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cthonic
06-15-2012, 03:24 PM
These are all criticisms, yes, but I'm very positive about the game. It's great fun and has kept me hooked. There's certainly work to do, but what you have is already better than many indie final releases.

May as well jump into it! I'm level 25 and have played about 5 rounds. And please don't take anything I say personally. I have the utmost respect for all of Soldak and really appreciate all the great work you put into your games.




MAJOR ISSUES:

*You are way too slow at the start of the game. This is the biggest issue I have with the game, and one that could ruin reviews as it leaves an incredibly negative first impression. Initial thrust should be no less than 50-75, because the game is next to unplayable at any value less than that.




BALANCE ISSUES:

*Beam weapons are terrible. Take two fictional weapons, a Missile and a Laser. Both have, say, 100DPS. The missle launches once every three seconds, the laser every second. This means the missle does 300 damage per hit, while the laser does 100.

At this point it's a pretty clear division of weapons: Missles are hard-hitting but slow, ideal for bosses, lasers are weak but quick, ideal for trash.

The problem right now is, for some inscrutable reason, both weapons require the same amount of energy to fire. This means the laser requires three times as much energy as the missle to do the same amount of damage. You will rapidly run out of power using a fast-attacking weapon when compared to a slow, large projectile.

Then we run into the problem that beams are just bad in general. They don't have exceptional DPS for their iLvl, plus they're three times worse in efficiency. Where beams are truly terrible, however, is when you account for the dropoff damage (only 25% at max range), especially when combined with how janky movement is in the game.

In short, beam weapons are just really, really bad.


*Peaceful, expansion-focused races win. This is largely due to the fact that if a race runs out of planets it loses. If a race can keep everyone calm and steadily expand, it rapidly becomes the dominant one. Warlike races tend to piss everyone off right off the bat and die unceremoniously (the Fringe gets wiped out ASAP every game I've played). The Hive and Humans seem most able to pull this off when left to their own devices.

This is partially because colonies are totally destroyed when a planet is captured. Not only does a warlike race have to conquer, they have to then colonize as well.

It'd be nice to see a more dangerous or warlike race "win."


*AOE is king. It's an ARPG so of course this is true, but it's to the extent that I don't really see the point of taking single-target weapons as-is. I think cranking up the cooldowns on things like bombs might be a good idea -- I want them to wipe out packs, but I don't want them to be "I win" buttons.




UI:

*Please add more quest markers! It's unbelievably frustrating and boring to get a "kill a pack of xyz" quest in a zone and then have to "lawnmower" back and forth across the empty space looking for it. In Din's (etc) this was less of an issue since you're in a dungeon and walls means there are only a set few number of places to look. In Drox, however, the lack of structured zones can make things into a needle-in-an-infinite-void situation.


*The minimap is worthless. Do I need to equip radar for this to be worth a crap? I don't have the Computers to do it so I haven't checked. If that's the case, make it clear you need to equip a radar item for that to be worth anything. If not, please start showing me planets, treasure, enemies, etc. And maybe zoom it out a bit.


*The automatic stat analysis/upgrade suggestion system should prioritize the "primary" stat of an item. This means the big yellow ones. Why would a weapon with 5 less DPS be better than the one I have now? Why is the generator with 100 less power better than what I have? I assume you're checking this via iLvl?




GAMEPLAY:

*The first 30 minutes are fever-pitched; the next two hours are sluggish. Races quickly die out and the game goes from the more interesting and varied diplomacy phase to the dull "faction farm" phase in about 30 minutes. This is a rather generalized complaint that my later points will flesh out (and suggest ideas to change this), but, in general, the flow of the game seems to be incredibly top-heavy.


*The optimal strategy is to pick one race and kill the rest. Is that intended? I got the impression I was an armed-to-the-teeth warrior-diplomat more interested in galactic peace than galactic peace by genocide. Perhaps adding additional rewards based on how many races are left standing at the end would encourage more diplomatic play?


