First Impression Notes

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Unbroken
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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Wed Nov 25, 2015 2:37 am

Resurrecting this thread for the new patch. I took a look at the new resource system as the Phidi, the only race I didn't get to earlier on. Here we go!

---

  • Even within the first few turns, I had to rethink exactly what I needed in order to get myself going. Slamming down factories mindlessly is a recipe for disaster early on, as you'll bottleneck quickly due to Metal shortages. This was really apparent as the Phidi, who start with a mineral-poor homeworld. I knew right away I needed to go use my starting colony ship to grab a world with good metal output or I'd be dead in the water fast.

  • The overhaul where population factors into building output is a welcome change from the old system. I don't know if the ratios of four pop per factory and three per lab is where it should be as of yet, but it's head-and-shoulders above how the game used to function. I'm curious as to why mines, farms and markets don't use this system currently (balance?), and I'm also curious whether one point of population can count "twice" for factories and labs - if so, 12-pop is going to be a number I'd want on my worlds to reap the most from my facilities.

  • I don't have solid proof yet, but I think when you queue a metal-heavy ship and run out of metal before it is done, you still get the ship anyways. However, the rest of the planet's production queue is wiped out in the process, which is annoying. I'm sure Sven has plans to put a resource-shortage pause feature in there at some point though.

  • Similarly, you can't queue a ship unless you have the cost in metal on hand - another annoyance when you're making tons of metal/turn, but just spent it on something.

  • I think my food stores are magically teleported to all my worlds to ensure an even balance. That being said, I've been more motivated than previously to shuttle population to get my new worlds rolling sooner.

  • I just noticed for the first time that the interior textures (the blue bits) of Phidi ships are actually animated. Cool.

  • Scrapping stuff currently doesn't yield metal. It really, really should - scrapping the starting space station when you put a starbase up might help mineral-poor starts like the Phidi have get over an early bottleneck should they not have any suitable mining worlds in range.

  • Also noticed that once a ship is completed, it's metal expenditure is still shown on the Metal tooltip in the main screen.

  • Phidi Tradeships are pretty awesome, given that they're simply better transports (for only ~80 extra production) and yield lots of cash when they're not doing anything else. I've been finding myself buying new structures everywhere with my strong income to give my empire the boost it needs during the early stages of the game. This is particularly noticeable when buying mines, farms or that first factory - you really get your money's worth when buying a new colony's first structure.

  • However, Phidi destroyers are downright bad, and their frigate hull (the scout) is also lousy too. I know they're supposed to be peaceful and everything, but man - I'd be tempted to take Orthin hulls over these.

  • Was the AI loosened from the grip of strategic range? I keep seeing AI scouts flying across the entirety of my territory without a care in the world, over and over. I've not even gotten my first range upgrade yet, and they're taking tours of the whole galaxy.


    ---

    EDIT: Game memory error'd out on me, but I got it running again, so here's some more:

  • Starvation hurts. I tied all my transports up shuttling captured Orthin around, and I learned food doesn't teleport about. I lost 5 population due to a 2 food shortfall. Drives home the point of 'have enough transports at all times'!

  • Heavy Railguns are awesome. I think I mentioned that previously, but it needs repeating. The Orthin can lob missiles at me until I die of old age - watching the 4x planetary batteries retaliate with an insta-kill one of their heavy cruisers is a beautiful thing. It's to the point where they are probably somewhat OP, as it doesn't take a lot of research to obtain them and they are simply fantastic compared to other direct-fire weapons.

  • I'll be honest: I haven't put much actual research investment into Bionomics yet. I haven't really felt the need to as the Phidi, as in this game I've needed better metal production (Industrial Automation) and better ships a lot more than more food/pop growth/pop cap. Having the better colonization abilities would've been more helpful early on, otherwise the RP investment feels a bit too steep when all I've got militarily is cruiser spam to defend myself with. Later on, I am up to my ears in metal/food/production, most notably after I captured a bunch of Orthin planets (who spread themselves hideously thin colonizing something like ten worlds without the oomph to defend it all).

