First Impression Notes

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Unbroken
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First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Tue Sep 01, 2015 3:51 am

I'm going to dump all my gameplay-related observations from my time playing the game here, so it's likely to be edited and expanded as time goes on, so here we go.

  • The basic UI elements took a couple minutes for me to get used to, mainly as there's no 'ok' or 'cancel' buttons. There were a couple times where I fumbled around trying to figure out how to get out of some screens until I remembered 'dude, use the x'. One place where this trips me up the most is in planet management; the UIs of many other games hardwire players into finding those familiar buttons and it can be a bit disruptive to not have them.

  • That planetary report panel is pretty handy. It's been helpful in seeing how things are coming along on a turn-by-turn basis.

  • Ship design's decent. I understand there's a rudimentary colour-coding system as is, although it bugged me at first before I noticed how ships actually do have slots that can only hold certain things. I think colouring each slot box on the left-hand side would make it more clear, plus adding similar little boxes to the ship overlay itself for drag-and-droppers.

  • I would very much appreciate having available research be sortable/organizable by tech group as opposed to length, and an option to hide what you've already finished. A tree would be great too; I know, it's probably been asked already and they're a pain to make, but the visual is helpful.

  • While having some data close at hand via the ingame links such as planet environment types is nice, I think collecting the majority of that info into a separate ingame encyclopedia might make more sense from an organization standpoint. When I wanted to read up on a minor race on one of my planets, having to use the teeny-tiny 'back' arrow in the UI was a bit annoying.

  • Point-blank nuke missile spam is OP. Compared to early-game laser boats, missile-spam destroyers are ridiculously strong, much like how laser cannons early on in MOO2 did squat, while nuclear missile spam (with two ammo) easily one-shotted everything when fired at PB.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:27 am

Couple more things from playing today:

  • Fighters are great, until their target dies while they are travelling towards it. Watching the fighter blob immediately turn around and return to the carrier hurts, especially when their damage would've won the battle.

  • I learned how to queue technologies, and not having my RP be lost between techs is great. It's too bad you can't queue between research fields right now.

  • I also got my first taste of breaking planets. I find it odd that after bombing a planet for three turns straight, all of its infrastructure is in one piece. Also, when my colonies get the same treatment, the infra (and even the queue) are still there when I recolonize later on.

  • I wish there was stuff to do with gas giants.

  • As the game progresses, I found that I've had massive amounts of production that I can't use for anything except ship spam. Might need to be some tinkering done here as the beta continues to smooth the curve out.

  • I haven't figured out how to make myself filthy rich yet without diverting the heaps of production previously alluded to either through the trade production item, or by making ships in order to scrap them.

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Arioch
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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Arioch » Thu Sep 03, 2015 4:28 am

Thanks for the feedback. We have a number of solutions already in the works to address most of the items you mentioned.

I'm glad that you seem to be enjoying the game despite its rough state.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Thu Sep 03, 2015 3:45 pm

Arioch wrote:Thanks for the feedback. We have a number of solutions already in the works to address most of the items you mentioned.

I'm glad that you seem to be enjoying the game despite its rough state.


I'll keep adding onto this as time goes on. It also helps to establish a sort of baseline as far as evaluating newer versions go.

The game's good, although I've wondered about which direction you and Sven want the game to go. In the current beta version, it seems a lot like variation on MOO2 with the mechanics and overall feel of play. While I understand there's a lot of things still missing/not finished, it'd suck to see the game written off as 'just another MOO clone'.

I've thought of a few ideas to help move the game away from that: one of them would be to break production down into 'resources' and 'manufacturing capacity', based off the system used in Supreme Commander (and adapted for a 4x). Players mine resources (via colonies and outposts - gives otherwise garbage planets uses), and use factories/shipyards to turn those resources into useful things like planet improvements, troops or ships. The key would be to balance your resource income/turn with your industrial output, otherwise your empire hits a bottleneck and won't run at 100% efficiency, which is much more strategically deep than simply spamming factories on the best production worlds. Another would be to allow players the ability during the game to salvage destroyed ships to obtain some money, resources (tying into the former idea), a minor tech boost, etc.

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echo2361
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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby echo2361 » Thu Sep 03, 2015 5:02 pm

I like a lot of your ideas Unbroken, but I don't think they are the direction the devs intent to take SiS. From the various interviews I've seen, SiS is meant to have relatively simple empire management with more of a focus on combat. They have said many times they are aiming to make something like MOO with elements of other games in the genre like SOTS. So to me, I think they'd be quite happy to be considered a modern MOO clone with updated graphics and their own unique twists on things. Given my experiences in the beta thus far, they are doing a good job of building that kind of a game.

