Initial reactions: balance issues

General discussion about the game.
fw190a8
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:11 pm

Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby fw190a8 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:20 pm

I got the game through the Kickstarter scheme and just tried it recently, so I thought I would post some initial impressions.

Firstly, the game is currently being made available cheaper on Steam than the Kickstarter cost. This makes me very unhappy. Why was I using my money to back this again? If it's more expensive to kickstart than to buy on Steam, no problem, but at least give us something in return for our investment, like some custom content or something. At present, I've paid more than everybody else to back a game that I had to wait a long time for, and it's the same as what everybody else has. It just feels like you're rewarding people for not kickstarting the game.

Balance is a huge issue with this game right now. The key to game balance, on a basic level, is fairness, which this game lacks right now.

You need to make sure that shop placement is more consistent, because it's possible to go hours without finding one, and you end up losing the game because repairs are not possible without a shop. Losing the game through no fault of the player is unfair, and this is something that's easily fixed. Place a set number of shops per area, or just let the player repair at any time without needing a shop, or both.

Random events need rethinking. I answered some distress signal to bring a guy on my ship, only he killed one of my crew. This is unfair. There is no warning or indication of what risk is associated with each choice here, and punishing the player at random like this is going to annoy people. Why not treat this event like a boarding party? Or at least give the odds of a crew member dying or something similar. Crew members are valuable assets that the player invests time in, improving their skills, so removing one like this is just cruel.

Generally, while the game is impressive, and fun to play, it is being ruined at the moment by luck playing too large a part. A game can be fair and involve a little luck, but when you are forced to restart after several hours of play and this is genuinely because there was nothing you can do, you can expect people to stop playing the game and come away with negative impressions.
curithwin
Posts: 151
Joined: Sat May 05, 2012 12:42 pm

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby curithwin » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:26 pm

For most of your post all i can say is "That is roguelikes for you". They are hard, unfair, but very,very addictive.

As for the price of the kickstarter to steam. So what you get a DRM free copy at gog as well which comes with 6 or 7 OTHER games, 5 music tracks from the game, some excellent avatars, wall paper AND three sheets from the art work book. If that is not worth a few £ or $ more then you really need help. Also just think you get a Steam AND a gog.com so that is actually TWO games. Give one to a friend if you will!
fw190a8
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:11 pm

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby fw190a8 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:36 pm

I accept your point on the pricing side of things, although I'm not sure that it qualifies as having two separate copies, just two separate places to get the game from (Steam is no good if you're playing on Linux).

Also many people confuse "difficult" with "unfair". In game design terms the two are not the same thing. A game like Demon Souls would be classified as "difficult" and "fair" for example. I should have predicted that my post would trigger a response akin to "it's too difficult for you therefore you don't like it". "Unfair" is not a prerequisite of the label "rogue-like".

A game that is easy on one playthrough and impossible on the next is "unfair" rather than "difficult". Some people might enjoy this type of game "design" (it's really just lack of design) but most will not. It is possible to be both fair and difficult in a rogue-like. Dungeons of Dredmor is a good example of this because although it contains random "bad" things, none wrest control from the player and it sticks to certain conventions that, as a player, you can then rely on (X shops per floor, etc).
Zuriki
Posts: 30
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:58 pm

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby Zuriki » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:47 pm

The Kickstarter thing seems kind of naff. But I don't really know how they could remedy this now, unfortunately.

For a roguelike, being unfair is kind of the name of the game. So far I've not encountered a situation that I couldn't have dealt with if I had done something different at the time.

If shops were predictable, then there would be a constant safety net which removes the risk reward aspect of roguelikes. I've never encountered a scenario where two shops were placed more than a system apart, the frequency seems just fine to me. The other suggestions you made would throw the game balance way out of whack so, no.

This one I kind of agree with you, I mean, it's pretty harsh to just kill off a crew member with no signal there is any risk at all. However, you should just assume that anything could happen, he could be friendly or hostile. Turning over criminals can sometimes result in you getting lots of scrap, or it could result in half your ships hull being blown up. Just the luck of the dice. So ultimately, I still wouldn't change the event.

