Unbroken
I've put this in a separate thread because it'll be a long one. I recently bought ST and gave it a whirl yesterday for a few hours while trying to keep some track of the things I ran into that I felt could be improved/general observations, so here they are. For the sake of reference, I started as an unemployed 18-year old on Earth with the goal of amassing $200k. I lucked out heavily in that my mother had a mint-condition Cougar she lent to my character. In five hours of play, I've made about $105k mostly through business trips combined with some trading when possible. I'll start with the observations:

  • My laptop's graphics card/drivers (which are apparently up-to-date according to the manufacturer) don't seem to like ST as whenever I zoom in while in space, everything is hideously bright and difficult to read. Staying zoomed out fixes this - I suspect it has to do with the shaders used.
  • I ran across a pair of 7 year olds doing some very unusual things: one appeared to be a freelance miner flying his own ship out by Mars, while the other owned her own home with three of her siblings. This second child also kept wanting information about her father, who lived in the same city but a different home.
  • A quick look through my character's contacts reveals at least three-quarters of them are considered scoundrels.
  • Whenever I completed a favour for someone, if I tried to ask them about a new one, they'd rebuff me with the "complete the current task" text. I suppose the game only runs the check when that NPC enters a location and doesn't recheck after their favour is complete.
  • I found it odd that characters who don't like people didn't care if I, as a stranger, wandered up to them and began chatting them up. I feel like grumpy NPCs should refuse to interact at all with the player character (PC) unless the PC has an introduction or the grumpy person is actively looking for help, by saying something like "Leave me alone". The lower the charisma, the less patience they'd have for you talking to them without a reason.
  • In a similar vein to the above, I feel like it's kind of weird to be able to meet someone at random and magically have access to their home, where I can barge in while they're asleep and interact with them. I understand it's helpful from a gameplay view, yet I've never had any issues with having insufficient time to complete missions at all.
  • There's been a lack of pirates from what I've seen thus far. My hunch is that most of them are dead, which brings up this question: does the game generate new characters to replace those that die during play?
  • Business trips are cash cows. Getting $5000+ for ferrying someone one system over is just too good compared to other missions. They also give huge boosts to relationships when spoken of. Provided you can locate the target of the trip/get there (not terribly hard in itself), there's almost no reason not to take them.
  • Conversely, missions to taxi or business trip someone to say, Neptune is massively undervalued. Noone will take those missions for only $1000 when more lucrative runs exist right in the Federation's backyard, except if they are desperate for the relationship boost.
  • I had some trouble with one particular business trip mission when I accidentally forgot the passenger. However, when I went back to find them, they had disappeared. I soon discovered that this individual had gotten into her ship and was happily taking care of her own business. At this point, I wondered why this NPC would pay me big bucks to taxi her when she could fly there for free - sure, the NPC didn't know where the target of the trip was, yet it still doesn't make a lot of sense.
  • I've had a few MISSING STRINGs appear, mostly when trying to taxi NPCs to some place on Earth.
  • The Cougar I borrowed can go stupid fast, yet has awful acceleration and turning. While it does have bad engines, it's annoying when flying manually. I've also got no idea what button fires the two bolt cannons it has - the tutorial didn't cover that aspect.



Here's some of the things I felt like could be improved/suggestions for new things:

