Author Topic: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!  (Read 1416 times)

Offline Ashnal

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Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« on: April 16, 2016, 08:56:55 PM »
So as typical for me, I was bored and didn't know which game to play. So I thought, let's check up on Arcen Games and see if they've made anything awesome lately. Lo and behold, I find Starward Rogue (SR). Bought it instantly, since I like almost all of Arcen's games. This was recently after playing a good amount of Enter the Gungeon (EtG), and I will be making some comparisons.

So, I've only played 11 games on normal mode so far, and I'm posting this after my first win on normal. First off, the game is absolutely great, probably my favorite title yet next to AI War. I adore anything that applies roguelike design in a good way. I appreciate the movement speed modifier keys, since there are many bullet patterns that require precise steps to avoid. Reminds me a lot of the Touhou games that I played a bit of. The concept of the shmup bomb being transformed into aimed missiles adds a nice skill touch to the game, unlike say, blanks from EtG which are pure get out of jail free cards, though more limited. Gameplay feels great due to having 3 weapons available at any time, each more restrictive to use, but settling on a balance of using the right weapon for the situation. This is made even better since you can pick and choose weapons during a run that you find, allowing you to find good complimentary weapons. For comparison, EtG got stale in the early levels simply because the infinite ammo weapons felt largely the same, and the game was so stingy with ammo that the early game lacked the variety that is core to a good roguelite game. Energy recharging every room really helps here, as does each mech starting with varied weapons.

Basically, I love it! More fun than EtG, and seems to have a little longer lasting appeal due to greater variety.

That being said I think there are a few things to be improved. Weapon variety is big here. I felt that I had seen most of the weapons just 10 runs in, since I stopped seeing anything new. I feel like there's still some energy weapons I haven't played with, but it feels like I've tried out all the primaries and already know which ones I like within so few runs. Same thing with the more common attachments. I found the health recovery attachment no less than 4 times within the same run. I feel like having some more weapons and attachments, along with an item pool concept similar to Binding of Isaac where certain types of items (Weapons mostly) can only be found once per run. Perhaps my largest criticism is the amount of time it takes to backtrack. The game encourages backtracking in various ways, the most common being missiles and health pickups. If you don't need them right away, then get almost demolished 5 rooms ahead, the smart play is to run back those rooms and pick up the health pickups you didn't need at the time before continuing ahead. This is the one thing from EtG that I think SR can learn from. EtG has a system where every other room or so has a teleport point that activates after clearing the room. You can teleport between rooms whenever you are not in combat, basically from any cleared room, by bringing up the map and clicking the room you want to go to. You can then reverse teleport to your previous location by activating the teleporter you arrived at, which is useful if you teleported from a room that doesn't have a teleporter. This mechanic serves to massively decrease the travel time you take going back for pickups, items, shops, and rooms you passed over the first time. The only thing SR would lose by implementing something like this are those very rare times where you're sprinting back through rooms and run face first into a trap not once, but twice due to shields. I think losing that bit of "difficulty" would be well worth the convenience of teleporting from a cleared room to another cleared room.