*Planets are too weak. This contributes to the fever pitched early game: When planets have only slightly more HP than a boss and are easily exploited to death, races are quickly wiped out, which leads to the phenomenon of a chaotic early start followed by a dull drawn-out end.


*Planets are easily exploited to death. By this I mean you get a missile, stand out of range of the planet's defenders, and fire. The defenders don't respond. You can easily wipe out every race right out the gate with this method. Fixing this could help the top-heavy problem with the game flow.


*Everybody starts in the same zone. Again, it contributes to the chaos, and sort of limits the importance of exploration.


*Farming faction is counter-intuitive. It's best to let a pack of raiders survive and then run the tools that fix their planetary sabotages than it is to kill them, because fixing the sabotages is easy, quick, and gives as much, if not more, faction as killing the raider pack.


*You have to farm a ton of faction. This is a tedium thing. You and the Humans are all that's left of civilization after the chaos on the first thirty minutes of the universe. Now, unless you want to spend an exorbitant amount of money on your side of the alliance agreement, you need to do tedious, repetitive quests that reward 1-1.5 faction at a time. And farm up Technology and planet info which you can donate (though this doesn't give much faction either). Your reward for this is a chest that often contains worse drops than a boss. Boring.


*Tactical should not be the only weapon stat! Why not spread out weapons across the different stats? Beams could be Engineering, Explosives could be Tactical, Ballistics could be Structure, the weird stuff/debuffers could be Computers.




FEATURE SUGGESTIONS:

*More random quests, especially in the endgame! I don't want wait five minutes between "Colonize this planet" quests while trying to farm up faction to finish the game. Throw more Din's style stuff at me, replete with faction rewards.


*Add an option for individual system map size. We can limit the number of systems in a galaxy, but we can't limit the map size of each system. I don't really like these big sprawling zones. Being that there is no structure, 50% of the zone is just empty, making for much less content per square inch than any of your other games.


*Make some more varied map types! For instance, a map made into a traditional dungeon due to the inclusion of asteroid "walls" could be a refreshing change of pace.

Shadow
06-15-2012, 04:37 PM
Radars improve your minimap.

The better item suggestion is based on credits value currently.

Races don't always start in the same zone.

cthonic
06-15-2012, 04:57 PM
Radars improve your minimap.
In what ways? I know Radar is a numbered value and not just "Radar 1/2/3," so I'm curious what it does. I'm also not a huge fan of having to use a precious equipment slot just to have a UI component function.

Valgor
06-15-2012, 05:03 PM
I think they increase the distance you can see blips on the minimap.
But yes, I found radars to be quite useless, too. There's not much incentive to use one since the player can gather all the required information from the system map just as well.

Shadow
06-15-2012, 05:09 PM
Yeah, currently radar will increase the range that blips show up on the minimap.

Bluddy
06-15-2012, 05:49 PM
I think they increase the distance you can see blips on the minimap.
But yes, I found radars to be quite useless, too. There's not much incentive to use one since the player can gather all the required information from the system map just as well.

Good point. All upgrades are competing with each other for slots, and if all a radar does is give you a better minimap, then it's not competitive. If it gave some counter measures to spoof enemy missiles, that would be a different story, but there might be another component for that.

Shadow
06-15-2012, 05:56 PM
Good point. All upgrades are competing with each other for slots, and if all a radar does is give you a better minimap, then it's not competitive. If it gave some counter measures to spoof enemy missiles, that would be a different story, but there might be another component for that.

Radar components also improve your attack stat.

Bluddy
06-15-2012, 06:01 PM
Great comments cthonic -- very insightful.


The optimal strategy is to pick one race and kill the rest. Is that intended? I got the impression I was an armed-to-the-teeth warrior-diplomat more interested in galactic peace than galactic peace by genocide. Perhaps adding additional rewards based on how many races are left standing at the end would encourage more diplomatic play?

