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Feedback A very lengthy post on my personal issues with progression and gameplay

Discussion in 'Starbound Discussion' started by Riotmode, Aug 29, 2016.

  1. Riotmode

    Riotmode Seal Broken

    I'm Riotmode, and I've owned starbound since the very launch of it on steam as an early access title.
    I played a little bit back then, and while the game's changed a lot since then I don't recall enough beyond the racially unique swords and procedurally-generated beasties that I can claim as a decline or improvement in game quality.
    Instead, I'm coming into this as a "fresh" player, having just beaten the story mode and played around with some of the mods. I've not gone fully into the game's various tech trees, but I did enough to get by on even the most dangerous planets and these are some of the observations and difficulties I've had with the game since then.

    First and foremost, there's a lot of stuff that seems arbitrary in the crafting progression system. For example, having to mine certain blocks to be able to craft them. For things like furniture and decoration blocks I can see that being a proper thing, but needing to go to a later-tier planet like those wasteland post-apocalypse planets just to get certain decorative blocktypes feels like a needless and annoying stage in progression when I could better be spending that time just building neato bases from the getgo. It makes it feel like a very hollow attempt at artificially expanding gametime that would be better served just giving us the option for a block builder device or something to that effect.

    This isn't exclusive to base-building either, while the weapons crafting tiers seems well-put-together enough in relation to the story mode challenges I more often just found myself scavenging between planets to find something worth keeping and using that instead, to the point where I stopped paying attention to the weapons table forever.
    This might be helped by adding in modifiable weaponry, something modular enough to make crafting weapons on-par with scavenging them to give us more viability in different gameplay types.

    Circling back to decorative blocks again, another problem I found myself having was in navigating the UI for crafting things. There's a LOT to be improved here, but I'll start with the way they are listed in the UI. Right now, it's kind of just a big cluster of everything listed in no discernable order and it makes it harder to find specific blocks I want to achieve a certain visual unity. To fix this I'd propose some kind of folder or tagging system so I could find blocks that correlate better with, say, Glitch faction buildings easier to build what I need easier.
    And spinning off of /that/, I found myself more often than not needing to discard several blocks because I no longer had a use for them, and they'd either wind up wasted or lost in myriad chests. Again, a solution to that would just be to have some decorative block table with a unified cost, like perhaps pixels, that you could use to sell all those random blocks you pick up in your travels.

    Moving forward into the UI problems I have, Having to mouse over each individual item to see what I needed to craft has become a bit of a problem for me. It didn't seem like a huge thing at first, but after a while it started to grate on me quite heavily when I started just wanting to make certain decorative blocks and had to spend more than I needed to going through the list just to find them, making notes of what I needed and where to find it, then coming back and realizing I forgot how much of x crafting element I needed to make y block.
    Having these blocks available from a tab on the default crafting menu could remove an entire step in building that would make building fancy settlements much more fun and easy to accomplish than my current method of zotting between my ship, my crafting table, then my colony over and over again.

    Which brings me to the next point: Colonies, as they currently stand, are very underwhelming. Right now they only really serve as a minor source of income and as crewmates when I feel like upgrading my ship. Nothing ever seems to threaten them, and there seems to be no reward for putting extra effort into making them bigger and more unique as the rewards I get from tenants are the same for dinky little huts as they are for large stately villas. I understand programming some kind of ranking feature on these might be difficult, but even just something that registers how big a home is and tallies from there would be a great feature as opposed to the current system of "is there a door, a torch, and some race-specific furniture?"
    It feels very unrewarding right now and I stopped caring much about it, which is a shame as I personally feel the colony aspect could lead to some neat stuff if more focus was put on it. There's a LOT of potential here, especially given the intro. What if we were given the option to build a new Protectorate? And in multiplayer it would be interesting to see warring factions of protectorates, or perhaps trade relations. There's a lot of potential here that isn't being realized!

    Moving on from colonies, I'd like to discuss some of the world generation issues. It feels like once you've seen a couple planets of each specific type you've seen most of what they have to offer. The pre-built structures are often quite nice, but they lose a bit of impact when I'm running across my fifth nigh-identical ruined hylotl castle. It feels like there's no human presences outside of prison colonies too. Some more variety (and perhaps some love for our wild west starchildren) would be excellent.
    Cities are also something I'd like to see more of. The starting level at the protectorate was very interesting to explore, even with what little there was! Yet you don't see any planets with that level of construction anywhere for the rest of the game, and it makes it feel a bit dismal and empty to only be coming up on smaller villages instead. I know that is partially what starbound is about, exploration and isolation and such, but it feels a bit meaningless to go somewhere desolate and not have any reprieve from that save the outpost and those small villages.