If people don't like the game as it currently is, they will stop playing, this is fine. It's not their sort of game, but I personally wouldn't want the game to be any easier than it currently is. It kind of defeats the point in my opinion.

---

To broker a compromise, I would suggest that there never be a shop more than 15 jumps apart (though which 15 jumps is still unknown so it could take more).

There should always be an option that gives the player total control over the situation. This could include:
- Ignoring the situation entirely.
- Forcibly initiating combat with no bad follow-up events (so long as combat isn't one of the other options).
- Coming to an agreement (paying toll, trading, etc)
GoldenShadowGS
Posts: 122
Joined: Thu Sep 13, 2012 6:38 am

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby GoldenShadowGS » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:56 pm

I thought there are shops in every sector. Its up to you to find them.
Gorlom
Posts: 519
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2012 2:06 am

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby Gorlom » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:12 pm

fw190a8 wrote:Random events need rethinking. I answered some distress signal to bring a guy on my ship, only he killed one of my crew. This is unfair. There is no warning or indication of what risk is associated with each choice here, and punishing the player at random like this is going to annoy people. Why not treat this event like a boarding party? Or at least give the odds of a crew member dying or something similar. Crew members are valuable assets that the player invests time in, improving their skills, so removing one like this is just cruel.

:lol: Ironically this is the only event that gives you an indication. If the text mentions the guy being a madman he will most likely kill one of your guys. (ofc I think he might not. and if you use the blue option (not always available, requires some prequisit) you are pretty sure he wont) :P
Wordsmith
Posts: 17
Joined: Fri Sep 14, 2012 10:34 pm
Location: Medbay

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby Wordsmith » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:05 pm

GoldenShadowGS wrote:I thought there are shops in every sector. Its up to you to find them.


This, yeah. Shops are difficult to find, but not impossible. You just have to do some forward planning to ensure that you're covering as much of the system as possible while simultaneously staying ahead of the rebel fleet. Carefully-planned movement is no less important than proper ship upgrades.

As for the "crew member instantly dies" event being unfair, I wouldn't say it's so much unfair as it is surprising. You're not warned that this guy could kill a crew member, true - but pretty much everything in the game hates you, and you never get any guarantees that he's peaceful, either.

So... frustrating the first time it happens, yes, but I wouldn't say it's unfair. Still, if there was one thing I could remove from this game, it'd be those events. Losing crew members instantly is never fun.
"Sometimes it is better to light a flamethrower than to curse the darkness."
- Terry Pratchett
Chunes
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:58 am

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby Chunes » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:12 pm

All of your suggestions would ruin the game. No thanks. I'm tired of people who are bad at this game (It's only been out for a day! Just practice!) trying to dumb it down for those of us who think the difficulty level is good.
fw190a8
Posts: 3
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:11 pm

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby fw190a8 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:27 pm

Chunes wrote:All of your suggestions would ruin the game. No thanks. I'm tired of people who are bad at this game (It's only been out for a day! Just practice!) trying to dumb it down for those of us who think the difficulty level is good.

Yeah, so people still not understanding the difference between difficult and unfair. You're clearly amazing at this game. I bow to you.

I don't have the desire to enter into discussions with that sort of elitist, deprecating personality.

The other points are interesting. You reckon there is always a certain number of shops in every system? Think it would be better to know there are say 3 in every civilian system, or 1 in a pirate system. Otherwise it's just luck.

Also once you know which option to choose during the event with the madman, it's just trivial. This isn't 'I'm amazing at this game because I chose the right answer through skill,' it's just a case of memory.

This is a game design style called learn by failure, where the expected course of action is that the player fails, then learns, then does it right the next time. This is another example of unfairness by design, and should be culled where possible!
Chunes
Posts: 11
Joined: Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:58 am

Re: Initial reactions: balance issues

Postby Chunes » Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:12 pm

Almost every encounter has more than one outcome that is random (usually at least a good and bad one) so you can't "memorize" anything. If you're not finding the weapons you'd like then you just have to change your strategy. There are easily enough stores everywhere. If you can't survive 2-3 nodes before finding the next one then take less damage.

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