  • One of the first things that stuck out to me was the slow scroll speed using the mousewheel. It made looking through room lists more of a chore than it ought to be. Not having access to the arrow keys or Page up/down to help hurts too.
  • I think it'd be easier to tell where the PC is if the entire location card they are currently at is highlighted green, as opposed just the "HERE" button.
  • It'd also be nice if places that are inaccessible due to being closed were more distinct from open locations, via some sort of colour-coding or filtering system.
  • Would it be possible to have a basic mode of transportation between the cities on a planet, paying a small fee for using it? It'd beat taking ship damage for launching and then landing, while also giving poor characters a way of moving around planetside.
  • I feel that 'breaking the ice' with new characters should be more difficult, in order to place more value on introductions and having to plan your words carefully versus mashing whatever topics they like. Hiding some elements of NPCs' personality makeups would also add a layer of difficulty - something that could and should be chosen as a difficulty option by the player. Also, NPCs who get chain-questioned should eventually get fed up of talking solely about themselves, and expect the PC to tell a bit about themselves as well, producing more of a give-and-take rather than the "tell me all your secrets" that happens right now.
  • Instead of ordering drinks for yourself, why not be able to order drinks for someone else? That could serve as an icebreaker for certain NPC personalities.
  • Speaking of the tutorial again, I think it'd help more if the information provided by the game was available in a single text box when accessed from the upper-right corner so a player can read the whole thing at once without a lot of clicking needed (also removes the issue of having to flip back and forth).
  • Are there any plans to add a news functionality? On a basic level, I figure it would serve to inform characters of what's happening in the world, such as whether a senator is elected/resigns or a space battle occurs, ie. highly public info only. On a far deeper/harder to create level, this could lead to having journalists creating said stories and acting as info collectors and brokers. It'd be a double edged sword: it'd be a means of ruining someone else's career by delivering a juicy story to the press, while also being a way for a PC to have their own dirty laundry aired for all to see. It'd also provide extra conversational fodder ("hey, did you hear that President Wyman stepped down today?").
  • Work is a boring and somewhat pointless place to be. I'd heartily recommend having random events (both good and bad) that occur while the PC is at work simply to make it less of a place you want to avoid at all costs. All that'd happen is a text pop-up would appear with some choices based on the PC's stats. It could range from having a disagreement with a colleague to issues around competence or even surprise promotions/demotions. Obviously some events would only be available for certain professions, such as having a major breakthrough if your character is a Master's student.

An example of a random event: let's say your character works as a mechanic. While at work, an NPC comes in and asks you to do some repairs on their ship; unfortunately, you are booked solid for the rest of the day. Upon hearing this, the NPC offers you $800 to give them preferential treatment. You could take the money and a relation hit with your boss (plus a big morality hit if someone else learns of the bribe), or skip the cash and continue on as normal. When you make only $50/day or so, $800 becomes a hefty sum of money.


---

I spent some more time playing today, where I bought my own Cougar and upgraded it with some amazing kit thanks to a genius-tier mechanic I found on Mars.

  • The difference between bad engines and excellent ones is crazy. It's to the point where it's hard for me to bring the ship to a complete stop. It's also sort of absurd as I could conceivably outrun any hostile NPC I've seen thus far. I know the lack of functionality for the quality of cabins and hyperdrives has been mentioned, and I would certainly like to see their qualities matter!
  • I ended up finding a bolt cannon with a negative fire rate. Didn't buy it, however I have a hunch that isn't supposed to occur. Also, what's the maximum range on bolt cannons?
  • I did finally see some pirates, however they seem unwilling to bother me even when I sit around in Ceres hoovering up Titanium. I also managed to get a very reckless pirate to lend me their ship, which is kind of funny given that it denies them access to it.
  • In Ceres, the overlays for all the asteroid names causes a fair amount of screen clutter. I think having the labels just for the fields in general would cut down on the text jumbles that occur.
  • I've also discovered that using reverse thrust doesn't actually cause the ship to reverse based on the direction it is facing; instead, the ship reverses along its momentum vector. This means when your ship is gliding sideways to the west while facing north and you mash S, your ship will begin gliding to the east instead of now moving south, perpendicular to its original velocity.

So far this is a good start. I'll add onto this some more later when I've got time. Hope this helps!
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chrismdp
Wow - what a lot of good suggestions! Thanks for taking the time to write them all down. Many of them are on my list already, but many are new, and you've inspired me to add them!

I've put many of them on my list, and will get to them when I can.