The resource system you've suggested is something we've seen in other games like Distant Worlds and Star Ruler which have more of a focus on empire management. I love those type of games too, but at its heart I don't think SiS is geared towards being that kind of game. Just my two cents though.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby sven » Thu Sep 03, 2015 6:43 pm

Unbroken wrote:I've thought of a few ideas to help move the game away from that: one of them would be to break production down into 'resources' and 'manufacturing capacity', based off the system used in Supreme Commander (and adapted for a 4x). Players mine resources (via colonies and outposts - gives otherwise garbage planets uses), and use factories/shipyards to turn those resources into useful things like planet improvements, troops or ships. The key would be to balance your resource income/turn with your industrial output, otherwise your empire hits a bottleneck and won't run at 100% efficiency, which is much more strategically deep than simply spamming factories on the best production worlds.


Well, we are planning to expand the resource model to include mines/metal and farms/food. The core reason I think this is a good idea is that it does create more opportunities for specializedroles within the planets of your empire. And it also creates a bit of a galaxy-wide resource juggling game. It's not intended to be a hugely deep gameplay element, but, it is a place where we're planning to drift a bit further away from a MOO2-like economic model. And at a very high level, I think it's fair to say that the planned mines/metal resource is intended to separate the concept of "manufacturing" from "resource gathering".

See also our comments in this thread.

Unbroken wrote:Another would be to allow players the ability during the game to salvage destroyed ships to obtain some money, resources (tying into the former idea), a minor tech boost, etc.


I quite like this idea. That's worth thinking about. Thanks for the suggestion.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Fri Sep 04, 2015 1:16 am

Hmm. Okay.

Few more observations:

  • As the Haidur, I found that once I had a critical mass of ships, I was effectively invincible due to the star gate unique tech. The AI would never engage whenever I had the upper hand, which means as long as I can scare them off the first time, I can scare them off permanently. From then, it's a simple matter of making a big enough ball of missile boats and military transports to blitz the AI's worlds while its fleets dither without needing to use the defensive pointy-stick fleet.

  • Missiles are still the way to go, even if you run out of ammo in two combat rounds. Missile cruisers are dirt cheap compared to larger ships of equivalent firepower, and they can easily plink any planetary defenses down from complete safety. The only thing that seems to slow this strat down are lots of shielded enemy ships, which luckily aren't that common. Even then, if you fire enough missiles even at them, they still die.

  • Conversely, I'm finding direct-fire weapons to be pretty underwhelming damage-wise. Takes too much time and effort to burn through defenses for the cost in production & research. Even six Hellbores on a battlecruiser can't crack a well-shielded ship in one volley.

  • Kind of wish I could reorganize my opening fleet formations so my PD ships aren't stuck in the back of my fleet blob.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby echo2361 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 1:49 am

Unbroken wrote:
  • As the Haidur, I found that once I had a critical mass of ships, I was effectively invincible due to the star gate unique tech. The AI would never engage whenever I had the upper hand, which means as long as I can scare them off the first time, I can scare them off permanently. From then, it's a simple matter of making a big enough ball of missile boats and military transports to blitz the AI's worlds while its fleets dither without needing to use the defensive pointy-stick fleet.


Yeah, Sven recently said the current mechanics behind the stargates are just placeholders. I would expect them to be toned down a bit in the future when a balance pass it made.

Unbroken wrote:
  • Missiles are still the way to go, even if you run out of ammo in two combat rounds. Missile cruisers are dirt cheap compared to larger ships of equivalent firepower, and they can easily plink any planetary defenses down from complete safety. The only thing that seems to slow this strat down are lots of shielded enemy ships, which luckily aren't that common. Even then, if you fire enough missiles even at them, they still die.

  • Conversely, I'm finding direct-fire weapons to be pretty underwhelming damage-wise. Takes too much time and effort to burn through defenses for the cost in production & research. Even six Hellbores on a battlecruiser can't crack a well-shielded ship in one volley.

  • Kind of wish I could reorganize my opening fleet formations so my PD ships aren't stuck in the back of my fleet blob.


  • I'm in agreement with most of these points in general. I certainly like having missiles be powerful weapons, but at this stage it is too easy to load a bunch up, move in close, and unleash them on the enemy. PD fire might stop some of them, but enough get through to make the other direct-fire weapons feel a little underwhelming. I'm playing with balanced fleets for fun, but the stars of most battles are my missile/torpedo ships while the direct-weapon ships usually just sit in front and soak up damage. This isn't necessarily a bad thing to have as a dynamic in combat, just as long as its understood that missiles are the dominate form of ship-to-ship weapons so both human and AI players will know to focus on strong PD weapons.

    I'm also wishing I could set up fleet formations before combat for similar reasons you are, but I think I remember the devs saying somewhere that would be particularly difficult to implement.

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    Re: First Impression Notes

    Postby evil713 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 3:50 am

    Maybe an actual PD Cruiser is the answer. Something with a lot of light turret mounts.

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    Re: First Impression Notes

    Postby sven » Fri Sep 04, 2015 3:51 am

    echo2361 wrote:I'm also wishing I could set up fleet formations before combat for similar reasons you are, but I think I remember the devs saying somewhere that would be particularly difficult to implement.