  • The Phidi have no big nasty capital ship hull. This makes me sad. :(

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Gyrfalcon
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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Gyrfalcon » Wed Nov 25, 2015 8:10 pm

Unbroken wrote:
  • Similarly, you can't queue a ship unless you have the cost in metal on hand - another annoyance when you're making tons of metal/turn, but just spent it on something.
You can, however, use Stockpile to save up production until the metal is ready.
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sven
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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby sven » Wed Nov 25, 2015 11:02 pm

Unbroken wrote:The overhaul where population factors into building output is a welcome change from the old system. I don't know if the ratios of four pop per factory and three per lab is where it should be as of yet, but it's head-and-shoulders above how the game used to function. I'm curious as to why mines, farms and markets don't use this system currently (balance?)...


Mines, farms, and markets all do use the system. In the case of mines and farms, the required pop is only 1 per, so, you won't notice it, unless you're on a very low pop world. Markets actually benifit from as many as 4 pop each -- so they do best on high pop worlds.

It's partly a balance thing, and partly a world building thing. Farms and mines *are* generally less labor intensive than other kinds of industry, and that means it makes sense that your big farming/mining worlds can produce at optimal efficiency, even while being relatively sparsely populated. But you'll benefit a lot more from high populations on your main economic, industrial, or scientific hubs.

Unbroken wrote:I'm also curious whether one point of population can count "twice" for factories and labs - if so, 12-pop is going to be a number I'd want on my worlds to reap the most from my facilities.


It can. So, 12-pop is a good number, assuming 3 factories and 4 labs. In fact, I use exactly this example in the documentation page on "staffing", if you can find the hyperlink that gets you there.

The double-counting pop rule doesn't make a whole lot of sense -- but, after some consideration, I've decided that I prefer it to the alternative -- which is to create some arbitrary rule for just how the available workers are split of up between the various possible staffing needs.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:04 am

Nercoing this old thread since I updated SiS and looked to give it another whirl now that diplomacy is in and things are moving closer towards the Steam EA.

---

- The first thing I noticed after I patched up and ran the game via the launcher is that it loaded the 32-bit EXE. Since I'm on a 64bit OS, it'd be nice to have an option (pop-up, checkbox, however) when you click Play to select which version of the .exe the game runs with.

- And then there's the new music. Good touch - 'Under the Dome' had begun to wear on me back last November, so the new tunes are appreciated.

- Noticed that the Phidi and Haduir are locked out. I was able to select the Haduir when I loaded up, possibly because I played as them last time.

---

Given that the new mechanics likely make the game play quite differently from what I was used to, I opted to re-run the Yoral this time. I uploaded the logs as game_1268.

- My start wasn't that great. Most of the worlds around me were dinky or mineral/food poor. Had a bunch of pirates guarding an obvious expansion route, so that turned into the big short-term goal for me: kill the pirates.

- Sure enough, what do I find after dropping an outpost at the edge of my range? Gaia. And the Orthin know about it, so the race is on. My bad colony (medium Arid, poor/poor) is going to get turned into a research farm, given that it is terrible at almost anything else (except a production or money farm). At least I got Deflectors from an abandoned thingy there, so that gives me a big early-game combat edge.

- Took Gaia, one turn before the Orthin. Whew. Heard the bird noises and so on when on the planet screen - nice little touch. Wonder if the arid world I've got gives me nothing but annoying wind loops.

- Got to meet the Orthin, set up an embassy since it seemed to be a good idea. I know diplomacy is still a WIP - it'd be nice to get rollover tooltips on some items, such as what each agreement means or a blurb about the first contact bonus. I'm a little surprised they weren't peeved about being beaten to Gaia.

- On the main map, could we get a visual indicator of which coloured system name contains only an outpost? Just a little thing. I'd also definitely appreciate a different tooltip telling me what tech I need in order to colonize various planets on the system ribbon view thing (when I am unable to).