 I'd like to recount my epic first win run though, since it was pretty broken. I had gotten three sacrifice shop upgrades, double credits, credits on kill, magnetic shots, I had the Frag Cannon, the Repulsing mines,, the railgun module, and I was playing Deep Blue. In addition to that stuff I had gotten two of the major fire rate powerups, the one that lowers your damage and gives firerate, as well as the one that makes enemies lightly faster and gives fire rate. I also had the items that made enemies slower and increased damage, as well as Destiny for both fire rate and damage up, and the Make Every Shot count for yet mroe damage and alittle less fire rate. The insanity really kicked off when on floor 3 I bought a full compliment of drone from the robot shop, a corrosive drone, autocannon drone, and bullet blocking drone. Was clearing rooms like they were nothing. If floor 3 was insane, floor 4 was madness. I ran into the time machine consumable while ont eh 4th floor. I hadn't used it yet but I figured it probably worked like the Forget Me Not in Binding of Isaac, so I cleared the floor and took the plunge. New Floor 4. All new Robot shop here too. due to double credits and extra credits on kill, I was able to buy out that Robot shop too, as well as pick up an upgrade or two fromt he weapons shop. Found ANOTHER Time Machine. DId it again. On the third floor 4, found another Time Machine, did it again. By this time I was rocking 8 Drones (2 Corrosive, 2 Autocannon, Bullet, Basic, Slow Shot, and inwards shot)  insane fire rate and damage, the punishment powerup, 22 health, and TWO Rocket Man powerups. I'd just walk into rooms, hold LMB and space and everything would keel over. Inverse difficulty curve on this run for sure.  Managed to lose my Rocket Man on floor 5 due to the most bullshit room I could imagine. Long hallway with a laser across every 3 tiles. Couldn't shoot far enough to kill the stuff in the middle, and they managed to hit me twice :(. The hilarious part is, I found another TIme Machine on floor 5. I figured I was OP enough though and went to fight the floor 5 boss for the first time ever. Beat him while only taking a few hits. The sheer bullet spam I was putting out was a sight to behold, I'm sad I didn't think of screenshoting or capturing it ...

So I'd like to see more weapons, a mechanic that prevents weapons and attachments you've already seen in a run from appearing again, and some sort of room teleport for backtracking. I'll be playing more, trying to beat normal with every mech before I move on to trying hard :) Sorry if the post was a bit rambling.

Offline Misery

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #1 on: April 16, 2016, 09:15:14 PM »
Thanks, glad you've enjoyed the game!

We actually have some upcoming changes to it that address some of the things you mentioned.  And some stuff you didn't mention.

Four major things right now are being worked on:

1. Game balance.   Those crazy broken runs you had there?   They're supposed to be POSSIBLE, sure; that's part of how this genre works, you've got to let the player get occaisionally all-powerful.  But right now it's happening WAY too easily to the point where the game's difficulty progression is effectively backwards.  I mean, seriously, all sorts of things are off when it comes to balance, from weapon damage to powerup attack boosts to credit drops... all sorts.  That is being fixed (not by me, it's full of math, math is the enemy) and is coming along nicely.

2.  Weapon variety and such:  the lack of interesting weapons and moreso, the low frequency with which they actually appear has been an ongoing issue since the game launched.  That's been worked on a good bit recently and some nice changes there have been made (also not my doing).

3.  Room problems:  okay you didn't actually mention this, but if you were to have tried Hard mode, then you probably would have.  The game has a ton of broken rooms right now; kinda my fault, I hadn't been checking the blasted things properly as people submitted them.  But I'm going through and fixing these up so they no longer present impossible situations on higher difficulties. 

4.  Misery difficulty:  Again you didn't mention this but I may as well just point out for the heck of it that this mode is not finished.  What is in there now for this one is a mere placeholder.  The actual mode will be closer to full bullet-hell games on their highest difficulties.  For example, this is the Warden on that mode:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6cGOkBPd1ow      And yes, I like showing off that video.  Nobody can stop me.   This mode will basically be finished whenever I happen to finish it.  It's a very slow process since testing these is a massive pain.



The backtracking bit, I also agree that's a bit of an issue, though not a priority right now.  I've no idea how we might go about fixing that but it perhaps could be addressed in the future.  Right now, at least you have the ability to sprint.

Offline Ashnal

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #2 on: April 16, 2016, 09:41:34 PM »
Now THAT is some serious bullet hell. The patterns are beautiful. Reminds me even more of Touhou than the enemies in normal. Man I have to get good so I can play Hard and Misery :)

I'm no stranger to roguelikes and roguelites, been playing them for years. The occasional broken run is something I live for :). I also love the shit luck runs where you manage to pull off a win when RNGesus has forsaken you.

