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News: Paul Reiche and Fred Ford want to continue the story they started when they created Star Control II — The Ur-Quan Masters. «Happy days and jubilation!» «But wait!» «There is something wrong here... something which makes my sheath retract and my talons ooze.» «Please, Captain, we need your help!»

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Author Topic: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?  (Read 80037 times)
Death 999
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #30 on: January 03, 2006, 06:21:47 pm »

(1) You and Death are take contrary positions, Death claiming that the Captain is in charge and you and that the game reflects this, and you claiming that the Captain is a coequal (or even subordinate!) and that the game reflects it.

Either way, we agree that the game does not place Hayes in a superior role.

Response 2 is irrelevant.


(4) Given that I think it was meant to *play* as an adventure, I think untethering the player from the station would've been a good idea.  It would have reduced mining, made exploring easier, and given a greater sense of freedom.

You know, freedom in games is not necessarily a totally great thing.
If you could build as you went and just mined as you needed to refuel, you could work your way all the way around the galaxy, meandering all over the place.

I think making things just that little bit inconvenient that you need to return home HELPS FOCUS THE GAME. Once you have your ship built up, you have places to go, and you don't want to dilly-dally getting there, because if you plan it wrong you'll be out of fuel away from home.

(6) To the extent that the station is meant to act as a "home," that aspect is *not* reflected in gameplay.  Your only interaction with the base is superficial and annoying.  If the game was meant to capture the DS9 / B5 type atmosphere (obviously that's anachronistic, but so what?), then there should've been more to do to make the base feel like you were a part of it (and vice versa).  Like, let the player choose how to allocate resources on the base, have it go from broken down to built back up, add more characters there, etc.  Right now, the player never feels attached *emotionally* to the base, even though he is attached *physically* to it by the need to ferry stuff back.

Maybe YOU don't feel attached... but I always sighed relief when I made it home. Sure, you can't customize the place, but why would you? It's set up fine as it is. Like, my parents' house. I never customized the place outside my own room, but man that place is indelibly burned into my psyche.


(7) To argue that a mineral processor would take up too much room on the ship is juvenile.

When did I argue this?


(Cool I'm sure my strip-mining tactic did, in part, reflect my personality.  But I don't think I was unique in doing it that way, and in any event, that doesn't excuse the game for channeling players in that direction (i.e., by not making clear to them that there's an alternative option of being picky on planets). 

It is clear that you did not actually read the in-game advice that Cmdr Hayes gives, then! Well, well, well...
Also, if you took spiral courses, that's... really... inefficient. No wonder you spent hours and hours mining.

The fact that after someone has played the games tons and knows where everything is, he can avoid stripmining is so stupid as to not be worthy of a response.

And your assumption that best mining practices have anything to do with foreknowledge is false. Every time I play, outside of hitting the nearest stars (which yields great stuff) I basically mine according to Hayes' advice. I don't memorize mother-lode positions other than Alpha Centauri, but any player would run across that one soon, experienced or not.

Read Hayes' mining advice; it's good, for the most part. If anything should be changed about this game in the direction you're going, it would be making Hayes' mining advice more prominent.

As for the comparisons to other games:
well, you're entitled to like other games, and not like this one; but make your judgement of this one actually be based on full information.
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Draxas
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #31 on: January 03, 2006, 11:27:06 pm »

I think there's one important thing everyone is overlooking here about the Starbase, probably because we've all beaten the game backwards and forwards a hundred times now (I know I have): The science team. You get so many artifacts of varying obscurity in the game, that it's nice for someone to give you at least a little insight into what they might do, even if it does tend to be a bit cryptic. I would never know the 'casters had a use outside of impersonation of deities if it wasn't for the folks at the starbase telling me to try it out. That's just one example (probably the best, but still).

Of course, it could be argued that you could centralize a science team to analyze artifacts on your vessel as well. And hey, why not add in a comm system, so Hayes doesn't have to give you important bulletins either, you can just randomly be notified of them as you fly around! And hey, while we're at it, why don't we just consolidate all these functions into a single computer with a glowy red eye, and name it fricking ICOM! Roll Eyes

And you wonder why people argue so hard against these ideas. That's just one of the things that I found irritating about SC3; since you're not "tethered" to any centralized location for any reason, you basically just wander pretty much aimlessly through most of the game, and wind up feeling lost as you try to pinpoint the ONE star system the game wants you to explore to set things in motion again.