- After I cleared one pack of pirates, the Orthin tried to sneak a colony ship in before I could. I intercepted and blew it to bits. The Orthin are still just as friendly as they were before I killed a million of their citizens. I feel like there should be a diplomatic event that can occur, where you try to negotiate with the AI, either letting it land, trying to persuade it (via gifts) to leave, or risking open war by doing what I just did.

- Clobbering the pirates paved the way to a lot of expansion routes for me. One derelict colony netted me 3 factories on a mineral poor world. Instantly designated it my production farm - very handy to get a boost like that!

- The rest of the early game/beginning of the mid-game was pretty quiet. Got the Marauders to give me 10 gold/turn, which was nice.

- I can buy slaves now? Very interesting. Bought a Gremak slave pop to fill all those nasty, wet areas of Gaia. Once they do so, I can export them elsewhere for moar popcap. Soon as they arrived, I liberated them because I'm such a nice guy. The morale bonus didn't seem to last long though.

- while refitting and building my fleet up (built around the almighty railgun - still amazed the weapon is still this good), battle music was playing on the main map. I think the game knew what was up. Yoral Heavy Destroyers packing LR/AC Railguns (needs Fusion or no shield) are deliciously vicious: small, cheap enough to spam and yet they pack a very serious wallop against ships or planets.

- Money never seemed to be a big problem so far. Transports are still a little too good in some respects; perhaps fleshing out trade mechanics is in order? One way would be to have a trade 'cap', adding more transports vs cap does nothing, cap increases when meeting new races and signing trade deals. It goes down when you declare war due to not having access to those markets any more.

- By Stardate 1283, I was rolling in +181 research/turn, letting me burn through the tech tree. I feel like I'm going too fast, almost...

- At some point in the past, the Orthin DoW'd the Gremak and began dismantling them. I wanted to help the Gremak indirectly, yet I could not. Will there be features later on that will let me send gifts, subsidies and other assistance so I can engage in a pseudo-proxy war? Right now, the AI won't even accept free money!

- Here's a good question: why are troopships cheaper than individual troop regiments? My troopships seemed to come with a free regiment...

- I attacked the Orthin because I knew I could break them in two with my vastly superior industrial capacity. Their ships still seemed to be using nuclear missiles, which were laughably weak. To top it off, they were attacking my long-obsolete advanced destroyers. Thanks guys! Battles seem slower though - is there a way to turn the animations off anyhow? I was hoping to get the animations more like in MOO2, where they're faster.

- The AI seemed to build a good production base, and then failed to follow up on that with decent orbital facilities. Their fleets seem awfully under-strength, though that may be because they are already at war.

- I went on a genocidal bombing spree, killing Orthin everywhere. I found the Phidi, and warred them as soon as I was in position. They had built a gigantic fleet of PD-laser toting destroyers - 24 of them, plus 4 cruisers. They fought my very obsolete fleet packing mostly regular coilguns, heavy coilguns and paper-thin armor. The Phidi ended up losing everything and failed to even take a single ship of mine with them. I wish it were easier to tell big fleets apart from single ships on the main map.

- DoW'd the Haduir after the Orthin bit it. They too have badly-armed ships. Seems to be a running theme - maybe the AI isn't bothering to retrofit its existing navy. Apparently, I wasn't doing a good job either, having been spamming destroyers armed with heavy coilguns instead of railguns. Whoops!

- Saw my first coral world. Cool.

- On Stardate 1391, the last remnants of the Haduir were extinguished with nuclear flame. The galaxy was a happy, blue place, free of any ugly other colours inhabiting it with the exception of the slavers, who aren't terribly relevant in the grand scheme of things anyways.

The game overall feels a bit different from earlier builds, although since I had an idea of what to do, there weren't a whole lot of moments where I was fumbling around trying to decide the best course of action. I figure I did so well since with diplomacy, meeting an AI wasn't an automatic war declaration anymore. The AIs seemed content to bash each other rather than attack me. That being said, I did try to 'puff my chest out' and seem stronger than I really was.

