Author Topic: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions  (Read 2113 times)

XTRMNTR2K

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A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« on: December 22, 2014, 05:35:20 AM »
Hey everyone, it's been a while since I posted anything :D

Usually when I'm taking part in any form of early access I'm keeping my mouth shut for most of the time, especially when the development seems to be heading in the right direction. Obviously, this is also the case for Star Ruler 2. :) However, I've been playing a few other 4X games for a bit (i.e. Master of Orion I, StarDrive), to get some perspective and inspiration. So I was asking myself a few questions along the way: What is fun about those games? Why is it fun? Could and should it be applied to SR2? What does SR2 better? That kind of stuff.

Before I go crazy with suggestions, however, I would like to offer some general feedback. It's no secret that SR and SR2 are both very close to my heart... And because of that I am going to be completely honest, no matter if I like or dislike a particular feature.

Modding Tools
Holy shit, batman, I did not see those coming! I've only dabbled with them for a bit to see how they worked, and I think it's great these are being offered. Sure, doing more advanced crazy stuff still requires working with angelscript outside the modding tools, but I am sure these tools will get many more people started with modding. And once you've started... There's no going back. ;D
Combined with Steam workshop support modders and players alike just could not be asking for anything more!
Well done, BMS, well done!

Pixel art and icons in general
Good work on the new planet biome graphics. These look much better and more organic now.
As for the buildings, these are looking better as well (even if some - or most? - are still to be considered temporary art).
I also absolutely adore the pixel art for the subsystems. They look great, and it's rather easy to distinguish one from the other. However, the new weapon subsystem art (which I assume is pre-rendered from 3D models) looks absolutely atrocious. None of these fit in with the other subsystems as they stick out like a sore thumb. My suggestion? Get rid of them and go for something more simple (pixel art!). :P And I guess you could drop the different perspectives and go for a top-down look instead. That way only one image is needed even for rotating subsystems.


Secret research
Like I said above, I've been playing StarDrive for a bit and one of the more interesting things I discovered was that as I had destroyed a few Remnant ships, I got a message saying that doing so unlocked a new branch of research labelled "Secret". It hadn't been visible before, and I thought it was cool that the research unlocked several slightly more advanced subsystems (such as ancient shields, fuel cells and reactors) among other things.

Now here's what I am thinking: To make every new game more interesting and unique, a bunch of extra techs (or just improvements) could be hidden throughout the research tree. And once you do certain things - i.e. destroy a particular remnant fleet, scan a certain anomaly or activate a rare artifact - you unlock a random one of these. It gives more incentive to actively explore the galaxy, since no one else would get access to the same research (although they probably got their own share of unique extra tech!).



Time to think big

The following two suggestions are rather big and complex, and I've spent a fair bit thinking about these mechanics. The idea is to add certain features not for the sake of just adding stuff, but branching out in terms of tactical options.
Example: You got lots of time? Besiege a planet. Got lots of money and population? Send troops to conquer a planet. Don't care about your enemies gaining leverage on you? Bomb the shit out of them! Got a lot of pull in the galactic senate? Start a petition to gain ownership of your desired planets.


