Arcen Games

Games => Stars Beyond Reach... This World Is Mine => Stars Beyond Reach Beta Discussion => Topic started by: ptarth on October 07, 2015, 01:39:42 PM

Title: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: ptarth on October 07, 2015, 01:39:42 PM
I've been putting off my views of SBR v3 until I had a better grasp on it. I believe I have reached that point.

/soapbox
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: crazyroosterman on October 07, 2015, 02:43:39 PM
hey so 1 I agree that the adjacency bonuses were awesome.
2 I rather like your idea of a needs based spamming offices isn't any fun for me

3 personally I don't really remember very much about the old implementation of pollution apart from it not being per territory

4 international abilities are timed?! I had no idea I assume the game wasn't just telling me what was going on.

5 why not it wouldn't cause any harm(your underground buildings idea)

not really going to comment on the other points brought up until there considered properly implemented.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Cinth on October 07, 2015, 07:44:56 PM
Last time I checked, I had 152 hours played and 104 Mantis posts.  I'm having a blast playing. 
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: gnosis on October 08, 2015, 12:01:10 AM
I'm with ptarth on this one.

1. The tech tree needs more stuff, perhaps also add building efficiency unlocks?

2. There are strong documented reasons for the needs based economy. Play style and preference is one thing, but the current system is flawed and it shows if you were to make a serious city building game.

3. need acts 3-4 for examining the warfare and diplo model. Can't really speak for that one.

4. Pollution is too binary: either you have a hazmat and don't care or you have polution problems. Same with trash and bodies after the 1/10 balance pass. Perhaps make hazmat an act 3 building and have the player cope with pollution and its effects untill then?
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: tombik on October 13, 2015, 10:41:52 AM
Really well written, now that the release is even later, I hope they can do things for all of the issues you brought up.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Rythe on October 17, 2015, 05:37:46 AM
As a fresh v3 tester, and me being me, I'm going to do the expected in voicing some dissent.

1)I really don't agree with changing how the economy functions at present. What you seem to want is concrete, explicit connections between the consumption of services and the generation of crowns whereas SBR v3 makes it an implicit relationship (lack of required services hurts efficiency and generates crown eating problems) if with a few possible logic gaps.  So my impression is that you want detail for the sake of detail with a dovetailing assumption that crown sinks can be squirreled into those details.

This seems contrary to the spirit of the game's overarching design where Chris appears to want to streamline the experience a great deal, highlighted to me by how he designed the latest combat model and the buildings only bit.

In short, v3 has you meet service demands (needs) and your buildings will function well, including the ones that pump out the crowns, which is the essence of a needs-based economy, is it not? Ptarth seems to concede this with bullet six but then goes right on to asking for more of a needs-based economy with bullet eight, and I really don't see the point.

2)The point I do see is that without sufficient opposition from AI Factions/Planet, the economy is missing a purpose. Ptarth appears to be trying to fix that by making the economy itself the purpose, whereas I get the sense that our economies are suppose to fuel player advancement and interactions with the various AI Factions/Planet.  If my sense is correct, then convoluting the economy is going to detract game focus from player advancement and interacting with the various AI Factions/Planet.

The answer to this problem I'd like to see is for player engagement with the various AI Factions/Planet to require that the player carefully weigh each and every crown they have against those possible interactions vs developing their civ vs expanding their economic base.  I'll also note again that most of these things are broken or unfinished or completely gated behind Acts 3 & 4 in the current build.

3)Which leads me to abilities. I'd prefer that they be a combination of all the main options - 1: Direct fired action with an instant resolve and then cooldown period. 2: Directed activity that resolves some turns in the future. 3: Sustained activity that continues until ceased.

Each has a niche, I think. A commando raid should be a short-lived thing like a combat phase. Also trash/body dumping.  Espionage/Spy activities should be directed and eventually resolved in some fashion so they would require some strategic pre-planning. And then sustained activities like propaganda.

This would also add some flavor and cater these activities to associated play styles, especially in regards to the instant resolve ones which would provide some direct feedback to the player that otherwise generally gets lost in the forest of notification popups at the start of each turn.

And winding back into point 2, appreciable crown costs in doing all of them. So likely some difficulty scaling based on concrete factors.

