Author Topic: Console Hacking & UX Enhancement Suggestions  (Read 937 times)

Offline ixnorp

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Console Hacking & UX Enhancement Suggestions
« on: June 08, 2015, 08:06:19 AM »
I purchased Bionic Dues a couple of weeks ago after discovering it.  Ironically enough, from the Arcen blog post mentioning it had poor advertizing, since I had never heard of it before even though I like Arcen as a studio/company.  The fact that you continue update the games as much as you do really sets Arcen apart in my eyes.  Unsurprizingly I heard of Arcen through AI War.  Anyhow...

I looooove the intro theme.  After I read a little bit about Bionic Dues I was pretty sure I was going to buy it - because I'm fond of Arcen and all of the game's systems/themes anyways - but once I watched the trailer I bought it immediately based on the music.  Worth it.

The game is pretty good too. ;)

I've only played fully through a couple of times at this point, but there are already some things I have noticed which I feel could possibly use some polish or balance attention.  Hopefully I will be able to persuade you that they're worth the time.

Hacking Consles that you do not know the function of & might kill you is counter to the entire nature of the game.  In a game that makes heavy use of stealth, range, AoE, and planning to execute guerrilla tactics as a primary means of survival it's just not something any serious player will ever do to walk up to an unknown console and mash buttons.  Or should, anyways.  Most of the outcomes are terrible if not immediately fatal and who wants to take that kind of risk in a strategy game?  The only console I'm actually ever happy to see is the one that disables all weapons or makes bots go berserk.  I can't really imagine ever using them with out save scumming or just blowing them up outright every time on ironman. =P

Perhaps instead of immediately nuking all ammo or hacking points, it would instead cause you to lose 1 ammo per turn ($TurnsElapsed ammo per turn for harder modes perhaps?) from the effected weapon giving you a chance at least to frantically discharge all of your ammo before it goes kaput.  You could do the same with hacking points as well, draining them over time.  Alternatively, what about doubling the cost of all hacking and viruses for the rest of the mission?  Since there is no defense against counter-hacks (Black ICE? or whatever you want to call the Bad Thing Happening), giving the player a bit of an out instead of "oops lol you're screwed" mitigates the "Augh hug!" feeling of being RNG screwed over with nothing they can do about it. Helps direct their fury at the robots instead of the game devs. ;)  Perhaps this may be a good place for the Sensor stat to play a role in mitigating the mystery console's wrath?  Or, What if, say, Power Adapters also caused the console to fry less ammo a side benefit?

One of the console results was to explode for 1000 Science damage, killing my poorly shielded early game Science Exo instantly.  On Normal.  Perhaps it ought to scale with the mission difficulty (the one based on days elapsed that also increases hacking cost).  OTOH, I suppose it'll only kill one Exo so even on Ironman while disasterous it's not a sure loss.  I'm pretty sure I've only seen them do a flat 1000 which becomes kinda meaningless late game.  It sucks, yeah, but won't generally kill you.  What if the explosion would never reduce you below 1 shield, but it entirely disables your Shield Regen and Damage Reduction?  Or, worse for a Science Exo, maybe it would reduce your sensor strength or fry your ability to drop turrets etc etc

Random loot is fine, even great for this sort of game but it's often tiresome when doing mundane upgrades in between missions, particularly in the mid-game where most of your upgrades are just "the thing I have already but better".  At the very least there should be a button to equip any direct upgrades to the equipment that you're already using.  There is certainly something to be said for managing loot by hand as far as play value but the challenge or decision ought to be about how you want to spec your Exos with the loot provided.  It's not really anything but busy work for me to have to eye the loot I got and then page through all of my Exos to see if it's of any use to them because I can't keep the exact contents of 100 gear slots in mind all at once.  The current stat based filtering system is adequate for doing the job, I do admit, but it could be better.

I propose that I ought to be able to automatically equip my Exos with loot based on a system of priority for which stats to stack.  Furthermore, there should be a Basic and Advanced mode of operation.  Basic would be a single, ranked list per exo in which you can specify which stats you want and it will attempt to equip the best items you have based on that list and what makes at least a little bit of sense where it's going.  For example, say that I am equipping an Assault Exo and I have chosen to prioritize Attack Power, Shield Capacity, Shield %, AoE%, and +Ammo%. It would fill the rocket launcher with Attack Power items and then prefer items which boost Shield Capacity over AoE over Ammo.  I was thinking a little about it and I think that perhaps not having defaults (except on Casual) is in the spirit of the game.  People could get 'optimal' configs off the forum if they don't want to think about it themselves but those kinds of people are just ruining their own fun and you can't (or shouldn't) dictate how someone should have fun anyways.

Advanced would be more or less the same thing but on a per-subsystem, basis.  So you could have different priority for your computer slots than your weapon slots and so on.  You could do some manner of weighted preference system to help make intelligent decisions automatically about whether you want the +10% Attack Power +10% Shield item over over one with +7% to all attributes, but I think leaving a little dumbness in the system is fine because it's intended to be a work reduction aid to get to dealing with the real the meat of the game rather than playing Quartermaster 2150.