Ground troops and planetary invasion

- In addition to spawning support ships, planetary bases created by defense pressure also convert civilian population into troops at a rate of 100k/min per base. Launchpads convert at a rate of 150k/min.
- The maximum amount of troops per planet is 1 million troops per base. The maximum ratio of civilians:troops is 4:1.
- Troops still count as population for all purposes except colonization. When colonizing new worlds, only civilians are sent off via colony ships.
- To invade a hostile planet, both parties need to be at war with each other. The invading party sents their troops via dropships, which carry 100k troops each.
- Launching troops costs 25k of ยง per 100k troops to properly train and equip them, and is paid upfront. (so no spamming your enemies with troops just for the lulz unless you are filthy rich)
- Dropships have more acceleration than colony ships, but can be shot down all the same.
- If there are no defending troops present, the planet changes ownership once 1 million invading troops have landed.
- Conquering a planet via invasion resets planet loyalty to 0.
- A siege is canceled when troops land on the planet. As long as there is fighting on the ground, it is impossible to besiege a planet.
- In case of multiple allied invaders attacking a planet, the claim goes to the attacker whose troops first set foot on the planet; if all attacking troops are defeated, ownership remains with the defender and the claim resets after 2 minutes so another player may claim the planet.
- If the invader conquers the planet and more troops are remaining than bases present (if any) can sustain, troops will turn into civilians at a rate of 200k/minute until the number of troops reaches the limit of sustainable ground troops. Should no bases be present, all troops will be converted into civilians. If the number of civilians and troops combined after a successful invasion exceeds the maximum planet population, troops will first vanish at a rate of 200k/minute before they start to convert into civilians. Leftover troops may, however, be transferred to other planets; both relocation to friendly worlds as well as invading hostile ones is possible.
- The rate at which opposing troops are killed and kill each other is dependent on various factors, i.e.: Research, racial traits, planetary conditions, loyalty. Generally speaking, the rate of fighting is higher the more troops are present; if one or both sides have significantly less troops than the other, fighting will slow down (think guerrilla warfare).
- The more ground troops involved, the higher the chance that each "round" of combat also kills a number of civilians. Smaller conflicts may end without a single civilian dying.
- Both the attacker and defender may send additional troops during or after the invasion to reinforce their presence.
- Flagships may be used for planetary bombardment in two different ways:
     Regular weapons (laser, railguns, missiles) may be used with or without friendly ground troops present. However, these weapons do not discern civilians and combatants, and there is also a chance to hit friendly ground troops. Using these will also damage or destroy buildings.
     Bombardment weaponry deals less damage, but has a much smaller chance of hitting civilians or allied ground troops. These weapons are also much more unlikely to hit buildings except for defensive structures; if any are present, these are targeted first until destroyed.
- When orbital bombardment is used without ground support, the planet needs to be re-colonized once all population has been killed.
- In case that all civilians are dead but the attacker has less than 1 million troops remaining, the planet is considered unowned and additional troops (friend or foe) or civilians (friend) need to be sent to capture the planet. As long as the planet is unowned, the troops will remain on the ground but decay at a rate of 200k/minute.
- When ordering an invasion, the amount of troops to send is set at 1 million since it is the absolute minimum required to capture a planet. However, it can be increased or decreased in 100k steps (less is possible so multiple planets could send a few hundred thousand each to one destination and still conquer an undefended planet if 1 million is present on ground at the same time).
- Protect planet card also prevents planetary invasion as well as orbital bombardment in addition to siege.
- Using bombardment to kill off an entire planet's population grants one leverage card (against the attacker) to the planet's owner.
- Civilians may be transferred between any two established, friendly colonies. They are sent via colony ships just when colonizing unowned planets. The minimum amount to send is 1 million which can be increased in steps of 1 million each. If the difference between the current and maximum population on the destination planet is less than 1 million, the option to send additional colonists is unavailable. (Also more than 1 million population needs to be present to be able to send off any colonists, obviously.)


Fleet groups, positioning and supplies

- Multiple flagships can form a fleet group under the following condition:
     One ship needs to be designated "fleet group leader". Once that is done, its support command can only be used to coordinate other flagships instead of support ships. However, flagships count as twice their own size towards the support command limit.
- All other flagships get to keep their own support ships, but these will position themselves in the fleet around the core of all flagships instead of just one flagship alone.
- The flagships always form the core of the fleet group. They stick together closely, with the fleet group leader surrounded by the lesser flagships.
- Only one fleet group leader is allowed per group; stacking of fleet groups together is not allowed.
- All support ship designs get a setting for "positioning" inside a fleet or fleet group. These are possible: Default/dynamic (fill in where needed), vanguard, rearguard, flanks, center (surrounds core of the group in a circle formation), roam (may spread out further from the group), swarm (gets into close range of the target and attacks in circling and strafing patterns). Alternatively, make positioning available via check boxes (i.e. allow positioning in flanks and rearguards, but never as vanguard, etc.).
- When a fleet group is formed, all available supplies are pooled together.
- If a flagship is destroyed, its support ships are distributed among the other flagships if possible. If not enough support command is available, the supports are removed from the group and try to get to the nearest friendly planet.
- If the fleet leader is destroyed, the fleet group dissolves.
- When two allied fleets are close, one may transfer supplies to the other. The amount of supplies on the receiving end may not exceed the maximum supply capacity of the fleet/group. No special equipment is needed to do this, all flagships can transfer supplies between each other.
- FTL rules for fleet groups: When using Hyperdrive, all flagships in a group need to be equipped with one. The FTL speed is then limited to that of the slowest ship. For Fling and Hyperdrive purposes, subordinate flagships only need to pay 25% of their normal FTL cost, only the fleet leader costs the regular amount to FTL. Gates and Slipstreams function as normal.