None of the AIs militarized to the degree that I did, and I seemed to leave them in the dust fairly quickly. If there was a statistics debriefing screen once you win, it'd be easier to quantify how far ahead of them I was and with histograms a la Age of Empires II, see when I began to snowball out of control. I only felt really vulnerable early on, as once I obtained railguns, it was a matter of time before the galaxy was going to be mine thanks to the amazingly effective Yoral Heavy Destroyer chassis. The torpedo setups for the Yoral were pretty underwhelming, especially since the AI is smart about carrying sufficient PD to shoot torpedoes down. I think missiles need help in the later stages of the game since they can be countered so easily with AC-modded PD - they need more mods like in MOO2 that will keep them relevant as time progresses.

All-in-all, this game took a little over three hours to play. Not bad at all.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby nweismuller » Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:12 am

sven wrote:The double-counting pop rule doesn't make a whole lot of sense -- but, after some consideration, I've decided that I prefer it to the alternative -- which is to create some arbitrary rule for just how the available workers are split of up between the various possible staffing needs.


On the contrary- I think it's reasonably easy to figure that the improvements represent large strategic sectors in the economy amidst a background of smaller ventures in a more diversified economy than we see, which is why even on a world without relevant improvements there's still research or (on high-fertility worlds) agriculture going on. Taking this interpretation, improvements don't use the whole of the population that 'staffs' them, but it takes a larger economy with wider support networks to supply truly massive industrial, commercial, or scientific developments. 'Double-staffing' just means that some of the support population in the background has been recruited into a new large strategic venture.

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Arioch
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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Arioch » Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:15 am

Thanks for the feedback.

Unbroken wrote:- Here's a good question: why are troopships cheaper than individual troop regiments? My troopships seemed to come with a free regiment...

It's probably because we recently increased the cost of ground units and neglected to increase the cost of troopships as well. Troopships are a legacy of the old ground combat system; I don't think there's any need for them anymore, as they're just a transport with a ground unit.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Mon Sep 05, 2016 3:26 am

Arioch wrote:Thanks for the feedback.

Unbroken wrote:- Here's a good question: why are troopships cheaper than individual troop regiments? My troopships seemed to come with a free regiment...

It's probably because we recently increased the cost of ground units and neglected to increase the cost of troopships as well. Troopships are a legacy of the old ground combat system; I don't think there's any need for them anymore, as they're just a transport with a ground unit.


That makes sense. It was a no-brainer to produce troopships instead of straight regiments, not that I needed the ground troops on defense at any point during the game.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby sven » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:58 am

Unbroken wrote:- Got to meet the Orthin, set up an embassy since it seemed to be a good idea. I know diplomacy is still a WIP - it'd be nice to get rollover tooltips on some items, such as what each agreement means or a blurb about the first contact bonus. I'm a little surprised they weren't peeved about being beaten to Gaia.


They really should be peeved. A "we wanted that planet!" is high on my list of issues to add to the diplomacy system. Shouldn't be too complex, so expect to see this one soonish.

Unbroken wrote:- On the main map, could we get a visual indicator of which coloured system name contains only an outpost? Just a little thing. I'd also definitely appreciate a different tooltip telling me what tech I need in order to colonize various planets on the system ribbon view thing (when I am unable to).


Good suggestion; and not that hard to implement.

Unbroken wrote:- After I cleared one pack of pirates, the Orthin tried to sneak a colony ship in before I could. I intercepted and blew it to bits. The Orthin are still just as friendly as they were before I killed a million of their citizens. I feel like there should be a diplomatic event that can occur, where you try to negotiate with the AI, either letting it land, trying to persuade it (via gifts) to leave, or risking open war by doing what I just did.


Yes. There's a lot of little places in the game where we have the potential to include a few more lines of dialog and/or diplo hooks. Intercepting a colony ship is one; intervening in someone else's battle is another, and last-ditch pre-war negotiations are yet a third.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby SirDamnALot » Tue Sep 06, 2016 6:24 am

sven wrote:They really should be peeved. A "we wanted that planet!" is high on my list of issues to add to the diplomacy system. Shouldn't be too complex, so expect to see this one soonish.