Here's another oft-overlooked thing: the mining system is not "perfect" because it was a last-minute addition to the game. On my original disks, there's a text file with the "what's changed since we published the manual" set of release notes. It seems that the majority of the document's introduction is the author, bitching about how the programmers cloistered themselves away for a short while (I think 6 weeks?) just before release, and came back with a whole new set of planet lander mechanics... Point being that the entire lander exploration setup that we all have come to associate with the game was probably not tested very thouroughly as to how the playtesters liked using it to mine planets. More likely, was included because it added a lot to the game (would this game be better off if, for example, you just issued a command to send an away team to a planet, and it simply returned a message stating what you found or that your team was killed, without any opportunity to interact with the planet directly? I doubt it), and it was rushed through testing to ensure it worked correctly and didn't crash the game. It's probably a pretty ad-hoc system, and wasn't thought out terribly thouroughly, which is likely why the mineral classifications seem a little odd.

In this day and age, it's easy to say what could be improved, and what could be scrapped, etc. But bear in mind that this game was made almost 15 years ago. How many of the improvements that you're suggesting hadn't even been thought up by the other games you cite yet? I know when I saw SC2, I thought it was amazing; it was like no other game I had ever seen before (suffice to say, I played the original some time later). I can barely remember what PC gaming was like otherwise back in 1992 (though Sierra was pretty prominent, and Dune 2 had just spawned the RTS genre, if I recall correctly), so maybe someone with a better memory can fill in whether or not many of these mechanics had been done before.

Should I have even bothered with this? Seems like the one it's directed at probably won't even bother to read it now.
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #32 on: January 04, 2006, 11:19:37 pm »

Only because you seemed to want a response, Draxas.

(1) I would be in favor of moving science to the ship, as well.  If I had my druthers, I'd probably have the Sol station wiped out after the player leaves the system, fairly early in the game, to let the player know that the Quan mean business and that defying them has consequences.  (As it stands, nothing in the game has consequences until races starting dying off to the Kzer Za, though I suppose you can get the Pkunk wiped out, too.)

I haven't played SC3, so I can't say whether centralizing it on the ship was the problem.  It sounds like the problem was more that there was only ever one place where the story could be advanced, whereas in SC2 there were always several quests going on at once.

Your parade of horribles for centralization ends with putting a comm on the ship, and, actually, I think this, too, would've improved things.  Not finding out that the ZFP were in trouble until I got back to the station seemed kind of lame, and I can't help but feel like it would've been more dramatic if you'd gotten a message directly from them, rather than having it relayed.  A matter of taste, to be sure.

(2) Fair point regarding the mining, and that may explain the weaknesses of the system.  It does seem somewhat unfair to present the alternative as being a team of commandos, though, given that the older Starflight games actually had more involved landing mechanics (so did another space exploration game the name of which I'm forgetting -- it wasn't Elite) that involved dealing with natives, etc.

But my beef isn't primarily with the lander mechanic itself (which isn't *that* bad).  I think most of the problem comes from having to ferry stuff back to the station and the way the resource model works.  As I said before, I think having it done on the ship and having modules cost *specific* resources would've been a more interesting way of handling it.

(3) Sure, the game deserves credit for what it did and for when it came out.  Again, though, it's important to compare it with Star Flight II, which predated Star Control by three years.  (Three years is the length of time between, e.g., Warcraft II and Starcraft.)  Star Control was, depending on how you look at it, somewhere between the third (Star Flight, Star Flight II, Star Control II) and the sixth game in that space exploration genre (Elite, Star Flight, Star Flight II, this other game I can't remember*, Star Control I, Star Control II).  I happen to think SC2 is the best game in the genre, but it *was* a genre before SC2 got there.  SC2 is mainly an incremental improvement on things that were already there.  The exploration / alien interaction / item usage elements were in SF2.  The melee was in SC1.  That leaves, really, only the fleet control stuff as an innovation.

* Maybe Space Rogue.  Star Command also falls into this category.