I did think of one other possible tweak. Originally I thought it might be nice to have all enemy shots colored red, and friendly shots colored blue. On my broken run it was extremely hard to see any enemy shots that were within my laser light show cone of fire (8 drones). After seeing that video though it reminded me that bullet patterns are something of an art form. So instead, I'd like to propose that friendly shots are all 1-3 unique colors, and enemy shots are any other color. You could do something like cool colors vs warm colors to give the artists a bit more leeway. But bullet differentiation is a problem as well when more of your own and enemy bullets start filling the screen.

One other small thing I forgot. i was sad to not find any lootable Missile Launcher variants. I understand that the base types are integral to gameplay, but it might be nice for there to be lootable ones that shoot different sizes or patterns, with possibly varying missile usage. For example, let's say you're a god at dodging shots, you might be happy to find a double missile launcher that has the smallest explosion radius but does increased damage and costs two missiles per use.

For backtracking, let me outline a particularly bad example for completely optimal play. Space Dandy is such a good item that purposefully avoiding credits on a floor until you've found it can be very profitable. I did this on the first floor of my current run, where I avoided all the credits I found, then I found the sacrifice room and paid for the (lucky) Space Dandy. Then I backtracked to collect my now double credit pickups. It's a very tangible advantage, but can take a lot of time to execute. If you want to be very good at the game, it's one of those things you might want to try, but it takes a lot of patience. A fast travel system around cleared rooms would make executing this strategy much less tedious.

Just started another run with the Treasure Hunter Mech. Got Space Dandy, Supercharged, Make it Rain, and Anger Protocol with the Hornet Nest and Serrated Spike Launcher. Still lacking an attachment, but this run is already looking very powerful with some good luck :)
« Last Edit: April 16, 2016, 09:52:35 PM by Ashnal »

Offline Logorouge

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #3 on: April 16, 2016, 09:54:31 PM »
Unfortunately, Space Dandy combined with the frequency of the Time Machine drop can make any form of challenge melt like snow on a warm summer day. I'm hoping those two things will be toned down eventually so they can be used freely, without resulting almost automatically into a broken/overkill run.

Edit: Concerning weapon variety, it's definitely already there but the game is very shy about actually showing it. Took me many many hours just to see most of them so far.
« Last Edit: April 16, 2016, 09:56:06 PM by logorouge »

Offline Cinth

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #4 on: April 16, 2016, 09:55:36 PM »
About the shot colors, check this thread out,

https://www.arcengames.com/forums/index.php/topic,18690.0.html.
Quote from: keith.lamothe
Opened your save. My computer wept. Switched to the ST planet and ship icons filled my screen, so I zoomed out. Game told me that it _was_ totally zoomed out. You could seriously walk from one end of the inner grav well to the other without getting your feet cold.

Offline Misery

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #5 on: April 17, 2016, 12:12:13 AM »
Now THAT is some serious bullet hell. The patterns are beautiful. Reminds me even more of Touhou than the enemies in normal. Man I have to get good so I can play Hard and Misery :)

I'm no stranger to roguelikes and roguelites, been playing them for years. The occasional broken run is something I live for :). I also love the shit luck runs where you manage to pull off a win when RNGesus has forsaken you.

I did think of one other possible tweak. Originally I thought it might be nice to have all enemy shots colored red, and friendly shots colored blue. On my broken run it was extremely hard to see any enemy shots that were within my laser light show cone of fire (8 drones). After seeing that video though it reminded me that bullet patterns are something of an art form. So instead, I'd like to propose that friendly shots are all 1-3 unique colors, and enemy shots are any other color. You could do something like cool colors vs warm colors to give the artists a bit more leeway. But bullet differentiation is a problem as well when more of your own and enemy bullets start filling the screen.

One other small thing I forgot. i was sad to not find any lootable Missile Launcher variants. I understand that the base types are integral to gameplay, but it might be nice for there to be lootable ones that shoot different sizes or patterns, with possibly varying missile usage. For example, let's say you're a god at dodging shots, you might be happy to find a double missile launcher that has the smallest explosion radius but does increased damage and costs two missiles per use.