Enemy Line of Sight and Targeting Range badly need a global toggle mode where it simply displays all enemy LoS and possible firing areas.  Even my beefy, heavily shielded Assault can't go toe-to-toe with bosses for more than a shot or two toward the end game and other things like Doombots or Siege bots early game are basically instant death if you let them fire on you.  Holding down control or tab and mousing over back and forth checking the ranges all the time is silly and time consuming as well as error prone.  I prefer my deaths to be a result of my poor planning or judgement than because I didn't mouse over all the bots constantly.  I'm beginning to play on Hard and I can only imagine it'll be continually more irritating in higher difficulty or on Iron Man since I'm planning on doing a Iron Man - Hard game soonish.  Of all the things I've mentioned I think this is the most important one because awareness is critical for good planning.

Display the total +% skill for all weapons, shields, computers, etc when I mouse over them.  Infact, in the mouse over tooltip it would be nice if the math is laid out.  eg 20 hacking points * 150% science skill = 50 points.  When considering fitting my Exos I'm not always even sure where all my bonuses are coming from until I give it a close look.  Maybe when mousing over the skill's name in the equip exo screen would list all of the parts providing bonuses and/or highlight their icon.  I think it would be helpful to a more rapid and enjoyable work flow of equipping Exos.

Why are mines under Computer and not Propulsion along with Traps anyways... >.>

Please consider all of my numbers to merely be placeholders. I don't feel that I'm well versed enough in this game's math to make serious balance suggestions.

Offline Pumpkin

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Re: Console Hacking & UX Enhancement Suggestions
« Reply #1 on: June 09, 2015, 06:15:26 AM »
Welcome to the forum. Quite a long post for a first time!

I have very different reactions about what you said, so I'll try to organize it a bit.

Hacking consoles

You're right, many outcomes are unfair. However, there is some workaround. Personally, I always wait for the end of a mission (no more bots) to "poison-test" the consoles: if an exo loses a weapon, hacking points or stealth, no problem; if bots in sensor range get some bonus, never mind because they're no more bots. The only nasty terminal is the exploding one. One workaround is to use the ninja, which is immune to AoE. Another workaround is to live with it; even on ironman, if you loose an exo, you just lose one piece of loot (reward at the end of the mission: as many as surviving exo). The true problem is with "dead is dead", where we can request a very special feature for getting the exploding terminal out of the pool of possible effects for the very special case of "dead is dead". But even without such feature, on a permadeath run, use the ninja until the exploding terminal is found or just ignore terminals.

I see no true problem with the nasty terminals, just a harsh but avoidable feature.

Equipping Aid

There is a question of taste, so I'll try to be less categorical.

I'll speak about The Last Federation, that you might know. If you don't, just know that it's (yet another awesome) Arcen's title that have two very distinct gameplays merged: turn-based shmup and management/diplomacy. The fact is if someone doesn't like one part of the game, it'll be difficult for him/her to like the whole game; someone that loves shmups may be annoyed by the management part, and someone found of diplomacy may find the interruption of the shmup part cumbersome (fortunately, for this one, there is an auto-resolve button). This "issue" is entirely acknowledged by Arcen.

What I'm trying to say is that Bionic Dues has the exact same "problem": there is a tactical rogue-lite part, and a management part. Personally, I love both kinds of games separately (I could spend hours on a game featuring only the customization part of BD), but this is a luck, and I can understand that some roguelike players would be very annoyed by the customization part.

I remember a post on this forum of someone saying that he/she often skip the customization part between missions and only do one big rework when feeling underpowered.

On the other side, the features you proposes are interesting. However, I doubt Arcen is willing to put that much work for such little increase, unfortunately.

LoS and Range

I totally agree with you on this point!!!
I was very recently (yesterday night) thinking that the overload range display was hidden by the tooltip. For the whistle it's not a problem because the button is at the bottom of the HUD and its tooltip doesn't hide the map, but the overload button is on the middle and it's tooltip hide a big part of the map. Maybe your idea is worth a mantis post.

Display the +%

I totally agree with that too!!! (Did I mentioned I had very different  feelings about your post?)
My suggestion would be to display the cumulative +X% bonus on each group of stats: shield-related, propulsion-related, computer-related, plus one global for +X% attack power for all weapons, and one +X% splash size for each AoE weapon. Oh, I forgot the +X% total power generation.

Sometimes it's hard to tell if removing +N of a stat would remove N or much more because of a hard-to-see percentage modifier.
Also, does someone know how multiple % bonuses stack? If I have two parts providing +10% of a stat, does the exo get +20%? Anyway, this feature would answer the question for anyone.
Please excuse my english: I'm not a native speaker. Don't hesitate to correct me.
Pumpkin>> Do I need another cure about paranoia on top of overexcitement?
Mal>> We play AI War, enthusiasm and paranoia are both required!