Some quick feedback

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SmaugTheDragon
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Some quick feedback

Postby SmaugTheDragon » Mon Jul 24, 2017 12:14 pm

First of all, wow the game has come a long way since I last played it, but it still does not feel exactly complete. Now to feedback:

    I have a weird issue with win10, after Alt-Tabbing from the fullscreen game all the graphics become garbled (can be fixed by changing the game to windowed and back from the settings screen)
    I think all techs would do well with some kind of flavor text/picture in addition to the description of it's effects
    It seems that AI does not take directional shields into account at all, maybe making shields distribute damage omnidirectionally would help AI
    Have you thought about making defensive techs (shields/armor) more granular similar to weapons?
    Being a pacifist at peace with everyone is too easy (and boring), how to solve that: bigger rapid expansion diplomatic modifiers, make it so that it is near impossible to be friendly with both warring sides (great diplomatic malus for refusing to join wars ala. plot of Outsider), make AI generally more opportunistic in declaring wars, make diplo point gain rate twice/trice as slow so that if you really want to stay at peace you have to bribe often and with a lot of latinum
    As you already have multiple color variants of ships for capturing purposes why not make it possible for players to choose their starting color/flag (Sword of the Stars does this really well), this could also allow for multiple opponents of same race increasing replayability, maybe something like random home system game mode? (would pay for it to be a DLC feature)
    Why is it possible to trade with AI, they never accept any trade I propose even the ludicrously lopsided ones (1 metal for 10000 credits)
    What about making a separate forum board for modding/Lua related questions, would make it easier to track the topics for would-be modders

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Arioch
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby Arioch » Mon Jul 24, 2017 11:41 pm

SmaugTheDragon wrote:Have you thought about making defensive techs (shields/armor) more granular similar to weapons?

We have essentially one shield and one armor type per tech era, which I think is probably as many as you'd want to have. One thing I think we could do is to add Mods for shields and armor.

SmaugTheDragon wrote:What about making a separate forum board for modding/Lua related questions, would make it easier to track the topics for would-be modders

Good idea. I added a Modding subforum and moved the modding posts that I know about there. If you know of other posts that you think belong there, alert me and I'll move them.

zolobolo
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby zolobolo » Tue Jul 25, 2017 7:43 am

SmaugTheDragon wrote:Why is it possible to trade with AI, they never accept any trade I propose even the ludicrously lopsided ones (1 metal for 10000 credits)


Trading with AI is overrated, get rid of it: if no one even sees the option they will not even remember other games have this it is so under-utilized

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SmaugTheDragon
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby SmaugTheDragon » Tue Jul 25, 2017 8:11 am

I mean if a feature is not implemented then it is better to hide it in the UI until it is ready. If you don't hide it people might get frustrated and perceive the game as unfinished.

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SmaugTheDragon
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby SmaugTheDragon » Wed Jul 26, 2017 12:16 pm

Some more feedback:

    Battle AI needs to focus fire and concentrate fire on more dangerous hostiles first, right now they can be bogged down with a mass of scout ships that have near zero offensive capacity but can withstand spinning around and absorbing shots into shields for multiple turns while the rest of your fleet shoots behind that expendable fire screen.

    Human marines are right now very niche, only place you can put them to increase the marine strength is the Boarding cruiser but that is somewhat late-game due to high metal cost. Maybe humans could get a cross between a transport and a destroyer/light-cruiser that could be equipped earlier with marines?

    Overall the way the industry/research picks up is crazy exponential, with a long part of the game being slow and quiet where no-one has resources for any kind of ship production and techs come very slow and then a crazy industrial revolution like explosion where you get a tech every 2-3 turns and overtake every other faction that is behind that curve

Uncle_Joe
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby Uncle_Joe » Wed Jul 26, 2017 2:47 pm

Yeah, the advantage for expansion is completely linear…if you have 56 planets, you have twice the industry/tech/income as an empire that has 28 planets and eventually that just becomes insurmountable. I think there needs to be some sort of ‘drag’ which keeps empires from completely running away with the game from the mid-game on (and making everything afterwards just mop-up).

I’m not a huge believer that there always has to be a ‘tall vs wide’ option for 4x games, but I think there should be some diminishing returns rather than current reverse situation (which is accelerating advantage). Right now, a large empire who takes a new planet (conquer or colonize) can easily have the money to rush-buy the planet completely online. And if a counter-attack takes place, they have the money to rush-buy defenses as well. A smaller empire in the same situation will have a much harder time getting a new planet online so each conquest by the larger empire just accelerates their advantage. This feeds on itself and eventually it’s just going through the motions to get the required votes.

