Author Topic: New version .850 (Tutorials! - Anyone "waiting for further notice" please test!)  (Read 2014 times)

Offline x4000

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Release notes: http://arcengames.com/mediawiki/index.php?title=The_Last_Federation_Alpha_Release_Notes#Alpha_Version_.850

Restart steam to force a quicker update if you like.

Lordy.  This isn't at all what I had planned to do this weekend, but I had a stroke of insight mid-day Saturday, and so I diverted from my planned course (going for feature-completion on abilities, etc) and instead went into tutorials and interface.  Given that there is now less than two weeks until release, and given that the biggest barrier to players was not late-game content, but rather the learning curve of the early game, it simply made the most sense.

Anyway, there is also a lot of other really good stuff here even if you already know how to play.  And frankly, if you think you already know how to play, I suggest still going through the tutorials, as there is stuff in there that has not been previously documented anywhere else, and so I guarantee it's new information to you.

This isn't really so much of a "tutorial in the AI War sense" as it is a general gating of mechanics and then telling you about the new mechanics as it gives them to you.  I really love games that do that, but most of ours haven't been able to for one reason or another.  It's a perfect fit for this particular kind of game, though, so I'm pleased.  That said, there are still likely to be places where you go "huh?"  I've tried to hit all of the pieces that people have previously mentioned, but there are definitely going to be some gaps.  When you find them, please tell me about them. :)

I will add some more alpha testers, but it's going to have to be in the morning, as I am absolutely exhausted.  It's been almost 15 hours straight today on this stuff, after around 12 hours yesterday, so I'm pretty wiped.  But I'll be back tomorrow morning, and excited to work on finishing up the last of the new features, as well as the last of the interfaces that are still horrible temp jobs (those are rapidly dwindling in number -- I think I eliminated 3 with this release).  Keith is still steadily mowing down your bug reports, and once I finish that last bit of content, I will be as well.

Caveats:
1. All of the Operational abilities are still having their ships slaved to your attacks, and I don't intend for that to remain the case.

2. IF SOMETHING IS NOT CLEAR, that is now officially a Big Problem in the sense that our tutorials are "done pending feedback" (hah -- which means "not really done, but not changing until we hear from you about what is still confusing.").

Enjoy!
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Offline zharmad

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Ok testing your tutorials before work:

- It may not such be a good idea to ask a noob to smuggle space-flight immediately? They may just get killed as this missions is particularly well defended without special abilities. Perhaps make the *first* smuggling mission easy, but award less influence points (2000?). After that spend a message to players saying the space-faring races recognise this danger and are blockading other attempts from "outside interference". E.g. the Acutians have struck a deal with the newly arrived Skylaxians to ban any party from secreting space-flight documents to the other races.  This creates an arms race between major powers, and will thus be banned. All planets will be guarded by existing races to stop unauthorised deliveries.

- Also Skylaxians were 12seconds before spacefaring but I gave them spacefaring anyway. The time the mission takes allowed them to become spacefaring, at which point they deduct points from me for giving them flight. Not consistent. ;)

- At some point it will be good to tell players about waypoints in movement. It's needed to survive.

- A short introduction to each mission type when players first encounter them may be helpful. Freighter are still invincible to you according to DPS sheet, and noting that you should try to hover over them to steal their cargo is also good.

- time before spaceflight existing after you get to space, but hides itself after that.. edit: no appeared again after reload, seems like there's some bug I can't repeat.

- Tech tree introduction: should also note that some techs require other techs, and that you might want to plant an informant and steal them at some point if you can't research them with a race.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 04:01:51 AM by zharmad »

Offline alocritani

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- It may not such be a good idea to ask a noob to smuggle space-flight immediately? They may just get killed as this missions is particularly well defended without special abilities. Perhaps make the *first* smuggling mission easy, but award less influence points (2000?). After that spend a message to players saying the space-faring races recognise this danger and are blockading other attempts from "outside interference". E.g. the Acutians have struck a deal with the newly arrived Skylaxians to ban any party from secreting space-flight documents to the other races.  This creates an arms race between major powers, and will thus be banned. All planets will be guarded by existing races to stop unauthorised deliveries.

