Author Topic: First thoughts & other reflections  (Read 521 times)

Offline Kuer

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First thoughts & other reflections
« on: March 31, 2014, 04:11:08 PM »
Hey there. I hate to hoard an entire thread to my own thoughts, but I had trouble finding a better place to express my impressions and reflections in a free form, rather than in an actionable ticket form of Mantis. Let me preface the following with a thank-you for the alpha invitation, because regardless of all the quirks I list below, it was and is a blast. I hope the following helps in some way.

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First combat: I knew what to expect, sort of, so I wasn't that much confused by what I saw on screen. I started with getting familiar with my equipment and the enemy ships - descriptions were pretty clear. After I picked my weapon to knock their shields down, I got around to making a move. Well, at first it just didn't feel right - I wasn't satisfied with the way I could move. I tried moving with Shift, Alt and Ctrl, but nothing changed. I expected more options in moving the flagship. My next problem was not being aware of the existence of different firing modes than the default, but you fixed that a version or two ago by adding appropriate buttons (yay!). Once I got through that, gliding around kiting the enemy ships was pretty easy to do - they also died very quickly barely scratching my shields. Well, that was easy, they certainly looked more menacing than that, being scale Gigantic and all.

First solar map: Again, to a degree, I knew what to expect. Though, somehow I got around to right clicking planets/armadas expecting action menus for some minutes (if only I tried left clicking, I would've discovered surprise attacks earlier). Pretty much the only thing to do was to pick a race to smuggle spacefaring tech to.

Smuggling tech: Ooooohkay, I guess I'll just fly around these two red circles towards the nice green one. I did so. Once at the marker it took me a few seconds to realize I still have to technically withdraw from combat. I sat on the marker clicking Q about every second (on fast-forward). Once the mission was complete, I sat still for a full minute wondering if the mission is supposed to play out this way. At the time I concluded that it might be because it was the first smuggling and further ones would get harder. (They still played out largely the same, just with more Spy Probes, making navigation slightly more interesting, but still pretty unchallenging) [Note: This works somewhat different since a version or two ago. Some of the spy probes get automatically activated regardless of range, making the mission less uninteresting, but also less interactive in avoiding the danger - I'm not sure how I feel about this]

The next hour I spent in a free-form exploration mode, getting familiar with everything I could get my hands on. This was a period of primarily just reading things and exploring the interface. I think the only relevant thought I had at this stage was that I was under the impression that races got spacefaring technology on their own too fast. I felt that my choice in races to gift the technology to was trivialized as a result. I'm not entirely sure this is a valid point - it probably still affects the simulation a great deal, but nevertheless, that was my impression. Other than that, the worst I saw was a couple of typos.

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This concludes the first impressions with the game. The remaining time between then and now was largely a pleasant and coherent experience that kept me in an exploration-reflection loop. The results of this chunk of time are several Mantis reports of the more major things I managed to break, a list of minor issues/bugs that I've yet to submit (fleshing out this post somehow became a priority, not sure why), and the below free-form summary of some of the things I reflected upon, but don't seem to be actionable things for Mantis.

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On strategy in simulation: In terms of general impression, there are many things to say here, but they almost all positive, so just pretend there's an additional paragraph praising the good things with lots of love and I'll just skip to the quirks. I'm currently in a weird zone, where I'm somewhat confused by the complexity of the simulation that drives the decision of the races. At times I feel that the races are behaving completely arbitrary making random decisions, but I think that I do not understand the reasons they're making the decisions for, but they're there and internally they make sense. Sometimes I can track the reason down, sometimes I cannot. From here there's also a weird practical problem - without clarity of what's happening and why, not only do I get confused, but it's very hard to say if some surprising behavior is intended (but its reasons are hidden) or unintended and should be brought up as feedback/bug.

On combat: It's fun. While it's not the source of my primary interest in the game, it's also not something to dread or avoid. It has a place in the game and is enjoyable. I'll still mention three concerns with the current state of combat: One, movement could really use more flexibility. In the current state there are many situations where you have to make ugly choices in terms of stopping/going too far. Two, the only noteworthy ships in combat are Gigantic. Every battle I fought so far I could essentially pretend that all smaller ships are invisible. If there were any in the first place. Three, visually, every Gigantic ship looks to be the same sort of danger, but there can be huge differences in stats between them. There were a few times that I got pretty much instagibbed by underestimating my opponents that looked like an acceptable foe. For the first point, I already submitted a suggestion on Mantis. For the second and third, I would suggest shifting the power around ship categories and/or changing their numbers. Small and Medium ships could be stronger or more frequently/easily spawned. Currently low-stat Gigantic ships could become Large ships. I think you know where I'm going with this.