Anyway, the larger thing, though, is that this thread is entitled "Improving the original? . . . "  Some posts earlier I noted that the suggestions I was making were outside the scope of what I think should be done in this project.  But I don't think they're outside the scope of the question "What to improve to do the game even better?"  It seems a little weird to join a thread with that title and then write, "In this day and age, it's easy to say what could be improved, and what could be scrapped, etc. But bear in mind that this game was made almost 15 years ago."

Of course, the argument could be made that my suggestions go so far beyond what SC2 was that it would no longer be *improving* the game but merely making a new game with the same plot.  I don't think that's so, but it's not worth debating and I really am done with this thread, I just felt bad b/c of your plaintive cry. Smiley
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Draxas
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #33 on: January 05, 2006, 12:47:31 am »

Hold! Why you are leaving is wrong! Why do you do this thing?

You are correct, of course, in saying that remarks about what was done 15 years ago don't have much of a place in an improvement thread for today. Then again, as you said, the suggestions you're making are pretty far outside the scope of simply improving the game, and really moving into the realm of a "retelling" of the story.

While I could go on for hours about what was wrong with SC3, I do indeed feel that one of the biggest problems was the complete decentralization of the game. ICOM essentially acted as a "portable Hayes" in that game, in that it served the combined functions of advisor, science officer (sort of, but those science teams you occasionally got reports from were also centralized), law enforcement, resource administrator, comm officer, etc. etc. etc... At some points in the game, it feels like you have absolutely no control over what happens, until ICOM arbitrarily pops up with a bulletin allowing you to pursue a new path. True, this does speak of deeper flaws with the way the game progressed, but in SC3, ICOM really does impress upon you the idea that it is your "Commanding Officer." Even when there are multiple missions you could pursue, ICOM chooses only a single one and reminds you of it incessantly until you drop what you're doing and follow up on it (usually just the get the blasted thing to stop anooying you every 5 minutes). It also threatens to essentially strip you of command every time you destroy an alien you're not explicitly at war with, regardless of whether the attack was provoked or not (Battles with the Daktaklakpak early in the game are a prime example). You really do get the impression that ICOM is humoring you, at times, and is really in control. Meanwhile, if you want to ask a "human" for advice, most of them will tell you to go to the human command colony (which is no different from any other colony, save the dialog), and once you get there, they rarely have anything good to say. The net effect is that ICOM knows all, guides your actions in the direction of its choosing at times of its choosing, and you're really just along to fly the ship, attempt to negotiate treaties, and blow up hostiles (but only if they've declared war, otherwise you'll get a stern warning again).

Enough about that travesty. What would a lack of centralization do for SC2? Let's assume you have the "miracle module," that allows you to refine raw materials, build components and landers, analyze your artifacts, receive incoming messages, synthesize fuel, construct escorts, etc. What now? It's already easy to build a monster flagship with a horde of powerful escorts with the current mechanics, so this would completely strip any semblance of difficulty from the game. Can this module also recrew your ship? If not, how do you plan to manage that one? Allied homeworlds and starbases? Considering that more than a few of your allies refuse to even send starship captains and designs, this seems unlikely... Then again, by the end of the game, you would easily have your pick of races to supply you with crew. Speaking of crew, what about those revived Shofixti? They have... Well, nothing. I'm sort of under the impression that once you finish their sidequest, the majority of the species heads to Earth to live on the starbase while some scouts start looking for a new homeworld. Where would they be without the starbase? On the flip side of this coin, what if your super module CAN recrew your ships? If that's the case, you become even more of a one-man army than before; why even ally with anyone at that point, besides to steal (erm, sorry, "be gifted with" or "borrow") essential artifacts from them?

Cutting out the resource system really eliminates a lot of the other, more interesting, dynamics that are in place. Why bother trading for fuel with the Druuge or Melnorme? Just visit some planets and make it on the fly. Why bother with the Portal Spawner (and consequently, the Arilou at all)? You don't really have any reason to worry much about fuel consumption, since you can just mine out stars on your way to wherever you're going. In fact, the only reason to bother with most aliens under this mechanic is to either get their escorts, get their artifacts, or establish a crew factory.

Then again, how could you have universal crew stations for every race in the quadrant? We've already discussed how it's possible under the current system, but it implies that the engineers at the starbase are doing some creative reverse engineering for humans or Shofixti. It's simply not possible to design a crew station that would be amenable to both a human and, for example, any member of the ZoqFotPik race. So would each race only be restricted to its own ship type now? And would you never be able to replace lost crew on the Flagship?

