First Day Critique

I picked up Gratuitous Space Battles after reading about it in Penny Arcade and am looking forward to helping improve what is already shaping up to be a great game. I am a game programming student so I hope that I can be a valuable member of your beta team. My first contribution to the beta testing is a critique of the game based on my first day or so of playing.

GSB certainly delivers when it comes to eye candy. The battles are big and beautiful and I don’t seem to have any performance issues on my mid-grade gaming system. The fire and forget style of gameplay is an interesting concept that I quite enjoy but also find kinda frustrating. It seems often I find myself watching my units making terrible tactical choices that lead to their destruction when only a small change could have brought about victory. If the game is about creating your own star ships and having them fight using AI then the AI needs to be as customizable as the starships.

There needs to be more control over how your ships move. Adding a waypoint system so that you can tell your ships where you “want” them to go at the beginning of battle would be a HUGE boon. Initially i had been binding my groups to a main cruiser but everything goes awry the moment that one ship is destroyed.At the moment I have been experimenting with big chains of loose escort commands in an attempt to keep my battle groups somewhat together once the fighting gets rough. Being able to designate highlighted groups as being part of a single battle group would be a big help. Having more granular control of how a ship moves would be a big help as well. I’d like to be able to tell my Flyswatter Frigates to Stay within a set range of allied cruisers but avoid enemy cruisers and pursue enemy fighters or tell my bombers to avoid enemy fighters and frigates and head straight for the cruisers. It would also be nice to have more control over targeting. For instance, I’d like to be able to tell a ship loaded up with Fusion Cannons to preferentially shoot at targets with their shields down and my missile frigate to avoid shooting targets with countermeasures.

Overall I think it’s really great, especially since it’s been made by one person. Keep up the good work and I hope I can help you fine tune it a bit. Oh yeah, I hope my purchase price helps ya out too.

Put your commander (s) behind the fleet, then they will not be destroyed and your fleet will maintain the formation.

Also, always delete “Attack fighters” order from all cruisers and/or frigates!

I think the biggest strategic issue with the commands is that the ships don’t differentiate between classes.

Thus you can (for example) put a cruiser with maxxed out armor and armor repair in front of other cruisers with maxxed out offence, and all the enemy who are targetting cruisers keep firing at the front ship even if they are not doing any damage (or sufficient damage to outrun its auto-repair…)

Similarly when I am using frigate spam I save money by only equpping the front couple of lines with defence and those at the rear can just max out offense and have cheaper (and therefore more) ships.

I started playing 2 days ago and already beat the then ranked hardest challenge (one of Am’s) by 100% to 0% using a variation on this method…

The easiest fix for this is to add more functionality to the possible orders.

Some function to tell a ship to attack the cruiser with the weakest shield or armor rating in range or to attack fighters only if they are below a certain speed etc…

This is essentially what I am doing now. I use a few big frontline cruisers with redundant shields and armor as well as mostly defensive armaments and lots of point defense. Behind that I put mid-range mid-defense missle cruisers and barely defended heavy beam and plasma cruisers behind those. Surround those with some cheap heavy firepower frigates for extra firepower and a few squads of heavily armored anti-fighter fighters. Everything gets set to Escort at 600 and centered on one of the back rank cruisers and it all stays together as a nice tight bunch of death. Mostly the enemy can only take down one of my frontline ships and some of the frigates before my heavy blaster ships have annihilated everything. Seems like the best bet is to keep you ships as clustered as possible so they can all focus fire.