GSB2 First Impressions

This is going to be a bit stream-of-consciousness I’m afraid.

First fight - the first map is very visually cluttered. The asteroids, lens flare, layers, fighters, missiles and everything - I really can’t see what’s going on and I can’t help but want the cleaner and quieter battle of the first game. There’s so much going on - there is not even the illusion of control (ie. I cannot tell if the orders I issued are being followed), or spotting mistakes and how to correct them next time.

I might not mind this in later maps - but in the first one you come across - it’s a bit much early on. I would have preferred a smaller map with fewer visual elements, and build up to the spectacle of the battle in the asteroid field.

I accidentally highlight a few ships during the battle and floating menus open up which I cannot close because the ‘x’ to close them is moving around too quickly.

I can’t see the fighters at all. I can only see gunships when they fire disruption missiles. Perhaps I need to outfit all my fighters with flashing lights, so I can track where they are.

When I start to design ships the following things occur to me:
The first game had some issues with registering single key presses with multiple letters in the ship’s name and this one does it too. Is it mmmeeeeee?
The ship’s name box also has a strange misalignment of the cursor - it’s tricky to see which letters you are adding and which you are deleting. Only backspace works - not delete.
Some of the hardpoints overlap each other and it’s sometimes difficult to pick up the icon in one and drag it elsewhere.
I like the firing arcs - but I think perhaps there need to be fewer universal mounts - to make ship movement and orientation - and thus turning speed more useful.

I don’t immediately clock that fighters need fuel tanks. Perhaps there needs to be a little user comforting around the greyed out save box - perhaps a small checklist which ticks when you add a component a blank when you haven’t and it was optional and a cross when there isn’t one and it’s obligatory? I have no idea how long the fuel will last.

Some of the ship components are a mystery what they do. The cut and paste descriptions need refinement and differentiation for clarity.

Fighters and gunships seem hard. I tried the old classic “one engine, one rocket/missile launcher” - speed as survival trick that worked well in GSB1 and watched as my fighters went in single file into the maw of the enemy and were chewed up. I would love it if they grouped together first before flying off. My heavy torpedo gunships seemed to run out of fuel twenty feet from the carrier. In the end I played some dogfighters as escorts to dreadnoughts and sometimes gunships as escorts to add cheap close range firepower.

One of the early dreadnought designs has a +85% armour boost. Wow! I load it with shields, heavy armour and my favourite multi-warhead missiles and go to town.

After two missions I had enough honour to have unlocked everything. Lining up a small number of these +85% armour dreadnoughts with buckets of missiles and some fighter escorts demolishes most fleets. I try tinkering with orders, but it makes little odds which order I destroy the enemy in. The only map it didn’t work on was that with loads of lightning guns. That prompted me to put a few destroyers in with shield enhancers and some more AA missiles and anti-missile beams. Time, and human ingenuity will tell whether there are some interesting fleet design options out there. Once I’d stocked up on these big bad boys there seemed little incentive to vary a successful formula.

There are lots of counters to missiles, though - but the fleets built for the missions do not seem to have employed them. Perhaps one or two maps would need to act as a test of over-stocking missiles?

I went back and started experimenting with frigates. They were never really useful in GSB1 and I wondered if I could find a niche for them. It took me a few tries until I found a balance of speed and defense enough to survive the battle - which is a good start, because now I can tweak the paltry weapon load-out to try and do more than annoy the enemy’s ships. I haven’t yet found a role for them - but I’m sure there’s time. They seem a bit prone to bumping into friendly ships, though.

So - I’ve completed the missions in short order and I have enjoyed myself. It has not been challenging - but that’s OK for now because it’s a beta and balancing systems this complex is an art which takes time.

I love the sound design and the music.

I notice that if I delete some ship designs, and then try and reload a mission with a deployment that uses those designs listed, the game crashes. I have to recreate a ship with the name of the missing one and then it loads fine. I’ll have to put that one in bugs.

Back to the first mission again - this time trying destroyers with propulsion beams pushing a gun platforms - and trying to find designs of gunships that fit in a role. Maybe going through the achievements list and seeing different ways to arm myself.

Cruisers? Didn’t need think about or seem to need them. I’ll be back and add more once I get my teeth into the design balances a bit more.

I wonder if there is a way of coding a cinematic camera which zooms to a main ship (frigate+) which is taking the most damage at the time - or dishing out the most damage at the time?

A shaky first impression with too much going on - but it stands up to repeated plays and has grown on me.

Next time: New races and some new tactics.

Just posting to say this is great feedback, we are fixing/improving/acting on a lot of it right now…

Thank you Cliff.

— the journey continues —

I design my fantastic first dreadnought and wonder why it glows bright white. I shrug assuming that’s just the style of the race I am playing and carry on. Only after several battles does it occur to me that I am playing with bald ship structures and that if you want any specific look for a ship - even a colour scheme - it’s a DIY job. GSB1 gave you race-specific colour-schemes, ship shapes and decals and they were distinctive and thematic.

Now personally I have never really been motivated by visual customisation. I prefer the abstract puzzle of ship loadouts and elegant balancing of individual ship design, ship synergies and deployment instructions to crack a hard fleet/nut. However - it’s a beta and I’m happy to dive into the designer.

The visual tools seem very basic - but probably has a who basket of complexity behind it. I would love a “one button pimp” to give my ships a pre-built skin that players could then customise. Perhaps some “hard points” for engine nozzles, wings and reactors - that would allow me to select a list of my favourite components and then the tool would automatically size them appropriately for the ship and slot them in the correct hard point and then provide a standard paint-job. Then I could enjoy spending time building one visual template and skin every ship with that to create a themed army? Then players could share ship themes?

Perhaps you can do ship visuals more easily than this. Perhaps I haven’t found it.

I imagine that would be a lot of coding - but this looks like a major component of the game that you have to engage with to get the visual spectacle that is the prize/reward for the effort you put in. I would prefer to spend my time with one look that I can apply to every ship than individually tailoring the look of every ship. I use Visio in my work and spend far too much time already worrying about trying to get icons to line up - eliminate issues with layers and colours and make something look nice. Perhaps my dissatisfaction with it comes from being a bit jaded about the whole process.

As mentioned by other posters, the box around the ship is too small. One cannot fit an engine housing on the back - and your choice of jet exhaust. You run out of room and the tool does not allow you to position the element any lower.

The contrail icon for fighter it’s not clear where the contrail will start as it only shows a half-height bar for me - which is not how it appear in-game. Although it’s a vital add-on otherwise fighters are nearly invisible in a battle.

It’s not clear where the axis of rotation is for each item - particularly the triangular light source - it seems eccentric - not in the middle and not at a vertex and so it is difficult to position on the hull.

When you try and change the size of some items, they seem to jump to maximum size when you click on the slider, which is a bit disconcerting.

It’s obvious to me that some items only have one colour and that the other two colour buttons are not used for that component, but it does mean I have to try changing the second box for every item before I can figure out if there are any stripes or elements of a second colour.

Is there any way to add text to a ship (Say NCC-1701? Thunderbird-1?) without opening up the possibility of bad language that may appear on ships in challenges?

Perhaps I need a tutorial on making good looking ships.

The ship design screen will get more attention in 1.17. We have already fixed the issue that now allows you to place items under the hull, which is much better for placing engines etc.
Its generally much easier to use this screen using the mousewheel to do stuff rather than the sliders.