Help me decide on future development priorities...

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cliffski
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Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby cliffski » Fri Aug 14, 2015 4:47 pm

You guys know what's good and bad about the game as players, and have a perspective that I do not, so help me out with these as priorities:

1) Better in-battle feedback. I'm thinking there is no easy visual way to tell the difference (apart from the text notifiers) between armor taking damage and armor reflecting fire, and that this needs fixing, probably with a new graphical effect. Maybe it would be good if (when really zoomed in) you could see targeting indicators for individual missiles and plasma torpedoes?

2) Crash fixes / bug fixes. I can't get the game to crash now. Can you? are there actual; *bugs* as opposed to balance stuff I should be looking at?

3) Better community/challenge stuff. Maybe better messaging / friends lists/ player icons/flags, better leaderboard/stats stuff?

4) More content. More weapon types and variants.

5) Better customization. Options to edit contrail lengths, or add pulsing lights?

Whats most important to you?

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby Alekan » Fri Aug 14, 2015 9:20 pm

I think more balancing is absolutely needed. It can be tedious and boring to do, but the product of balance is used (maybe not noticed but still inevitably USED) by 100% of the playerbase. No real specifics yet until I see the Armor changes in-game.

The in-battle feedback. Specifically Weapon Effects. I cant really tell the difference between Fighter Sniper and Pulse Lasers. Actually, Pulse weapons in general – they all tend to look the same. The Pulse Cannon shot is so small – and the RoF is so low – I really cant tell what its shooting at or when. Maby make them different colors, and also change the bullet size.
---You might want to color shots by their intended range bands – like purple for 1000m+, Red for 800-1000m, etc so it is easier to identify short and long range weapons.

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby Xinxspuz » Fri Aug 14, 2015 10:07 pm

I agree with Alekan, that more balancing is needed. As far as #4 on your list goes, you have PLENTY of content in the game now, but 75% of it never gets used because it's underpowered, overpriced, or otherwise unbalanced compared to the small fraction of modules that are "the best". Adding more new content without balancing the old (and having some idea of where your new stuff will fall on the "balance scale" before you release it to the public) will just make the balance issues worse.

As far as the other stuff on your list...

1) I can generally figure out what's going on in a battle just fine. If I want to know what weapons are penetrating/reflecting, I turn on the text feedback, zoom way in, and slow the battle down so I can pick out individual weapon hits. If I want a big flashy space battle, and I'm not worried about micro-analyzing the results, I turn all the text and LimpetGUI stuff off, zoom out, and watch the light show.
That said, it's sometimes difficult to pick out (even while paused) the targeting lines for individual modules, because they all converge to a single point at one end or the other. It would be helpful if you changed the targeting overlay so that selecting a single weapons module would "hide" all the targeting info for other waepons modules on that vessel - in other words, clicking a Fast Missile Launcher would leave only the white targeting line for that particular launcher, the red targeting line for the ship it's on, and the green line showing you where the vessel is headed. Or maybe even delete the green line, too, and only show course information if you click on an "Engine" or "Thruster" module? That would clean up the display a little and make it easier to figure things out. Also you could increase the transparency on the blue range 'pie slices'. It's hard to see things through them sometimes.

2) My GSB2 is a lot more stable lately, although it still randomly crashes sometimes. I just chalk that up to "it is what it is". It almost always works again when I relaunch the program a second time. :)

3) That could be nice. Having a "Sort challenges by popularity" column, or even just a "featured challenges" section where challenges that have gotten a lot of play, either recently or over the course of forever, pop up, could be interesting. Sort of like a "what's trending in GSB2 challenges today"?

4) See above.

5) Other than a few finicky components (contrails, yes, I get frustrated that I can't change the length or thickness of them), ship customization is pretty good. The tools are there for people to build some pretty impressive ship designs, if they want. It's got a little bit of a learning curve, so maybe a tutorial guide, or some videos on YouTube? I don't think a lot of improvements are needed here.
That said, I would like to have maybe an x-axis and y-axis centerline I could toggle on or off, specific to each hull. That would make component placement a lot easier, and would also make it a lot easier to build designs with a hidden hull. Right now, if I'm building something that I'm not using the base hull graphics for, I have to build the entire ship with the hull "on" just so I can make sure I'm centering things, then click around randomly in the final design to try and find the actual hull so I can hide it.

As far as priorities go... real bugs first, then balance, then the other stuff in no particular order. :)

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby Archduke Astro » Sat Aug 15, 2015 4:40 am

(-list snipped-)
cliffski wrote:Whats most important to you?

Alekan wrote:I think more balancing is absolutely needed. It can be tedious and boring to do, but the product of balance is used (maybe not noticed but still inevitably USED) by 100% of the playerbase. No real specifics yet until I see the Armor changes in-game.

