First Impression

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Gyrfalcon
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First Impression

Postby Gyrfalcon » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:38 am

These are my first impressions, which I want to convey before I get used to how SiS works and stop noticing things. I realize a lot of stuff is still quite beta, but I'm going to point out everything I notice even if I know it's on the to-do list. Overall, I'd say the game is in pretty good shape for a beta.

I've just started my first game and have no idea what to do. I have Settlers at Rastaban, although I thought it was a colony? I'd like to do something with some ships, but the obvious rocketship button doesn't seem to do anything and clicking on the star system or planet only brings up a production menu. Likewise, clicking on the rocket icon next to the planet in the galactic view just brings up the planet view with the Settlers at Rastaban highlighted again. My instinct is to try RMB to bring up some kind of context-sensitive menu that might have a ship control choice, but that doesn't seem to do anything.
Initial 1.jpg
First impression
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Eventually, I figured out that clicking the tiny icon of a colony ship brought up the fleet view, but that is not at all obvious, or convenient. Selecting ships, as has been mentioned, is also not particularly intuitive. With all the ships looking normal, I have no idea that they're all selected by default and RMB is not, to me, the most obvious action to (de)select a ship with. I usually expect LMB to be the action and RMB to be information, making the behavior of the fleet panel backwards. If I weren't already aware of it from reading the formus, I'd probably end up sending all three ships on my first scouting mission and wonder what happened to them.

My first scouting mission gives this:
Initial 2.jpg
Initial impression of pirates
Initial 2.jpg (271.26 KiB) Viewed 7045 times
Again, there are four buttons on the right side that have no tooltips, so I have no idea which one I might push. As has been mentioned elsewhere, there is no option other than declaring war, although this may be intentional. Clicking on the right-side buttons seems to give the same results as scrolling through events using the news/event queue at the bottom of the screen.

My first combat:
Initial 3.jpg
Initial 3.jpg (161.61 KiB) Viewed 7045 times
Where is my ship? Why is DECLOAK highlighted? When I pick the ship, Cloak is an option, although there isn't a cloaking device on the ship and I usually expect that not to be a starting tech. The option to run away is not obvious, if there is one, and I get my scout trashed pretty quickly.

After getting my Scout killed, I went to try and make another. I don't see anything that looks like a production queue, except the Factory* thing under my Settlers at Rastaban which gets the finger cursor when I mouseover it, but nothing significant happens when I LMB or RMB it. Eventually, I figure out that clicking on the planet, then on the Factory gets me the production queue. Clicking on the Scout ends up killing off the production of the Factory without any warning, although I put the Factory back in the queue and didn't seem to lose any progress.

After a few more turns, the research completes, leading to a screen where all the things with checkmarks are things which are not researched, which seems confusing. Eventually, I figure out that one of them is the next up and the green ones are already researched. I tend to focus on the most colorful thing first, so that's a little confusing.

When I do finally try and build a new Scout, I find out that it's going to take 20 turns, despite having a Factory and a half-full world. Although it might be interesting to have ships be very precious at the beginning of the game.

Suggestions:

- Make the title of a highlighted colony something like Rastaban II unless I'm moving population or something.
- Tooltips on the buttons, particularly the chat bubble-looking thing and rocket, would help in finding the right thing to click.
- Use a generic icon for places where you can open the fleet screen instead of one of the ships in a fleet.
- Swap mouse behavior in the fleet screen so that LMB (de)selects and RMB brings up the info panel.
- Start with all ships deselected or just one ship selected so that it is more obvious the difference between the two states.
- I think having both the news/event queue and whatever function the buttons are performing seems unnecessarily redundant. Being most used to SotS, I have a better feel for the news/event queue, but I'm not sure how the buttons are supposed to work, so that might actually be better.
- Focus the screen on the active ship in combat and start with the first ship already selected.

Also, mouse movement when SiS is not the focused app still pans the map around, which is kind of annoying.
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sven
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Re: First Impression

Postby sven » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:47 am

Thanks for the detailed writeup. As you say -- some of these are known issues, and we're working on them (like the tooltips and often confusing event icon redundancies.) But, others are things that clearly should be fixed, are easy to fix, and that I wouldn't have seen myself, because I've spent way too long playing alpha builds :)

Gyrfalcon wrote: - Focus the screen on the active ship in combat and start with the first ship already selected.
.


Like this suggestion, for example. Easy to do. Clearly a good idea. I'll try to get a patch for that up soon.

Gyrfalcon wrote:Also, mouse movement when SiS is not the focused app still pans the map around, which is kind of annoying.


Another reasonable one, and also a very simple change.

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Re: First Impression

Postby sven » Thu Mar 19, 2015 2:52 am

Gyrfalcon wrote:- Make the title of a highlighted colony something like Rastaban II unless I'm moving population or something.


Can you clarify this one a bit? In most of the ways I can think to interpret this suggestion, the game already works this way -- so, I'm clearly misunderstanding -- we may have a terminology problem :)

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Gyrfalcon
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Re: First Impression

Postby Gyrfalcon » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:29 am

sven wrote:
Gyrfalcon wrote:- Make the title of a highlighted colony something like Rastaban II unless I'm moving population or something.