For backtracking, let me outline a particularly bad example for completely optimal play. Space Dandy is such a good item that purposefully avoiding credits on a floor until you've found it can be very profitable. I did this on the first floor of my current run, where I avoided all the credits I found, then I found the sacrifice room and paid for the (lucky) Space Dandy. Then I backtracked to collect my now double credit pickups. It's a very tangible advantage, but can take a lot of time to execute. If you want to be very good at the game, it's one of those things you might want to try, but it takes a lot of patience. A fast travel system around cleared rooms would make executing this strategy much less tedious.

Just started another run with the Treasure Hunter Mech. Got Space Dandy, Supercharged, Make it Rain, and Anger Protocol with the Hornet Nest and Serrated Spike Launcher. Still lacking an attachment, but this run is already looking very powerful with some good luck :)


Eh, the bullet colors bit, they're mostly colorful out of necessity, because a lot of players expect that now.  Were it up to me, they'd all be purple because of having played Mushihime-sama so much.  But that wouldn't look as nice (sigh...) so, they had to be colorful.  And really I just choose colors at random here when making something.

The point about the missile launchers is a good one... that's something to consider.  I can think of a few ideas for those.

Fast travel, now that's a different thing entirely.  The main issue is how difficult or not such a thing would be to implement and how long it'd take.  I have no idea, I wouldn't be the one making that.  But I do agree that something at least should probably be done there.  Just not sure exactly what.



On a side note, yes, the Time Machine item needs to be rare.  It should NOT be in the consumables pool.  You know what, I think I might put it in the secret room item pool.  I think I might go do that now before I forget.  Isaac does that with the exact same item, and it works out very well there.   It's a very OP item by nature and should be quite rare.

Space Dandy I'm going to do something about.  I'd actually meant to awhile ago, but forgot!   

There'll be other item changes coming too... plenty of things I'd intended to do but there wasn't a whole lot of point to doing them until the difficulty curve and damage balance issues have been dealt with (hard to get numbers right when the base stuff is still all over the place).

Offline Pepisolo

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #6 on: April 17, 2016, 12:30:50 AM »
Thanks for the feedback! Yeah, the next patch (probably) should be addressing a lot of the issues you mention. In terms of weapon variety, we're (well...Ptarth is) fixing up the pools so you actually get to see the stuff in the game more often. Also, because the main weapon pool is a bit small, 4 new main weapons are going to be added too (also probably). We also hope to up the familiar count, too, in the next few weeks.

Offline Ashnal

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #7 on: April 17, 2016, 12:33:42 AM »

Eh, the bullet colors bit, they're mostly colorful out of necessity, because a lot of players expect that now.  Were it up to me, they'd all be purple because of having played Mushihime-sama so much.  But that wouldn't look as nice (sigh...) so, they had to be colorful.  And really I just choose colors at random here when making something.

The point about the missile launchers is a good one... that's something to consider.  I can think of a few ideas for those.

Fast travel, now that's a different thing entirely.  The main issue is how difficult or not such a thing would be to implement and how long it'd take.  I have no idea, I wouldn't be the one making that.  But I do agree that something at least should probably be done there.  Just not sure exactly what.



On a side note, yes, the Time Machine item needs to be rare.  It should NOT be in the consumables pool.  You know what, I think I might put it in the secret room item pool.  I think I might go do that now before I forget.  Isaac does that with the exact same item, and it works out very well there.   It's a very OP item by nature and should be quite rare.

Space Dandy I'm going to do something about.  I'd actually meant to awhile ago, but forgot!   