Xinxspuz wrote:I agree with Alekan, that more balancing is needed. As far as #4 on your list goes, you have PLENTY of content in the game now, but 75% of it never gets used because it's underpowered, overpriced, or otherwise unbalanced compared to the small fraction of modules that are "the best". Adding more new content without balancing the old (and having some idea of where your new stuff will fall on the "balance scale" before you release it to the public) will just make the balance issues worse.


Cliff, the highest-priority dev workflow for GSB2 is the one
whose absence from your list above is most noticeable:

    improved gameplay balance.

I'm glad that I'm not the only player who sees the necessity. Until it's accomplished, we're simply sand-bagged by the game's weaknesses instead of us savoring the implementation of the game's untapped potential.

How urgent is this? So much so that it's presently not even worth the time to further tweak & polish GSB2's interlocking Combined-Arms Operations aspect until even more fundamental balance problems are addressed first. The recent revelations about the necessary fix for Armor Resistance is but one aspect of this, and I'm glad that you're addressing the armor problems immediately. There's plenty more that I could say about balance as a whole, but my most active, most perceptive & well-intentioned fellow GSB2 critics (yurch, Xinxspuz, Alekan, among others) have already made a concrete and convincing set of cases both in this thread and others about the critical need for repairing balance.
Cliff, I strongly advise that you heed them.


After the above is done (and ONLY afterwards), some quantity of more content would be welcome to me. But for Cthulhu's sake, you must balance what we already have in the core game first! Any other pathway leads to madness -- we already have numerous under-performing modules and weaponry that deliver scant returns indeed. Dealing with gameplay imbalances should and must come before introducing any additional player-facing content of any kind.

By adding "more content", I refer to not only new modules and new weapons for existing races, but also possible new races and new hulls -- accompanied by new modules and weapons that are exclusive to each added race. Relevant to this, I think that following the exact same dev roadmap in GSB2 as we had for GSB1 (where we had six extra races, leading to 10 total) is neither desirable nor helpful.
Why?
Because too many of the DLC races for GSB1 were not much more than fancy new visual skins for hulls, with a disappointingly tiny handful of important exceptions (salvo firing, radiation/Damage Over Time, flak/Area Of Effect damage, 2-stage missiles). This meant extremely few new and useful gameplay mechanics were added to GSB1 after that game left beta status. The situation is very much to be regretted -- individual races had/still have too much of a cookie-cutter level of combat sameness, and that's not conducive at all to replayability and the value of the customer's purchase.


Please do things differently in GSB2, Cliff..... if indeed DLC is on the roadmap at all for the sequel game, then please make each one more imaginative in scope and with more numerous *and useful* racially-unique items than in each of the DLC packages for the original game.

And even if official DLC factions might not be in our future, at a bare minimum it's necessary to get the noticeably shaky house-of-cards that is our current crop of modules & weaponry into better fighting condition. After nailing down any remaining actual bugs in the game engine, this should be the first order of business.
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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby neverless » Sat Aug 15, 2015 7:39 am

Most important stuff to work on?

Definitely the packaging gap between Windows and Linux/Mac. Or, if that's easier, make it run in Wine like GSB did.

We are currently talking about Linux/Mac V1.35 (that's early July, or almost 6 weeks old) vs. Windows 1.39 (a week old). At the moment we don't even know if you are going to release an upgrade for Linux/Mac at all, the only information is "some time later" or "soon", depending on which announcement thread I read.

I currently don't have any issues with balancing because my version (1.35) is so completely different to the current game that I can not talk with you about balancing anymore.

There are issues with the Linux version, I posted about them in the forum, I guess some of them should be high priority, too.
Don't know if I am still waiting for a Linux update newer than V1.35, or have given up... :-(

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby cliffski » Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:57 am

Archduke Astro wrote:
    improved gameplay balance.


Understood. The problem is working out exactly how to achieve this without dramatically changing the game from what it is, in terms of current casual players, and already-posted challenges. I do hate to break an already released non-beta game.

Obviously there is TONS of scope for this, simply by changing a lot of numbers. The thing is, I am very time-poor and so do not actually *play* as many games of GSB2 as many of you do. Thus I have a very skewed view of what does, and does not currently work in the game.
If you did ask me, my immediate response to balance issues would be:

Too few weapons penetrate shields.
There is no reason to use any but the highest resistance shields.
ECM missiles are too effective.
Shield and Armor repair modules feel underused.
Recon & thrust projectors seem underused.
The 'reinforced' modules are generally ignored as ship hull strength is always an afterthought.

It feels to me that the trick is to build a fleet of maximum-shield resistance dreadnoughts that spam endless missiles at the enemy, with a row of shield support destroyers, and possibly some sort of anti-fighter system, and that this *always* works. Is that a fair assessment?

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby gunnyfreak » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:07 am

yes, from what I've seen in the challenge list that seems to be a fair assessment
SOOOO........... MANY........ BUGS!!!!!!

