Minor Suggestions / Niggles List

General discussion about the game.
DaemonX
Posts: 11
Joined: Fri Sep 28, 2012 2:23 am

Minor Suggestions / Niggles List

Postby DaemonX » Sun Sep 30, 2012 5:15 am

Great game, well balanced. There are just a few things that bugged me while playing, that seem trivially easy to fix for the boost in game quality. Just my opinion of course.

* Some items are not useful, which makes the game feel too easy This game is hard, it's meant to feel hard. Most of this feeling of difficulty comes from 'tough choices'. Shields or weapons? Repair my hull or buy rare augment I can barely afford? Etc. So when you have things in the game that are obviously bad, it relieves that choice pressure and makes the game feel simpler and easier. When I arrive at a shop with drone speed, ftl jammer, and reverse ion augments, I say 'phew, no tough choices to make here'. Grab some fuel, repair, jump off. Far from making the game easier, powerful upgrades make for tough choices. Some example of 'undertuned' things, that have no incentive to bother with:

- Reverse Ion Augment. This thing is useless. I mean, it has an OK effect, but the number of times I've played a game where I would give up *any other augment in the game* to keep this one in its slot, and also had the scrap to spare to spend on it can be counted on...well no, zero doesn't fit on my fingers. It should be vastly more potent to be an augment. The inconsistency is weird, no other augment has that, and its effect isn't even that good. For example, '20% chance to avoid missiles' would be average, but at least it would be better than 20% chance to avoid not-taking hull or system damage? Seeing this aug in a shop means I have an easy choice to make.

- Drone Speed Augment. This item is pretty bad, since there's little enough incentive to use on-board drones. They use up your vital drone slots, take power and upgrade scrap to do something competent crew micromanagement does far better for free. This upgrade should do something special with them, for example also add an additional drone slot as well as causing drones to be able to man stations! AP drone can gain the ability to man guns, system repair can man engines and shields.

- FTL augs. Worthless. You're giving up scrap AND an augment slot. Make jammer totally shut down enemy FTL till you're dead. Make FTL Charger let you jump two beacons. Or *SOMETHING*. Raise the purchase prices on both augs commensurately.

- Level 3 Upgrades for Helm, Sensors, Med-Bay, O2. No one gets these unless they are crushing the game and have large excess of scraps on 'The Last Stand'. No reason to, as they doesn't support any particular play style except 'being bad at the game'. Level 2 is kind of nice, since say, losing all your hard-won evasion to a single stray shot is bad. But Level 3 should have additional incentive for the cost. Make me really wish I could afford it. Make me seriously consider give up another vital upgrade to snag one since it synergises with my play-style. Some examples of what could be done:
Level 3 Helm lets you keep 100% of evasion or lets you skip one beacon in a line.
Level 3 Sensors gives you a "Long Range Sensor" effect for one jump stage beyond your next, as well as its current effect. So if I'm hunting ship events, I'll definitely want to get level 3 sensors right away! What a choice!
Level 3 Med-Bay lets you revive any crew that died on-board after combat.
Such things support certain playstyles on certain ships. I probably still may not get them over another weapon, but I'd at least consider it.

- Eng Type B is badly designed. I mean sure it's a tougher challenge than other starting ships, but that's great. I want a challenge having beaten the game with all the powerful starting ships. The problem is it's boring. It's just a race to get it back on track to a standardly equipped ship, instead of supporting a different way to play. As SOON as you get more crew, you will dump the on-board drones, eliminating the ships uniqueness. This is because crew are strictly better than the drones for almost everything, and the drones use up a valuable and limited set of resources - power and drone slots and drone system power and drone parts - to do something two crew men and a med-bay does for free, and yet you still are worse off since you can't man crew stations or get experience!

This ship has two options: Either greater restrictions placed upon it - such as removing its medbay entirely while limiting crew slots to two or something, which would necessitate adding a lot more capacity to its starting configuration. This would be hard to balance. Or the real answer is to make on-board drones and their augment more powerful and versatile. Make them justify everything you give up to run them. Let's review that again: Mannable station buffs, Crew experience gain, drone parts, reactor power, drone system power, drone slots - which means defense and offense drones. All lost. For all that sacrifice, they need to be bloody good. There's no choice involved currently, unless I am doing something like setting myself arbitrary goals like "get no crew", which I can do with *every* ship. Make anti-personnel drones have 200 HP and mantis-damage. Make repair drones not take up space in a room, so they can stack with actual crew or AP drones. Make Drone Speed let drones man stations! And give the poor Type B a fourth Drone Slot, for Pete's Sake.

* Final boss instructions are poor While it adds to the 'coin-op brutality' of the game, the final boss is really, really annoying for the first few times. Sure he's hard, but that's good design. What irritates me is the lack of explanation and the sudden inconsistency. Such as:
- This is the only ship that can jump away with your crew on board without helm control or engines. There is no warning for this. If you have crew on board it should give a 'detect an secondary FTL signature!' warning dialog or something. It's the only ship that makes killing the crew a *disadvantage*. There should be prior warning, again.
- The ability to "wait" at jump locations is critical to surviving the boss. Since the whole 'block him from proceeding to the base' mechanic is new to the game at that point, it's not fair to fail to mention the Wait button as few people realise it's there the first few times. A dialog would be nice - or even just add the Wait button it to all jump screens, even if it's not that useful anywhere else!

These are all minor points, and I would only bother to describe them because I have so much respect for the game that they are worth mentioning!
alextfish
Posts: 183
Joined: Sun Sep 30, 2012 2:24 pm
Location: Cambridge, UK
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Re: Minor Suggestions / Niggles List

Postby alextfish » Sun Sep 30, 2012 4:17 pm

Good ideas. I also found the sector 8 instructions confusing, which led to the very annoying situation where I beat the first phase of the boss quite late, hopped off to a store, ummed and ahhed for a bit about how much damage to repair vs missiles to buy, and when I eventually closed the store screen... got told "The flagship has reached the Federation base. Game Over."

I also agree that the Engi B ship doesn't make much sense. But to be honest I'm already impressed with how many different strategies the gaming supports. This new proposal of yours would need balancing around the others, which would need a lot of playtesting, even if it's all conditional on an augment that this ship starts with.

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