4)I do agree that there should be more building adjacency and terrain bonuses/penalties with the direct aim of mixing up building compositions, but I'm getting the sense from discussions that v2 had them just for the sake of having them - like police knocking down crime from adjacent buildings or something, just to have some sort of positioning bonus attached to the police building.  That I don't agree with, if that's what v2 did.  What I want is a little more of the sort of bonuses we currently have and that there be very strategic if straightforward goals for those bonuses. Again, possibly some penalties to help that along too.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: ptarth on October 19, 2015, 12:38:46 PM
As a fresh v3 tester, and me being me, I'm going to do the expected in voicing some dissent.
Fair enough. As a v1 tester I have some preconceptions that may be influencing my ideas.

Quote
1)I really don't agree with changing how the economy functions at present. What you seem to want is concrete, explicit connections between the consumption of services and the generation of crowns whereas SBR v3 makes it an implicit relationship (lack of required services hurts efficiency and generates crown eating problems) if with a few possible logic gaps.  So my impression is that you want detail for the sake of detail with a dovetailing assumption that crown sinks can be squirreled into those details.

This seems contrary to the spirit of the game's overarching design where Chris appears to want to streamline the experience a great deal, highlighted to me by how he designed the latest combat model and the buildings only bit.

Quote
In short, v3 has you meet service demands (needs) and your buildings will function well, including the ones that pump out the crowns, which is the essence of a needs-based economy, is it not? Ptarth seems to concede this with bullet six but then goes right on to asking for more of a needs-based economy with bullet eight, and I really don't see the point.


Quote
2)The point I do see is that without sufficient opposition from AI Factions/Planet, the economy is missing a purpose. Ptarth appears to be trying to fix that by making the economy itself the purpose, whereas I get the sense that our economies are suppose to fuel player advancement and interactions with the various AI Factions/Planet.  If my sense is correct, then convoluting the economy is going to detract game focus from player advancement and interacting with the various AI Factions/Planet.


Quote
The answer to this problem I'd like to see is for player engagement with the various AI Factions/Planet to require that the player carefully weigh each and every crown they have against those possible interactions vs developing their civ vs expanding their economic base.  I'll also note again that most of these things are broken or unfinished or completely gated behind Acts 3 & 4 in the current build.

Quote
3)Which leads me to abilities. I'd prefer that they be a combination of all the main options - 1: Direct fired action with an instant resolve and then cooldown period. 2: Directed activity that resolves some turns in the future. 3: Sustained activity that continues until ceased.

Each has a niche, I think. A commando raid should be a short-lived thing like a combat phase. Also trash/body dumping.  Espionage/Spy activities should be directed and eventually resolved in some fashion so they would require some strategic pre-planning. And then sustained activities like propaganda.

This would also add some flavor and cater these activities to associated play styles, especially in regards to the instant resolve ones which would provide some direct feedback to the player that otherwise generally gets lost in the forest of notification popups at the start of each turn.

And winding back into point 2, appreciable crown costs in doing all of them. So likely some difficulty scaling based on concrete factors.


Quote
4)I do agree that there should be more building adjacency and terrain bonuses/penalties with the direct aim of mixing up building compositions, but I'm getting the sense from discussions that v2 had them just for the sake of having them - like police knocking down crime from adjacent buildings or something, just to have some sort of positioning bonus attached to the police building.  That I don't agree with, if that's what v2 did.  What I want is a little more of the sort of bonuses we currently have and that there be very strategic if straightforward goals for those bonuses. Again, possibly some penalties to help that along too.

So one of the biggest problems with helping in SBRs development is the lack of specificity on what our job is. At one end, if we are to assist in design, then we need access to design goals and documentation, which has been absent. This is also the biggest egoist problem. This is Arcen's baby, with Chris as lead dev. He may not actually want anything from us in this department. As players we "know" how things should be done and will happily take our limited understanding of what the goal of SBR is, and tell Chris how to get there. Chris is also very nice, which means he isn't going to say "shut up, I don't care what you think". On the other end we have bug testing where we test systems and report our experiences with them. This is good for bugfixing, but horrible when it comes to design changes, because feedback is about the player experience, not metadevelopment comments.

I'm, tragically, "forced" to give both types of feedback. I try to limit my suggestions about how SBR should be designed and provide straightforward player experience reports. However, sometimes I do have to give my two cents, I try to leave that in this forum (which few people read, and Chris doesn't usually) and in suggestion reports on the mantis.