Again, I don’t think you should be penalized for success, but the rewards for getting out a bit ahead shouldn’t be an almost auto-win at that point with hours of gameplay ahead that really isn’t competitive. My gut instinct is that someone with 56 planets vs someone with 28 should have an advantage more like 36 or 42 vs 28 (ie, if after a certain point, you aren’t getting maximum returns).

That inefficiency could take a few forms and while I understand that most of them are considered ‘not fun’, it’s also ‘not fun’ to have actually won the game hours before it’s over. It’s kind of a pick-your-poison situation and I think some sort of scaling ‘administration’ cost for the mid-late game wouldn’t be bad thing and could help keep the game interesting even once one empire starts to pull ahead in planet count.

zolobolo
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby zolobolo » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:04 pm

SmaugTheDragon wrote:[list]Battle AI needs to focus fire and concentrate fire on more dangerous hostiles first, right now they can be bogged down with a mass of scout ships that have near zero offensive capacity but can withstand spinning around and absorbing shots into shields for multiple turns while the rest of your fleet shoots behind that expendable fire screen

A simple solution would be to have the shield only reduced to one value and not bother with the side, so the "spinning" decoy does not work

Otherwise the AI could focus its heavy weapon missile and torpedo fire on high value targets, ignoring scouts and transports if they stumble ahead that would probably make a lot of sense if not done already

zolobolo
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby zolobolo » Wed Jul 26, 2017 3:11 pm

Uncle_Joe wrote:Yeah, the advantage for expansion is completely linear…if you have 56 planets, you have twice the industry/tech/income as an empire that has 28 planets and eventually that just becomes insurmountable. I think there needs to be some sort of ‘drag’ which keeps empires from completely running away with the game from the mid-game on (and making everything afterwards just mop-up).

I have found so far that there is one resource that does not accumulate in line with planet count and that is food.
Reason being: from mid-game on it is very important to build mines for the metal needs of capital ships and stations and laboratories to keep up tech-wise. As the population grows, food becomes more and more scarce.

So this resource can serve as a natural limitation to wide empires as they need to focus on metal production in order to defend their long borders
To drive this point home, all that needs to be done is have the AI gang up against the widest empires in almost all cases and only not do so if they invest heavily in being friends. Meaning: The bordering factions of a wide empire need to join forces into an alliance and if any of them is attacked, they all invade.

The logic to do this should be fairly simple:
1. Create a ranking of empires according to how wide they are (amount of planets and stars should be key here)
2. Those empires that share systems/border with higher ranked empire, have a chance of closing into an alliance if:
A: They are not in war
B: Their relationship towards each other is above +15
C: If they are not already allies of wide empire

Additionally of course: food consumption can be decreased or planet fertility reduced to drive this even more home

Also note: above method would work well due to the fact that it is very difficult to wage war on multiple fronts. This is due to the metal usage and planetary improvement system: for a wide empire to be successful, it generally needs to have production heavy planets which means that traveling time of newly created ships increases with the size of the empire and the length of the front-lines. The more front-lines the harder it gets to supply the balanced fleets required.

Uncle_Joe
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby Uncle_Joe » Wed Jul 26, 2017 4:44 pm

But Food cuts across all empires, not just large ones. The same rough percentage of slots allocated to food will be the same whether you have 28 planets or 56 planets. And in fact, the more planets you have, the more likely you are to have specialized food planets (high fertility and/or supergrain).

The 'ganging up' is something that also tends to ruffle feathers of gamers ("why should my life-long pacifist Ally suddenly turn on me?!?"). It's the age old debate between whether AIs should always play to win regardless of 'roleplaying' circumstances or if they should behave as 'nations' and follow their traits and personalities regardless of their chance their win.

There is never an 'easy' solution to a runaway leader issue. Usually one of the less intrusive one is some sort of increased upkeep, administration cost, or diminishing returns on things like income/research. Again, most aren't popular, but the result is usually better than runaway leader.

zolobolo
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby zolobolo » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:39 pm

Uncle_Joe wrote:But Food cuts across all empires, not just large ones. The same rough percentage of slots allocated to food will be the same whether you have 28 planets or 56 planets. And in fact, the more planets you have, the more likely you are to have specialized food planets (high fertility and/or supergrain).