Maybe the removal of the starbase makes sense from the one angle you like to examine it from. But if you take a look at the big picture, it totally screws a lot of the other underlying mechanics of the game, not to mention at least some of the plot.
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #34 on: January 05, 2006, 07:37:19 am »

Sigh.  Really, no more after this.

I haven't played SC3 and so the ICOM complaints are hard for me to follow.  It's not clear to me how ICOM is any different than having Hayes in your ship, so it's not clear how feeling railroaded from place to place would be any different if you had to go to the human colony to advance the plot, rather than just receiving instructions on ICOM.  Sounds like ICOM cut down on the relay-racing aspect of the game, which exposed other flaws.  Often, cutting out reptitious game elements reveals deeper problems.  (For example, if you let the player teleport wherever he wants in a Sierra adventure game, rather than needing to slowly walk from room to room, the horrible gameplay becomes a lot more obvious.)

I'll respond, then, to your more general point about how SC2 would be harmed by letting the ship do stuff.

First, a quick response to:

Quote
It's simply not possible to design a crew station that would be amenable to both a human and, for example, any member of the ZoqFotPik race.

Err, but that's exactly what we've got, no?  The ZoqFotPik ships are being manned with Shofixti and humans, right, and just a ZFP pilot?  That implies that it's quite possible to make a ZFP / human friendly ship.  (Either everyone but the pilot is human / Shofixti or the whole crew is ZFP.  But if it's the latter, that means you can transfer ZFP into the precursor vessel, which means the system works anyway.)

Here are three ways to do it:

(1) The simplest option is to leave the starbase intact, but move mineral processing to your ship, so you don't have the problem of needing to go back and dump.  This would remove cargo bays from the game, but that seems a fairly modest change.  Cargo bays are a relic of trade-heavy games like Elite and were, I think, fairly vestigial in a game with only one port of call.  This would not cause any plot problems; it would simply mean that the player would return only to refuel, recrew, and buy components, rather than to dump ore.  (It would be a modest change, but still a good one.)

(2) The ship process minerals, can generate fuel and build modules, but cannot build ships or recrew.  Modules require specific sets of minerals (100 commons, 20 radioactives, etc.).  I would reduce the types of minerals to four, maybe five.  The player still goes back for plot, science, crew, and ships, so you still have a major starbase mechanic.  But the player is no longer tethered to it.  The station becomes more of an upgrade point than a maintenance point.  The player can also crew up at allied worlds.

(3) The station gets wiped out, the player recrews at allied worlds and builds his own ships (or buys them from allies).

I would probably go with #2, which I think makes for a more interesting set up.  One reason to make the player buy fuel from Melnorme and Druuge would be to make fuel relatively expensive to synthesize.  Obviously you'd need to tweak stuff like that to make it work out, but it just seems fairly ridiculous to get so hung up over fuel.  I mean, the whole game basically boils down to doing mining relays to buy fuel, finding alien races to buy fuel, etc.  For God's sake, this is a space opera, not Syriana.

Have to Druuge sell something other than fuel (like, rare resources that you need to build key modules).  The Melnorme still sell tech and knowledge.  I don't think either would be much diminished.  The Portal Spawner was mostly a speed thing, not a fuel thing, for me, because by the time I got it fuel wasn't much of an issue.  But even under this system, it would reduce the hassle of having to strip planets, even if you didn't have to ferry back to Sol.

The problem with your position hinges, I think, on this misconception:

Quote
Let's assume you have the "miracle module," that allows you to refine raw materials, build components and landers, analyze your artifacts, receive incoming messages, synthesize fuel, construct escorts, etc. What now? It's already easy to build a monster flagship with a horde of powerful escorts with the current mechanics, so this would completely strip any semblance of difficulty from the game.

But the starbase doesn't add *difficulty* to the game, unless you're horribly bad at husbanding your fuel.  What it adds is *downtime.*  In that sense, it's like the super easy random battles of jRPGs, the back-and-forthing of adventure games, etc.  It's like saying, "If we took leveling out of Final Fantasy, it would take all the difficulty out because you could just go straight through and kill the boss."  Well, sure, if you left the basic combat model identical.  But that's because the current model creates fake difficulty by requiring you to perform repetitive, mindless tasks.  Taking those tasks out is like adding hotkeys, queues, and macros to an RTS -- it doesn't add difficulty, but rather removes stupid obstacles.