    Finally, I feel like the story mode has a lot of room for improvement. I don't mean to be rude or incisive, but it's simply not very good. The dungeons are usually fine, and the bosses are ok (save for the final boss, which needs some serious work), yet the characters that are built up and talked about during each mission only really wind up as specified shopkeepers after each mission and during them don't really have any memorable lines or roles in the story. The glitch Baron just sits there and stares at the big evil bone dragon showing up, and while the FIGHT there was fun, it felt a bit empty without the supposed ex-hero Baron getting up and doing anything to help save his own keep.
    I would have had a better connection with him as a character if, like the Floran huntress, he helped out any during that boss fight. And after that, there's just not a lot to do with any of them besides the occasional side-mission and purchase.
    There's a lot of potential here too! You could use them as big Lore basins, give them racially-unique missions to teach us about each race and their histories and goings-ons, in-between the shop functions they serve. It would be a lot more fun than tracking down all the individual lorebooks, and those kind of break immersion too when we come across the eighteenth copy of the Hylotl traveler's journal detailing that time he wore the husk of a dead Glitch thinking it was armor.

    So, to condense this monster of a post: I'd like to see some more focus on condensing the progression to cut back on how boring it gets. The user interface needs some work so it's not as scattered and hard to find what you need in, like tags and categories for certain blocks. The planets, biomes, and structures you find need plenty more variance as right now you're likely to run into structures that are much to similar to things you've run across before. And finally, some sweeping re-writing of the final missions so the dialogue is more engaging and the characters have more endearing qualities than "some guy/girl you ran into at X place".
    Thank you for reading this rambling mess of a post, I've been turned off the game by much of this and it would be excellent to see some improvements made in all these aspects.

    (And to expand on the comment about the final boss being bad: Bosses where you're focusing more on the enemies it summons more than the boss itself has never been a fun time. I found myself more annoyed than endangered since the boss itself only had two attack patterns and a "summon some monsters" period. It would have been more interesting if it had periods where you had to fight minibosses in-between phases instead of fighting hordes of annoying flies in-between dodging the big laser beam and the tentacle attacks. To contrast with one I consider very good, the Big Ape fight has a lot of interesting things going for it and attack patterns that can be memorized and worked with. With the Ruin, you just have to hope it doesn't decide to spawn in more annoying defaults like those rock guys or the flesh beasts that split in two while you're spamming attack on it. Perhaps having to fight off shadowy versions of your allies would be a better solution, it would make the thing seem more ominous and omnipresent to have minibosses like this on-hand and it would be a neat little gauntlet fight to see just who would win in a fight between me and the Floran huntress, or the hylotl and what I'll assume is some kind of recon mech he fights from.
    This is all very peripheral in the scheme of the overall game though, hence why it's an aside.)

    (Also, as another aside, it's a bit weird to be running into the same enemies all the time. More variety there would be a big improvement. Maybe restrict how many pre-made enemies can spawn on a planet in favor of more generated enemies so there's more uniqueness to each planet's fauna.)
     
    Shaadaris, Pingeh and Oberic like this.
  2. Oberic

    Oberic Spaceman Spiff

    Actually a good criticism post. Well thought out and accurate.

    Read the whole thing, and I gotta say I agree with a lot of what you have to say.
    I haven't done the Glitch mission or final boss yet, but I do agree that including the extra character in the boss fight (like with Nuru) made her a lot more interesting, and that would have helped the other boss fights as well.

    Colonies need work. Putting a lot of furniture in a dwelling should make it pay out better, that's how it was supposed to be in the first place. Rent was supposed to be dictated by the value of items, not by the tier of the planet.

    My biggest complaint with the UI is the way mousing over an item puts the information box down and to the right of the cursor regardless of where that item is. It's very frustrating to have to move my inventory up and often shuffle my items around just to see if that new assault rifle is actually useful or just more pixels waiting to be collected.
     
  3. Riotmode

    Riotmode Seal Broken

    Yes, exactly! That's a huge problem for me. I also dislike not having a real way to "Pause" the game, sometimes you gotta go afk and not having some way to stop and take care of things without coming back to starvation or a sudden death because a bird enemy spawned is very frustrating.
    Which reminds me: in regards to hunger, PLEASE make that more forgiving. I hate having to eat a four course dinner every half hour or so when that annoying blip starts going off. Solutions would be to buff food, make food stack (I RECCOMEND THIS ONE, PLEASE) or give us some kind of auto-feed upgrade so we don't really have to bother with it anymore.
     
  4. SoopaDerpcat

    SoopaDerpcat Pangalactic Porcupine

    It seems like as of 1.0, monsters have completely stopped bothering...everything. That's one of my biggest problems with colonies.