Ship no more need repairs between battle, IIRC

Offline zharmad

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- It may not such be a good idea to ask a noob to smuggle space-flight immediately? They may just get killed as this missions is particularly well defended without special abilities. Perhaps make the *first* smuggling mission easy, but award less influence points (2000?). After that spend a message to players saying the space-faring races recognise this danger and are blockading other attempts from "outside interference". E.g. the Acutians have struck a deal with the newly arrived Skylaxians to ban any party from secreting space-flight documents to the other races.  This creates an arms race between major powers, and will thus be banned. All planets will be guarded by existing races to stop unauthorised deliveries.

Ship no more need repairs between battle, IIRC

Still, not noob-friendly without special abilities - at least Acutians begin with energy blasters.

Offline Misery

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On the note of the tutorials, I think turning off special abilities and the engine/shields/weapon thing is probably not a good idea.  I'd just leave all of these on, but explain them to the player as they go on.

On the higher difficulties, the smuggling missions cannot be beaten without those things.... unless you want to spend 10 zillionty turns strafing back and forth into eternity, firing very very slowly at things sort of from a distance.  I dont have the undying patience to do this... as it could take an hour... so I cant te4st the tutorial stuff whatsoever.

Technically yeah, I could wait for various races to become spacefaring without me, but that's dull, and unhelpful from a strategic point of view.  Usually I tend to choose whichever races have the longest to wait, so they dont get instantly obliterated when their turn comes, by all the ones that have been spacefaring for ahwhile.

EDIT:  Cant go any further.  Abilities dont exist even without the tutorial being active.... cant complete smuggling missions, so I cant test past the initial battle.

EDIT 2:  Ok, so I DID find a way past that smuggling mission with tutorials on (thinking it might unlock this way), the same thing I always do when frustrated, which was to just ram into the center of it, and to heck with everything else.

....but even after getting the "abilities unlocked" message, they're still not there.

On the plus side, waypoints are a most happy addition.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 06:12:47 AM by Misery »

Offline Mick

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Ender Style. Ram into the center is what I pretty much do on normal difficulty. It's trivially easy, but since it's effectively the only mission you can do at that point I don't think that's too bad.

That's what I did the very first time because I play with kind a test face on (hmm, so how much damage do I take if I just ignore all this stuff... oh, almost nothing apparently).

Someone new to the game and approaching it more seriously though might have a different attitude though. You have basically a bajillion killbots sitting there with the look of "you think you are getting by me? haha no." Pretty intimidating, until you find out they are shooting pop guns.

I played the new version a little bit before work (that seems to be the time that lines up with new releases for me). I think the gating really helps with the information overload, I like that. I haven't really gotten deep enough into the simulation at all yet to get a feel for what feels good and bad in terms of the actions/rewards. Some of the political stuff you can do seems very uninspiring. I can set up some trade deal, in which I have zero understanding of the benefits, and seems to reward me trivially with influence.. ok. Or I can help you colonize a moon... just because. I'm thinking this might just be areas where some better description needs to be done.

After helping two races get into space (there seems to be a bug with the newly space race resenting that you gave space tech.. to themselves), there was a splinter force event on the Skylaxians, so I felt "oh here is something interesting to do". Apparently the mission was a bit out of my league (not having special abilities kinda hurt here). There were dozens of ships all in a massive swarm. It was very difficult to tell what was an enemy or what, or what was going on. Extremely overwhelming. I kinda flew around the parameter taking shots figuring that maybe my contribution would be enough to help the Skylaxians do things themselves. Not the case, as they were wiped out. Doh. I decided to withdraw, and the Skylaxians were angry that I didn't complete my contract. What contract? I killed more ships than you did noobs! You should be glad I helped at all, see if I ever do again!

I did a colonize moon thing for another race which supposedly took three months. I thought there was supposed to be some stepping thing you do after dispatch missions to see what went on. It seemed to me that the game just insta skipped ahead and paused. I dunno, it seems like nothing went on in the meantime, which was fine.

I then decided to do a pirate loot mission, figuring that getting some bribe items might be handy for gaining influence (more races seemed to dislike me than line me). That's when I got stuck again because I couldn't kill the freighters.

Then I left for work, the end.

Offline x4000

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Ok testing your tutorials before work:

Thanks!