One quick thing - you can vary the scroll speed in the options menu, so that should help.
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Unbroken
You're welcome! ST is pretty unique and I feel that the game has a ton of potential for creating enjoyable stories. It didn't seem like there was a lot of feedback or new ideas coming in recently, so I figured this would be helpful, especially since tweaking some existing game modules could really deepen the experience and open the door to some more interesting paths.

For example, one long-term/DLC-worthy addition I can suggest is to flesh out the crime-side of ST's play.
  • this could include having the ability to break into NPCs' homes to steal money, items [also an idea for much later] or dig up info. Initially you'd use stats like INT and/or AGI to do so, while later on criminals could progress to things like breaking into embassies for sensitive info using items to help them succeed at tougher break-in rolls. Characters viewed as being very wealthy would be more likely to suffer this kind of crime in seedy locations.
  • another aspect to explore would be adding the ability to incapacitate or kill a character planetside. This could either by done by directly attacking them in a private (or public, if you're really crazy) place or via hiring a hitman to do the dirty work for you. Of course, committing murder like that would draw the attention of law enforcement in the form of investigators who work to collect evidence and leads. If they discover you're behind the crime and catch you, well, enjoy prison! That being said, if you have influence over them, their boss or choose to bribe them, they'll drop the case or pursue some two-bit hippie instead. It'd also open the door to characters fleeing to a different faction's space to escape the law of their home faction.

  • adding some more ship-related items could help here too, such as a tractor beam add-on to passively attract collectables or a tool for pirates to catch their prey via disabling engines. I have a hunch ship items/more ships/etc. are already on the list right now.

Otherwise, I did some exploring and went through New Order and Outer Alliance space.

  • I found that Outer Alliance space was quite underpopulated. I think a lot of the characters who start out there end up migrating into New Order space for various reasons, while nobody takes their now-vacant roles. The only solution I can think of is to add more characters in general, that way there's a bit of a cushion when NPCs go wandering on top of there perhaps being some competition for jobs.
  • I haven't found any gold, diamond or elysium-containing rocks yet. I had hoped there might've been one or two out by Pluto - if there are, I missed them. Overall I think the balance between trading and mining is good currently, since mining expensive goods takes a long time without investing money into top-notch weaponry.
  • I did miss the scroll speed selection in the options. That should be a big help for navigating menus.
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Unbroken
Here's some more observations, mostly about combat and its side effects.


  • On my trip back from OA space, I discovered a very lucrative trade run: buy gold or titanium at Titan, sell for big bucks at Ganymede. Run food back as desired. I was able to rake in about $100k in a week's time. I went back to Mars, sold one of my bolt cannons and achieved my character's life goal. To celebrate, I repurchased that cannon plus an extra two, fully arming my Cougar with four legendary bolt cannons.
  • From here, I decided to go on a bit of a killing spree. My first victim was that 7-year old friend I had from the start of the game. I buttered her up a bit, told her to come to my ship and subsequently gave her a personal lesson in the value of space suits. One small change I'd love to suggest: when you eject someone, a small sprite of a human figure should appear from behind your ship, floating away into the void of space.
  • From there, I began attacking every ship I ran across if nobody else was around. The sheer amount of firepower I was bringing down on people bordered on madness - I could two-shot anyone. Most NPCs' ships I killed were previously damaged, so they'd get vaporized in a single volley. My only weakness was my inability to aim accurately, which is mostly due to my lack of skill in 2D shooters without a face-to-target feature.
  • The pain train went barreling through Earth, claiming multiple victims. When the debris piled up in space enough, twenty or so people would launch from Earth to scavenge. Nobody seemed to care why there was suddenly fields of debris everywhere - all they cared about was the loot. A former president was among the victims of me quietly tailing them into the void before blowing their ships apart. It got to the point where I stopped caring if there were witnesses, since those witnesses didn't run away, attack me or call for backup (not that the navy could do anything: I had already killed one of the ensigns on patrol earlier). In total, I must've killed about 25 people before I felt it was a bit too weird that nobody really seemed to care about having a mass murderer on the loose, openly attacking anything that moved.
  • Debris clouds are nice, though they're awfully big compared to the size of the ship that produced them. They also can cause some serious screen clutter if they get a chance to pile up, similar to asteroids. Debris also seems to maintain the velocity of the dead ship, forever gliding into space and causing scavengers to go >30K away from the nearest planet (or sit in space doing absolutely nothing), making them dead easy targets for bloodthirsty players.
  • During this time, I noticed that if a character dies, their relations are somehow aware of their untimely passing, via the Force or something. Even if there was absolutely no way they could've possibly known of their death, they would still bury them (morbidly hilarious if the dead character was killed when their ship exploded) and so forth.