Summary and Conclusion
There is a discrepancy in what people believe is the game in SBR. SBR design goals are not well understood. Game systems are being developed from a bottom-up perspective, leading to situations where a system is not directly supportive of the playing experience but of a standard coherency within the individual mechanic. Chris should meet with me one day each week on SBR, because I know exactly what needs to be done. :P
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: crazyroosterman on October 19, 2015, 02:31:08 PM
well id say to that that Chris should share his plans with us on this but as we know he's locked this game in the closet for the time being so that's not really a thing.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Cyborg on October 19, 2015, 09:26:27 PM
And therein lies the problem for gamers like me. I realized very quickly that this was a complicated management simulation, but all of the normal methods of simulation feedback do not seem to be active. For example, other races don’t respond. The buildings don’t change in appearance. Your citizens don’t react to you. The world doesn’t react to you. So you spend the majority of the game plopping down buildings and feeling awfully lonely because you're playing an optimization game that’s not really a game yet.
 
When it came to the military, it was rather fiddly with the building ranges. However, this is the part of the game that rewards all of the economic simulation bits. You see, there has to be some kind of carrot to play an optimization game. You need to either gain territory, some visual feedback, some political feedback, something to do or strive for. We don’t have that yet, and we are not privy to whatever Chris’s long-term goals are. I don’t know. It’s hard to complain about something that is so unfinished. If this is the game- micromanaging crowns and worker efficiency- I don’t see where the game is. Because there’s no point to doing those things right now. We don’t have a defined victory condition.
 
Here are some ideas:
1)      make a space victory that rewards you with escaping to outer space, which starts a game on a harder planet
2)      Make a military victory which rewards you with a race to unlock that is especially warlike
3)      make a territorial victory that doubles the map size, and adds incredible monsters or extraterrestrial attacks in greater numbers than we usually see
 
 
You see where I’m going with this? You can reward the player and provide them new plateaus and new challenges. You give them something to strive for, an island to set sail for. You set a challenging bar to reach. And that way, we can play out these five acts and achieve some end reward.
 
In addition, I think that the building tile graphics need to be more moddable with placeholders for growth. Having a title like this without modding is a bad idea. This title lacks some of the direction that some of the others had, and I think that they might need the community to give this some life after the initial release. It’s interesting to me that the ability for modding has been what it is for the other games in the catalog, and yet I have seen Arcen asking for community submissions more and more before release. Why not expose hooks for after release? And given our community being extremely talented, it’s a shame that it hasn’t been done already.
 
 
I’m not going to make that a mantis post until I can make a coherent, succinct post about it. But those are my thoughts.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: crazyroosterman on October 20, 2015, 11:51:33 AM
And therein lies the problem for gamers like me. I realized very quickly that this was a complicated management simulation, but all of the normal methods of simulation feedback do not seem to be active. For example, other races don’t respond. The buildings don’t change in appearance. Your citizens don’t react to you. The world doesn’t react to you. So you spend the majority of the game plopping down buildings and feeling awfully lonely because you're playing an optimization game that’s not really a game yet.
 
When it came to the military, it was rather fiddly with the building ranges. However, this is the part of the game that rewards all of the economic simulation bits. You see, there has to be some kind of carrot to play an optimization game. You need to either gain territory, some visual feedback, some political feedback, something to do or strive for. We don’t have that yet, and we are not privy to whatever Chris’s long-term goals are. I don’t know. It’s hard to complain about something that is so unfinished. If this is the game- micromanaging crowns and worker efficiency- I don’t see where the game is. Because there’s no point to doing those things right now. We don’t have a defined victory condition.
 
Here are some ideas:
1)      make a space victory that rewards you with escaping to outer space, which starts a game on a harder planet
2)      Make a military victory which rewards you with a race to unlock that is especially warlike
3)      make a territorial victory that doubles the map size, and adds incredible monsters or extraterrestrial attacks in greater numbers than we usually see
 
 
You see where I’m going with this? You can reward the player and provide them new plateaus and new challenges. You give them something to strive for, an island to set sail for. You set a challenging bar to reach. And that way, we can play out these five acts and achieve some end reward.
 
In addition, I think that the building tile graphics need to be more moddable with placeholders for growth. Having a title like this without modding is a bad idea. This title lacks some of the direction that some of the others had, and I think that they might need the community to give this some life after the initial release. It’s interesting to me that the ability for modding has been what it is for the other games in the catalog, and yet I have seen Arcen asking for community submissions more and more before release. Why not expose hooks for after release? And given our community being extremely talented, it’s a shame that it hasn’t been done already.
 