    Well, a big part of the problem is that I'm not sure how to do it well. Giving the player explicit control over fleet setups would require whole new collections of rules and UIs -- and unless we're careful, the impact on overall gameplay might just be to make fleet battles more tedious and time consuming. (I can't help thinking about the "tactics" ability in Heroes of Might and Magic, which did give you the power to layout your armies as you saw fit, but, in practice mostly just ended up making battles more tedious than they needed to be.)

    There's some simpler fixes I'd like to try first -- like making sure that non-combat ships go in the back of the auto-formation, and escort designs go in the front/middle. That, by itself, would probably cut down on a lot of the frustration, and tweaking the auto-formation rules is far easier than designing and implementing a good fleet setup UI.

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    echo2361
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    Re: First Impression Notes

    Postby echo2361 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:36 am

    sven wrote:There's some simpler fixes I'd like to try first -- like making sure that non-combat ships go in the back of the auto-formation, and escort designs go in the front/middle. That, by itself, would probably cut down on a lot of the frustration, and tweaking the auto-formation rules is far easier than designing and implementing a good fleet setup UI.


    This right here would help me out a lot actually. Just went through combat where my troopships were placed in front of my battlecruiser. Since my BC takes forever to turn or get anywhere, it was pretty much kept out of combat thanks to just randomly spawning behind non-combat ships. I'd be quite happy just to see something you've suggested, with non-combat ships in the back, escorts/carriers/missile ships in the middle, and everything else up front.

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    Re: First Impression Notes

    Postby evil713 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 4:43 am

    What about random fleet posisition, they had no time to get into formation so its a giant furball of crazy. There is going to be stealth eventually in game, a supprise formation setup could be nice, maybe even throw in some shipping to go after if attacking a planet.

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    Re: First Impression Notes

    Postby echo2361 » Fri Sep 04, 2015 2:00 pm

    evil713 wrote:What about random fleet posisition, they had no time to get into formation so its a giant furball of crazy.


    There is a game that does something like this. It might have been SOTS actually. Basically, if the enemy arrives at your colony with little to no warning, either thru stealth or they managed to make an FTL jump in one turn, then the defenders ships would be all spread out across the battle map, unorganized and unprepared. Normally, if you saw the enemy approaching your ships would be grouped together in a nice formation at your colony, so this mechanic encouraged the use of surprise attacks to gain a tactical edge in the game.

    evil713 wrote:There is going to be stealth eventually in game, a supprise formation setup could be nice, maybe even throw in some shipping to go after if attacking a planet.


    Since it sounds like we're going to be getting more things for transports to haul around in the form of mined resources and food I suppose its possible we'll see commerce raiding in the game. I don't know if we would actually start seeing the transports moving around on the map as potential targets or if they'd just be in a pool that we could have a random chance to attack with ships sent on a raiding mission (like in SOTS), but either way it would be a nice feature to have.

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    Re: First Impression Notes

    Postby sven » Fri Sep 04, 2015 2:59 pm

    echo2361 wrote:Since it sounds like we're going to be getting more things for transports to haul around in the form of mined resources and food I suppose its possible we'll see commerce raiding in the game. I don't know if we would actually start seeing the transports moving around on the map as potential targets or if they'd just be in a pool that we could have a random chance to attack with ships sent on a raiding mission (like in SOTS), but either way it would be a nice feature to have.


    Commerce raiding is one of those features that 1) I'm excited about, and 2) I'm not certain will make it into the release version. But, whenever we do get to it, I think some version of a "pools" mechanic is pretty clearly the way to go. There's a lot going on on the map already, and sticking a bunch automated trade ships on top of everything else feels like it would just make a mess.

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    Re: First Impression Notes

    Postby Captainspire » Tue Sep 08, 2015 2:27 pm

    I've just started and found the basic elements to be well worth the trial and error.

    Many aesthetic elements tale time to get used to:
    windowed screens as opposed to a new window when selecting other options.

    I'm going to pull from my mental archive when I found the way a planet can be shunted into full research or money making mode like the Scientist's takeover or Endless party like from the old Ascendancy game.

    Combat:
    It took time to understand the basics but the mouse-overs helped me know what I was up against. I did notice that when I retreated from combat I lost a non combat transport and was not informed about it.

    Research: Since it's limited to 2nd tier level tech, Im ok with how it's laid out for now. I am fond of category labeled tech. Ship, Planet, Economy, Energy and so forth.

    Ship Refit:
    I haven't explored this yet but is there a way to refit Old ship 1 to New ship 1 and not have to manually refit a ship?
    May have a r-click or double click to place the appropriate tech to the appropriate slot.
    Have older tech grayed out or have newer tech on top and older tech displayed through a side or pop-up window.

    Ship designs have the right feel for the species they are designed for.

    I'll keep playing for sure :)


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