This is a very important point. During development, I (or someone else) raised this point. There has to be an incentive not to let a race get too big. What I'm thinking of is that the bigger a race is, the less it should care about Drox, particularly if the Drox operative didn't help it grow. If it feels indebted to Drox for helping it grow, it might care about the operative a little more, but otherwise, it quickly starts thinking it doesn't need the Drox and it start becoming more and more hostile towards the player, giving him worse trades, worse prices and fewer quests. An all-powerful race can carry out quests internally.

The key is that you need to keep all your client races thinking that they NEED you. The way to do that is mostly by keeping other strong opponents to threaten the particular race, but it's also through sabotage and other covert means. This means that you can never let one race just grow unchecked -- they'll soon throw you to the dogs. Instead, you must seek out the other races and figure out where you can make yourself needed first, and always balance out the growth of one race with other races.

You might even want to have a game counter other than relation towards you -- Drox dependency. The more races feel they need you, the more successful you are. A race might hate you, but they'll still be civil towards you because they'll feel that without the Drox they are doomed. The victory condition would then be to make all races feel dependent on you beyond a certain amount, and the best way to lose is to let one race take over the whole sector.

Letting 2 races get big would then be a viable strategy, but a risky one. They might unite and turn against the Drox, or one of them might conquer the other and then you're dealing with 1 big race, which would again be a problem.

cthonic
06-16-2012, 01:40 AM
This is a cross-post of mine from another forum I read, so apologies to the staff if they've already read it. I wanted to repost it here just to keep things organized, and to hear what the other members thought:



*The equipment slot system is holding the game back. It's obtuse as hell and adds another layer of unnecessary complexity that just serves to confuse.

I mean, I get it. Heavy slots are generally armor, engines, primary weapons, and generators. Medium are generally armor, secondary weapons, shields, and computers. Light slots are a grab bag of anything from cooldown abilities to resistance boosts to crew that level up with you.

The thing is, none of this system makes any damn sense. It's totally non-intuitive. I guess it's supposed to add a layer of flexibility, because sometimes I'll find an engine that fits in a Medium slot, which frees up a heavy slot for something else. But it's a fake flexibility. Every player has to take an Engine (Heavy, sometimes Medium) and a Generator (Heavy). Everything except the most gimmicky of gimmick builds will also take at least one Armor (Heavy or Medium), one Primary weapon (Heavy) and Shield (Medium).

In short, of your 8 combined Heavy and Medium slots, 5 are already spoken for. It's a false choice, and the bizarre way it's presented just makes things extremely confusing.

Make a paper doll (paper spaceship?) system. See Space Rangers 2: You always have a slot for an engine, shield, armor, generator, computer (well, scanner in SR2's case) and radar. Then, depending on your hull (Command, in Drox's case), you get a varying number of weapon and accessory (equivalent to Light) slots.

Only the appropriate item can be equipped in the appropriate slot. That's crucial. The player should immediately see they're missing a basic component, instead of staring at the neon wall of items in their inventory and then trying to figure out where they put the new gun they found.

cthonic
06-16-2012, 01:44 AM
Races don't always start in the same zone.

What's the chance they do/don't? I'm up to eight rounds now and they've all started in the same initial zone with one planet each.

goodgimp
06-16-2012, 02:18 AM
*The equipment slot system is holding the game back. It's obtuse as hell and adds another layer of unnecessary complexity that just serves to confuse.


Hmmm, I get what you're saying, but I only semi-agree. The part I agree on is that there are a lot of necessary components (shields, engines, etc) and they should probably have their own slot, but I do like the heavy/medium/light system. It reminds me a bit of EVE, and I really like how equipment worked there. I'd rather see the current system tweaked to add some more "real" flexibility than replace the system completely. Maybe different races/ships could have different slot loadouts?

profanicus
06-16-2012, 03:57 AM
One of the first things I did early on was put in a second engine. Changing to a SR2-style system would remove this option. What if I want to run with multiple armour modules and no shields, or vice versa? Or no primary weapon and a bunch of EMP? I think allowing what some may consider gimmicky builds is preferable to restricting everyone to a "one of everything" approach, and quite like the way the system currently works.

