View Full Version : Captain's Log: Initial Comments

06-18-2012, 03:25 PM
When the game gets its hooks in, it is very addictive and fun

However, at this stage, getting to that stage is still hit-or-miss. I've had some ships that were total write-offs and some that were quite engaging.

Because of the faction system, some "random draws" of races result in radically easier games than others. It's still too hard for me to tell which races I should immediately destroy, and which I should help out. So far, at least half of my games have ended with my "primary" race declaring war on me and either refusing my bribes or extorting me to poverty.

I would suggest if the universe collapses to a single race, the round should end. You can get a reward based on how much they like you. So "alliance" means awesome chest, "at war" means nothing or a token "take this and go before we destroy you" reward (or simply "exile!").

Technical Issues and Interface Feedback
- "M" map aspect ratio is off in 1900X1680 resolution

- Font used for "Pause" and some other text in game is different from the other fonts.

- Suggest using a "flash and fade" rather than just "on/off". Will look nicer.

- Ship Customization
Wish I could customize my ship a bit, or at least see it change more
In Din's changing gear resulted in immediate visual changes. If I'm going to have one ship for the whole level (often not moving up in size/scale) I'd like to at least choose the color or something.

Gameplay Feedback
There really should be a way to know...
- How many starlanes are in a system (at least. The intro says the Drox built the starlanes, and yet I know where none of them are).
- How many planets are in a a system
- Where the gate is

Once I locate some of these things, I should be able to sell or trade this information for a decent amount of faction (assuming right planet/right person). I can see quests where [Faction] needs an empty planet of a certain type. (Humans need a jungle planet).

If I fly close enough to something to see it on the main screen, it should automatically show up on the minimap

Given how painful getting dumped into a new sector can be (no way home, etc.) I feel like you either really don't want people opening anomalies or there needs to be a fast/easy/expensive way to get back (one-shot teleport/warp "scroll" to home gate?).

I wish there were a beacon/probe I could send through wormholes and gates rather than jumping through myself each time.

There really needs to be a way for me to open gates/colonize planets in empty systems myself. Maybe a "starter colony" consumable that is required to mark a planet, and then I can sell it to factions? Or an expensive consumable "key" to activate the warp gate on the network?

Nothing's worse than inadvertently warping to a sector where I have 5 quests and then realizing I can't find a way back to it.

- Was hard to understand donation slot at beginning. I eventually figured it out. Still don't know if I can/should donate other items to planets/systems. I would recommend automatically removing these items in proximity to planets, or just asking users as they fly by "Quest: Donate X to Y?"

"Losing" doesn't seem so bad. Wish I could resign some sectors or leave...sometimes the equations and randomness result in a slow creep that isn't quite death and is definitely not victory. Given the choice of starting over/failing or dumping my credits into buying peace, I'm taking failure

- Ship is painfully slow at beginning
Others have made similar comments, I will second them here. Once I read about how to go faster, it dramatically changed the feel of the game, so much so that I will not create new ships without thinking about faster speeds.

However, going faster can make the game extremely easy in early stages. I would suggest addition of a temporary slowing mechanic similar to but hopefully not as brutal as the "ice" in Din's Curse. This could be a weapon (tractor beam) fired with a short duration or a curse/condition (virus?) that fades after a long time (or can be removed at a station for a fee).

Might also consider adjusting the speed curves - that is to say, make the base/minimum speed higher, and the top speeds lower.

- Planets need alternatives to gravity wells
Maybe nearby space stations or docks? Given how many quests I have to drop off, it seems excessively punitive to slow me down inbound and outbound here. Less of an issue with a much faster ship, but still, it makes things less fun, and since I HAVE to go through one to scan, shop or turn stuff in, it just seems lame.

- More gate discovery
Given how important the gates are, and how reluctant the aliens are to sell them, I'd suggest having some anomalies drop gate directions/activations (Din's did this, maybe Drox does and I just haven't found them yet).

Also consider having vendors sell maps? Most of the stuff vendors have has been useless so far, so I end up with enough cash to buy anything I want. Having a map option would be a good cash sink.

The above are especially important given how many maps have ended up in a kind of stalemate, where all my races have offered me quests to parts of the galaxy I cannot get to, or worse, have gotten to once via unstable wormhole, and died there.

- Gates should be free
Given how much of the game relies on using them (is there any other way, other than random wormholes or the odd starlane, to get everywhere?), actually CHARGING the player for use seems particularly harsh.

Vendors and Gear
Maybe I am looking at this too much through a Din's lens, but...
I end up hanging on to gear and level points for a long, long time in this game. Most of the time there's no clear benefit to churning my gear or increasing my ship size.

Most of what the vendors sell is not worth buying. I'd like to see some combination of less junk, better items, notification of good items, and a delivery service with a delivery fee (and time delay)

Consider making some gear require larger ships?

"Adaptor" item that allow swapping 2-3 lower slots for 1 higher slot, or vice versa

Quest stuff
- Failed quests need to be at least sorted together, if not automatically removed. This is really important when I have 10 quests for a race that just went extinct.

- Failed quests should be PREFIXED with "FAILED: ", rather than appending. Much easier to see.

- Please group all of the quests for a current star system together. I am a starship captain. My crew needs to do this much for me.

- On the quest info screen, put "LOCATION: [star system]" in upper left corner, and the name of the offering team in the upper right corner"

- I would expect the people offering me a job to provide directions to certain things, like a planet. It is OK if they want to pay me less for this.

- Given the difficulty of the "colonize planet" quests, I feel like the rewards should be more substantial (though obviously, having a system colonized can, in and of itself, be helpful).

- Put the timer for timed quests on the main screen. A ticking clock would add urgency.

- I really like the way Anno 2070 and Galactic Civilizations handle quests/updates, with a vertical column on the main screen for quests. Would much rather see this than constantly having to flip to the "Q" screen

Other Suggestions
Consider giving the races slightly different ship progressions or biases

Allow me to shunt/bias my energy. A common sci-fi trope, re-routing weapons to shields or shields to engines or engines to weapons would allow some interesting compensation for gear, etc.

Add in a tiny chance (in long games) that an extinct race will revive (colony ship?)

I also think the "victory conditions" for levels need some revision. Not sure if this is part of the intended design, but individual levels can last for a LONG time relative to Din's. At a certain point, I'm stuck and ready to abandon this system or start over, but I don't have that option.

One would expect the race I choose to have other impact - If I am a Shadow, make the Shadow race predisposed to like me if I support them, and twice as predisposed to hate me if I don't support them or support their enemies.

[I am a software product manager and have developed games before. I also loved Din's Curse.]

06-18-2012, 06:15 PM
You can abandon a sector btw, just go through play instead of resume.