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Beyond this, I will just share some random thoughts that I'm not sure fit anywhere else:
  • I enjoy the focus of every game being about the journey (with perma-death). Not once was I upset about dying.
    • I love the Observer mode, even though I managed to die in it. Heh.
    • Burlust duels are really deadly (and there's no downside to withdrawal [such cowardly act!])
    • In one of my games Burlusts grew into this 8-planet Fear Empire with an incredibly powerful space presence. The last on their bucket list were the Acutians who endured about 50 years of a hundred armadas in their orbit before they researched the Penultimate technologies and pushed back. Unless it was a bug in the effectiveness of bombardment, it really shows how any game can break your expectations that you were taught by simpler strategy games.
    • During the above bombardment, "Attacking Local Armadas" was a free Credit generator.

Offline x4000

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Re: First thoughts & other reflections
« Reply #1 on: April 03, 2014, 11:04:53 AM »
I read this a few days ago and meant to respond, sorry about that!  Crazy busy times.  Glad you've been enjoying it!

Well, at first it just didn't feel right - I wasn't satisfied with the way I could move. I tried moving with Shift, Alt and Ctrl, but nothing changed. I expected more options in moving the flagship.

Adding you to the list of people who want waypoints back. ;)  Will have that soon.

Smuggling tech: Ooooohkay, I guess I'll just fly around these two red circles towards the nice green one. I did so. Once at the marker it took me a few seconds to realize I still have to technically withdraw from combat. I sat on the marker clicking Q about every second (on fast-forward). Once the mission was complete, I sat still for a full minute wondering if the mission is supposed to play out this way. At the time I concluded that it might be because it was the first smuggling and further ones would get harder. (They still played out largely the same, just with more Spy Probes, making navigation slightly more interesting, but still pretty unchallenging) [Note: This works somewhat different since a version or two ago. Some of the spy probes get automatically activated regardless of range, making the mission less uninteresting, but also less interactive in avoiding the danger - I'm not sure how I feel about this]

This is a really good point.  We need to make the spy probes move for you once you drop off the documents.

I think the only relevant thought I had at this stage was that I was under the impression that races got spacefaring technology on their own too fast. I felt that my choice in races to gift the technology to was trivialized as a result. I'm not entirely sure this is a valid point - it probably still affects the simulation a great deal, but nevertheless, that was my impression.

That's a good point, actually.  With the other time scale changes to the game, that is one that did not get bumped up.  Thanks!

At times I feel that the races are behaving completely arbitrary making random decisions, but I think that I do not understand the reasons they're making the decisions for, but they're there and internally they make sense. Sometimes I can track the reason down, sometimes I cannot. From here there's also a weird practical problem - without clarity of what's happening and why, not only do I get confused, but it's very hard to say if some surprising behavior is intended (but its reasons are hidden) or unintended and should be brought up as feedback/bug.

Yeah, definitely noted on this.  One of the things that I want to start doing is having the aliens use chatter to declare why they just did whatever they did when the reason would be ambiguous.  For instance, there are a lot of reasons one might go to war, etc.  If you find various examples of places where it is not clear why something happened, please log it to mantis and we will put in the appropriate chatter so that so much doesn't have to be inferred.  Thanks! :)

Beyond this, I will just share some random thoughts that I'm not sure fit anywhere else:
  • I enjoy the focus of every game being about the journey (with perma-death). Not once was I upset about dying.
    • I love the Observer mode, even though I managed to die in it. Heh.
    • Burlust duels are really deadly (and there's no downside to withdrawal [such cowardly act!])
    • In one of my games Burlusts grew into this 8-planet Fear Empire with an incredibly powerful space presence. The last on their bucket list were the Acutians who endured about 50 years of a hundred armadas in their orbit before they researched the Penultimate technologies and pushed back. Unless it was a bug in the effectiveness of bombardment, it really shows how any game can break your expectations that you were taught by simpler strategy games.
    • During the above bombardment, "Attacking Local Armadas" was a free Credit generator.
Awesome!  And yeah, makes sense on the attacking local armadas being a free Credit generator then.  You were already basically hosed anyhow. ;)  Although maybe with the Acutians pushing back... who knows.

Thanks so much for taking the time for the writeup. :)[/list]
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