY SHIP.

Because obviously no one noticed holes getting punched by pea shooters... even when bulkheads collapsed and engines exploded.  

Edit:

I just tried playing again, got to the point where I had a carrier and a small fighter fleet. For some reason, my CR dropped from 70% to 2% after a fight, and I lost my flagship to a pair of tiny destroyers because no one could so much as shoot a gun (evidently, people dying is not a good enough sign that we are under attack, and my fighters don't so much as blink to defend the carrier)

It's not enough that I want my money back for this abortion of a game choice, I want to scream for an hour in front of the developers, asking them what made them think this was a good idea.
« Last Edit: December 28, 2013, 05:09:18 PM by Zelnik »
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xenoargh

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Re: About as much fun as getting my teeth pulled.
« Reply #44 on: December 28, 2013, 06:19:07 PM »

So, er... play one of the mods that makes things different / better, until this gets addressed in 0.62a?
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