My feeling is that if you cut out the relaying aspect of the mining, the game would get a lot shorter, and suddenly you'd start rethinking other aspects, such as whether combat needs to be tougher, the flaghship weaker, the AI better, etc.  (Just as cutting leveling out of a jRPG would force design *improvements* by revealing the underlying design weaknesses.)

In fact, my experience was that SC2 was much, much too easy, precisely for the reason you mention: the flagship's power.  By the time I was doing any real fighting, I had my ship tricked out to the point that using my escorts was a waste.  A good part of that was that I only spent biodata on technology and given how much time I had to spend mining, I got lots of biodata before I felt fuel comfortable for long voyages.

Anyway, I don't think much interesting is left in this discussion.  Smiley
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #35 on: January 05, 2006, 04:27:47 pm »

Quote
I mean, the whole game basically boils down to doing mining relays to buy fuel, finding alien races to buy fuel, etc.

If you think that, you haven't been playing right. Or some prankster upped the fuel cost to above 20 RU.
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #36 on: January 05, 2006, 04:51:43 pm »

"I mean, the whole game basically boils down to doing mining relays to buy fuel, finding alien races to buy fuel, etc."

I take it you have not yet discovered New Scottland. Wink

Seriously though, I do think SC ran the fuel costs a little high, considering you had to go further and further out to collect resources, plus you were already pressured by the shortage of the other resource you couldn't get enough of-- time.
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #37 on: January 05, 2006, 06:25:09 pm »

A nice test would be how long the game takes to beat with limitless fuel versus the current model.  I would guess that at  least a quarter the game time would be shaved off for a normal player.
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #38 on: January 05, 2006, 08:31:53 pm »

That's a pretty easy test to do if you played the original PC version and exploited the lander selling glitch. It does make the game noticably shorter, but that's not because of fuel. It mostly has to do with the ability to max out your flagship and escorts in whatever manner you like as soon as you have access to the shipyard. Whether I'm playing normally or cheating my way through the game really determines whether or not I'll max out immediately and go flying off to do the most annoying quests first, or whether I save up some so I can buy those hellbores one at a time, and maybe visit some less hazardous aliens as I build up my resources. But, barring maybe your first 1 or 2 trips out of Sol, the sticking point is never about the cost of fuel; it's always the more expensive modules or escorts that you're saving for.

Quote
Err, but that's exactly what we've got, no?  The ZoqFotPik ships are being manned with Shofixti and humans, right, and just a ZFP pilot?  That implies that it's quite possible to make a ZFP / human friendly ship.  (Either everyone but the pilot is human / Shofixti or the whole crew is ZFP.  But if it's the latter, that means you can transfer ZFP into the precursor vessel, which means the system works anyway.)

This is where the starbase comes in. The assumption is that all of the crew for your escorts, save the requisite alien captain, is assembled from humans from the starbase, or Shofixti once you've revived them. Now, if these craft are being built at a starbase that can reverse engineer the crew positions for use by bipedal mammals, rather than mollusks, giant fish, or whatever the hack the ZFP are, it's no sweat. If, however, you're recrewing all over the place, and building vessels on the fly or only at their homeworlds, this whole idea hits a major snag.

Quote
It's like saying, "If we took leveling out of Final Fantasy, it would take all the difficulty out because you could just go straight through and kill the boss."

I've heard of people who have finished FF8 at level 5, by running from every non-boss enemy. Since the monsters level up at the same pace as the player, it's the only one in the series where this is viable. However, that game is horrible for all kinds of different reasons, and the complete inability of the player to ever be anywhere other than on even footing with every monster in the game is only a minor nuisance.

Quote
But the starbase doesn't add *difficulty* to the game, unless you're horribly bad at husbanding your fuel.  What it adds is *downtime.*

Maybe that was the wrong term, but still, I'd like to propose a hypothetical situation. Let's say we have a new game mechanic in SC2: The starbase is destroyed by the Ur-Quan after a period of 1 year. Now, the first time I played the game, I had no idea that the lander consumed fuel until I looked really carefully at the lander deployment screen after a lot of my fuel went "mysteriously missing" during some trips to high-G worlds. As such, it took me the better part of a game year to finally get underway and follow up on the tips about aliens I hadn't met yet. After one year, I had made only 1 alliance, and it was with the Spathi, so suffice to say that the terms of our agreement had "expired." The only other races I had even met were the Ilwrath, the Melnorme, and the ZFP scout at Rigel.