I do agree that it is not that easy to see your load-out at a glance (maybe easier when more familiar with all the icons), but I think improving the way the information is presented is better than totally changing the system.

Maybe something like enhanced tooltips on the character screen could help; when mousing over a stat it lists all modules that contribute to that stat in the tooltip, and highlights those modules in the inventory if it is also open.

Kruztee
06-16-2012, 06:50 AM
Very broadly, I agree with pretty much of all of cthonic's gripes.

The false choices that the item system is giving does add a ton of unnecessary complexity to item management. I'm not a fan at all. I'd much rather see dedicated slots for essential equipment. I've only levelled to 10 with my current character, and appreciate that the later ship models will undoubtably offer more choice than the earlier ones, but I've already put about 3 hours into the game, and I'm not having a lot of fun.:(

The lawnmowing across massive sectors to find elusive bosses or research items is just dreary. The rep grind at the end of a game is unbearably long and unsatisfying. It's almost as if the game's outcome is decided in the first half hour, and the next two hours are spent doing repetitive errands to grind out the win.

I'm enjoying Drox far less than Din's at the same stage of beta.

Shadow
06-16-2012, 12:21 PM
What's the chance they do/don't? I'm up to eight rounds now and they've all started in the same initial zone with one planet each.

It really depends on the size of the sector and how many races are in it. It's fairly easy to get multiple races in the same sector if it is small with lots of races, but most of the it isn't all of the races.

Reefpirate
06-16-2012, 12:54 PM
I do agree with the fact that the game does seem to slow down if you have, say, two friendly factions left. The last sector I played I had Dryad and Humans left, and the Dryad were so friendly they just kept giving me money and naturally became Allies... Problem is they also became allies with Humans naturally. So I couldn't really get them to fight each other. I spent a very very long time trying to grind up Human reputation but it really took way too long.

As for the item system, I am enjoying it a lot. It has quite a bit of flexibility, and I didn't consider my ship a gimmick build and I haven't used any armor yet.

Besides, as a beta you can't really expect a full redesign of a major system like that IMO.

spacehog
06-16-2012, 01:31 PM
What's the chance they do/don't? I'm up to eight rounds now and they've all started in the same initial zone with one planet each.

I can't tell you the numbers for do/don't chances, but in all of the worlds I've created, there have only been 1-3 races in the initial zone. There are some races I don't discover until 30+ minutes in the world and a great deal of exploring different sectors. (Unless I trade knowledge about races with known races.)

Wakuseino
06-16-2012, 06:23 PM
You might even want to have a game counter other than relation towards you -- Drox dependency. The more races feel they need you, the more successful you are. A race might hate you, but they'll still be civil towards you because they'll feel that without the Drox they are doomed. The victory condition would then be to make all races feel dependent on you beyond a certain amount, and the best way to lose is to let one race take over the whole sector.


I actually really like the Drox Dependency idea. Some random ideas on how it could work:

Relations between the player and other races are typically calculated between whichever is higher: Relationship or Drox Dependency. This means that they can hate you, but will still let you trade if they're too dependent on you. You could also do an "Effective Relation", calculation, wherein it takes the average of the two for how they treat you: So if they like you but don't have much Dependency, they'll still treat you kind of badly.

As for how to gain Dependency, the obvious option is to do missions: Every time you complete a mission, they get a bit more Dependency. Giving away Technology and Planet info and the like would also raise Dependency instead of relations: Basically, donations give Dependency, trades give Relations. Keeping up with the idea of "it measures how much they think they need you", though, it also goes down at a faster speed than normal relations, perhaps with the race power level increasing the speed of the degradation. And of course, whenever they manage something significant (founding a colony, dealing with unrest, successful espionage, destroying a major enemy, etc.) without your help, their Dependency takes an immediate hit: They know for a fact that they don't need you! Look at what they just did!