Still there? Good! Guess I should give awards for reading through all that! ;D

dalolorn

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #1 on: December 22, 2014, 06:30:10 AM »
Very interesting, but there's a few things I have to comment on.

Art: I actually prefer the new style adopted by the weapons. That, or the 'tech icons' Alarcarr and I have been using in ABEM. Not too readable, I'll admit, but...

Unique tech: This is an interesting idea - Alar actually made something similar to this when he changed the black hole systems. They're protected by this huge Remnant flagship which, when killed, lets you salvage either Remnant armor or Remnant shields, both of which are highly expensive, highly powerful defensive techs. I don't think unlocking new branches of the tech tree is possible right now, though. (Well, barring the standard 'go mess with scripts' routine.)

Sub-flagships paying 25% of FTL cost: I don't think this is a good idea, no matter what cost it is.

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #2 on: December 22, 2014, 12:49:59 PM »
Unique tech: This is an interesting idea - Alar actually made something similar to this when he changed the black hole systems. They're protected by this huge Remnant flagship which, when killed, lets you salvage either Remnant armor or Remnant shields, both of which are highly expensive, highly powerful defensive techs. I don't think unlocking new branches of the tech tree is possible right now, though. (Well, barring the standard 'go mess with scripts' routine.)

Ah, so either one of the subsystems is unlocked directly? That's really cool. :D
My thinking was more along the lines of still having to do the actual research in order to unlock the tech, but I'm sure there are ways to do that as well.

Quote
Sub-flagships paying 25% of FTL cost: I don't think this is a good idea, no matter what cost it is.

It may sound crazy at first, but here's the reasoning behind this idea:

1. When moving multiple fleets (or in my suggestion, fleet groups) around, Hyperdrive empires get pretty much the short end of the stick. Fling users have to pay for each single fleet as well, yes, but the FTL cost doesn't quite explode as much for multiple fleets due to the lower base cost. Gate and slipstream empires can easily warp entire armadas from A to B by either paying upkeep or creating a slipstream that all ships can use without additional cost.
2. Even now, only flagships actually cost FTL. As far as I am aware, it doesn't cost any extra FTL to hyperdrive support ships around with their flagships. So I guess it could be said that these use the "bubble" generated by the flagship. Why should other flagships be unable to do so? Though I guess, by this reasoning, there should be a limit imposed through the size of the fleet leader's hyperdrive subsystem. That way balance would be served by the need for a big ship with a big FTL drive in order to take other flagships along for the ride. (And, if I'm not mistaken, that bigger ship with a bigger hyperdrive engine would also naturally cost more FTL to move around).
3. Being able to spread out to many places at the same time using multiple fleets should be more expensive than bunching them together. That is one way to (slightly) discourage attacking everywhere at once. Empires using hyperdrive already need to pay higher FTL cost per jump due to their increased flexibility over the other types of FTL, as well as the ability to do just that - spread out quickly. However, when keeping multiple fleets together - which may be desirable - part of this advantage is lost.