 
I’m not going to make that a mantis post until I can make a coherent, succinct post about it. But those are my thoughts.
1 I like the idea of being able to unlock certain races with persifick play styles perhaps some of the ai only races could made unlockable through certain victory conditions? for example by winning through a military domination you unlock the thoraxians by winning an economic you unlock the acutions and so on.

2 I've already pitched the idea of mod support to Chris weather he ever goes along with the idea is something well have to wait and see.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Captain Jack on October 20, 2015, 03:08:58 PM
When you Mantis these thoughts, consider multiple tickets. You're complaining about two different issues, the in-game reactivity, and the fact that the game isn't done. We'll be getting some feedback through text, but building damage... you know, I actually don't know if that's planned.  :o

Can't say much about optimization. Chris mentioned that Cities: Skylines helped him understand what to aim for, so I think the citybuilding aspect is going to drift in that direction. Probably with v2 style adjacency, but I have nothing to base that on.

As for NG+ unlocks... as written, what you suggest would be a punishment for doing well. Better to include more options at the start, the same way AI War does. Unlocking whole races is a neat idea for expansion content, but I don't think they're going to gate the base races behind winning the game, or give the player access to the AI races. Those guys are unavailable for a reason!

I'm curious, when you say "some of the others", what others do you mean?

The official word on modding is that it's not feasible. Arcen titles in active development update so much that any mod that a player worked on could be broken six different ways during development, and obsolete the day after it came out. Did a search and found Chris's explanation on modding AI War from *2009* (https://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,10.msg11.html#msg11). There was a thread about specifically modding SBR, and while Chris explained what could be modified on our end, I'm guessing the same issues apply.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Cyborg on October 20, 2015, 10:35:13 PM
I don't care about optimization right now, and graphics are low on the list for me. My comments are describing actual gaming. What makes a game fun? What is the actual game? Fussing around with crowns is not a game, to me, because there's no point to it. You don't get anything, and you don't get anywhere by doing it. Is that because the game is unfinished? I hope so. I expect so. And it's not just me. How many posts were people complaining about not knowing how to play or what to do? People literally started this game up and stared blankly, plopping down buildings, not knowing what the hell is going on. The military aspect of it gave people something they could recognize, if only for a moment, and then it was scrapped. So now we are back to plopping down buildings and so-called "risk-style" combat? Well okay.


I'm aware of the attitude towards unlocks by Arcen in previous titles, but I was hoping that given the recent interest in binding of Isaac, they would become more open to the idea that people enjoy the feeling of achievement. There's a difference between blocking content and enhancing content, and having some sort of reward for victory isn't a punishment. Even old Nintendo games had end game cinematics or something. And this comment isn't what I consider what's wrong with the game. It's a free-form suggestion. What's wrong is a more deeply rooted issue.



I'm trying to be tactful. It's an effort for me. It seems everybody lately is describing their personal mental quirks. Mine is just as real as everyone else's, and it's definitely the ability to communicate in a way that doesn't come off as abrasive. I haven't figured out how to be honest and communicate without upsetting other people. And it doesn't take much for me to be encouraged to be blunt. So I'm going to just say it.


The entire excuse about modding breaking the game or something is a load of crap. Tons of games do it, tons of mods get broken, and they all get fixed if they are used. It's fud. I have my own suspicions on why Chris doesn't do it, but feasibility isn't one of them. It's his company, his games, and I don't get bent out of shape about it, but since we're all telling stories by the campfire here, why not be honest and put it out there that a community of creativity and content makers will be way more creative, productive, and inventive than a small company will ever be? And for a title that's clearly been a struggle like this one, he needs help. I guarantee you that adjusting crowns and efficiency is not the problem.

I've been on this forum a long time. I've been around for every major success and debacle, development debates, and so on. I may not post as much as you do these days, but I consider myself well-informed. I support this company as a fan and customer as much as anyone else does, gift multiple copies, and convince my gamer friends to buy these titles. It's campfire time. Or intermission, if that makes more sense to you. You don't need to defend anybody because there's nobody under attack.

