Humanity is fun.

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mharmless
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Humanity is fun.

Postby mharmless » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:13 pm

I didn't encounter any new bugs last night, so didn't post the usual write up. I just wanted to say that playing humanity is quite fun. The home system will only support 3 of the 6 population in the orbital fleet, you only get one real scout, and if you take no action ships will start being disbanded for you on turn 10. Ten turns is only enough time to scout 2-3 systems with the scout, and pray for a world worth dropping those folks on.


Those transports, they have 260 screamin' humans on board. They can capture almost anything from the early game in a boarding action. So effectively you can scout with transports and probably win if you have to fight. But this just grows the fleet, which makes you go broke faster.

Last night I started by dropping 3 pop on Fargone, sending a transport to the three nearby stars, and the scout to the one star out of reach. Found an arid planet, size 12, next door. Also found a size 4 arid planet at the far away star. Used one ship and the transports to colonize the 12, sent the other colony ship to the far away and settled it, then moved transports that way. Bleeding money still, but slowly.

Near the far colony, Sirus I think it was, I found Rastaban, home of the bird folks. They had such a delicious garden world, a new Earth. And they'd settled their Arid for some reason. And there was no fleet in sight.

We were... so hungry. So hungry. And Rastaban, it was so delicious looking. delicious looking.

But they had a space station in orbit. More ships would be coming. and we only had a scout and a transport.

So we did what we had to do. Transports are so slow. But, they have such large reactors. large, powerful, reactors.

Six rounds. Six rounds from the start of combat to move the HTS By Other Means up to that station.

Only one to blow it to Hell.


The blockade held without incident until enough troops could be mustered to claim New Terra.
Last edited by mharmless on Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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sven
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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby sven » Thu Feb 05, 2015 5:23 pm

Hehe. Yes -- this is exactly the sort of thing I'm referring to when I say that "at present, there are serious tactical balance issues".

Thematically, I do want capturing ships and scrappy, dirty tactics to be areas where humans excel, relative to the other races.

That said, you should not be able to rush Rastaban II using nothing but unarmed civilian transports ;)

I'm afraid a hard nerf for the transport crew values is on the way, along with reactor damage numbers. So, you're unlikely to be able to repeat this particular stunt in the newer builds :)

mharmless
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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby mharmless » Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:10 pm

There is something kind of fun about using some ships as over sized cruise missiles. Perhaps a system module specifically for this sort of dirty work?

Transports having a large crew is a nice combat feature which kind of makes some sense, if they're going to have any role at all, but the thing that kills balance is how easy it is to use those troops to board an enemy ship. Perhaps if boarding wasn't possible while engines were functional, baring some module or technology to enable in-flight boarding actions?

The ISIS tactic wouldn't work very well at all if the starting space station had even basic long range armaments. I'd have never slowboated up to it intact.

Regardless, I really like the theme humans have going right now. Here's a huge fleet you can't support for long at all, one crappy world that can't fit all of us, and only one 'combat' ship of any kind to work with. You have X turns to rectify this or you're basically condemning a double digit percentage of the race to death. It feels like the most tense opening of any of the races currently.

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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby sven » Thu Feb 05, 2015 6:12 pm

mharmless wrote:There is something kind of fun about using some ships as over sized cruise missiles. Perhaps a system module specifically for this sort of dirty work?


Certainly something I'm planning to add. Not yet sure where it will be in the tech tree -- but, making it a thing that humans get early seems pretty logical to me.

mharmless wrote:Transports having a large crew is a nice combat feature which kind of makes some sense, if they're going to have any role at all, but the thing that kills balance is how easy it is to use those troops to board an enemy ship. Perhaps if boarding wasn't possible while engines were functional, baring some module or technology to enable in-flight boarding actions?


I'm not really that certain it does make sense. I mean, your colonists are probably mostly in cold sleep pods or something -- and they're going to be civilians, in any case, not combat-ready marines. We nerfed the crew value on Colony Ships a while back, and just for purposes of in-universe consistency, if colony ships have a small "crew" number, then transports should too. Though, perhaps what we're currently calling "crew" in the status panes should instead say "marines".

mharmless wrote:The ISIS tactic wouldn't work very well at all if the starting space station had even basic long range armaments. I'd have never slowboated up to it intact.


Yeah -- but for world building reasons, I think it makes sense for at least some races (in particular, the Phidi) to start the game without any real weapons tech. They're going to send out missions to nearby stars assuming the galaxy is empty and peaceful, and I don't really see a way to justify putting nuclear missile launchers on their initial space station :)

I think we're going to need to look for other ways of protecting the AI from early rushes.

mharmless wrote:Regardless, I really like the theme humans have going right now. Here's a huge fleet you can't support for long at all, one crappy world that can't fit all of us, and only one 'combat' ship of any kind to work with. You have X turns to rectify this or you're basically condemning a double digit percentage of the race to death. It feels like the most tense opening of any of the races currently.