That being said, the reduction doesn't have to be 75%; but some sort of cost advantage should most definitely be possible without breaking the game balance. (Testing needed, of course!) After all, it doesn't diminish the advantages of the other types of FTL: Fling beacons are still dirt cheap to use and offer rather fast FTL travel, Slipstreams still allow scouting a system without having to travel there, Gates are still incredibly powerful once a network of these has been established (especially with guard fleets on stand-by nearby any gate); plus Gates and Slipstreams offer a fast way to colonize new worlds. And, last but not least, empires using hyperdrive have to dedicate the most space of all FTL types on their ship designs.

Anyway, that's at least my thought process behind this whole thing. :)

XTRMNTR2K

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #3 on: January 20, 2015, 09:46:37 AM »
Damn! It's almost been an entire month since my last post. :o

Definitely want to give some more feedback, though. As always, these are just my 1 1/2 cents (what's half a cent, anyway?):


Zeitgeists

Daaaamn, these are great. They blend in perfectly with the rest of the game, and I like how they add some uniqueness to the progression of every single game. They're like random events - except they're not completely random since players have an influence on what's happening (or not). A fantastic idea well implemented, not to mention there is a gigantic amount of potential in these for modders. Kudos to you, BMS!


Various additions

The new solar systems, anomalies and subsystems are extremely cool. Just the other day I thought about if and how a cloaking system would be viable... And BLAM! cloaking mesh added. It's also great that we get something to go discovering stuff as well as play hide and seek in (nebula). Would love to see more like those per galaxy, though!


Implementation of subsystem hex limit and rebalancing of subsystem formulas

I'll be honest - I'm not much of a fan of this change. My first reaction was actually along the lines of "what the flying f-". Not only did it invalidate a huge amount of previously working designs (not just mine, but from the community design page as well), but I had a hard time actually seeing anything good about this. The main idea behind the freeform editor was freedom, I thought, so it seemed backwards to implement a change that would limit the design freedom severely (particularly for large flagships). Now that I had a bit of time to play with it, I do understand it was meant to make it possible to differentiate between expensive/heavy and lighter/more inexpensive designs by simply using more or less hexes. It also means that a single hex of any given size always provides the same base values to subsystems, whereas before they would change as soon as you added or removed a single hex to or from the layout.

All things considered, I am not raging as much about it anymore (not to mention the fact it can easily be modded out if one wishes), but I still believe it falls short of actually providing more than it takes away. All it does is encourage people to always use the maximum amount of hexes possible, and not much else. At the same time it's no longer possible to design *really* sophisticated ships anymore, which is a bummer. Additionally, while we can now make a choice between heavy and light designs of the same size, it's no longer a choice between simple-but-sturdy and complex-but-fragile anymore (granted, that is exaggerated; but designs with less hexes had higher values per hex, so they could partly make up for their lack of sophistication through sheer ruggedness).

A higher maximum value than just 128 hexes may help alleviate some of these issues, but not all.

Overall... "don't know if like". ???


Conclusion

Despite the previous paragraph being a rant, I'm still very impressed with the way everything comes together. It's more enjoyable to keep playing for an extended period of time than it was months ago; in fact, several times I felt like I couldn't stop playing until I had won the game now, whereas the endgame used to be more of a chore a while ago.

Keep up the great work and I'm confident SR2 will not just be a very good game, but a great one, and a successful one at that!

dalolorn

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #4 on: January 20, 2015, 12:21:15 PM »
Actually, modding out the hex limit is not an easy task. However, configuring it on a per-ship basis is quite possible - the 'Unity of the Advent' shipset has just a bit more hexes (barely) than is needed to fill out the shape of a hull. (Assuming, of course, that there is only one layer of armor, and that layer is still within the hull shape.)

Edit: The real problem is that it takes time and effort to prototype the hull limits, which is why I've only changed the Advent that way so far. Now that ABEM's development has been forcibly halted until Lucas can fix an issue with the game's parsers, I might finally start working on other shipsets.
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 12:22:56 PM by dalolorn »

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #5 on: January 20, 2015, 03:31:23 PM »
Actually, modding out the hex limit is not an easy task.