Yes that would be my first assumption as well but somehow I always ended up with food shortage while "winning" the game. So I was thinking why that was and think it might be due to the following:

1. During colonization phase, I avoid low-quality planets for the sake of grabbing the valuable real-estate with at least medium fertility, medium material, some specific bonus or strategic location. Now logically this means, that food production will be much more efficient during early phase, then later meaning: I will need to build more farms to keep the same level of production proportional to my growing population
2. I will not do the later though as I will be busy gearing up for war meaning: Building laboratories, factories and markets is much more important in mid-game, so production can be ranked up
3. When war finally hits, its production time, and if you are doing well in research you will be cranking out ships in all sizes with production planets of two shipyards meaning: late-mid game is all about mines. I will build mines everywhere unless the mineral yield is low. No place for farms unless the planet has high fertility where I have already built farms in the early game so no more food resource to exploit there either :)
4. Lastly (if the player is not beaten), you will grab enemy planets. Now this should give some food boost right, well not necessarily:
- Enemy planets will be converted over to mineral production due to point 3 if at all possible
- Markets are on second priority if you do not have slavery and wish to avoid rebellions
- Planetary defenses are another priority as well as shipyards to support the moving front delaying construction time
- I will also not build too many farm intentionally on newly conquered planets, else if you are dependent on them and they are taken back, your pop will begin to starve
5. To add insult to injury: the planets taken at this point will have a much lover efficiency as your core planets, as the AI will colonize poor yield planets that the player then needs to conquer for purely strategic reasons, and will inherit rebellious population on top of this that need markets to fill their mouths and not use it to shout at my troops :)

All of the above means, that a fresh, new enthusiastic empire has much more food then an wide spread one in my opinion. Maybe it takes a lot of time (I do tend to play way beyond turn 200) and you need to max out population on your core planets to get to this point but seems logical to me.

If this is an intentional mechanic I can only applaud the DEVs. This is one non-intrusive-you-can-hardly-notice-is-there system that punishes building wide just perfectly, and sure you can go around this by bombing for example all the enemy pop out of their low-yield planets, and not colonizing those and similar workarounds, but I suggest we all enjoy the beauty of it + it reminds me of ancient Roman expansionism and why they needed to go int o Egypt and I do enjoy historical references :)

Uncle_Joe wrote:The 'ganging up' is something that also tends to ruffle feathers of gamers ("why should my life-long pacifist Ally suddenly turn on me?!?"). It's the age old debate between whether AIs should always play to win regardless of 'roleplaying' circumstances or if they should behave as 'nations' and follow their traits and personalities regardless of their chance their win.

Fair enough, lets add another criteria:
- If AI is pacifist, it needs to have a relationship lower then 40 to join another Alliance instead of offering it to the Wide empire

As I think a pacifist empire should also play to win, and being pacifist is just a modifier to its generic behaviour. In this: preferring peace, but not at all costs. It is just more easy to stay in peace with them

Uncle_Joe wrote:There is never an 'easy' solution to a runaway leader issue. Usually one of the less intrusive one is some sort of increased upkeep, administration cost, or diminishing returns on things like income/research. Again, most aren't popular, but the result is usually better than runaway leader.

I assume you mean the "large empire" relationship penalty like in RTW Attila under runaway leader. I can be counted towards those who do not like artificial (meaning: non-organically stemming from game mechanics) dampers to wide empires. this includes Stellaris ranking up research costs, ES2 penalizing over-colonization directly but also Attila for giving a flat-out negative relationship though I find the later to be less intrusive.

Hence my suggestions:
1. Lets have the damper spam organically from existing game-mechanics (food prod). Not even noticeable at first and can be addressed by reducing metal prod, general moral and production. If this is not an intended mechanic it needs to be one :)
2. From a certain point on lets acknowledge that an empire has become so big that it cannot fail and can snowball everyone and lets make the game interesting for both the Wide-empire as well as for the small ones (if the player happens to be one of those). This should be done in diplomacy, as it is the logical place to band together the survivors and is a logical move from them. If humans would play against us they would usually take the same approach. It should still be possible to make allies as a wide empire but needs dedication from the start by investing in relationships and helping out your neighbors with resources and even when they ask you to go to war against their enemies

Here is an example to demonstrate the food mechanic from my current game as Gremak:
Map Size: 170 Stars
Turn: 308
Population: 583M
Stars: 52
Planets: 87
Income: +906 (with a trading fleet of 808 capacity, from which 200 is used for transporting food!)
Metal: 0 (+228) - this is a bug- it is actually negative :)
Food: +37

Political status: Waging war on both sides of the empire (hence the depleted metal). Barely won on one side, and on the other it has been a tick-tack toe with planets. The most powerful empire is my ally on the south - though I did not have to invest heavy in our relationship.