That's certainly working as intended. Though, Arioch's suggestion is actually for the humans to start with even *less* -- a single outpost around a gas giant, rather than their currently cosy settlement on Fargone I.

Given the current mechanics and gameplay, that's probably a bit too cruel. But, as we keep polishing and balancing things, we may be able to find a way to make it work ;)

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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby mharmless » Thu Feb 05, 2015 7:54 pm

I'm not really that certain it does make sense. I mean, your colonists are probably mostly in cold sleep pods or something -- and they're going to be civilians, in any case, not combat-ready marines. We nerfed the crew value on Colony Ships a while back, and just for purposes of in-universe consistency, if colony ships have a small "crew" number, then transports should too. Though, perhaps what we're currently calling "crew" in the status panes should instead say "marines".


That might do the trick, actually. Crew and Marines as distinct items. Then you could still have decent crew sizes on colony/transport ships to make capturing them in a boarding action harder, while making them toothless. Attack with Marines, defend with Crew+Marines? This would also serve to weaken boarding right off the bat. Toss in some Crew/Marine targeting weapons for later in the game, and you've got yourself a stew!

That's certainly working as intended. Though, Arioch's suggestion is actually for the humans to start with even *less* -- a single outpost around a gas giant, rather than their currently cosy settlement on Fargone I.

Given the current mechanics and gameplay, that's probably a bit too cruel. But, as we keep polishing and balancing things, we may be able to find a way to make it work ;)


I like this notion. I don't know if this is possible, but from a lore-building angle it might be nice to have the first actual planet they control receive a name, like that Gaia world. Something with a little emotional baggage to set whatever tone you settle on. Hope. Homeward. Foothold. Bootstrap. Kinda like we get via the Fargone system name now.

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echo2361
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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby echo2361 » Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:02 pm

sven wrote:I'm not really that certain it does make sense. I mean, your colonists are probably mostly in cold sleep pods or something -- and they're going to be civilians, in any case, not combat-ready marines. We nerfed the crew value on Colony Ships a while back, and just for purposes of in-universe consistency, if colony ships have a small "crew" number, then transports should too. Though, perhaps what we're currently calling "crew" in the status panes should instead say "marines".


This sounds like a smart way of going about things. Maybe we could have a system where all ships have "crew" which either cannot participate offensively in boarding actions or are just bad at doing so, but still capable of putting up a decent defense of a ship. Then we could have "marines" which excel at boarding enemy ships or defending their own ships from enemy marines. This way civilian ships can still have large crews, but they won't be much of a threat to begin boarding actions without marines on board.

sven wrote:That's certainly working as intended. Though, Arioch's suggestion is actually for the humans to start with even *less* -- a single outpost around a gas giant, rather than their currently cosy settlement on Fargone I.

Given the current mechanics and gameplay, that's probably a bit too cruel. But, as we keep polishing and balancing things, we may be able to find a way to make it work ;)


I really like the idea of humans just starting out with an outpost orbiting a gas giant if it can be balanced properly. It would complete the image of them being true vagabonds, traveling in a ramshackle fleet just trying to stay alive until they can settle a new home world.

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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby Arioch » Thu Feb 05, 2015 8:49 pm

My opinion is that boarding should require that either the target's engines are disabled, or that the boarding ship has some kind of special system that enables it (such as tractor beams, transporters, assault shuttles, grapplers, or the like). There's no way in the world that one ordinary spacecraft could board another if the target was trying to avoid it.

With the above restrictions, it wouldn't bother me at all that transports or colony ships could be used for boarding. They're expensive but flimsy ships that can be killed with a single shot.

One way to make the Humans' "outpost but no colony" approach less painful is to establish a special game state: if you have no colonies, there is no upkeep cost until you establish your first colony. Or perhaps a greatly reduced upkeep. Then the human player can take his time to find some good settling spots.

mharmless
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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby mharmless » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:07 pm

One way to make the Humans' "outpost but no colony" approach less painful is to establish a special game state: if you have no colonies, there is no upkeep cost until you establish your first colony. Or perhaps a greatly reduced upkeep. Then the human player can take his time to find some good settling spots.


Maybe a crutch like that for the AI so they don't end up defeated before anybody meets them, but having some races be objectively harder to play can make for interesting stories/situations for the player. Difficulty sliders/selection usually result in the AI getting to cheat harder, or placing percentile penalties on the player. That is less interesting than being given a substandard start of your own, that you can later feel good about overcoming.

The fact it is somewhat painful is part of what makes it so tense and interesting. I wasn't joking when I said it was fun.

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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby sven » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:08 pm

Arioch wrote:My opinion is that boarding should require that either the target's engines are disabled, or that the boarding ship has some kind of special system that enables it (such as tractor beams, transporters, assault shuttles, grapplers, or the like). There's no way in the world that one ordinary spacecraft could board another if the target was trying to avoid it.


Yeah, when we get into the tactical revision round, I want to try a much more restricted set of boarding rules. Capturing enemy ships is fun -- and I'm glad it's in the game. But, I think the dominance of boarding, as a mechanic, is one of the root problems in the current builds.