    In the past, with the old system, maintaining a colony was nearly impossible, but that wasn't because monsters would attack, it was because guards and turrets would accidentally murder all of my villagers while trying to shoot monsters, and would sometimes even aggro against civilians for absolutely no reason. They fixed both of those issues, but they also went a bit TOO far. Now it feels like every simple wooden chair I set down is equipped with highly advanced force field technology that repels monsters of all sorts over a half-mile radius. Why even build a wall when a floor, a bed and a lamp offer complete protection from wild animals? Not letting monsters spawn directly on top of certain artificial blocks would have been welcome, but, as I said earlier, they've gone just a bit too far with it. Then again, you don't want it to be TOO brutal early on. Well, here's my idea: a tiered spawning and behavior system.

    T1 planet: No monsters spawn within 500 blocks from player-placed objects. Flying monsters won't fly within 100 blocks.

    T2 planet: No large monsters spawn within 300 blocks, but small monsters can spawn within 100 blocks. Flying monsters will fly right up to settlements, but won't fly directly over player-placed objects unless already aggroed.

    T3 planet: Monsters of all sorts can spawn within 100 blocks, at a rate of 50% of the normal spawn rate. 10% for large monsters.

    T4 planet: Monsters of all sorts can spawn within 75 blocks, at a rate of 75% for both large and small.

    T5 planet: Monsters of all sorts can spawn within 50 blocks, at a rate of 80% for all. Large monsters can push standard-sized wooden doors open.

    T6: All monsters can spawn anywhere except directly on top of player-placed objects. All monsters can push all standard-sized doors open, so be sure to pack plenty of airlocks and security doors to secure your entrances! This would also be a good place to spawn some of those huge-class monsters we're still yet to see from Chucklefish, and they could conceivably have some block-breaking attacks.
     
  5. Riotmode

    Riotmode Seal Broken

    That all sounds EXCELLENT. It would also make traps worth caring about since, as it stands, barbed wire is only good for accidentally killing yourself on :^(
     
  6. SoopaDerpcat

    SoopaDerpcat Pangalactic Porcupine

    Personally, I think the biggest issue is what they did with story progression. The old system was pretty much fine; you simply progressed with the story by crafting new tiers of armor. It was fairly easy, and it tied into the non-story sandbox progression in a way that made sense. It could still work with the current campaign, too; they could just tell you that, for the sake of the safety of yourself and the artifacts, you need to properly equip yourself before taking on the missions.

    I'll just be upfront about it; I'm tired of scouring forest and jungle biomes for every last piece of Floran furniture containing any sort of sentence, picture or word. There's a universe to explore, a ship to upgrade, a crew to assemble, colonies to build, bases to build, ores to mine, weapons to find, items to craft...you get the idea. Scanning furniture is probably the least fun thing in the entire game. I've been through several Floran villages and scanned absolutely everything, and I'm still only about 80% of the way there. I'm already comfortably exploring tier 6 planets, and I still haven't even managed to unlock the second story mission. That's not a good thing.

    As for the story itself, Asra's motivations are honestly pretty flimsy, and I...don't really get why she thinks The Ruin is going to help her wipe out the other races and establish humanity as supreme when it kinda...y'know...destroyed mankind's home world.
     
  7. Riotmode

    Riotmode Seal Broken

    Yeah, the nebulous space racists and the ENTIRETY of the scanning missions are ridiculous. I'd much prefer a quota of random racial fetch questing over having to scan every little thing off a list. Like, once you realize there's bonuses for specific items it's not AS bad, but most people aren't going to do that, and in the mean time it's just kind of endless tedium on top of more tedium. And tedium is the anti-fun.
    Asra didn't really have much purpose either, she kind of just went off out of the story in the final mission without any real closure to her. She was a fun boss to go against and all but there's just nothing of substance there.
     
  8. tehcavy

    tehcavy Pangalactic Porcupine

    I'd like to add that process is too random to be the basis for the main quest. By the time I found a floran item which wasn't a bloody Ixoling-on-a-pike I was already "screw this" and sporting durasteel gear. Same story about Avians: I could've finished Apex and Glitch quests three times over while I chased avian settlements, fortunately I've been wise to this tomfoolery after florans and called dibs on anything that looked impotant.
     
  9. Riotmode

    Riotmode Seal Broken

    Yeah, I did the same thing.
    And I agree, but it would be manageble since quests happen pretty liberally and you could just keep re-rolling until you got one that's just "hey give me some ores!"
     
