Some Questions from the Developer

Ok, so I just had a major playthrough of bits of my own game, and came to a few thoughts about how to improve it, and I thought it would be good to get the thoughts of all you players on what I’m thinking:

1)Do you think that the scenario spatial anomalies is actually useless right now?
I do. I suspect that because you can’t see what they are from the deployment screen, we tend to forget all about them. The original premise was that you would end up designing different fleets for different terrain, but it’s just not happening is it? The 15% or 10% reductions to speed or weapons range are just not making enough of a difference. I think that they need to be much more drastic than that, such as missions where shields are useless, or where missiles go at half speed, or maybe where fighters cannot be used at all due to gravimetric wossnames. What do you think?

2)Do you think enemy ship damage is too hard to determine?
I don’t think you should be able to see the enemy ships modules, but isn’t there an argument to be able to see their hull, shields and armour indicators? Right now it’s very difficult to tell how much real lasting damage you do to an enemy ship until their shields collapse or they blow up. I think either the graphical feedback from the explosion and shield effects needs to be overhauled, or I need to let you click enemy ships and just see those status strips. Do you agree?

3)Do you avoid playing same race vs same race battles?
I just played empire vs Empire on survival and was confused as hell. Do you ever do this? would you do it more if there was a hotkey to overlay a bit of a red/green tint over the ships so you could tell friend from foe? It’s pretty good fun to watch, but very confusing when you are working out who is winning. Do you just get used to it? or is it annoying?


Yes, yes and yes! Radiate the fighters out, slow down (or cause 50% attrition to missiles), cause beam weapons to dissipate (atmosphere)… do all those things. Make us think and adapt. Absolutely.

Yes and no. It’s tempting as a player to want to know detailed information about enemy ships, but I also like the mystery. You might overhaul the effects if you want but I find that I have a pretty good idea whether my stuff is getting through or not. The level of anxiety over whether my rate of damage can ever overcome their shield recharge is a plus in my book. However for those who must know everything you could always add a scanner module (and scan jammer)

I would LOVE to be able to add a little color overlay or flair for my units. Yes it absolutely would help me know who is who in the battle screen.

All interesting questions!

  1. I think the anomalies are more annoying than fun right now. You don’t actually change your fleet, you just forget to reduce your engagement range, or wait longer for the fighting to start. Make it something where you actually have to design different ships, or use different fleet compositions would be much better.

  2. It would be nice if you could click on an enemy ship, and just see what percent of their hull is left. You don’t need to give shield strength or any component information. It’s just nice when each side is down to a few flaming ships left to have a better idea how close the battle actually is.

Also, if you wanted to give more feed back on destruction, you could add specific types or colors of explosions when something is destroyed/damaged. When an engine is damaged/destroyed the flame in the back of the ships sputter or spark or change color. Save the big screen shacking explosions for when a power generator is destroyed. Vent gas out of the ship when a crew module gets wasted. Stuff like that doesn’t really give info about the ship, but is more gratuitous!

  1. I think everyone would love some overlay details. Either it could just be color that you can pick out. Or you could add detail/flags that people could customize them self. Either way, something would be great.

1.) I made no significant changes to my basic fleet layout, except in the nebula which affected shields. I agree with you, spatial conditions should cause players to change their fleet layouts. Think a nebula where weapons firing over a certain range are much less likely to hit, or fighting in an emission-amplifying anomaly that makes missiles track better, moving slower than .25 damages the ship, etc.

2.) Some minimal data on enemy ships would be terrific, especially if it added something graphically to the game. What if there was an option to have little shield and armor bars wavering a little ambiguously over the enemy? Any plan that adds to the sensation of viewing the battle through a tactical holotank is a good plan :wink:

3.) Optional Friendly/Hostile overlays couldn’t hurt (says the guy who doesn’t have to program the thing.) See note 2.

Thanks for the great game, cliffski! Raise the price $5 - it’s worth it!

1: I think there is a LOT of potential with ‘terrain’ for challenges and miniature campaigns, particularly if you need to use the same fleet on multiple terrain types - stock up on beam weapons that eat armour for breakfast because you know that in round 1 your fleet will have to fight somewhere that weakens shields, but not so much that in round 2, when shields are back on, you’re unable to knock a hole in them.

2: I’d like more feedback on enemy status, but I think I’d prefer this to be visual at the end of the day - holes in the armour, burning holes in the armour, shield gradually dimming and wavering, etcetera. Maybe if that could come ALONG with bars for if you click on something, that’d be great.

3: I think this one is a no-brainer, it’s a definite must have, but I’d LOVE a couple of alternate ‘tint’ modes - for example one that shows the status of MY ships, so when they’re all green they’re all fine, and as they take damage they darken towards red.

Edit: Also, re 1: - Terrains need to be OBVIOUS during the game. Please, add some gratuitous special effects - like nebula gas clouds.