Point: I cannot steamroll the second empire on my left as I am busy on the right hand side and do not have the spare resources even though I control 30% of the galaxy (my ally controls around the same)

Uncle_Joe
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby Uncle_Joe » Wed Jul 26, 2017 7:37 pm

Agreed that there are never enough ships to go around, even for a large empire. But unless you get that 'gang up' factor, you can still carve up the smaller empires piecemeal. I agree that the other empires should band together against a common threat but again, if you’ve spent a good chunk of the game allied with another race and provided them with food, metal, cash when asked etc, and then suddenly they turn on you, then I guarantee a lot of players will cry foul. Maybe it should just be easier for them to vote for you and then end the game with a win? I can see it either way.

And I’m still not seeing Food as being a larger drag on larger empire than smaller one. I get what you say about the ramp-up phases but at the end of the day, Food cost scales linearly with population and population = power. If I have more pop, sure I have to produce more food, but I also have more power. If you want to increase your power, you’ll need more food too.

Many games have a morale/happiness effect that deteriorates as your empire grows. To me, that makes natural sense as well and has happened to every empire in history….you eventually collapse under your own weight as people’s diverging interests fragment the nation/empire. Using that, it could be possible to add a mechanic to spend a portion of your income to offset a morale penalty and that penalty could grow as you acquire a certain percentage of the map (ie, if you control <10%, you might get a bonus to morale for ‘we need to stick together’ and as you pass 15% and 20% and so on there could be a scaling morale hit which would require an increasing expenditure of money to offset (or result in loss of productivity to workers on strike…either works fine). Monetary loss would require additional Markets and Traders to offset, blunting some of the war-making capability from larger, more ‘stagnant’ empires.

To me, that makes a lot of sense for how empires rise and fall. You have to expend more effort to keep a people united as your empire grows and diversifies. Smaller empires are easier to keep united in a common cause. And since empire size would be percentage based, it would scale with any map size.

As for my conquests, I don’t bother invading worlds very often anymore. The AI loves to mass up ground forces and it’s just usually not worth the bother. It’s easier to glass it and recolonize.  I think something interesting there might be to have that approach potentially permanently damage the planet (loss of a slot, wreck the atmosphere, whatever). That way players would be more inclined to invade which in turn can slow down the pace of conquest and the snowballing effects.

In any case, I still think the game is extremely fun, but the mid-late game drags a bit more than it should (whether I’m winning and just marking time or losing and eventually just dropping the game because it’s hopeless).

And out of curiosity, Have you basically completed the tech tree in your game (or are you playing on Epic/Marathon)?

zolobolo
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby zolobolo » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:11 pm

Uncle_Joe wrote:if you’ve spent a good chunk of the game allied with another race and provided them with food, metal, cash when asked etc, and then suddenly they turn on you, then I guarantee a lot of players will cry foul

This should not happen: allies of the player should not turn against the player due to the rules listed, and if they are not allies yet but have a relationship of above X, then they should also not join the alliance. Its a matter of fine-tuning: everything is sensible from a level on, and you could even use a random number in the equation if the relationship is bouncing in "grayish" area e.g.: between -15 and +15

Uncle_Joe wrote:And I’m still not seeing Food as being a larger drag on larger empire than smaller one. I get what you say about the ramp-up phases but at the end of the day, Food cost scales linearly with population and population = power. If I have more pop, sure I have to produce more food, but I also have more power. If you want to increase your power, you’ll need more food too.

The point is that you cannot produce food only with your pop, as a lot of planets give out less food then what your pop is consuming.
Colonizing such planets puts you into a negative unless you invest in farming and use precious improvement slots for this purpose=same result as if you invest to combat an artificial moral negative but this does not feel so forced as everyone can sympathise with the desire to eat ;)

Uncle_Joe wrote:Many games have a morale/happiness effect that deteriorates as your empire grows. To me, that makes natural sense as well and has happened to every empire in history….you eventually collapse under your own weight as people’s diverging interests fragment the nation/empire

This is something I do not agree with and hence feel it is forced in games. People do not get upset because there are many people living in the same country/empire/kingdom why would they? Most people don't even know that number, nor do they care about the geographical extent of the political region they are registered in, otherwise the Egyptian, Roman, Persian and Chinese empires would not have lasted a millennia.