The idea here is that Dependency rises easily, but also falls relatively easily on its own, while relations with you have smaller gains and losses, resulting in it being largely stable until you start antagonising them.

That all being said... I think it's a bit too late in development to add a new mechanic. Still, an idea for the inevitable expansion!

Chumpy
06-16-2012, 07:03 PM
A lot of good points here, but I like light/medium/heavy slots. For a chunk of the early game I had no weapons in my Heavy slots and three EMPs in Medium.

I'd rather see the current equipment improved than turned into something pretty much like other games.

ShaggyMoose
06-16-2012, 07:27 PM
Make a paper doll (paper spaceship?) system. See Space Rangers 2: You always have a slot for an engine, shield, armor, generator, computer (well, scanner in SR2's case) and radar. Then, depending on your hull (Command, in Drox's case), you get a varying number of weapon and accessory (equivalent to Light) slots.

Only the appropriate item can be equipped in the appropriate slot. That's crucial. The player should immediately see they're missing a basic component, instead of staring at the neon wall of items in their inventory and then trying to figure out where they put the new gun they found.
As others have said, I find it a good feature that I can use erm, non traditional loadouts. Losing this flexibility would be a mistake IMO. Therefore, maybe there is some compromise... Instead of a paper doll, there could be a summary display which breaks down your components into power, offense, defense, engines and computers (or similar). This would be in addition t othe actual configuration panel. Then you could see at a glance if you were weak in any particular area and if is was not intentional, do something about it. This suggestion is a little flawed as well though, as a lot of components provide boosts across multiple segments. Its also going to chew up UI space.

Chumpy
06-16-2012, 07:28 PM
I wonder if planets should have lower HP, but get a defensive bonus for adjacent ships?

I'll take out the ships guarding a planet but then have to just sit there for a while.

Bluddy
06-16-2012, 11:23 PM
I do like the current system, but I also feel like it's very complex. This is mostly because you have so many limitations: slot type limitation, power limitation, level limitation and I think also tech limitation for some things (right?). It makes it really hard to iterate through different combinations of items. I sit there, doing the math about what I can equip, but it gets too tedious. I'd rather just stick with what I have and swap as little as possible.

It's really hard to present a system as complex as this in a simple way. What I think could be done is to have a new screen just for equipping your stuff -- you need a lot of screen real estate to deal with so much complexity. The new screen would be a paper doll, with a slot for each component type. The different choices would all be displayed at the same time around each slot. So if you have 3 engines available, you can see all of them at once. Selecting 1 or 2 engines would highlight them and show you the results in terms of slot types remaining and power remaining. You could then play with different combinations by just clicking on the choices in the different slots. You could even save some combinations as numbered configurations.

MOOMANiBE
06-16-2012, 11:48 PM
I wonder if planets should have lower HP, but get a defensive bonus for adjacent ships?

I'll take out the ships guarding a planet but then have to just sit there for a while.

I'd like to see planetary shields that make a planet immune to damage until you take out its ships, actually. Colonies in general need to be less susceptible to sniping.

Castruccio
06-16-2012, 11:52 PM
What I think could be done is to have a new screen just for equipping your stuff -- you need a lot of screen real estate to deal with so much complexity. The new screen would be a paper doll, with a slot for each component type. The different choices would all be displayed at the same time around each slot. So if you have 3 engines available, you can see all of them at once. Selecting 1 or 2 engines would highlight them and show you the results in terms of slot types remaining and power remaining. You could then play with different combinations by just clicking on the choices in the different slots. You could even save some combinations as numbered configurations.

So this would be MASSIVELY helpful. It is very difficult to compare components as it stands, and like Bluddy I would almost rather stick with what I have than have to compare all the components in my inventory by doing the math every time.