the game badly needs a smoothing of the learning curve - i was chatting to a couple of friends who i induced into playing (by dint of pointing at the url and saying “look! shiney!”… not hard :), and their immediate reaction was that the first scenario was impossible without learning most of how the game works - you can’t just deploy more of what you have, you have to design whole new ships from scratch - and ones that’ll actually work.
could there be some sort of sarcastic guided tutorial (skippable of course) something like:
“oh look what we were sent. these ships are useless. well, lets send them off and see what happens” …
“shocker - they died.”
"right, here’s what you’re going to do: requisition a new ship design (click here), pick a cruiser hull and as that last lot just couldn’t get through the shields - fit out some of weapons… they’re good on shields. some engines, crew. there. but we’ll also need something to get the fighters, so do this…: " …
“right, lets try those.” (battle goes better)
because as it stands, there’s a non-trivial number of people who won’t get beyond the first scenario. which’ll be a very real problem when it comes to being a demo version.
I second that. Maybe a bit more feedback at the end of a round that you lose? I mean, you already collect stats on what percent of damage does what, so you could have the computer look at that and display a message.
Very low hit percentage? Suggest closing to optimal and target painters. High damage absorbed or reflected? Suggest bigger guns. High hits against percentage? More engines for more speed. Low damage against absorbed? Better shields or thicker armour. Massive imbalance in fleet hitpoints? Suggest more numerous, more sturdy, or less fancy and cheaper ships.
A little hint would be nice for players just starting out.
Also, A couple of tiny, not-so-gratuitous levels would let players try things on a smaller scale first. Maybe a quick 16 pilot fighter verses fighter skirmish, followed by a 5 crew map with a bigger budget so they could try out some frigates and cruisers. Put them up against decent but not perfectly designed ships, so that they can try things out a bit and advance when they can design ships that can win.
You could even make a slightly longer tutorial against a series of fleets with a different weakness, then hint to the new player what weakness to exploit. “Your enemy has come, but their ships are slow and short range. Design a nimble, long range ship.” “Your enemy is tough, but lacks fighter support and anti-fighter weapons. Design a fast but powerful strike fighter.” “Your enemy is carrying lots of shield piercing weapons and the spatial anomaly here further cuts shield effectiveness. Design ships with plenty of armour and an armour repairer.”
That way, they go forward knowing the way that combat works and with a collection of ships with different roles, without hitting that first level like a brick wall. It would also make an awesome demo down the road, since it will teach them to play and draw them in, then leave them wanting the challenge of the full game when they learn all the little tricks.
I also think this would be a great idea. I’m finding the game difficult, which I like, but the game can still be difficult with a bit more of a lead in.
Perhaps a guide that explains a lot more of the stats would be a good idea, like under what conditions they are used and what they are used to calculate?