For shield health indication you can make the hit effects emit a bloom from green to red indicating how much health the shield has left. Also the size of the bloom can indicate the amount of damage the shot did. Small white flash indicates no damage like they are now. As for hull damage you can see lots of effects already so that’s okay, maybe make the debris eject faster or further depending on the amount of damage inflicted as at the moment you get the same flash for which ever weapon hits.

  1. Yes spatial anomalies are actually useless. Never tried to make modified ships for it. Yes I would like to see other types of maps. Your ideas could work.

  2. I’m for visual notification of current status, no exact details. Shields could be marked by their colour (from blue to orange and reddish) and pattern/texture. I would like to see current way of showing armour damage for hull damage, so when an entire ship is all in damage spots that would mean it about to explode and not that just armour damaged.

  3. Haven’t played another race except Federation, but would be great if we could specify our own colours for ships. Not necessary entire ship, but some stripes (ala Homeworld) would be great.


  1. Yes, current terrain effects are a bit weak. The reduced shield strength one is OK. I like your ideas for making more drastic effects that strongly encourage a novel strategy - shields don’t work, anything with low armor takes ongoing damage, beam weapons do half-damage (or less), that kind of stuff.

  2. I agree with the general sentiment so far - some more feedback would be nice and would feel consistent with typical sci-fi bridge scenes (“Enemy shields at 25%, captain!”), but getting full details on every module in an enemy ship might be a bit much. Or, require a scanner module to see that info, as Serpent suggested. Give it a limited range to keep it interesting, and add a jammer module for those who value secrecy.

  3. I also just tried a survival run as Empire and it was indeed kind of confusing. Adding a friend/foe tinting system would be a nice step, but being able to choose some custom colors or decals for our fleets would be great! It’d be especially fun in challenges to establish a sort of “brand identity” for your ships.

You know when I suggested this I was thinking from the mode of MOO2, which this game is not. I mean, unless the behavior of your ships can change based on their scanner knowledge there is no reason to have a module for it or a jammer module.

That’s certainly true in the context of a single battle, but this is an iterative game. If you’re playing a challenge you might very well alter your fleet composition for the next go-'round based on what you learn from scanning. The jammer would be marginally silly, given that it’s not that hard to figure out at least basically what a ship is packing, but whatever - some people might like being able to keep their designs secret!

Actually, thinking about it a little more, what might scanning even more useful is if it would reveal a ship’s assigned orders. That’s something that’s a bit harder to figure out from observation than simply what modules a ship is carrying.

  1. I don’t like the current anomalies at all. A really cool one would be space currents that would push your ships around randomly like wind gusts, something that makes a real change and not just a % stat gain/loss.

  2. Please give us more information! I just got the game two days ago and I’m having a huge amount of trouble trying to figure out the effectiveness of my weapons/what the hell the enemy is using to rape me (those imba heavy fighters in survival, WTF are they?!). At the very least make the shield reduce in size with % or glow red as it gets weaker.

  3. One word: Decals. Check out Starcraft/Warcraft 3 for examples, color specific parts of the ship.

1)Do you think that the scenario spatial anomalies is actually useless right now?
I never take them into account, so for me they are pretty useless as they are.
I’m all for anomalies with drastical effects, but make them optional. Tied to the difficulty maybe. (ex some ionic nebula thing: normal: no effect / hard: 50% reduction in beam weapons / expert: beam weapons don’t work)
The map & anomaly freely selectable for creating challenges.

2)Do you think enemy ship damage is too hard to determine?
I sort of like the concept of not being able to see the enemy ship details, and having to go by visuals.
But a detailed oversight would be welcome in the after-battle report.
What I would like to see in the visual department are ways to see if I’m doing any damage at all to the enemy (where shield regen > damage dealt). Differently colored shields maybe (blue = 100% / green = 99-51% / orange = 50-21% / red = 20-1%)

3)Do you avoid playing same race vs same race battles?
I lose battles, but I don’t avoid them.
A better unit recognition in same-race battles would be nice though.
Preferably a totally different hull and engine-trail colour.
Why not a “create your own scheme” bit? Where you can choose your fleet colours (and logo maybe), and apply it to all of your ships. It’s a pretty common feature in competitive games. (Primary colour and secondary colour, which are switched for one fleet if they both have the same primary colour. Something like that)

  1. Absolutely. I can’t think of a single time the anomalies have changed my strategy. Max weapon down a percent? Max speed down a percent? Who cares, it’s all proportional and ends up making very little difference. Now a straight subtractive drop or a cap to either of those would make a huge difference. I also think there are numerous “special” wacky things you could do like explosive nebula clouds, drifting asteroids that do collision damage*, periodic gravity surges, you name it.