  10. SoopaDerpcat

    SoopaDerpcat Pangalactic Porcupine

    I'm not sure if I'll even bother with the story missions, honestly. It's not like Starbound's instanced missions were ever that much fun to begin with, the story isn't nearly deep or even coherent enough to be compelling, and the bosses are...bosses, I guess? They look decent, but not quite worth the trouble of getting to. Even the rare boss weapons just seem kinda...meh? The only two that look particularly cool are the Dragonhead Pistol and the Solus Katana, and even then I'm more likely to just spawn them in with admin mode, throw away a bunch of resources, and pretend that I somehow crafted them. Epsecially considering the drop rate is only ten percent, and...let's just say grinding Scandroids for Sticks of RAM taught me that 10% is not a high drop rate at all.
     
  11. Riotmode

    Riotmode Seal Broken

    You are absolutely better off scavenging items from high-tier planets, yes. I have a hammer right now that does 50+ damage and have been using this pretty much since I got it halfway through mission 2.
     
  12. Shaadaris

    Shaadaris Giant Laser Beams

    I'd love for modifiable weaponry, even if it's an endgame thing. I mean, the Baron does "weapon work" so perhaps he could become a source of this? Alternatively, for those who don't want to do the story, there's a difficult but possible to craft station that allows it, too. I have to disagree with tiers though, if only because the Beta tiers were so much better. Each race had unique melee weapons of every type every tier before, instead of the homogenized spread-out thing we have now. Oh, and you could craft racially unqiue staffs too in the last two tiers, which were very cool and different.

    Some sort of, well, sorting system is desperately needed. Most containers are so small in this game, and unnameable, and there are so many collectables that it becomes a nightmare to store anything, much less find it again, even if you have a manually sorted system going. The menus also need work. More sections or "types of item" subsections would be ideal.

    Would be nice to not need hovering. Well, hey, at least it's still better than the main competition.
    Terraria: Need to talk to NPC to figure out uses for each item in crafting things.
    Minecraft: Need a wiki, guesswork, or memory to figure out crafting recipies for things.

    Having completely ignored colonies since I have the architectural skill of a glass of lukewarm water, I can't say much here, but it'd be cool. A rating system wouldn't actually be all that difficult either.
    >Check amount of unblocked space in house area.
    >Check amount of furniture in house area.
    >Calculate general rating from these two items.
    Yeah it could be abused to have the perfect cramped-with-furniture-to-size-used ratio, but the current system is also abusable so yeah.
    It'd give more incentive to think bigger, and that's always cool. Might even get me to try my hand at some building again.
    The new protectorate idea is really neat, and probably could have made a more engaging main story to be honest. Having "guilds" of a sort (federations?) in multiplayer would be awesome, though.
    Allowing "federations" to have descriptions readable to all, and the ability to list which factions they have what relation with (trade agreements, hostilities, ceasefire negotiations, etc.) and maybe even allow them to designate uniforms and stuff, as well as ranks and the like. Perhaps even designating "home base" and outpost locations as properties. Maybe even space stations. This would be phenomenal for big servers, and would bring tons of cool dynamics.

    I'd love it if the Baron helped in the battle and maybe showed off his epic skills by killstealing the boss from you or something. I also wish the Bone Dragon was a bit more interesting. All it does is shoot fireballs and summon waves upon waves of the same enemies you've already fought for five minutes. What would be neat is if the Baron kept finding more and more nutty ways to knock it out of the sky temporarily, at which point you got a damage boost against it (it would also have more health in general) while needing to avoid Asra's attacks, at which point it'd go back up.
    I wish the characters had more development. All of them; I was hoping Esther would have some dark secret and would actually turn out to be the bad guy or something, or that Asra would have a last minute change of heart after learning of Earth's fate at the many limbs of the Ruin and help you during the final battle, or that the keys would play a significant role like giving you new abilities in the form of unique techs. All the characters felt kind of bland after you recruited them, they just stood around and did nothing more but offer moral support and basic services. Kind of lame. Them giving you more insight into the lore (neutered as it was for release) would be very cool, and I'd love whole racial questlines to sprout from them (I'm really hoping this is what CF has in mind for future missions). There used to be way more lorebooks, and way better lore in general, but it was cut down and redone for release for reasons I still don't fully comprehend.

    This remains one of my biggest gripes. The Ruin, this battle you've been leading up to, is quite possibly the second or third easiest boss fight in the game, and that's sad. Its skillset makes no sense considering it hates all life, yet half of its four attacks involve summoning minions of some sort. It needs a complete revamp, and the Asra battle beforehand should be better as well, instead of the exact same thing as before except trivial with your good equipment.

    More varied random monsters, more common random monsters, and bringing back varied random monster attacks are all desperately needed to keep the game interesting.


    All in all, I have to agree with everything you've said, at least partially. The game needs a lot of work, and, in my opinion, after having gotten close to and passed 1.0 it's somehow started feeling less interesting and unique than it did in the earlier stages of development. The story is a letdown, the new lore is a letdown, and the lessening of variety while also lessening of unique content in many areas is just plain distressing.
     

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