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby Xinxspuz » Sat Aug 15, 2015 12:24 pm

cliffski wrote:The 'reinforced' modules are generally ignored as ship hull strength is always an afterthought.


I use the 'reinforced' modules wherever and wherever I can reasonably fit them. Building tough, durable hulls is just how I design ships most of the time.
I know this is counter to what some other shipbuilders do, but I like them.

As far as balance goes, it's going to be a long, tough road to get everything balanced better. Yeah, it's probably gonna break some challenges and some content that's already out there. That's just the way it goes. You don't notice that much with other notable mass-market games because they either a) don't officially allow user-created content, or b) only allow user-created content that matches the current version of the game. You're trying to make everything backwards-compatible, which is nice, but ultimately creates a huge roadblock for you as a designer and developer.

I think I speak for at least some of the more active members on here when I say that I wouldn't mind at all if my old challenges were suddenly wiped off the boards. I usually sink more effort into the visuals of the ships than I do into the 'technical' aspects of the ship design, so as long as my local files for ship hulls and components don't get deleted/invalidated, I'd just remake the challenge(s) with the new version.

If you notify everyone in advance that changes are coming, and all current challenges will be removed so as not to interfere, I think it won't really cause problems. Put something in the patch notes for 1.40 (or whenever you decide to move forward) to the effect of "major patch and balance change coming at patch 1.45 later this year, make back-up copies of any content you want to keep!", give it a while to sink in, and then roll out your balance changes.

You also might try testing some of the balance changes before 'official' release, or letting some of the active members on here test them for you if you're too busy. I haven't started any modding (yet!), but wouldn't it be fairly easy, the way the game is packaged now, to release a 'beta patch' as a mod package, send it to certain people via PM (or just send them a link to a download site), and then have them play with it and make challenges for a while amongst themselves? (I could be mis-reading how the modding system works in the game; if so, anyone feel free to correct me.) That would take some of the testing workload off you.

Just a few thoughts. And don't get discouraged. Like the example you used earlier, CoH (and pretty much every other major 'hit' game) spent dozens of patches trying to address balance issues within the game, and still had to make tweaks right up until the very end. Go read some of the devblogs for League of Legends and see how much manpower and time THEY allocate to balance-testing before they release even a minor tweak to a single champion.

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby neverless » Sat Aug 15, 2015 12:56 pm

Oh yeah, remove all challenges from the servers which don't have the current version of the game.

But before, please make sure everyone has the same version *snicker* ;-)
Don't know if I am still waiting for a Linux update newer than V1.35, or have given up... :-(

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby Alekan » Sat Aug 15, 2015 9:38 pm

Cliffski, the ‘Best’ feature of GSB2 is YOU. Continuing support for a game after launch is a major plus.

However, not being willing to make ‘dramatic’ changes to the game even when there are systemic deficiencies… its defeating the purpose of continued support. Especially if you intend to support the game like GSB1. Backwards-compatibility on a One-Man game that could see future development for years and multiple DLCs is an oxymoron.

Deployments and Challenges - like the current Armor mechanics - are a Failure Cascade system. ANY changes to balance – like the Engine buff or the proposed Armor changes – will break existing Challenges and Designs. That’s just what happens when your fleet is built like a house of cards. GSB2 is all about winning BEFORE you take to the field. You need to set-up all of your pieces and tell them what to do before the battle – and you have lots of time to get it right. Oftentimes winning comes down to tactics, efficiency, and counters – the ‘challenge’ is to cut as fine a line as possible.

Actually, what is your definition of ‘Dramatic Change’? To me the Engine buff was a dramatic change – all of my saved deployments and ships had to be remade because speeds were wildly different. The Armor change will also force me to re-evaluate all of my deployments and ships. I’m don’t see how a ‘Dramatic’ change will make me do anything more than re-evaluate all of my stuff – which I already have to do.

I play a lot of other games (usually MMOs) and the most irritating part is the constant patching and changes. Not because I don't like changes, but because they keep slapping band-aids on fundamentally broken game mechanics. They take the easy way out and make endless tweaks when they should have re-imagined the mechanic in question. As a player, constantly having to re-arrange MY stuff because THEY just kick the problem instead trying to fix the source is annoying at best. There is a lot more leeway for good faith efforts to fix the source and older games set in their ways.


Oh and I third what Xinx and Never said about removing old challenges – going against an obsolete challenge defeats the purpose of playing against challenges. You are basically playing against a fleet already wounded and handicapped by changes to the game. (see above)

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby cliffski » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:18 pm

To clarify, when I say I wont break old challenges, that does NOT mean, that I'm against rendering them bad designs, or too-easy to beat. I accept that this will be inevitable. What I'm against is a change that renders old challenges unplayable, and worse...could cause them to crash.
The game should refuse to load invalid designs, but if an entire challenge fleet is invalid, I suspect the game will crash. There is a MASSIVE difference between players thinking some old challenges are a bit easy, and the game crashing for them, with them having no idea why it happened. Removing old challenges would likewise upset a lot of people who posted them.

