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View Full Version : Demo experiences plus concerns, questions


techn0mage
01-18-2012, 05:31 PM
Bottom line up front plus caveats

I have loads of respect for the developer, this is not meant to be a review or a flame. I love this genre of game, which is why I took a look at this one in the first place. However that does not mean I will engage fanboy mode either.

I make some points here about what I am looking for in a game, however if you're just looking for my experience with this game, skip the next section...

Brief Game Philosophy

I like to approach games in the following way, that the mechanics affect the choices you make in the game. For example, there are mechanics in skyrim that allowed you to more or less exploit the game (google it or feel free to PM me if you are that curious, please dont ask in this thread). Some people say you should play the game how you want to and if you feel a mechanic is OP, you should not use it. I think that these people have a very good point and I can't disagree with that.

However here is where it gets tricky. For me, part of the challenge of a game is that you are not only getting better at the low-level game tasks (fighting, doing missions, trading, whatever), but there is a larger meta-game in which you are trying to learn the best way to make money, accomplish game objectives, etc.

In other words, if you are playing the game, you are constantly trying to find a better way to do [x], where x= (make money, kill things, accomplish missions, conquer territory, whatever). Slowly raising your stats, buying better tools/gear, and getting better as a player are part of the fun, for me. Now what happens if I find a totally cheezeball way to accomplish [x]? Well you can say "Ok ok don't panic, here is what you do.... keep doing everything you were doing before, but avoid doing that one thing that totally cheezes it.... well, you already did that once and reaped the rewards, but don't do it again, ok? Keep trying to be more effective in the game, but dont do THAT."

That's where it usually goes off the rails for me. Honestly, when I encounter this in a game I usually stop playing it until it gets patched out of the game. I stopped playing Skyrim because it was no more fun accomplishing things when all the rewards were much worse than things I had either crafted myself (cheeze flavor 1) or bought from merchants with my vast sums of gold (cheeze flavor #2). I intend to go back to it after a whole bunch of rebalancing mods get released, I feel it has a lot of potential.


My Experience

So here's what I did with this game. Played the tutorial, pretty good considering all the information it delivered. I'm playing with the mouse and the control is pretty good, a plus for the limited auto-aim capability. There is a bit of un-smoothness to the mouse control, just a tiny bit, this would be an issue if I had to aim manually, but the auto-aim element shifts the demand slightly toward the strategic and away from the tactical. For reference, this is very good, the game I played that had the smoothest mouse ship control was Freespace/Freespace2. There is a bit of performance quirk on some of the UI screens (i.e. nav console), this is probably related to the same thing that causes the mouse issue, but it does not drastically interfere with gameplay.

So, lets get started. It asks me to pick an all-around role. This isnt explained at first, but there are LOTS of options for customizing your ship in the Shipyard screen, which is not mentioned in the tutorial. Huge plus here, fantastic idea. I tried to pick an all-around role, 'Mercenary' normally would not sound like one but 'Combat Pilot' was also a choice so it felt like a happy medium.

OK, time to do something. Game starts you off with a story arc mission, gives you the name of the planet to go to in order to pick it up, but its not easy to find where it is if you dont know where to look. I forgave them, it's in the starting system area at any rate. So I'll do a mission... lets' see, here's one to fly to a nav and find a lost cargo container. It has the lowest reward of any mission but I'm going to try it out... why? Because i like to try out different parts of the game, and even the crap missions should provide a minimal amount of fun if things are done right.

So I get a nav marker to go to with the -last known location- of the cargo item. How do i get there? You're supposed to use the jump drive, but I failed to do that. I point the ship in that direction, turn off inertial control, and speed up. Then I tried to slow down when I was near the target with the help of the inertial system. I over-shot it by about 10%, no biggie, I got to the waypoint. Now I look at the radar, nothing there. Hmmm... I seem to be able to detect ships that are as far away as the distance I have just traveled, but I cannot detect the lost cargo. Hmm, ok.... I flew around in a circle but we have 3 dimensions here so that didn't help much. I brought up the nav map and used autopilot to fly a slightly larger circle around the target. Then I found a purple (unidentified/misc) dot on the radar, flew toward it, sure enough, that was the item. After getting close enough I got my reward. Great, so far, so good.

