Author Topic: A couple core gameplay issues and a couple "would be nice" suggestions.  (Read 1064 times)

Vodswyld

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I would like to start off saying that you all have made a fantastic game. While playing I ran into a few issues that made the game frustrating to play. Apologies in advance for the massive wall of text.

First up is the camera controls. With certain map types like Clusters you have a good chance of another star being behind the one you are currently working it. When you attempt to scroll out to look at another part of the system you find your cursor was on the star behind the system you are in and your viewpoint has suddenly changed much more then you would have liked it to. I think this can be done in a few ways, depending on how you have your back end architecture done. If you are storing zoom scale information on a system level you can deny moving the camera based on another system until you are zoomed out enough to where you are "system selecting" as opposed to object selecting. I think you might have something like this capability based off the change in selectable menu options when you are far enough out to not see or be able to select the local assets without a selector box. Alternatively you could make the Star selection box be the size of the star system, which may work as a catchall so that clicks on empty space in the system instead select the star. I would consider this a core issue.

Next is AI controls. It is possible that I am not understanding how the controls work. However, I ran into two separate issues. Issue one relates to manual orders. I was attempting to give manual repair orders to ships that were disabled and breaking due to lack of fuel. None of my ships would acknowledge any orders relating to the disabled ship, be they repair or resupply orders. I received no responses from the ship saying the order was impossible, or why, or anything. Without any information as to why the ship refused orders, I could not craft new orders to rectify the situation. A status message for manually issued orders would be extremely helpful in these situations. This might be worth making another button in the top comms display so that it can be filtered in and out. I would consider this another core issue.

Issue two when it comes to AI controls is more a matter of granularity of commands then anything else. I would not consider this a core issue, but it would go far in making the game more nuanced. This issue came up for me with supply ships. I had a fleet stationed in system with some in-system haulers moving goods around. The fleet composed of a number of combat ships and two auxiliaries with repair facilities, fuel storage, and fuel generation via ramscoops. Since these ships were slower then a doped up tortoise, I also gave them ship bays containing little resupply and repair shuttles. They were faster then anything else in the fleet so they were able to run out and do the resupply while the auxiliaries stayed in formation or approached heavily damaged ships for more extensive repairs. So I released the shuttles and let them refuel and rearm the fleet. Yay! Worked great for the moment. Then I noticed the shuttles all bunching up. I was a touch confused until I paused the game and zoomed in to look at their orders. They started to resupply each other, dumping off fuel and ammo into their now or near empty bays. I could not for the life of me figure out a way to tell them not to do that. I decided it was a minor issue and left it alone. A few minutes later I look at my system map again and I see the shuttles hurriedly winging their way off to the haulers. Doh! Not what I wanted them to do at all! So this brings me to my point. Maybe of the orders such as "Supply To..." need some additional granularity. Following are the suggestions.

Supply Resource:
   (Only/Not Ships In Same Fleet) This would allow you to build civilian and military class auxiliaries that act will not stick their noses in where they should not.
   (Only/Not of Type) This way you can force supply ships to ignore each other or specific kinds of ships, or build ships dedicated to dealing with ship classes they are best suited to handle. Likely you would need a submenu for this that shows the ship classes. The main barrier to this would be in memory storage, so it may not be feasible with large numbers of blueprints. The introduction of a smaller number of assignable ship classes might be useful for this. Suggestions: Fighter, Carrier, Industrial, Ship of the Line, Escort, Civilian.
   (Weight by Scale/Class) This would allow you to prioritize your ships so they most important ones get the most attention. This could use a similar submenu as Only/Not of Type, but would need some way to weigh the ships in the list my importance. Same memory caveats apply as well.
   (Leave Reserve of X%) This would simply keep a ship from handing over all of its fuel and then going dead in the water.

Fetch/Deposit Resource/Work with Repairer:
   (Only/Not Ships In Same Fleet) I think this is more likely to be used with the Repairer then the other two, but since the code would already be worked out for the filter with Repair and Supply that actually need it, it might not be a bad idea to assign it to these as well. God knows someone will come up with a way to use it.
   (Only/Not of Type) Again, this would let you set up a more refined and dedicated relationship between ships. See above for more thoughts.
   (Weight by Scale/Class) Same as above.
   (At Assigned) See Docking Settings for more info of that the assigned means.

New orders:
Withdrawl at...: If Shields/HP/Resource drops below the threshold the ship will flee to wherever its Withdrawl to... is set to.
   (Withdrawl to...) Nearest friendly planet/fleet/station/system, Nearest unoccupied planet/fleet/station/system

Carrier Settings:
Construct with Complement: This would be a list similar to the build queue that allows you to select how many of various ships you want to fill the hold.
Launch Strike Craft By Class:
   (Fighter/Escort/Ship of the Line) when Carrier/Fleet/System is under attack
   (Civilian/Industrial) when Fleet/System RESOURCE level below X% [I could see this being somewhat processor intensive unless you are already gathering aggregate resource levels. Especially if you have to check it every cycle. Then again, it can't be worse then checking every ships level individually. If you are doing that you can just add a couple lines to the check code to average them all together and then check this against that total. If you are somehow doing it based on flags, then you can average the number of flags and check against that.]

Docking Settings:
Dock by Class: This should be self explanatory by now.
Assign ship to last Docked: This would mean adding a field to the unit data that says where the ship is assigned, which can be called against. It may also be smart to add an array to the carrier with a list of all currently assigned. This would sort out the problem of Automatically Replenish Strike Craft kicking out hundreds of thousands of fighter craft, as you can make it only fill its assigned positions.
Dock to Assigned Automatically:
   (When there are no enemies in the system)
   (When the system is under attack)
   (When idle) This would mean that if the ship is sitting on a fetch order but is not moving that it will return to dock.