It's not? Damn... I guess you can tell I haven't really been looking at the game files for a while.  :-\

Thanks a lot for the heads-up, though! :)

EDIT:
I'm probably - most likely, actually - missing something important here, but isn't the HexLimit defined in FlagshipHull.txt / SupportHull.txt? So shouldn't changing those values provide more/less maximum hexes for them?
Well, I haven't actually tried it yet so it may be far more complicated than that (not to mention the possibility of breaking other things when changing these values.)
Just thought I'd put it out there. ;D
« Last Edit: January 20, 2015, 03:38:06 PM by XTRMNTR2K »

dalolorn

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #6 on: January 20, 2015, 03:35:56 PM »
Well, technically speaking, you can increase the limit to a point where there is no limit. Actually reverting to the old system, however, is not possible without either insight into the old system's code, or a lot of hard work trying to get it to work that way again.

XTRMNTR2K

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #7 on: January 20, 2015, 03:43:56 PM »
Well, technically speaking, you can increase the limit to a point where there is no limit. Actually reverting to the old system, however, is not possible without either insight into the old system's code, or a lot of hard work trying to get it to work that way again.

Haha, you're too quick for me! I edited my previous post just as you were writing this. ;D

Say, is there a variable like CurrentHexCount or UsedHexes or something? If it is, it should be possible to edit every single subsystem to provide values based on something like this:

Code: [Select]
Value := 10 * (Size / CurrentHexCount)
That's probably wrong in so many ways, but I think it gets the point across. ;)

GGLucas

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #8 on: January 20, 2015, 04:40:02 PM »
Dalo's pretty wrong. Just changing the way HexSize is calculated from the hull subsystem is enough to change it.

In either case, the limit was added after long deliberation for a number of reasons relating to balance, understandability of the stat values, and variety of viable designs (yes. limits can improve variety, as weird as that may seem).

dalolorn

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2015, 03:44:56 AM »
Dalo's pretty wrong. Just changing the way HexSize is calculated from the hull subsystem is enough to change it.

In either case, the limit was added after long deliberation for a number of reasons relating to balance, understandability of the stat values, and variety of viable designs (yes. limits can improve variety, as weird as that may seem).

Well then, I stand corrected. :) (And, while I'm at it, figure out what you're talking about. The old HexSize was Hexes * ShipSize.  :-[ Don't think it was actually declared in the hull subsystems, though.)

Oh, you got balance and understandability down to a T. Probably variety as well - it's just that MY design style got invalidated, hence my efforts to rework my shipsets to restore my ability to build SR2 clones of SC2, SOASE and SE5 ships. :)

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2015, 04:58:16 AM »
Dalo's pretty wrong. Just changing the way HexSize is calculated from the hull subsystem is enough to change it.

Nice! So if I interpret this correctly, the current count of hexes is

Code: [Select]
ShipTotalHexes - Ship.ExternalHexes
Right?

There's an idea I just had earlier and I'm curious if/how it would be possible to realize it.
If I'm not mistaken, only a layer of 1 hex thickness is considered external for all purposes, correct? What I was thinking was adding different hulls that would either allow thicker armor (and still consider it external) or no external armor at all (and count external armor as internal instead).

Quote from: Example
Light Hull Structure - +12 hexes but external armor counts as internal
Standard Hull Structure - Normal amount of hexes, no changes
Heavy Hull Structure - -12 hexes, but external armor may have a density of 2 hexes instead

Is that even feasible without A LOT of tinkering? I'm asking because there's really no difference between external hexes no matter if they're used for armor, weapons or engines right now (at least as far as I can tell).

Quote
In either case, the limit was added after long deliberation for a number of reasons relating to balance, understandability of the stat values, and variety of viable designs (yes. limits can improve variety, as weird as that may seem).

That's what I actually noticed during the last game I played. The new default designs for heavy carriers and titans are good examples how you can get a lot out of clever designs that make use of empty space inbetween, as well as clever armor placement. Before most ship designs ended up being heavily armored blobs. Well, the more effective ones, at least.