- It may not such be a good idea to ask a noob to smuggle space-flight immediately? They may just get killed as this missions is particularly well defended without special abilities. Perhaps make the *first* smuggling mission easy, but award less influence points (2000?). After that spend a message to players saying the space-faring races recognise this danger and are blockading other attempts from "outside interference". E.g. the Acutians have struck a deal with the newly arrived Skylaxians to ban any party from secreting space-flight documents to the other races.  This creates an arms race between major powers, and will thus be banned. All planets will be guarded by existing races to stop unauthorised deliveries.

You know, that would make a good mechanic in general.  That way you can't just easily "get everybody into space" and have them all like you, you have to be more choosy about who your early friends are.

- Also Skylaxians were 12seconds before spacefaring but I gave them spacefaring anyway. The time the mission takes allowed them to become spacefaring, at which point they deduct points from me for giving them flight. Not consistent. ;)

Oops, thanks!

- At some point it will be good to tell players about waypoints in movement. It's needed to survive.

It tells them later, when introducing power levels on engines.  Honestly I never use waypoints, ever, so I know it can be done. ;)

- A short introduction to each mission type when players first encounter them may be helpful. Freighter are still invincible to you according to DPS sheet, and noting that you should try to hover over them to steal their cargo is also good.

Ah, good to note.

- Tech tree introduction: should also note that some techs require other techs, and that you might want to plant an informant and steal them at some point if you can't research them with a race.

I don't know, it seems like those are the sorts of things that players can figure out for themselves?  The tooltips make it abundantly clear on the prereqs, and anyone who plays this sort of game and hears "tech tree" will assume it.  Regarding stealing techs, I will definitely mention that, though.

On the note of the tutorials, I think turning off special abilities and the engine/shields/weapon thing is probably not a good idea.  I'd just leave all of these on, but explain them to the player as they go on.

It is overwhelmingly a good idea, sorry. ;)  It's not mine.  I'd say most of the people who were lost with the game were complaining about the confusion of the abilities, and ignoring them anyhow, and lots of downstream confusion from that.

EDIT:  Cant go any further.  Abilities dont exist even without the tutorial being active.... cant complete smuggling missions, so I cant test past the initial battle.

EDIT 2:  Ok, so I DID find a way past that smuggling mission with tutorials on (thinking it might unlock this way), the same thing I always do when frustrated, which was to just ram into the center of it, and to heck with everything else.

Right, in the new build there are a few mission types which NEVER give you abilities anymore -- the smuggling spacefaring being one of them, the burlust duels being another.  It's in the patch notes.  I need to have it make that more clear to the player.  I will also be doing more balance on the smuggle spacefaring tech mission.  So, not a bug; but a balance problem on higher difficulties, sure.

I played the new version a little bit before work (that seems to be the time that lines up with new releases for me). I think the gating really helps with the information overload, I like that.

Awesome!

I haven't really gotten deep enough into the simulation at all yet to get a feel for what feels good and bad in terms of the actions/rewards. Some of the political stuff you can do seems very uninspiring. I can set up some trade deal, in which I have zero understanding of the benefits, and seems to reward me trivially with influence.. ok. Or I can help you colonize a moon... just because. I'm thinking this might just be areas where some better description needs to be done.

Yep, huge huge numbers of the contracts have no description at all yet.  It's... on my very lengthy list.  Sigh. ;)

After helping two races get into space (there seems to be a bug with the newly space race resenting that you gave space tech.. to themselves), there was a splinter force event on the Skylaxians, so I felt "oh here is something interesting to do". Apparently the mission was a bit out of my league (not having special abilities kinda hurt here). There were dozens of ships all in a massive swarm. It was very difficult to tell what was an enemy or what, or what was going on. Extremely overwhelming. I kinda flew around the parameter taking shots figuring that maybe my contribution would be enough to help the Skylaxians do things themselves. Not the case, as they were wiped out. Doh. I decided to withdraw, and the Skylaxians were angry that I didn't complete my contract. What contract? I killed more ships than you did noobs! You should be glad I helped at all, see if I ever do again!

Ah!  Great point.  I need to make it so that it explains how to see who are friends and enemies in battles with allies, the first time you get into one.

I did a colonize moon thing for another race which supposedly took three months. I thought there was supposed to be some stepping thing you do after dispatch missions to see what went on. It seemed to me that the game just insta skipped ahead and paused. I dunno, it seems like nothing went on in the meantime, which was fine.

That's not a dispatch mission, that's something different.  But yeah.