Can you clarify this one a bit? In most of the ways I can think to interpret this suggestion, the game already works this way -- so, I'm clearly misunderstanding -- we may have a terminology problem :)


When I seem to have the actual, specific planet as the focus of attention, not just the star system, the title at the top of the bar is "Settlers at Rastaban" which seems odd, since it's not settlers, it's a colony. I would expect it to say something like "Colony of Rastaban II" unless I'm landing or moving settlers. Unless the Ashdar Colonials have some cultural quirk that makes them call themselves Settlers all the time. Which might be kind of cool.
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Dinkelsen
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Re: First Impression

Postby Dinkelsen » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:38 am

Hello!

I am Dinkelsen, I was allowed into the Beta yesterday and I had a very similar experience like Gryfalcon at my first hours with the game, so I figured, I'd put my feedback here. Please forgive me if my assumption is wrong.

The installer worked fine and the game launched without any problems. I started the game a few times since I quickly ran into problems related to game balance but I understand that is not the focus here. I don't want to sound negative, but of course I only write about things I had trouble with. I did enjoy the game after about an hour of "really having no clue at all".

I started the game as Ashdar colonials and later Ashdar Imperials. My first problem was figuring out how to move ships. I expected a right click on the map but I did find the MOVE button. Then I learned to deselect ships before moving the whole fleet, wich was also a little counter-intuitive. I would rather expect to have to select which ship to move rather that which ship not to move.

When my scout arrived at its destination it got destroyed by pirates. Thats bad, but ok, happens. I built another. 22 turns later I send it to a different star system. More Pirates... more exploding scouts. I read somewhere that the pirates are a little overpowered but I started to feel some frustration here, because a scout seems to be quite an investment early in the game and I didn't see a possibility to save it. I clicked on retreat as soon as the battle begun, but the enemies (2 destroyers) simply shot it down. Can't I just turn around and retreat before the enemy closes? I understand its a game balancing thing and that is not done yet. Thats ok. (The third scout found a system with a colonizable planet)

After building some destroyers to battle the pirates I found out that the scout and colony ship seem to be able to fly farther than the destroyers. I was denied my revenge. Why is that so? I looked at the ship design screen. The scout has far more options than the destroyer. Why? Does it have some special hardpoint for systems? It seems we will have to find that out later.

When tending to my colonies I transported colonists per transport ship, which is a cool feature in my eyes. I quickly found out how to disembark perople but hwo to get them ON my ship was a harder task. Clicking on the colonis icon and ten on the planet wasn't the first thing I tried. And, to be honest, I only thought about transporting people after I discovered the "Disembark" button. (Speaking of transport ships, I love the fact that transports can visually indicate what they are transporting. They have different cargo pod graphics for goods and people. It is one of the little details that show how much love went into the game)

I wanted to do some ship combat other than having my scout destroyed, I felt the urge to see the guns on my ships firing. So I tried to research a tech that would allow my ships to travel farther - I still had a grudge with some certain pirates. I still have to figure out how the research screen works. My first impression was a list of techs I could research. Some had checks at the right and some were colored green. Is there a distinction? First I thought those techs with the check marks were finished techs (they were colord black and had check marks after all) and the green ones I had some sort of bonus with. Then I realized the checked ones were those I could research and the green ones were finished techs. But what I still haven't found out is how to select a research topic. Whatever I click, doubleclick or drag in the screen, the game always researches the first entry in the list. Am I missing somethig here?

Summary of problems:
-> moving ships not intuitive
-> pirates simply blow away the scout without possibility to save it / avoid combat
-> why can some ships travel farther than others?
-> loading people on transports not intuitive
-> list in the research screen is not intuitive
-> how to select a research tpoic?

Summing up my experience it was an enjoyable one. I had a rough first hour but my last restart went smooth and I enjoyed it. I am very much looking forward to playing it agan. And again I do not want to sound negative even if I only listed problems.

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Re: First Impression

Postby luciderous » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:18 am

Hi Dinkelsen! Nice to have you with us here :)

Dinkelsen wrote:I found out that the scout and colony ship seem to be able to fly farther than the destroyers. I was denied my revenge. Why is that so? I looked at the ship design screen. The scout has far more options than the destroyer. Why? Does it have some special hardpoint for systems?

Consider different ship hulls/designs as distinct roles each ship is intended to uptake - they are not and should not be interchangeable for the most part. Each and every specific task should have the tool most suitable to that task. That said, Scouts are intended for "going far places, recon & retreat". They are not meant to be the backbone of your military task force. On the other hand, the Destroyer is definitely such a ship, suitable for most local skirmishes, but not meant to go far from its base of operations. And still, you can retrofit Destroyers with Warp Lane Amplifiers (System) to give them the range of Scouts if you like. It's just that they do not have this subsystem installed by default, contrary to Scouts.

Dinkelsen wrote:But what I still haven't found out is how to select a research topic. Whatever I click, doubleclick or drag in the screen, the game always researches the first entry in the list. Am I missing somethig here?