There'll be other item changes coming too... plenty of things I'd intended to do but there wasn't a whole lot of point to doing them until the difficulty curve and damage balance issues have been dealt with (hard to get numbers right when the base stuff is still all over the place).
So that run with the Treasure Hunter Mech yeah? Immediately after my win with Deep Blue? Aced it with almost the same strategy. Got a perfect on the Warden too. Killed him in under 10 seconds ... with about 7 of those being because I decided to aim at his minions instead of him at first. I took some Shadowplay footage of this one. I'll probably upload some of it tomorrow, it's a bit late here for that. Pretty similar loadout. Lots of attack speed, damage, crit. This time I had the Hornet gun. Near the end I was wondering if its fire rate was even going up. Yeah, did floor 4 3 times, and floor 5 3 times. Then tried to 4th Dimension to the 6th floor and the game said NO. Had an even larger drone army that time.

Also, are shields hard capped at 2? I had two (1 base, 1 level up upgrade) and I got the Shield Power up that removes your shields but grants +1 shield at the end of the level. I was slightly disappointed that I didn't get 3 shields. I can imagine why though, 3 shields would be very strong.
« Last Edit: April 17, 2016, 12:48:26 AM by Ashnal »

Offline ptarth

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #8 on: April 17, 2016, 03:50:16 AM »
  • Shields cap at 2. More visibility on this limit is planned.
  • Shot colors - See mod Cinth linked. If enough interest, then we may be able to incorporate it into the source.
  • There is another missile variant. Others in the pipeline. Most modules actually affect missiles in addition to your main gun and energy gun, so there are more variants than it looks at first.
  • Item pools should be better in the incoming balance patch. Should be before the end of the month.
  • Damage scaling should be better in the incoming balance patch.
  • Try hard mode your skill level is better than normal right now. Balance fixing coming in... I see you've heard that before ;)
  • Fast Travel - Not in the foreseeable future, finding a way to allow trap rooms to still function and allow sensible fast travel is complicated. If you aren't, you should use shift to speed yourself up while moving through empty rooms.
  • Cheers
Note: This post contains content that is meant to be whimsical. Any belittlement or trivialization of complex issues is only intended to lighten the mood and does not reflect upon the merit of those positions.

Offline Ashnal

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #9 on: April 17, 2016, 09:51:57 AM »
  • Shields cap at 2. More visibility on this limit is planned.
  • Shot colors - See mod Cinth linked. If enough interest, then we may be able to incorporate it into the source.
  • There is another missile variant. Others in the pipeline. Most modules actually affect missiles in addition to your main gun and energy gun, so there are more variants than it looks at first.
  • Item pools should be better in the incoming balance patch. Should be before the end of the month.
  • Damage scaling should be better in the incoming balance patch.
  • Try hard mode your skill level is better than normal right now. Balance fixing coming in... I see you've heard that before ;)
  • Fast Travel - Not in the foreseeable future, finding a way to allow trap rooms to still function and allow sensible fast travel is complicated. If you aren't, you should use shift to speed yourself up while moving through empty rooms.
  • Cheers

Thanks for taking the time to reply. I did Indeed notice that a lot of upgrades affected missiles. Especially fire rate upgrades. Launching 4 missiles per second with the Rocket Man powerup is pretty nuts.

On the Fast Travel VS Trap Rooms topic: I don't see an issue here. EtG also has trap rooms, and you still have to traverse them. You allow teleporting to any cleared, non-trap room from any cleared, non-trap room. This way when you first come across a trap room, you cannot teleport within it or past it, and you must traverse it to progress. Then after traversing the trap room once and clearing the room after, you'll be able to teleport over it. I see no harm in this as you are required to prove your skill vs the room once initially. Requiring skilled navigation potentially multiple times during backtracking is just tedious.