I then decided to do a pirate loot mission, figuring that getting some bribe items might be handy for gaining influence (more races seemed to dislike me than line me). That's when I got stuck again because I couldn't kill the freighters.

Ah -- sounds like that bug persists.  Sorry about that!
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Offline Misery

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Actually, as far as the lack of abilities go, it wasnt just the missions listed in the patch notes. I'd attempted various pirate-related missions and such after that to see if they'd appear, but it never happened.


As for the smuggling missions.... yeah, those are pretty bad right now.  The abilities were the one thing making up for an utter lack of being able to move once you were in range to do anything.  Without those, I'd actually say to remove the probes entirely, or at least dramatically reduce their range;  they'll be nothing but frustration in that scenario since movement is absolutely necessary.  ...that and they're just annoying. Before I did my ramming thing I ended up just shooting the stupid things down to get them out of the way.  The smuggling missions have been my least favorite for awhile.  The Hydral tech ones could be an issue too;  the last time I tried one, at least on hard or Misery, I forget which, it was nigh-impossible WITH the abilities, as the golems or whatever they're called are just too strong and crazy.  That and they were taking a billion years to destroy.  Aint done one in quite awhile though so I dunno if they got changed.

One thing does bug me though.... why do the smuggling missions give 10000 credit?  Particularly since they seem like a necessity to really get going in the game... simply waiting for all of the others to get up and running makes for a very slow start.  10000 is an awful lot, even for a high-risk mission, particularly in the beginning.  Wouldnt it end up trivializing most costs for political actions?
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 09:59:47 AM by Misery »

Offline Histidine

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Hmm, has anyone seen the non-player racial flagships since they were gated at 9 solar years into the game?

Offline keith.lamothe

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Hmm, has anyone seen the non-player racial flagships since they were gated at 9 solar years into the game?
*burp*  Nope, haven't seen 'em.  Must've flown to some other solar system.
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Offline Kingpin23

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As far the tutorials go I think you guys are on the right track.
Thers is so much to explain. And doing that little by little between missions is a great idea.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 12:03:33 PM by Kingpin23 »

Offline Pepisolo

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Here's an idea on how to revamp the smuggling missions, which at the moment don't seem very fun to me. You make them more Metal Gear Solid-y....

... ok, might to need expand on this a bit.

Instead of having the missions pretty static, as they are now - just keep skipping turns, hardly anything seems to move -- you instead set up a network of enemy patrols. This network would be complex enough that the player would need to study the patterns to some extent and then plan their route to evade the enemies sensor range. With the current system I'm not really sure what I'm supposed to be doing other than bulldozer my way through -- that's not very "smuggly" behaviour. These missions need to be sneaky. This ties in very well with the new power management system. Let's say a patrol gap looks a little tight, I as the player can think to myself, OK, looks like a couple of extra power in engine speed might see me through the gap. This seems much more fun to me, like a mini metal gear solid in space.

Admittedly, this would work much better as a RTS, as you would need to skip a few turns just to see the patterns (which is a lot of clicks) but this still seems more engaging than the current static missions. (Disclaimer, only played a few smuggle missions, so I don't know if there are already variations).

Additionally, you could also give extra rewards to the player if they were to complete the mission completely undetected. If one of the other races don't catch you smuggling the tech then it's not going to create hostility towards you, so your relations with them won't suffer.

Offline Mick

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Eh, personally I'd rather not much focus be put into the smuggling missions other than making sure they are not outright broken on the higher difficulties as Misery claims. I mean, they aren't too interesting now, but the suggestion of making them some kinda TBS stealth game just sounds so off-putting to me.

Outside the escape battle, they are going to be the first impression a player has of the game. Error on the side of too easy I say, and certainly don't make them some weird new game mode.

I get the impression that smuggling is supposed to get a lot harder when races tech up, so it makes sense that doing smuggling in such an early stage of the game would be a trivial matter.

Offline alocritani

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Hmm, has anyone seen the non-player racial flagships since they were gated at 9 solar years into the game?

Reading this made me understand what I'm finding "strange" until now: game length.

Lot of changes slowed game pace, slower combat, slower invasions and so on, but I fear that it can worry new players.
I had no time to finish a single game (to say the truth, I was not even able to create federation in any single game I played) but I think we focused a lot on combat, until now, so maybe you have few feedback related to late-game.

