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Author Topic: Thoughts after a week of playing  (Read 2016 times)

nailertn

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Thoughts after a week of playing
« on: October 26, 2013, 01:31:51 AM »

Just a quick preface, please keep these in mind while reading:

-Although this post is mostly about problems I found, I very much like the game and am impressed by how compelling it is even at these early stages with so little actual content. While some assets could use a rework, I find this raw graphical style goes very well overall with the sort of frontier world vibe I get from playing the game. Even if it's not particularly pretty, I also like how clean but functional the UI is.

-I am not ten, I just suck at English, it's not my native language.

-The post is based on notes I took while playing so don't expect a logical flow, this is a mix of bugs / suggestions / random remarks. Here goes:

Separate repairs from construction. Repair jobs crop up far too often all over the base which makes automated construction assignments very unreliable for completing building tasks in a timely manner.

Separate zone for cleaning and firefighting. Just because I want my colonists to put out fires around solar panels doesn't mean I also want the ground to be squeaky clean. There is no logical connection and it takes up too many man hours to remove blood and rubble.

Keyboard shortcut for build and overview menu. The two most often used buttons by far, they deserve their own hotkey.

Reorganize needs and thoughts display: Currently if I want information about my colonists' needs and thoughts I have to click on them one by one, then click needs tab then click thoughts tab. That information should be more accessible.
-First the two tabs can be merged: They display related information, most of the time when I click one I click the other as well. The needs tab size is static and doesn't take up much space so it can fit nicely on top of the thoughts stuff.

-Second the game could use an overview panel similar to job assignments. Use cases: Finding the most ideal colonist for corpse disposal duty without risking mental breakdown. Finding the most rested and fed colonist to complete a distant task in one go.

-Third a summary should be available at a glimpse. I'm thinking something like three slim bars in the tooltip or the main colonist info pane (food / sleep / loyalty with colour indicating source)

Better pathing:
- Currently colonists haul cargo to the deposit area that's closest by air, not the one they have the shortest path to.

- I have a room about 30x30 squares in size dug inside a hill with 1 square wide entrances intersecting two opposite sides. Rather than crossing the room in a straight line, colonist paths describe a triangle connecting the two entrances with the middle of the top side wall.

- I have a corridor 3x80 in size with an exit at one end on the left wall. Also all along the left wall are plant pots and standing lamps spaced at 2-3 square intervals. Again instead of taking the straight path in the middle colonists hug the left wall but have to go around the pots and lamps which makes the trip twice as long.

- If multiple colonists are assigned to clean a 1 square wide corridor 2-3 can clog up the way. Unable to reach their destination the rest of them are just standing in the back doing nothing.

- Sometimes wardens will bring the food of prisoners to the spot where they were captured rather to their cell.

New item idea: glowsticks. Lighting is often problematic for mining because lamps can't be moved and they are too expensive to sell and rebuild every 10 squares not to mention the hassle of long remote electric cables. Hence a cheap mobile disposable light source. I suppose most of the required assets are already present, it is basically a recolored lamp with a non-rechargable battery connected.

Rewiring problem: I have a single square wall serving as roof support in a large room. Adjacent to the pillar is a lamp that connects to an electric cable running 4 squares away. Saving and reloading rewires the lamp from the cable to the wall but the wall is not connected to any power sources. The game should either preserve wiring configurations instead of rebuilding them on reload, or better yet devices should automatically rewire themselves  favoring live wires over dead ones. (A manual right click option would do just as well if it is too resource intensive to do automatically.)

Hydroponics tables and hauling: If one colonist is assigned to growing and another to hauling, food from hydroponics tables take up the entire time of the hauler. Maybe the growth cycle should be slowed down in exchange for bigger yield so the whole process is less spammy. Maybe the harvesting part should be dictated by the plant cutting assignment so it can be done in batches. Maybe there should be exclusion or priority zones for hauling. I have no elegant solution for this, I just know the problem is there.

Better support for bases inside hills: Colonist happiness is a constant problem in 'underground' bases due to darkness, cramped space and ugly environment. While the extra challenge adds to the game, I think it is excessive on two fronts:

- Cleaning dug out space takes FOREVER. A colonist can spend an entire day on one or two squares, that's way too much.

- Cramped space: I assume this is based on the ratio of empty to occupied squares in a certain radius of the colonist. It shouldn't count furniture as occupied. When there is a 30x30 room with only four single square pillars in it to stop the ceiling from collapsing, furniture or otherwise if the colonists still complain how cramped it is something is wrong.

Blasting charges: They are made to clear rock. That's the only thing I have not used them for so far. In particular their undetectable nature makes defense a non-issue. Pirates should be able to see and destroy them from a distance. Don't get me wrong land mines do have a place in the game, blasting charges however are too effective for that purpose.