Third core issue is the documentation. Many of the AI settings desperately need documentation. Replenish Strike Craft and Manage Docked especially. The difference in Supply and Deposit is apparent if you read the options, but should still be documented.

The rest of the issues are not at all core, but would be useful additions I think.

The ability to turn systems on and off would be useful, even if you can only do it by Automation. Since you are already storing the damage state of individual subsystems, this would be a matter of also storing an off/on state.

The ability to specify a fleet commander. (Thank you Pidococcus for a perfect way to handle that. See: http://forums.blind-mind.com/index.php?topic=3508.0 )

Right now movement seems to function with ships moving to the point where the target was at the time of the order. Instead performing an intercept and/or vector match seems more realistic and would produce better functionality with things like mining lasers on moving asteroids. I can think of half a dozen implementations of either of these, but this is long enough as it is. If you are interested in ideas of how to make this happen just let me know.

Certain Fleet behaviors could be useful. Certain things would be useful like keeping Escorts between Ship of the Line and enemies. This would likely require a Fleet Behavior menu in the blueprint menu. If you could have a Fleet Behavior menu in the normal game screen and update it mid fight that could be even better.

Done for now. Let me know if any of this is confusing.

Vodswyld

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Seems I am late with some of this. Started going over some of the 1.0.7.6 patch notes. Doh!

Profound_Darkness

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'Next is AI controls...'
There are some things that your ships will opt not to do even if you order them to.  Like attacking your own planet or repairing/refueling a ship that isn't yours (or boarding a ship that is).  You can force the order with... I believe the control key.  Good for blowing up suns...

'Issue two...'
There are 3 key automation elements to consider here... "Allow other ships to fetch resources", "Allow other ships to deposit resources", and "Allow other ships to supply resources".  Getting the right mix for the job is important.  I suspect all 3 on deny might help for this particular role but I haven't had much experience along the lines you are trying.

Panpiper

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'Issue two...'
There are 3 key automation elements to consider here... "Allow other ships to fetch resources", "Allow other ships to deposit resources", and "Allow other ships to supply resources".  Getting the right mix for the job is important.  I suspect all 3 on deny might help for this particular role but I haven't had much experience along the lines you are trying.

There are some features of the game that while they may not technically be 'broken', are none the less so utterly obtuse as to might as well be. Chief among those is AI orders for supply ships. I long since decided to simply ignore things like supply (because I could not figure out how to make it work) and always build ships to have at least 20 minutes of fuel, giving them ample time to cruise about, carry out various orders, and still have plenty of time to get to a colony world to refuel. The few times I've had ships running out of fuel (actually due to a different bug in a mod), I've built fuel supply ships and had absolutely no success in getting them to actually refuel ships that are seconds away from dying for lack of fuel (or minutes away for that matter).

I quite deliberately had a save game point for a ship building world to build such a fuel ship, it was able to build the ship and get them to a few ships waiting in deep space with fumes in their tanks, and the fuel tanker was able to get there with a good minute or 30 seconds each time. But no matter what AI orders I gave the ship, no matter what manual attempts I made to get the ship to resupply, it would just sit there, a hair's breadth from the about to die ships. And these were not ships that had gone grey, they were not yet taking damage, they still had a pixel of fuel.

You may know how to make them work, so to you, everything is fine. But for those of us who do not have Bachelor degrees in Star Ruler, or Masters Degrees in computer coding, the supply AI orders are entirely non-functional.

XTRMNTR2K

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You may know how to make them work, so to you, everything is fine. But for those of us who do not have Bachelor degrees in Star Ruler, or Masters Degrees in computer coding, the supply AI orders are entirely non-functional.

It's just a quick idea, but how about adding preset options that fulfill all necessary conditions for a certain role, i.e. ammo supply ship, tanker, etc.? To make things even better, being able to save and load complete sets of AI orders would go a long way towards making the AI setup faster and more accessible. As it is now, only Automation Orders can be exported and imported, while every other AI setting is unaffected by this option.

Profound_Darkness

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...
I quite deliberately had a save game point for a ship building world to build such a fuel ship, it was able to build the ship and get them to a few ships waiting in deep space with fumes in their tanks, and the fuel tanker was able to get there with a good minute or 30 seconds each time. But no matter what AI orders I gave the ship, no matter what manual attempts I made to get the ship to resupply, it would just sit there, a hair's breadth from the about to die ships. And these were not ships that had gone grey, they were not yet taking damage, they still had a pixel of fuel.
...
(bolded key text above)
A LOT of stuff doesn't happen in deep space that does in a system.  I don't quite know the details but basically you can't transfer resources (ammo, fuel, advanced parts, ...) between ships in deep space, just in systems (at least not via automation).

Firgof

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You can transfer those things in space, but you're correct: Automated orders do not function in deep space.
"Now it will punish you"

Vodswyld

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It's just a quick idea, but how about adding preset options that fulfill all necessary conditions for a certain role, i.e. ammo supply ship, tanker, etc.? To make things even better, being able to save and load complete sets of AI orders would go a long way towards making the AI setup faster and more accessible. As it is now, only Automation Orders can be exported and imported, while every other AI setting is unaffected by this option.

I think this would go a long way. Also, extra documentation on the AI system would be very very useful.

Profound_Darkness

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Just a thought but isn't the complete set of automation orders saved with ship templates?

But then I tend towards modifying existing designs (to a new name) rather than scratch building something new, as I don't know all the ins and outs of the automation options (but am glad to have the choices there).