So yeah, I definitely see that this limitation added something to the game. But at the same, time after having all that freedom before, it feels as though the player's wings have been clipped.
And I'm still on the fence about one thing: Is there really any good reason to use less than the maximum number of hexes available for flagships?

dalolorn

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2015, 06:25:29 AM »
Actually, only external armor hexes count as 'ExternalHexes' in the vanilla game. FauxExterior allows for several layers of armor to be considered 'external', PassExterior allows for a hex to cover weapon hardpoints.

The only reason you'd want to use less than the maximum hex count is if you were making inexpensive drones for the purposes of spammy reconnaissance. Even then, hitting the hex limit will achieve more speed than any other recon design.

GGLucas

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2015, 11:17:26 AM »
Quote
And I'm still on the fence about one thing: Is there really any good reason to use less than the maximum number of hexes available for flagships?

There isn't. We specifically set it up so you want to always use the full amount of hexes, because if you could use fewer hexes than that, then you would be able to create the same result size of a design but with differently sized hexes again, and we would be encountering the same problems we were before. (ie, a size 64 with 128 hexes used would then be equal to a size 128 with 64 hexes used). The ship has a base overhead cost proportional to its size to make sure they are not the same.

Quote
The old HexSize was Hexes * ShipSize

No, the old HexSize was ShipSize / ShipTotalHexes.

Quote
ShipTotalHexes - Ship.ExternalHexes

Yes, but be aware that stuff like armor adds their external counts to ExternalHexes after the hull subsystem is computed (EvaluationOrder), so Ship.ExternalHexes is always 0 in the hull subsystem. This is why a recent commit added AddPostModifier:, to fix a bug with Ship.ExternalHexes use in hull subsystems.

Quote
So yeah, I definitely see that this limitation added something to the game. But at the same, time after having all that freedom before, it feels as though the player's wings have been clipped.

Yeah :( Unfortunately in this instance there was no other way.

dalolorn

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2015, 12:06:50 PM »
There is, actually; using less than the maximum at size 16 is particularly useful for inexpensive recon drones, as I said in my last post.

Sigh. I can't remember anything. :-[

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Re: A bucket full of feedback and suggestions
« Reply #14 on: January 21, 2015, 03:18:32 PM »
Actually, only external armor hexes count as 'ExternalHexes' in the vanilla game. FauxExterior allows for several layers of armor to be considered 'external', PassExterior allows for a hex to cover weapon hardpoints.

Eh, of course they do. Thanks for correcting my mistake, I actually facepalmed when I noticed my mistake earlier. :-X

Quote
The only reason you'd want to use less than the maximum hex count is if you were making inexpensive drones for the purposes of spammy reconnaissance. Even then, hitting the hex limit will achieve more speed than any other recon design.
There isn't. We specifically set it up so you want to always use the full amount of hexes, because if you could use fewer hexes than that, then you would be able to create the same result size of a design but with differently sized hexes again, and we would be encountering the same problems we were before. (ie, a size 64 with 128 hexes used would then be equal to a size 128 with 64 hexes used). The ship has a base overhead cost proportional to its size to make sure they are not the same.

Sad to hear that, though thinking about it I haven't got the faintest idea how it would be possible to do that, either. :-\

Quote
Yes, but be aware that stuff like armor adds their external counts to ExternalHexes after the hull subsystem is computed (EvaluationOrder), so Ship.ExternalHexes is always 0 in the hull subsystem. This is why a recent commit added AddPostModifier:, to fix a bug with Ship.ExternalHexes use in hull subsystems.

Okay, so using that variable won't work in the subsystem. But what would? And how does AddPostModifier work? Not sure I understand, sorry.
(And sorry for taking up your time with my stupid questions ;D)

Quote
Yeah :( Unfortunately in this instance there was no other way.

Well, guess I'll have to get used to it one way or another. Maybe I'll experiment with higher numbers some day and see if it still retains the variety of valid designs or not. 128 just feels a tad too simple for my taste, particularly for bigger flagships. :D