And Please give the player the option too! I clear a system of pirates and suddenly from all directions colony ships are rushing in.
(Ai deemed nothing else settable and had a stockpile of colony ships floating around)
I did the work, I want to tell the AI to "fuck off" :mrgreen:

Generally in 4X games I find it unfair if the AI can complain about all kind of things, but we are limited to a few options.
The "goodwill" currency would be great for giving and taking favors.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby SilasOfBorg » Tue Sep 06, 2016 12:46 pm

Unbroken wrote:I wish it were easier to tell big fleets apart from single ships on the main map.


YES please.

I would really like to see this. Maybe something like this, make it a little bit logarithmic:

normal icon: 1-4 ships
normal icon with soft white "+" sign in the upper right: 5-20 ships
normal icon with two soft white "+" signs in the upper right: more than 20 ships

Even some recent AAA titles don't have this feature. If I see a hostile fleet, I *have* to click on it, I don't know if its just a few ships or a gigantic armada. It bugs me, especially once I have better scanners and can see a lot of fleets.

Edit: I want this for my fleets too! This way it is easy to tell where my big fleets are. I am very forgetful and sometimes leave them sitting around conquered backwaters. :)

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Tue Sep 06, 2016 7:20 pm

SirDamnALot wrote:I clear a system of pirates and suddenly from all directions colony ships are rushing in.
(Ai deemed nothing else settable and had a stockpile of colony ships floating around)
I did the work, I want to tell the AI to "fuck off" :mrgreen:


This was something I didn't remember to note - the AI puts cranking out tons of colony ships as its #1 priority. I think that might've been partially why their navies were kind of gimpy: they were too busy trying to settle every last nook and cranny instead of building a fleet capable of at least stalling an attack from a neighbour. They kept building new colony ships even while at war(!) and when I put the final nail in the Haduir's coffin, they had three (!!) colony ships sitting around doing nothing.

On one hand, while it's nice to have the AI expand appropriately, it may need a little fine-tuning to make it less of a mindless rush and more of a "this span of space around my home system is mine, I will settle all of it first".

A way to slow the land grabbing down a bit and add some decision-making would be to have colony ships embark (ie. remove) 1 unit of population from the planet where they are built, much like how settlers work in the Civilization games (or colony pods, for us SMAC people). Land rushing is still a valid strategy, yet much less of an optimal one since losing a colony early to pirates, Marauder raids or other events/reasons can slow you down a lot, versus being a minor inconvenience.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Unbroken » Sat Sep 17, 2016 8:55 pm

I played about half to two-thirds of a game about a week ago, again as the Yoral except on hard difficulty. I wanted to see if the AI would do better, especially since in older versions of the game, the AI had insane bonuses across the board on hard, to the point where I wasn't even sure if it was possible to win on that difficulty.

It turned out to be a lot like the previous game, except I had a far better start. I sat back and built up while the Phidi went on a murderous rampage across the galaxy, bringing the Gremak down and pushing the Haduir back pretty significantly. The Phidi still seem like the only race that actually amass ships, while the rest don't appear to try terribly hard. I stopped playing once I had squished the Phidi and built a fleet containing over sixty ships, all of which were armed with Heavy Railguns. Even before I demolished the Phidi, I could've fought the combined might of the other four AIs in a single battle and easily beaten them.

I feel like there needs to be something to prevent a player from mindlessly amassing a giant furball of death in a corner of the map. MOO2 tried to counteract this using the command point mechanic, where you needed more starbases/comm tech to keep a larger standing navy. Since the Yoral are based around hordes of small ships, I figure a command point-like system would grant them a higher small ship capacity at the cost of big ship capacity.

Otherwise, I kind of hope the early game phase is lengthened somehow, where you can interact/begin building relations with your AI neighbours before you can hoover up all the free planets. Perhaps by having colony ships embark existing pop units vs. creating ones from thin air and/or having colonies cost some money until they can get 'established' might accomplish this.

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Re: First Impression Notes

Postby Arioch » Sat Sep 17, 2016 11:35 pm

Ship maintenance costs definitely need to be higher than they currently are.


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