Mouse isn't captured on dual monitor setup in fullscreen mode so screen edge scrolling doesn't work.

Overview panel and micromanagement: The overview panel is great for large scale changes and for managing individual colonists we know the names of but not their whereabouts. The panel works less than great however when we know the location of one or more colonists but not their names; say I just want to quickly order the closest colonist nearby to fix a broken lamp or tell my three miners to grab some of the cargo from the drop zone on their way home. In these cases there are better ways than memorizing one or more names then looking them up one by one in a big grey table that halts the gameflow and covers most of the game world. It may work ok for a couple of colonists but it can get silly quickly as the population enters double digits.

At the very least the overview panel should highlight selected colonists and there should be a tick box above each column that toggles the task for selected colonists or for all if none are selected.

Another solution would be to add another tab to the colonist info pane next to needs and thoughts for individual task assignments. Three state checkboxes that go empty for none, full for all and grey for mixed would work well with multiple selections.

However the best solution would be using the right click context menu. It's basicly there, the game already allows us to prioritize a task or tells us we can't prioritize because the colonist is not assigned to perform the task. We just need better options as in 'enable / enable once / disable'. This would take the least amount of work to implement, the easiest to use and the least disruptive to the flow of the game.

On a related note, prioritize should have a slightly different behaviour. Right now if a colonist wants to eat / sleep I have to babysit them and prioritize construction about five times to build a turret for example, and click on unmined rock / power cables / floor tiles one by one if I want them to keep going. The way this should work is this: perform the selected action for at least x seconds - say 20 - no matter what, then if hauling complete the current trip, if constructing complete the current building.

Generally colonists won't go insane from 20-30 seconds of extra work and players won't go insane from having to right click prioritize each tile of power cable when their colonist is sleepy. Larger constructions like solar panels / turrets and the like would be completed in one go while smaller tasks would keep repeating for a meaningful amount of time. While I can't see many cases where the player would actually want precisely one more tile and no more, if so it is still a lot easier to actually designate only that one tile for mining / construction or babysit for one tile then cancel or force re-evaluate than it is to right click prioritize each and every tile.

Let us tell our colonists WHEN and WHERE to eat / sleep: My colonist of the month award always goes to the dude / dudess who wakes up, walks for two hours to a remote mining site, hits the wall with a pick once, realizes it's time to eat, two hours home, eat, two hours back, mine, another two hours home to sleep. A simple right click menu item on food sources and beds should solve this.

Storyteller: Currently this is my biggest gripe with the game. The storyteller is way too controlling, makes my choices feel meaningless:
-For example there seems to be a hard cap on the number of colonists a storyteller will allow. Up until that point it's as if there is a new recruit under every bed and behind every door, past that point however it feels like the planet has fallen through a wormhole into another universe that's entire population is us plus pirates.
-The number of raiders per wave seems to be heavily based on how many turrets I have. In one game I had ~16 and raiders came in waves of 16-24. In another game I built 4 turrets and the number of pirates was consistently around 8-9 even though I'm several cycles in. Suppose hypothetically that 1 turret breaks even with 1 pirate, then if the game sends 1 pirate against 1 turret and 10 against 10 my choices have zero impact. I know I can get away with one so there is no risk involved in skimping on defenses. This actually leads to a silly situation in which the less turrets I have the safer I am. 8 colonists can handle 9 hostiles well enough even during a solar flare, 24 however not so much. (mines are cheating :p) In short the game needs to be much less controlling and more unpredictable.

Finally there is too much emphasis on combat and too little on everything else. I don't know if this is simply because that part happens to be more fleshed out than the rest or if this is an actual design goal. But for what it's worth I would like more options for people who opt to focus on other aspects of the game. Based on what's already implemented the four big moving parts - combat, production, trade and manpower - aren't far off from forming a coherent sandbox where the player can combine the elements in any configuration they please.

combat
-defensive
-offensive

production
-food
-weapons & ammunition
-metals

trade

manpower
-colonists
-slaves
-mercenaries
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aerojet029

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Re: Thoughts after a week of playing
« Reply #1 on: October 26, 2013, 02:42:21 AM »

"In short the game needs to be much less controlling and more unpredictable."

this is a nice thing about multiple story tellers as you can pick one that suits your play style or what you want out of the game. I play mostly on Randy Random just for that reason.
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Tynan

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Re: Thoughts after a week of playing
« Reply #2 on: October 28, 2013, 12:59:40 PM »

I won't respond to each of these, but I've read and noted these points. Thanks for sharing!
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Tynan Sylvester - @TynanSylvester - Tynan's Blog