Arioch wrote:One way to make the Humans' "outpost but no colony" approach less painful is to establish a special game state: if you have no colonies, there is no upkeep cost until you establish your first colony. Then the human player can take his time to find some good settling spots.


This is a good idea. We should talk more about the details. Specifically, right now, when you have no planets capable of supplying fuel to your fleets, all your remaining ships are destroyed, and you lose the game. That seems like a fairly sensible rule -- and if we add this one to it, then, formally, players would have the potential of moving in and out of 2 different states. And "upkeep free" state, where they had only outposts, and a "normal economy" state, where they had at least one world. Which state they were in could, potentially, change many times during the course of the game. In fact, it could, in theory, change sereral times during the course of a single strategic *turn*.

I think the engine is robust enough to support that without too much trouble... Let's add that to the list of things to try once we've put some of the currently raging fires out :)

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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby Arioch » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:23 pm

mharmless wrote:Maybe a crutch like that for the AI so they don't end up defeated before anybody meets them, but having some races be objectively harder to play can make for interesting stories/situations for the player. Difficulty sliders/selection usually result in the AI getting to cheat harder, or placing percentile penalties on the player. That is less interesting than being given a substandard start of your own, that you can later feel good about overcoming.

The fact it is somewhat painful is part of what makes it so tense and interesting. I wasn't joking when I said it was fun.

Hardmodes like this can always be added as separate options (like XCOM's Second Wave options). I can think of several such devious restrictions that could be placed on specific races. But I suspect it's not a good idea to make one particular faction the "hardmode" faction, and especially not Humanity, since I think a significant percentage of players automatically choose the Human faction in their first game by default. I do want Humanity's starting situation to seem rough, but I don't want Joe Random to walk into a brick wall on his first game and then ragequit.

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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby sven » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:30 pm

mharmless wrote:having some races be objectively harder to play can make for interesting stories/situations for the player. Difficulty sliders/selection usually result in the AI getting to cheat harder, or placing percentile penalties on the player. That is less interesting than being given a substandard start of your own, that you can later feel good about overcoming.


Yes -- this is a direction I'm very much planning on going in. In the initial designs for the game, my intent was to have "difficultly" be adjustable almost entirely through these sorts of starting condition variations. I'm still not sure how many of those initial design ideas are going to survive contact with reality. (As Arioch just mentioned, we've realized that because many new players are going to want to play their first few games as humans, making them the default "hardmode" faction is probably not a great plan). But, that said, I do want to try some experiments with configurable start-condition handicaps as beta progresses.

Right now, we're getting a lot of requests for a "galaxy setup" slider that controls the number of stars in the game. I'm fine with providing such a slider -- but, the kinds of sliders I'm more excited about are sliders controlling how dangerous the random encounter deck may be, or whether or not your enemies should start the game with special advantages / terrifying ancient artifacts / access to unguarded relic worlds harboring items of immense power, etc.

I mean, a galaxy with a lot of stars tends to take a long time to play through. But to my mind, it's not necessarily much more "epic" than any other game. I'll admit that this is, to a degree, a question of personal taste. But, in my mind, a game where the Gremak got their hands on some terrifying super weapon and nearly conquered the galaxy, before you somehow turned the tables and persevered -- that, I think, is a better match for my idea of *epic* :)

mharmless wrote:The fact it is somewhat painful is part of what makes it so tense and interesting. I wasn't joking when I said it was fun.


Good! Feature working as intended :)

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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby echo2361 » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:39 pm

sven wrote:For example, we're getting a lot of requests for a "galaxy setup" slider that controls the number of stars in the galaxy. I'm fine with providing such a slider -- but, the kinds of sliders I'm more excited about are sliders controlling how dangerous the random encounter deck may be, or whether or not your enemies should start the game with special advantages / terrifying ancient artifacts / access to unguared relic worlds of immense power, etc.

I mean, a galaxy with a lot of stars tends to take a long time to play through. But to my mind, it's not necessarily much more "epic" than any other game. I'll admit that this is, to a degree, a question of personal taste. But, in my mind, a game where the Gremak got their hands on some terrifying super weapon and nearly conquered the galaxy, before you somehow turned the tables and persevered -- that, I think, is a better match for my idea of a *epic* :)


On that note, one slider I enjoyed having access to in SOTS was the one that allowed me to control how many starting colonies I and my AI opponents would each start with. This would allow me to set up interesting scenarios where the AI would have a clear head start to increase the difficult. There were even specific custom scenarios where you could pick between playing an aging but large empire that is well established in the galaxy with limited technology options or a small, but technologically dynamic new race coming onto the scene. I really like being able to set up asymmetry in my 4x games sometimes, so the more sliders there are to accomplish that the better in my opinion :)

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Re: Humanity is fun.

Postby mharmless » Thu Feb 05, 2015 9:42 pm

Yes to all of this. Larger universes can make it more likely to get to top end technology and the like, but they don't automatically make things more interesting or memorable.


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