If anything, there needs to be more critical questioning going on. I think it does a disservice to Arcen when people who are chosen to be beta testers and are not actually testing. There's being cordial, friendly, helpful, etc. and then there's a step beyond that, which is not helpful. I read these forums for the entire development process, even though it wasn't my type of game. I read them out of curiosity, and I kept my mouth shut as a select few individuals seemed really excited and appeared to understand that there was a game here, even though I never saw it. And the same people continue to claim there was a game as beta testers fizzled out one by one, including myself who dutifully reported not being able to find a game. I still don't see it. And that's why I think it's important to put that down in the forum and if you disagree- if anyone disagrees- and wants to explain to me what the game is, please do so! Someone said they put in 150 hours into this game. Doing what? What took you 150 hours to do? What did you accomplish in that time? What adventures did you have? Was it just 150 hours of loading up the game to test it after each patch? Because this game is completely unfinished, and there's no way there is 150 hours of content. Not even close.

So yes, I'm frustrated with what I see going on, from where I sit. And I saw things going on, beyond just game minutia, that I didn't like. And I guess there's no reason to air that out here because it's too late and a dollar short, but this most recent development cycle really wasn't the best I've seen here for a lot of reasons. And no, it's not that the development is on pause. I can handle that it's on pause. It's for the right reasons, for the company. I know that it's not going to be my type of game, and I don't want to waste anyone's time trying to make it my type of game. But there needs to be this period of time where everyone steps back and tries to look at what's actually here, and I think the question has to be answered, what is this game? Where is this game going? What is the actual game?

The real issues that need to be solved have nothing to do with any of the defects around crowns and efficiency. It's about the identity of this title.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Cyborg on October 20, 2015, 10:41:43 PM
The formatting on my previous post took me multiple attempts, so  that's why it looks all screwed up. And missing content.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Captain Jack on October 20, 2015, 11:33:45 PM
I don't feel abraided so no worries there. Instead I'm confused since it seems you're soapboxing instead of responding.

I'm actually kind too pressed for time to properly rip your post apart point by point, but I have to point out that you have the mod issue completely backwards. The problem is NOT mods breaking the game, the problem is the game updates breaking the mods. Mod makers would have to support their mods indefinitely, and it's easier just to fold anything good into the next update.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: keith.lamothe on October 21, 2015, 11:01:00 AM
But there needs to be this period of time where everyone steps back and tries to look at what's actually here, and I think the question has to be answered, what is this game? Where is this game going? What is the actual game?
I fully agree.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Mick on October 21, 2015, 11:08:22 AM
But there needs to be this period of time where everyone steps back and tries to look at what's actually here, and I think the question has to be answered, what is this game? Where is this game going? What is the actual game?
I fully agree.

Me too. I dive back in now and then to see where this is going, and every time I come back the game seems completely different. I find it difficult to formulate strong opinions about any part of it because of this. I feel like I need to wait for the dust to settle.
Title: Re: SBR v3 Thoughts
Post by: Rythe on November 14, 2015, 07:43:03 PM
Cyborg is essentially correct.

SBR follows 4X models of 'gameplay', and I approve of v3 because the econ and combat models feel good for a 4X experience. Not too fiddly or miring an experience, moved econ development front and center rather than hidden behind the screens of screens, scrapped the tedious unit shuffling across the game board that isn't as rewarding or impactful as people like to think it is, but still adequately involved.

Now all those things need some polish and refinement (especially combat to reduce the click-spammy nature of it at times), but the first half of a 4X game is present. That is, being able to develop your power base as a player.

What's going to make or break SBR is the challenges SBR manages to muster against the player ('s power base) and what the player is able to do about them. To that end, read the updated game description on Steam.  Chris conveys the missing half of the game in what amounts to a shorthand design doc there.

What worries me in regard SBR's success is the ambition of that game description, and that significant portions of it aren't yet in the game released to us testers.

For example - Events do not currently offer a challenge or an effective model by which a player's citizens/"internal threats" can screw everything up on them (per Act 1 description) and then allow the player to respond to those challenges, hence my suggestion for Events v2 on mantis to correct that. Disease tweaking would be an offshoot of this too.

Being able to interact with other AI races via building abilities is frameworked in but also needs to be fleshed out fully and tuned to the game's economic model (or vice versa) as a second example.

And then the rest of the Act 3/4 stuff which none of us have played with, and even so, I've the sense that the planet in particular may be a bit too abstracted by the game mechanics currently.

So when Arcen returns to SBR, this is what I think needs to happen, and it's a straightforward thing - complete and begin testing the second half of the game (interactions with and obstacles caused by AI races/planet/events) so those system can be evolved into what the box description says they should be doing. At which point, the parts of SBR currently in place can be balanced against those challenges rather than us making wild speculations based on the present game experience.

This would also mean we should stop nitpicking and banging on about the economy until such concerns have something to be tuned to and balanced against.