Of course, with previous dispatch mode, we had the feeling that everything was exploding, but now we can follow universe evolution better and quit dispatch any time

Another strange thing: a single player vs NPC combat last few months (depending on turns used during combat) but the same NPC vs NPC seems to last several times more

How long is expected to last a game?
are you sure that having a game so "slow" is not narrowing audience too much?
Is the current speed the speed you intended the game to be played?

I'm not sure I had express my ideas clearly, and please consider them positively, no polemic speeches in that.

Offline x4000

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Actually, as far as the lack of abilities go, it wasnt just the missions listed in the patch notes. I'd attempted various pirate-related missions and such after that to see if they'd appear, but it never happened.

Savegame?  I have not seen this, I have abilities just fine.


As for the smuggling missions.... yeah, those are pretty bad right now.  The abilities were the one thing making up for an utter lack of being able to move once you were in range to do anything.  Without those, I'd actually say to remove the probes entirely, or at least dramatically reduce their range;  they'll be nothing but frustration in that scenario since movement is absolutely necessary.  ...that and they're just annoying. Before I did my ramming thing I ended up just shooting the stupid things down to get them out of the way.  The smuggling missions have been my least favorite for awhile.  The Hydral tech ones could be an issue too;  the last time I tried one, at least on hard or Misery, I forget which, it was nigh-impossible WITH the abilities, as the golems or whatever they're called are just too strong and crazy.  That and they were taking a billion years to destroy.  Aint done one in quite awhile though so I dunno if they got changed.

I've adjusted these heavily in the next version.  I actually really like these missions, because they require really careful route planning, and are fast and intense.  Look what I did in the most recent video; I was playing off your savegame, actually. ;)  I died once in that because I was being stupid, but then I won the second time.  Though to be fair I did use abilities, but with the revisions in the next version that's not a thing.

One thing does bug me though.... why do the smuggling missions give 10000 credit?  Particularly since they seem like a necessity to really get going in the game... simply waiting for all of the others to get up and running makes for a very slow start.  10000 is an awful lot, even for a high-risk mission, particularly in the beginning.  Wouldnt it end up trivializing most costs for political actions?

All right, I've dropped it to 5k.  The idea is to open up a lot more options to the player -- in the sense of being able to actually do the options they have, rather than seeing lots of options they can't afford -- sooner than later.  That windfall doesn't last forever.  That said, it was on the high side, and with it being that high it was something that caused later Credit gains to seem anemic by comparison.

Hmm, has anyone seen the non-player racial flagships since they were gated at 9 solar years into the game?

If you have a savegame after that point that doesn't include them, I'd love to see it.  That said, they do have to research them, and it may be that the research priority for new hull types isn't as high as it should be.

Reading this made me understand what I'm finding "strange" until now: game length.

Lot of changes slowed game pace, slower combat, slower invasions and so on, but I fear that it can worry new players.
I had no time to finish a single game (to say the truth, I was not even able to create federation in any single game I played) but I think we focused a lot on combat, until now, so maybe you have few feedback related to late-game.

Of course, with previous dispatch mode, we had the feeling that everything was exploding, but now we can follow universe evolution better and quit dispatch any time

Another strange thing: a single player vs NPC combat last few months (depending on turns used during combat) but the same NPC vs NPC seems to last several times more

How long is expected to last a game?
are you sure that having a game so "slow" is not narrowing audience too much?
Is the current speed the speed you intended the game to be played?

I'm not sure I had express my ideas clearly, and please consider them positively, no polemic speeches in that.

Not worried in the slightest, honestly.  We've sold over a million dollars of AI War (actually I think it's $1.2 million now), and it's almost impossible to finish a game of that in less than 9 realtime hours.  And usually it's more like 13+.  Some people have had 30+ to 50+ hour single campaigns.  There's plenty of a market for that.

And with dispatch missions and so forth here, I don't really find that the length of this game will be anywhere near AI War.  "Relative time" as best I can tell will last around 10+ hours, but that's with lots of dispatches, and not including combat.  Overall I would expect that realtime might be in the ballpark of 5-8 hours, which is on the high end of what we were originally aiming for with this game, but still in the general idea.  Originally we were aiming for 3-5 hours, because we figured that would then slip to something that was still under 10.  I was aiming for 8-9 hours with AI War, and hit 13ish as the average.

Anyway, all is well there.
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