Offline Misery

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #10 on: April 17, 2016, 08:35:34 PM »
  • Shields cap at 2. More visibility on this limit is planned.
  • Shot colors - See mod Cinth linked. If enough interest, then we may be able to incorporate it into the source.
  • There is another missile variant. Others in the pipeline. Most modules actually affect missiles in addition to your main gun and energy gun, so there are more variants than it looks at first.
  • Item pools should be better in the incoming balance patch. Should be before the end of the month.
  • Damage scaling should be better in the incoming balance patch.
  • Try hard mode your skill level is better than normal right now. Balance fixing coming in... I see you've heard that before ;)
  • Fast Travel - Not in the foreseeable future, finding a way to allow trap rooms to still function and allow sensible fast travel is complicated. If you aren't, you should use shift to speed yourself up while moving through empty rooms.
  • Cheers


On the note of the trap rooms, I did have that thought before, but two things occurred to me:

1. Many trap rooms are totally optional in this; if a room has no enemies, but has a labyrinth of traps in it, pretty much always that little labyrinth is 100% optional, you don't have to deal with it unless you want to go after the prizes inside.  If the player doesn't need those, they don't have to deal with the traps anyway.

2. Trap rooms that CANT be skipped aren't any different than normal rooms anyway, since what makes them unskippable is the fact that there's enemies in them, forcing the player to traverse them.  These rooms though usually also have teleporters in them already, so that once cleared, the player CAN skip all the spike mazes or whatever, and of course in most cases the various traps will shut off upon clearing the room the first time.


So that part seems fine to me.   No, the issue to me is figuring out how exact a travel system might work in this, and moreso, if it's something we can implement without Chris or Keith.  I have no idea, you'd certainly be the one that'd know that bit, Ptarth. 

Though again, it's not some sort of major priority right now.  I do agree though that it'd really help with the experience of the game however. 


On a side note, I did change the pool for the damn time machine. 

Offline Ashnal

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Re: Feedback for Starward Rogue - It's Great!
« Reply #11 on: April 18, 2016, 12:04:37 AM »
On the note of the trap rooms, I did have that thought before, but two things occurred to me:

1. Many trap rooms are totally optional in this; if a room has no enemies, but has a labyrinth of traps in it, pretty much always that little labyrinth is 100% optional, you don't have to deal with it unless you want to go after the prizes inside.  If the player doesn't need those, they don't have to deal with the traps anyway.

2. Trap rooms that CANT be skipped aren't any different than normal rooms anyway, since what makes them unskippable is the fact that there's enemies in them, forcing the player to traverse them.  These rooms though usually also have teleporters in them already, so that once cleared, the player CAN skip all the spike mazes or whatever, and of course in most cases the various traps will shut off upon clearing the room the first time.

So that part seems fine to me.   No, the issue to me is figuring out how exact a travel system might work in this, and moreso, if it's something we can implement without Chris or Keith.  I have no idea, you'd certainly be the one that'd know that bit, Ptarth. 

Though again, it's not some sort of major priority right now.  I do agree though that it'd really help with the experience of the game however. 

On a side note, I did change the pool for the damn time machine.

It's even simpler than that really. You implement the ability to click on the map from the ESC screen and go poof from any completed room to any other completed room. Enter the Gungeon functions this way and it is really effective at cutting down the time spent running from cleared room to cleared room.

This way, you can't use it to escape combat (violates the from completed room requirement). You cannot use it to skip rooms entirely, as rooms are explored in a linear fashion usually, and you would not be able to teleport ahead of what you have cleared.

This allows you to remove most of the room traversal teleporters from the game entirely (but isn't required for the idea to function if it's too much work), and with that allows you to create trap rooms that require the player to traverse them once, even if there are no rewards within, since you don't need those convenience teleporters anymore. If you wanted to make absolutely sure that trap rooms weren't teleported out of even when there are no enemies, just have the room flagged as a trap room that you can't teleport from or to.

The only edge case I can think of is Wormhole Journey (or similar effects) teleporting you to a portion of map where there are multiple cleared areas separated by uncleared area. If you wanted to maintain the stranded feeling that an unlucky room random room teleport can bring, you simply have a rule that says the current location and destination have to be connected by cleared rooms.
« Last Edit: April 18, 2016, 12:09:17 AM by Ashnal »