I think if I had come home from a mining trip at this point, and found the starbase had been blasted into space junk, I probably would have erased the game in frustration. Maybe not, but you get the idea.

One of the most common questions I've seen posed on these boards is "How do I remove the time limit?" I can relate to these folks; on that same first playthrough, the Kohr-Ah had eliminated about half of the races in the galaxy before I finally was able to finish the game. As I understand it, I was lucky; most people find that their first game is a wash.

What you're proposing here is an even shorter "Genocide timer." While an experienced (or lucky) player might know where to go to keep themselves afloat after the starbase is gone, most new players are going to be dead in the water, I'd bet. Because even with the ability to make your own fuel, it's pretty likely that if you don't finad an ally to help with recrewing FAST, you're going to eventually end up probe-bait. Blowing up the starbase may be good for the narrative, but it's BAD for gameplay.

I think I just described how the starbase makes the game *easier* just now.  Roll Eyes Nice debate technique I've got, eh?

Anyway, I realize most of these responses are rambly, and often don't respond effectively (or at all) to the points raised... So seriously, feel free to tell me to just shut up at any time. I won't be offended, and you shouldn't feel obligated to come back to this thread to respond to me unless you actually want to.
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #39 on: January 05, 2006, 09:27:57 pm »

OK, I am not realy debating about this starbase thing because I don't have a strenght for debate, but why don't add new starbase to game since it's only logical if your starting an rebellion. It would be interesting if you could recrew, buy ships and fuel etc. at Syreen and Chrmm starbases (it always bugged me why Chrmm don't reoccupie their old starbase). Minning is kind of boring, but I mannaged to pass the game with it. But, my strategy was dealing with Melnorme for fuel and I did that with an old SC2 walkthrough (OK, it isn't fair and I do regret it now, but it is too late)
That leads me to my next idea: starmap randomizer. It would randomize stars and spheres of influence (unless two of them are connected) and then make a new game. Stars should have the same names so dialogs don't get messed up ( implementing this into dialogs that give you coordinates would be hard) and it should happen with some kind of rule (like that you should have at least one potentila allie near you).
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #40 on: January 05, 2006, 10:40:32 pm »

The Chmmr don't reoccupy their old starbase because it's not theirs. Every starbase you see in the game was built by the Ur-Quan for one of the fallow races to maintain incase a Hierarchy vessel is passing through and needs supplies. Why would the Chmmr want to reoccupy a station like that, when they apparently have an armada of Avatars on the surface of their planet?

As for a starmap randomizer, I can't help but feel that it might make the game extremely chaotic. I have enough trouble trying to find "that one particular star," even when I know the general neighborhood it's in. I can't imagine what it might be like if the starmap changed every time you started a new game. Then again, maybe it would lend a lot more variety to the way things are done in the game, since nobody would be able to tell where any given race or special location would be until you ran across it or someone told you.
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #41 on: January 05, 2006, 11:11:34 pm »

I would posit that the reason a lot of players find that the game spontaneously ends with genocide and are upset about the timer is that the current game model discourages exploration (through fuel cost, the need to return to process minerals, and the need to return to build modules).  The result is that many players probably haven't gone far enough away from Sol to meet the races who would clue them in to what's going on.  If the player didn't keep relaying to Sol, he'd wander much more, meet the races, and have more of a clue what's going on.  So I would say that people's surprise counsels in support of my position.

There's certainly no reason why Orz (encounter suits) and Syreen couldn't recrew.  Presumably, the Yehat are airbreathers, or else they would've had a heckuva tough time forming a close relationship with the Shofixti.  They have hands with opposable digits.  The Arilou are basically humanoid, so I don't see why they wouldn't be able to crew up.  There's at least some suggestion that they're airbreathers (given that they stand in for "Grays" who are usually depicted as coming to Earth w/o breathing aparatuses).