To select a tech to research, you have to left-click on a check-mark symbol, next to the tech's name.

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Re: First Impression

Postby Arioch » Thu Mar 19, 2015 3:54 pm

A recent change allows destroyers to be fitted with missiles (which are currently a bit overpowered), so the Pirates just got a lot more deadly... it's now literally impossible for your starting Scouts and Colony Ships to escape from two or more pirate destroyers without being killed. This is obviously something that we'll need to fix.

Scouts and Colony Ships have built-in Warp Amplifiers, which extend their range. Destroyers can also be manually fitted the same component, if you find that they can't reach a key destination, but they will have to give up whatever component is in the System slot (probably a Marine Quarters or Maneuvering Engine early in the game). You can edit ship designs with a shift-click on an item in the planet build menu, or by selecting "SHIP DESIGN" in the game menu.

In the research screen, as was mentioned, you change research by clicking on the checkmark at the right of each tech. This screen is due for an overhaul which will include an explicit "Change Research" button that will be more intuitive.

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Gyrfalcon
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Re: First Impression

Postby Gyrfalcon » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:06 am

I started up a new game and have an additional question. The initial scout ship has no armament and designing and building a new one takes over 20 turns. Is that a deliberate decision to keep the early game slow? I'm used to being able to send out quite a few scout ships to explore early on in other games In SiS my lone scout gets killed before I can explore more than a couple of planets, leaving me not being able to explore for the first several dozen turns. I'd like to see the initial design have a weapon and maybe start with two of them in orbit if they're going to take a long time to replace.
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Re: First Impression

Postby sven » Fri Mar 20, 2015 2:15 am

Gyrfalcon wrote:I started up a new game and have an additional question. The initial scout ship has no armament and designing and building a new one takes over 20 turns. Is that a deliberate decision to keep the early game slow? I'm used to being able to send out quite a few scout ships to explore early on in other games In SiS my lone scout gets killed before I can explore more than a couple of planets, leaving me not being able to explore for the first several dozen turns. I'd like to see the initial design have a weapon and maybe start with two of them in orbit if they're going to take a long time to replace.


it's mostly an accident of some last-minute mechanics changes that went in on Monday. the early game got a lot crueler when we started letting pirates mount nuclear missiles on their destroyers.

i do want the early game to be fairly dangerous, and i do want ships to be relatively valuable. but, the current build takes both of those concepts further than even i think it should :)

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Re: First Impression

Postby Dinkelsen » Fri Mar 20, 2015 6:51 am

luciderous wrote:To select a tech to research, you have to left-click on a check-mark symbol, next to the tech's name.


Thanks a lot for that info! I would have never tried that.

A suggestion for the research screen: Maybe changing the check-mark symbol to an arrow (left arrow to be precise) would help intuitiveness here. Also maybe the color of the finished projects could be changed to something less emphasized, light grey for instance.

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Re: First Impression

Postby Gyrfalcon » Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:08 pm

Gyrfalcon wrote:I've just started my first game and have no idea what to do. I have Settlers at Rastaban, although I thought it was a colony?

I figured out what this comes from: there is a colony ship in the system, so it's asking me if I want to colonize. Maybe if the colony ship itself was highlighted somehow? And the rocketship icon still says spaceships/fleet more than colonize to me.
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Re: First Impression

Postby wminsing » Sat Mar 21, 2015 4:32 pm

Yes, whenever a colony ship is in a system (with valid colonization targets, I think) you get the 'Settlers at X' message. It's confusing since you already have a colony at Rastaban, but the Colony ship could in theory be used to colonize another one of the planets in your starting system immediately.

-Will

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Re: First Impression

Postby Gyrfalcon » Sat Apr 04, 2015 2:31 am

I was able to refit my first Scout so that it could survive encountering a pair of Pirate Destroyers and limp back home for repairs to go out again. However, it is still fairly difficult to break out and start colonizing as I was building my first destroyer at this point.
Early Game Balance.jpg
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Gyrfalcon
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Re: First Impression

Postby Gyrfalcon » Sat Apr 04, 2015 3:19 pm

In addition to observing that it's annoying to get completely boxed in by pirates, I think I'm also asking a question about why I start off with a Colony, Scout, and Transport, but only the one Factory on the planet. Why not start with more factories and labs, but no ships at all? If I do start with a Scout, why do I have to research Lasers? I'm not sending that first Scout out until it gets retrofitted with an anti-missile defense of some kind and I can't imagine anyone else who has played more than one game would, either.
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Re: First Impression

Postby Arioch » Sat Apr 04, 2015 6:57 pm

The idea behind starting with a scout is so that you can explore your surroundings while you're building up the infrastructure in your home system. There are currently (in my opinion) way more pirates and marauders than there should be, which puts you in the situation of sometimes having to fight immediately before you can even settle a colony. That's not the intended situation, or at least, it should be an unusual situation. As we expand the map and add more types of planetary encounters, the density of lurking pirates should be scaled back.

Sven nerfed missile damage a bit, so your scout should have a better chance of being able to escape from pirates when they're discovered. Just make sure that you head back home to repair before exploring another system.


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