*That would be an awesome game mode! A special stage like survival but with asteroids. Big asteroids are slow but have heavy armor and lots of HPs. Once they blow up they split into smaller much faster ones. Have the sizes correspond to ship classes for targeting purposes. Fighters are immune to being hit by the big and medium ones but they have enough armor that they are immune to most fighter weapons.The goal is to kill all the asteroids with the highest remaining percentage of your ships remaining with a bonus for using less of your deployment resources.

  1. Absolutely. It’s hard to tell when something is barely even damaged or just about to blow. I don’t want a bar graph showing enemy hit points remaining etc. But I think the graphical damage indicators could use an overhaul. First make repairing a module repair the damage. I’ve had cruisers get swarmed by fighters and had every single module on them damaged resulting in an explosion. All the fighters die, the repair module does it’s job and repairs everything to full yet the the thing still has burning hols all over it. Second find a way to indicate damage is being down without blowing a chunk off the ship, damage it sure, but reserve the current there’s a giant gaping smoldering hole where the engine used to be look for when a module has been completely destroyed.

  2. I won’t say I avoid it but it can become annoying at times. Some sort of color indicator, whether it’s a giant symbol painted on the hulls, different colored running lights, or a ship wide paint job that tints thing would certainly help.

I’m cheating and only answering one of the questions.

I think an overhaul of the statistics screen would be another way to solve this issue. If I could see that Brutus’s lasers were always bouncing off the shields of the Indefatigable but tore the heck out of the Dauntless’s armor, then I’d be able to adapt my fleet better the the specific enemy ships. If I knew that my shields were brought down by missile hits and that 90% of the plasma fired at me missed, I’d know I need more Point Defense and could perhaps give up some speed.

Here are some specific suggestions:

  1. Add counts to the percentage stats (I need to know if I was hit by 50% of 10 shots or 50% of 500!).
  2. Allow a player to see the stats for each pair of ships that engaged (let me click on the enemy ships when I have one of my own targeted to get their head-to-head stats).
  3. Add a mini-map to the stats screen, showing the deployment location of each friendly and enemy ship when they are selected (because I never remember their names).
  4. Show weapon specific data. If not per-module, at least give categories like “plasma”, missiles, “beam weapons”, “short range weapons” (for blasters, cruiser lasers, etc).
  5. Add stats for special module effects like ECM shock, shield disruption, point defense, repair, etc (these would help assess ECM shielding, PD scanners, for example).
  6. Fix fighter squadron stats. Currently they seem to only refer to a single ship (but it’s hard to tell).

Yes to all of your concerns, Cliffski.

  1. The space anomalies aren’t drastic enough to be of any concern. Your suggestions were all along the lines of what I would consider sufficient to influence a new design.

  2. Enemy ship damage is almost impossible to determine. I get really frustrated on the survival level when my ships spend 5 minutes on a single carrier. I can see red explosions everywhere, but the damn thing doesn’t go down and I can’t even tell why. More feedback is a must.

There are a slew of other things that could be done to help with this. Check out my thread about improving statistics. (

  1. Even without being the same race, I can’t tell the difference between my own fighters and the enemy’s. A more subtle approach, like having details on the ships be different colors would be nice, but I can understand doubling the art would be troublesome. Maybe use a chroma key and replace that color with red, blue, etc for each side?
  1. I’m going to go against the grain and say that I want to see all the components and stats on an enemy ship. It can be hard to figure the precise game mechanics right now - you have to issue challenges to yourself, and it’s clunky.

On regards to #2 and Serpents sensor suggestion:

I like the sensor idea, and I’d like to add the idea of having the existing stealth module hide ship data passively. That way we can add some strategic diversity to the game-play, specifically, with orders that tell ships to attack enemy ships at certain health percentages (or at least give the sensor something useful to do besides aesthetic health bars), and the stealth module can actually do something useful. Everybody wins!

I’d like to see the progress of damage to hostiles maybe the graphs we get for our ships without the components, but I also would like crew numbers for both parties. I’d love to see how many unfortunates were taken out by each hit.

  1. anomalies should be more drastic. OR add black holes to maps (gravitational pull), gas clouds (slower speed at some areas of map), collidable asteroids, mines. BTW i keep replaying random missions, so they arent broken at least :slight_smile:
  2. fuzzy logic. undamaged, bruised, estheticaly challanged, damaged, malfunctioning, unstable, panic.
  3. well, it it is possible - paint some parts (small parts) of ships in different color than enemies. For examle my empire ships would have green centers, or green tinted weapon turrets, while enemy would have red tinted weapons. :slight_smile:

Having skinnable parts of ships with fleet colors would be a nightmare because these arent 3D models where you can just have a separate material, but actually 3D renders to 2D sprites, which are insanely high poly to start with. Every ships would need to be drawn twice as many times to layer in the extra bits, and you would need new renders of every ship. maybe if the game was designed from scratch like that, it certainly could be cool.
I think I’ll try and implement a simple and subtle togglable overlay for ships on the UI, that will be like a tactical overlay.
And I’m definitely going to investigate the repairing of flaming ship components and better anomalies