There is, however a lot of scope for changing stuff that does not render existing designs invalid. We could quadruple the strength of all armor modules and make engines cost free, and neither change would cause any problems :D
The only no-nos are increasing power or crew requirements of anything, or reducing power or crew supplies from anything.

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby yurch » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:58 pm

I am doing this from a phone.

cliffski wrote:Understood. The problem is working out exactly how to achieve this without dramatically changing the game from what it is, in terms of current casual players, and already-posted challenges. I do hate to break an already released non-beta game.
Many of the popular 'hardest' challenges are ones where we took something overpowered and honed it to abusive perfection; breaking those challenges should not only be expected, but a benchmark of sorts.

Too few weapons penetrate shields.

I would say this is only feasibly true for frigates. Even then, that's not necessarily BAD. If say, only missiles could ever penetrate a shield, things would spin into this crazy metagame over point defense.


ECM missiles are too effective.

I disagree with that fundementally. EMP puts selective pressure against fleets that concentrate too much power in one area - namely dreadnaught spam - and the missile nature encourages the use of destroyers as point defense. That's a good dynamic.

I would have really preferred them on frigates, but it might be almost too late for that now.

Shield and Armor repair modules feel underused.
GSB tends to cascade one damage type into another. Everything hits shields, then burns through armor, then hull. The time for a repair module to act is simply too small, and the penalties are too severe to stack them.

Ideally I think if we had more ways for damage to 'leak' you would see their use a lot more. Armor based on block chance, shields letting shots through at reduced stability, shields that turn back on, that sort of thing. You actually get something approaching that if you stack a LOT of trash defense modules on a ship - one or two stubborn armor plates might stay up through repair and random chance and end up mitigating a fair deal.

Recon & thrust projectors seem underused.

I think that comes down to the AI, unfortunately.

It feels to me that the trick is to build a fleet of maximum-shield resistance dreadnoughts that spam endless missiles at the enemy, with a row of shield support destroyers, and possibly some sort of anti-fighter system, and that this *always* works. Is that a fair assessment?

That is one of the local maxima, yes. You can make arguments for more cruiser variants of the same. Decoy spams are really powerful. Pulse rushes are formidable, too, as well as a good fighter torpedo storm.

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby Alekan » Sun Aug 16, 2015 9:26 pm

Cliffski, I recommend that you post poll threads here and elsewhere to see if the Players mind if you invalidate their existing challenges as part of moving forward with game iteration. If you are unsure about player reaction, then ask.

Personally, I don’t mind losing existing challenges because of rebalancing. The old challenges and deployments that I created are obsolete and broken. Many other games (Civilization comes to mind) do make changes that break existing save games. Several times I have had games that I put lots of time into broken by changes made. I don’t mind because it is a trade-off for improved content in the next game I play.

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby Sable Phoenix » Sun Aug 16, 2015 11:23 pm

Crash/bug fixes: I can get the game to crash, it does frequently. It just doesn't do it consistently so I can never figure out what I did that crashed it.

One thing that DOES crash the game 100% of the time is the auto-update function. It'll get to about 5%, freeze, force me to eventually force-quit, then never attempt to download the update again, forcing me to go find my purchase receipt email and download the executable manually from the server link.

And for the rest: balance, balance, balance.
As people have already pointed out, a lot of the problems with content are because 90% of it is so badly balanced that it's almost never used. And I don't really need better in-game feedback right now because I know how 90% of the fleet designs I see in challenges will be equipped before I even download the challenge.

Everything on your list besides crash/bug hunting is mere fluff until the core mechanics are thoroughly ironed out. As of now, there are so many significant problems that you have to sit down and start almost from scratch, discard the "balance" you already have, and not worry about what ship designs or challenges are going to be irrevocably changed by doing so. Make it so the game will not load challenges with illegal designs at all - that is, it won't even display them on the challenge list. No crashes that way, since nobody can load them. The game will be MUCH better for it in the long run.

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Re: Help me decide on future development priorities...

Postby Danou » Mon Aug 17, 2015 1:14 pm

Balance is the reason why I did enjoy GSB2 much less than GSB1, and why I almost stopped playing GSB2 for a few months now. I do come back from time to time to check if there are plans to 'fix' balancing. I did post suggestions about balancing in the past, but my lack of english skills prevent me to write meaningful posts. It also takes a lot of time to write/translate.

Now it seems that balance is something that will be addressed, I'm glad to hear that. There is hope!

PS: I really don't mind if my challenges are going to be deleted/invalidated in this balancing process. It's necessary to rescue the game from itself, so go ahead and do it.
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