Yes, people don't like others that are different from them (tribalism) but they do not know nor care about the absolute number or the percentage of their pop to that of the planet :) It feels forced to me as it gets the causality wrong: the more people equal more possible area of conflicts but these are there even if these people do not belong to the same regional-political entity.

What does cause palpable bad morale is when food runs out: see French Revolution, Russian revolutions, bread riots, and the history of Rome (the city not the whole empire :))

Uncle_Joe wrote:As for my conquests, I don’t bother invading worlds very often anymore. The AI loves to mass up ground forces and it’s just usually not worth the bother. It’s easier to glass it and recolonize.  I think something interesting there might be to have that approach potentially permanently damage the planet (loss of a slot, wreck the atmosphere, whatever). That way players would be more inclined to invade which in turn can slow down the pace of conquest and the snowballing effects.

This explains why you haven't run into the food shortage issue. For me this tactic too micro-heavy (colonization afterwards)

Permanent damage to the planets sounds logical and maybe a larger penalty for bombing civilians to nill could also apply (there is already something like this)

Uncle_Joe wrote:In any case, I still think the game is extremely fun, but the mid-late game drags a bit more than it should (whether I’m winning and just marking time or losing and eventually just dropping the game because it’s hopeless).

Try not to bomb the living saint out of the enemy and rather integrate them into your empire. You will get a bunch of neat and colorful races to play around with which are always good for a bit of min-maxing of selected planets ;)

Uncle_Joe wrote:And out of curiosity, Have you basically completed the tech tree in your game (or are you playing on Epic/Marathon)?

Nope. In the above mentioned game I am still mopping up the late-game tech before I get to the game-enders. e.g: Mobile planetoid and Primary Artillery are missing but from non-last-tier weapons, only Hellbores is missing. The only game-enderish tech I currently have is Super-dreads, but have only produced a single one of them at this point due to metal shortage

Played on Epic game-speed and also note that the latest patch has increased the research cost of game-enders

wminsing
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby wminsing » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:24 pm

Ugh I had a long reply the forum just ate. A new and shorter version:

Runaway Leader: Some of this I always feel is just that the game-end conditions need to match up better with the point where the player has become the steamroller. Give the player some time to enjoy his crushing power and then award the win; don't belabor the point. However, I agree that some sort of end game crisis mechanism might make sense to help keep the latter part of the game interesting. Extragalactic invaders, some terrible ancient space god waking up, the AI revolts, etc, etc could add a lot. Ideological drift leading to civil war is another possibility. 'Empire Drag' is a possible but unexciting solution as well.

Tall vs. Wide: For space games Wide seems like were it's at, spreading across the galaxy like a contagious disease is part of the zeitgeist. But providing the player with development options beyond 'crank out more colony ships' might be nice.

Also YES to shield/armor mods, particularly if different damage types for weapons is expanded upon. This would greatly increase the depth of the ship construction system.

Another thing that might be useful is providing more reasons and chances for limited early wars. The minor NPC enemies are good for this but right now it's perfect peace or TOTAL WAR and no period of early skirmishing, border incidents or the like.

-Will

zolobolo
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby zolobolo » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:33 pm

wminsing wrote:Another thing that might be useful is providing more reasons and chances for limited early wars. The minor NPC enemies are good for this but right now it's perfect peace or TOTAL WAR and no period of early skirmishing, border incidents or the like.

Interesting idea akin to that of EL and ES2: the cold war system. It would probably need quite a lot of changes to AI though as it would need to consider if the offending action is worth the relationship penalty since if it blindly attacks the player at every corner while in cold war that does not elevate the experience

End-game crisis: Yes. There is currently no potential great antagonist that I could see, but this feature has been mentioned on a DEV wish-list somewhere. Personally I didn't have much experience with this mechanic yet as I haven't played Distant Worlds and always got bored in Stellaris before I got to any of that there :(

Uncle_Joe
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Re: Some quick feedback

Postby Uncle_Joe » Wed Jul 26, 2017 8:59 pm

I'm personally not a big fan of 'end game crisis' or other big baddies that become the enemy. I feel like the other empires should provide the challenge and if the game has reached the point where that is not the case, the the player should win and be done with it.

But I firmly believe that getting to that point (whether it be player or AI) should be a more difficult road and not made more difficult simply by cranking up AI bonuses, but organically though the game mechanics which should provide some pushback/drag on runaway leaders.
Last edited by Uncle_Joe on Wed Jul 26, 2017 9:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.


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