Of course, as I've said earlier, I think this kind of "realism" discussion is just plain silly.  Every scifi series out there has crews of diverse aliens onboard one ship.  There's no reason not to do that in the SC2 universe, unless gameplay benefits from it.  (FWIW, Star Flight, the inspiration for SC2, used heterogenous crews.)

The way fuel cost inhibits the player is that it discourages frivolous journeys, which are the heart of exploration.  Fuel costs enough that if you waste it, you take that much longer to get those upgrades you need.  My recollection, too, was that I was burning a fairly noticeable percentage of the income from each mining mission on fuel (not like 50%, but something significant).  If fuel were free, I would have been more selective with which worlds I mined (since I could've gone anywhere), I would've met more races earlier, etc.

Now.  No.  More. Smiley

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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #42 on: January 06, 2006, 12:15:56 am »

Now.  No.  More. Smiley

Keep telling yourself that, and someday you might just believe it. Grin

I could easily see Syreen recrewing, though all the backstory seems to imply that humans are driven totally to distraction by them. Wonder why that is? Wink I suppose you could make a case for the Orz, if those suits are constructed right. Arilou and Yehat, no way; they won't even send a delegation of captains and ship designs, why would they offer to recrew your vessel?

Then again, they do give you free ships during the game, which presumably have all alien crews. So do the ZFP. And you can freely transfer the crew between these vessels and your flagship. I think I just jabbed a big hole in my own argument. Go me!

Once again, I never felt that (once I had figured out that landers eat fuel) I was being held back by the cost of fuel during the game. How many cargo bays are you using? I tend to use two at all times; one is not really that cost effective on its own, but three is a bit too restrictive for the way I like to outfit my ship. Two strikes a good balance for me, and I'll usually come out several thousand RU ahead of where I was after refueling and recrewing. Have you only been using a single cargo bay? If so, I think I begin to understand your frustration.

Anyway, this topic is not supposed to be about game strategy. I think, at least under the current mechanics with RU, that free fuel will only accelerate the flagship's progression to the only ship you'll ever need. Tell me something, though. Would multiple "tethers" solve your concern as effectively as having a floating fuel lab? Say you were able to refuel and perform any other typical starbase functions at any allied world or base, at the usual RU cost. Does this mitigate the problem to an acceptable degree? If so, I really think this might be an issue with needing to tweak your gameplay style, rather than needing to tweak the game.

I understand the desire to explore; I know I found a lot of neat stuff that way. But realistically, there's not too much you CAN explore easily. There's quite a lot of black space on the map, and I personally will avoid most hostile SOIs, especially the two huge Ur-Quan ones, unless there are places I absolutely must go to within them. This really reduces the amount of area it's safe to be poking around in.
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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #43 on: January 06, 2006, 09:17:37 am »

Idea:

Some of the allied races, the ones who agree to provide ship captains at least, might be used as refuel/recrew/outfit stations. One bit of technology to purchase from the Melnorme might be a Fabricator module. If you have it (very expensive), you can use the ship to turn minerals into fuel and modules - however, this would cost more (say, 25% more) than doing so at a starbase.

Each of the allied starbases can recrew the flagship (at varied costs - they're not all Shofixti, remember). Ships can be constructed at (some of) their shipyards - but only that species' vessel. You can only get Eluders by going to Spathiwa, for example, though there might be a few concessions made for the species without homeworlds. They can build ship modules as well.

Ships, modules, fuel, and perhaps even crew require certain specific mineral combinations to attain. A new crew member might cost 2 tons of Common in order to keep him fed. Fuel would justify the use of rare minerals - say, for example, that it needs some silver dissolved in it, and some corrosives (and of course common). Base metals would be vital for building ships and components. Don't scrap RUs altogether; keep them as a general guideline for the value of things to buy - but don't ever make the player use them ever.

This might come at a price, however: each time a new ally is made, you'll have to wait two weeks to use it (though you wouldn't have to lose that time) while they adapt it to work with Precursor technology. They don't all have to be orbital platforms, of course.