I returned to the station, this time with the jump drive. Note, if you travel outside the sector where you pick up a contract, you seem to automatically fail the mission. Dont' do it after you've gotten a contract! Let me see, I used up a lot of fuel with my manual navigation noobery, refill the fuel tank. Oh, it cost as much as I just made doing the mission. Totally my fault, and a plus for interesting game mechanic.

So, let's do another mission. Here's one to shoot 20 asteroids in order to clear a shipping lane. OK, sounds doable for a noob like me. Got waypoint. Jump to destination. Saw the asteroids, then I had an idea. Jump back to station. Let's try buying a mining laser and using it on those 'roids before I blow em up. Jump back to asteroids (jump drive does not seem to use any fuel, interestingly enough). Open up on the first roid with the mining laser. I only have one cargo hold - this means I can hold one type of loot, up to the maximum stack size. No problem, Interesting mechanic. So what falls out of the asteroid? Diamonds, platinum, metal, in that order. I have diamonds in my hold and the other stuff is getting wasted. No problem, I don't have a mining ship after all. I bring up the inventory screen and check what I've got... 3 units of diamonds so far, ok. But wait... the sell value is nearly the amount given as a reward for this mission. Hmmmm... ok. What to do with this information?

Fly back to station. Sell the 3 diamonds I have, yup, ok, I've got the money, there is no catch. So.... go into the shipyard screen and buy the biggest cargo hold available in the list, get it fitted to the ship. Now I have five cargo holds for five stacks of cargo, instead of one. This cost virtually ALL of the rest of the money that the game started me with, so for reference, I now have less than 1,000 credits. OK, here we go. Fly back to asteroids that I am supposed to obliterate. Fire up the mining laser. While it burns away at the rock, I use my smart phone and google if there's a way to keep the mining laser permanently on without my holding the button (no luck yet).

Go to inventory screen. Now I have lots of diamonds, platinum, and metal. The value of the metal is less than 5% the value of the diamonds or platinum, so I jettison that stack into space and keep mining the good stuff. OK, cargo hold is finally full, and the first asteroid is still there staring at me. I figure after giving me all that good stuff, I might as well destroy the rocks like the nice people asked me to. So I go through the trouble of flying within weapons range of each rock and blowing it up. All the while the 'demo timer' is ticking down, and blowing up these rocks is taking a lot longer than the mining did.

OK, upon destroying the last rock I get the mission reward, 11,000 credits. Fair's fair. Fly back to the station and sell all the stuff I just mined. Now I have 150,000 credits. Hmm, ok. I look at the missions available next, they all pay about 10,000 credits.

So here is the problem, I just made 15x the best mission reward available in a fraction of the time it actually takes to do a mission. That, and out of the 3 rewards I obtained from mining, two of them are worth 30-40x what the other one is worth.


Concerns

So, my concern here is that the pacing of the game may be off and that it's not very well balanced. Within the first 20 minutes of playing (after tutorial) I discovered a cheeze method of making vastly more money than any of the missions ofered. (The manual recommends running races to make money at the start, but the race missions also offered about 10k as a reward). So, using my cheeze method, I could make enough money to buy absolutely anything I wanted to from the first station in no time at all.

Now I know there are other systems to explore, other ship base hulls to buy, things like stations that you can build (there's a button that sells a license for 1.5M credits.... what is that a license for exactly?)

My main concern is that I've already unbalanced the game. I'm not encouraged by the fact that there was nothing to stop me from doing what I did. I would be able to buy anything I wanted to in the starting location... so is that most of the game, or is there much more to see once I buy everything there? O.o


Questions

Was what I did intended in the overall design of the game? (Do asteroids ever dry up when you mine them?)