Overall, I feel like combat is mostly about taking an opportunity if it presents itself, which is 100% fine for a game like ST given that killing a character should be mostly a last resort/nuclear option for eliminating someone or when a random target is too good to pass up. In the last post, I mentioned an idea of adding investigators/law enforcers that will actively gather clues/evidence when a crime occurs. With that and some tweaks to other systems (such as improving how witnesses react) I think that it'd add some meaning and thrill to combat that I feel is missing right now.

I'll try to describe what the ideal system, without regard for development time & effort, might look like: let's say George runs across a Tiger near Venus at 90% damage carrying uncut diamonds and chooses to blow him up for his cargo. If there are no witnesses, George can gain a fairly large head-start on any efforts to have him brought to justice, however he's not entirely in the clear.

Once the debris is spotted by another character, they'd perform a morals roll to determine whether they report it or not; amoral characters don't give a damn about justice so long as they are not the victim. In this case, this character has morals and after they take care of whatever they were originally doing, they'll tell a law enforcement character (who will be called Bob here) about the debris field. At this point, Bob will begin an investigation by doing things like going to the debris field [what ship was destroyed? when? who owned it?] and talking to various characters such as the desk staff at spaceports and local markets, the victim's family & friends or potential witnesses. The whole process may take several days, depending on how much information Bob needs.

Since Bob doesn't have a lot to work with, he may have some trouble piecing together what happened. However, he obtains a good lead: the market tells him that George was selling a lot of diamonds on the same day the Tiger was killed. While Bob now has a suspect, he can't quite pin it on George since he doesn't know if George shot the Tiger or was simply being a vulture after the act. If Bob can get a positive ID on the ship used [ships used in crimes have that recorded as part of their story - ship stories matter!] in the crime AND a positive ID on who was at the helm, he can make an arrest: with only one piece of the puzzle, he can question George but nothing more. Unfortunately for Bob, George sold the ship he had used, then bought a new one and fled to New Order space. Even if Bob had an arrest warrant for George, the fact that he's not in Federation space means his hands are tied and the case goes cold. If left cold for long enough, eventually Bob will let it go unless George commits another crime.

In the event Bob gets enough information to arrest George, he still has to catch him. At this point, Bob can spread the word to other security characters, who will arrest George on sight and even go to the trouble of camping spaceports and combing planet locations in an attempt to locate and arrest George. If they succeed, George goes to prison and winds up like any other prisoner, unless he can either influence or bribe his way out of jail. Should George be the player character and can't do either, the game fast-forwards to the end of his sentence, which could be as long as 30 or 40 years depending on the specific charge (murder, piracy, smuggling...).

With the way this ideal model works, there are ways for George make life hard for any investigators like Bob trying to build a case. One way is for George to destroy as much debris as possible after making a kill to minimize the amount of evidence. Another way would be to wait for Bob to inspect the debris field, then ambush and kill him as well. The downside of doing either of these is that George runs the risk of being spotted by other characters, plus covering up takes time while ambushing carries the risk of George getting himself killed in a firefight with Bob.
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chrismdp
Thanks Unbroken - sorry I didn't reply to this when you first posted, but your ideas have been rolling around my head for a few weeks. I'm planning the next revision and will definitely take this into account.
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