In this model, Sol becomes just one of several starbases. This also makes it somewhat expendable.... The Spathi won't be too keen on destroying a starbase with a working shipyard, but if you screw things up with the Ilwrath or the VUX (for example, if one sees you, a certain conversation path might lead them to hyperspace out of the area, or they'll try to escape to warn the others if you take too long to kill them when you fight) (The VUX might need a different reason), you run the risk of having the Sol starbase destroyed. Similar possibilities may be added for the other species' starbases - you can only use the Thraddash starbase while you're their friend, for example, and while the Utwig are out on their mission against the Kohr-Ah, you can't buy ships from them and their crew will be extremely expensive. The Zoq-Fot-Pik homeworld could be discovered, in which case you'll have to blow up a Dreadnought or Marauder or three in order for it to keep working (and to keep them from being wiped out!). The VUX might also be tipped off about the Syreen starbase.

The Druuge starbase, of course, would be outrageously expensive, but you would be given the option to redeem your crew for any type of mineral.

Some, but not all of the starbases would be equipped with science teams. You could also buy from the Melnorme a Science bay, which contains 20 crew instead of the usual 50, but lets you examine some artifacts without having to return to a starbase. Each science team could inspect the artifacts with a rather different outlook, not always producing useful information. The Pkunk, for example, might not recognize the significance of the Mycon Deep Child Egg Fragment, but amusing sequences could result if you give them the Taalo Device or the Talking Pet.





There's always room for a more in-depth planetary exploration system - but you'd have to make sure that it's still as accessible as the current one. Deploy the lander to the planet, and the lander then navigates to objects of interest that the scanner picked up. Once it gets to one, you deploy a crew of commandos to that region to extract the minerals, examine the source of the energy readings, or hunt the wumpus. The VUX Beast becomes much more of a boss fight in this light. Make it as deep or as simple as you can pull off. The Melnorme technology might have to be revised to accomodate this new style of play.




Let's see, what else.... A tutorial mode would be a big plus. Rather than integrating it into the game, make it a menu option accessible at any time - even during gameplay. It'll give you an unrestricted area to practice anything (except combat - that's what Super Melee is for) in. It'll explain game mechanics, too, and give a few very basic strategic pointers ("Planets with higher mass consume more fuel when you land on them," or "Select a planet in your starmap in order to travel there on autopilot").

You can warn the player of the time limit in a rather simple manner. Rather than counting down ten years from the start of the game (or however many it was), you can instead start the count down a shorter time to the end of the game from the moment that the Captain is warned of the Kohr-Ah's intention to exterminate all life. This would be an optional setting, of course. For the inexperienced player, it provides plenty of time to explore without having to suddenly wonder why everybody's dead - a purist would simply turn it off. It's not so much altering the course of the story as it is making concessions to the fact that it is, in fact, an exploration-driven video game, and people want to explore god damn it.



Which brings me to my next suggestion. After the game is cleared, a bonus Exploration Mode should be added - the Captain is the savior of This Area Of The Galaxy, and whatever the rest of his adventures are haven't started yet. He doesn't need to be the head of the Alliance any more, now that the Chmmr are here, and since he's no longer instrumental to the defeat of whatever threat is being faced, he doesn't get unlimited resources from the Alliance any more. There'll be a few quests in this unlimited play mode, of course. The open-ended ones might be more exploring, finding the rest of the Rainbow Worlds, building a fleet (fleet ships are all you have to go off of now - though would it be a good idea to allow the player to acquire another modular Flagship from Unzervalt?), and hunting Ur-Quan stragglers. Scripted quests might include such things as finding a new homeworld for the Shofixti and other various loose ends. Who knows; there might even be a call for a whole new storyline afterwards - new aliens, new ships, a whole new region of space.







Also, I agree; a search by name feature for the starmap is essential, and perhaps a system that automatically records notes on the planets in a given star, so that when you examine a star in the starmap it'll tell you which planets you've explored, what you found there, and anything else of note (like being a species' homeworld, or there's a starbae there, or This Is Where I Found That Keen Artifact, or anything else).

Higher-resolution graphics and a larger (in terms of content, not merely screen size) window would also be a good thing. Just keep all the graphics 2D - 3D would ruin the artistic style you're inheriting.
« Last Edit: January 06, 2006, 09:20:06 am by Bongo Bill » Logged

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Re: Improving the original? What to improve to do the game even better?
« Reply #44 on: January 06, 2006, 01:16:11 pm »

I just noticed that, with all great ideas on this topic we still don't have anyone who said: "Hey, I'll do the programming, just give me some time." And, don't look at me, my porgraming skills are limited to BASIC and I'm STILL having trouble with it.
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