I don't mean to tell everyone to buy or not buy this game, because the things that I like/dislike might be totally different for you. But I was hoping to hear from others who look for the same things I do in their games. Is this a major exploit or is it small in comparison to the scope of the game.

I hope this has helped some of those space sim fans who are wondering what this game is like.
Thanks for reading this book! (lol)

burgerss
01-18-2012, 06:00 PM
Hold alt and push the keyboard key (b for me)that activates the mining laser to keep it on.

License gives you a time limited discount at that station (maybe entire sector ?). Might have other benefits ? Money is easy to come by so I never needed to buy one.

Every thing is not available at all places. You need to figure out some tricks or find some secret locations in hostile sectors to get some stuff. For example a less developed lower tech system wouldn't sell you a starmaster ship. Availability of items (weapons/civilian ships/etc...)and prices (in part) depend on the sector economic/tech level. Also all the stuff available in the sector isn't for sale all the time. Theres a random probability an item will show up for sale if the criteria needed to make the item available is met. For example there may be a 50% probability that a starmaster ship is available for sale at a station so it will only be available 50% of the time. And no you probably won't be grinding much to get the best stuff.

paul1290
01-18-2012, 06:21 PM
So, my concern here is that the pacing of the game may be off and that it's not very well balanced. Within the first 20 minutes of playing (after tutorial) I discovered a cheeze method of making vastly more money than any of the missions ofered. (The manual recommends running races to make money at the start, but the race missions also offered about 10k as a reward). So, using my cheeze method, I could make enough money to buy absolutely anything I wanted to from the first station in no time at all.

Now I know there are other systems to explore, other ship base hulls to buy, things like stations that you can build (there's a button that sells a license for 1.5M credits.... what is that a license for exactly?)

My main concern is that I've already unbalanced the game. I'm not encouraged by the fact that there was nothing to stop me from doing what I did. I would be able to buy anything I wanted to in the starting location... so is that most of the game, or is there much more to see once I buy everything there? O.o


You can potentially stay there and make money that way, but it would become a pretty awful way to do it after a while.

150,000 credits isn't all that much in the long run. Later on you get contracts that easily pay more than that in one go. Part of the reason contracts don't pay as much as mining early on is that while contracts can become harder and much higher paying later, the value of certain goods does not increase as drastically for obvious reasons.

By comparison, a combat mission from a military contract from a conflict area can pay somewhere around 150,000 or 200,000 or more. Transporting a passenger can sometimes get you around 150,000. There are random distress call missions that if you choose to take them will sometimes pay 500,000 or or more.

On the other hand, money and equipment isn't really that hard to earn in this game. For a lot of players late-game challenges aren't really about earning equipment and instead tend to be more about trying to get to hard to reach areas. One example is Earth, which very few players have landed on for various reasons.
(let's just say the obvious way is completely impractical and the better way is well hidden and is still rather difficult even if you know about it.)

If you want a really want a game where you constantly need to earn you way up then that might be an issue as the track towards getting the gear you want in this game isn't that long. In that case you might want to look into other space sims like X3 or EVE.

R40k
01-18-2012, 10:22 PM
Mission rewards are determined by many things in this game, including difficulty, faction relation, and how well known you are in the system. Logically they aren't going to pay some random stranger a ton of money to do a mission.

SeeJay
01-18-2012, 11:17 PM
What you earn for completing contracts also varies with your rank.

A station license is permanent until you cancel it or the station is destroyed.
It gives you protection when docked and 20% discount when buying stuff.

Higher ranks also make the AI "afraid" of you. They tend to attack less ranked
pilots first if 2 or more are in the same contract.

To buy a license also varies with your rank. In some systems I'm charged 999999 Mil
to get one ;-)

You do not have all equipment available in the start system. Far from it.

To rank up your MIL rank, you must do contracts in a Warzone.

PvP and LMS competitions are great fun as well. We even had a LMS inside an
asteroid cave. Now that's totally different than fighting in open space!