Starship Rubicon

Starship Rubicon

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Misery Nov 29, 2015 @ 12:58am
Some thoughts on the game after completing it
So, after about an hour and a half... 10-15 minutes of which I think were spent paused, because of derpy IRL stuff... I've finished the game, and I figured I'd post some overall thoughts on it here. This might be a little long, but I prefer to go into detail on things like this.

Firstly, the basic gameplay, very good. The overall feel of it is great, though the aiming controls get very, very strange whenever I'm near the edge of the battlefield. I'm using a controller here; I have to, the mouse wrecks my arm with that much movement and clicking, so I pretty much use a controller for everything, even games that dont actually support one. Heck, even something like the PC version of Minecraft, I use a controller for that too (with an extremely bizarre control scheme). Though, I would never play a game in this genre with a keyboard/mouse anyway (accuracy would go straight down the drain for me if I tried that), so that works out well enough. But yeah, the aiming can get really weird at the edges. Through most of the game this wasnt an issue due to the large size of the battlefields. It mostly became an issue in the Asteroids-ish minigame at the end, that hacking bit that happens when you spare the Nemesis leader. I was pretty much forced to stay in the center area of the screen, since the aiming became very hard to control at the edges.

On the note of the hacking bit, that computer guy really is a bit of a jerk, isnt he? Just wants to murder things. His dialogue is hilarious though. And I liked the bit of choice at the very end there. Though I half expected the computer guy to somehow take over the ship and kill the Nemesis leader ANYWAY while saying something like "LOL NOPE!"

The bosses were all pretty neat, particularly the Archangel at the end. The Reef fight didnt entirely make a whole lot of sense though. I was never entirely clear just what was going on there. Eventually it exploded though, so that's fine. It seemed to be the least balanced of all of the hostiles in the game though. But as it was the ONLY one I thought was imbalanced, that's fine too.

Enemies were well made as well, though I kinda wished there were more types. Some things repeated a bit too often.

The items/equipment system is interesting.... but it's kinda thrown off by the rarity of actually finding any items. I didnt run into that many moments of having to make a difficult choice, because there was typically always room on the ship for additional gear, since I was finding so little of it. And as far as I can tell, no cryopod missions ever spawned. That might be a bug?

The AI was a bit of a problem: Allies pretty much become totally useless at exactly the point in the game when their help becomes somewhat important; they're just too dimwitted to deal with the later areas. Or any zone that has asteroids. This was probably my biggest issue with the game. Made me kinda stop caring about finding them about halfway through, because what use would they have been?

Weapons and specials were fun to use. I liked the shotgun alot, that one is fun.

Overall aesthetic of the game is wonderful, I love the look of everything. And the music just adds to the atmosphere of it wonderfully.

Overall, I think the game is fantastic. The one complaint I can see people having with it is the short length of the main campaign, though to some degree that probably depends on player skill at least partially.

Cant wait to see what you guys come up with next!

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Showing 1-12 of 12 comments
wickworks  [developer] Nov 29, 2015 @ 9:07pm 
Wow, this is some fantastic feedback. Thank you.
  • Alak, getting the controller controls to be as good as the mouse+keyboard has been a bugbear. Edge problems noted.
  • It is odd that you never saw a cryopod mission. They're not uncommon. I'm hesitant to increase the frequency because they're there to break up the rhythm of normal missions, but wouldn't do well to have multiple in a row. If you play another game and still don't see anything, let me know.
  • As far as enemy types/equipment variety/campaign length... yeah. More content would always be great but I'm a one-person team and that's where the content/polish balance fell. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
  • Re: "Bit of a jerk", yeah, the whole game is supposed to subtly be pushing you to think for yourself and not take instructions at face value, despite the glib remarks.

Again, thanks for the comments! If you feel like it, would you mind posting a review on the page? They really do matter, especially ones that have nuanced pro/con lists like this.

Misery Nov 30, 2015 @ 6:28am 
Yep, I've gone and left a review there!
dEvil among Stars Nov 30, 2015 @ 7:10am 
To offer somewhat of a counterpoint, I think the longevity is fine. However much of it is derived from tinkering with Ships in the Hangar. Upgrades along the way are merely a source of income for me though, I just sell them straight back for a bit of cash, so I can have some more fun in the Hangar for the next round.
Balancing and gameplay wise, using standard ships, everything seems fine. I didn't quite get the Reef Boss. Well, the patterns are easy enough and the targets are obvious but it somehow didn't fit with the rest. Neither from a gameplay perspective nor from a visual one.

In terms of QoL improvements, I think crypods could use a bigger icon on the mapscreen. Currently, they're very easy to miss in the background and that might also explain why some people don't seem to find them. In general I had a lot of fun and still have it about 7 hours in.

Most of that is owed to the Hangar though, I just love coming up with weird and utterly broken ships. Build a ship using deathblossoms and Slipboxes, just zooming around the battlefield, spamming more missiles than a whole season of Macross. Somehow I can't figure out the aiming of the Helix, doesn't matter though. Slap on shields, fill up with Point Defense and Armor, hug mobs, blast point blank. Haven't found a way to die with that ship yet.
That said, maybe I missed it but the Hangar could use a Testmode. Just a small map with immobile, respawning targets you can fly in at no cost. Several times I've build something expensive that wasn't all that useful in practice. But taking it out for a spin left me without funds and thus forced me to complete the game again on a standard ship, just so I could continue having fun in the Hangar. A testmode might lessen the edge somewhat.

In general, I liked it quite a lot. Perfect for a tinkerer like me.
wickworks  [developer] Dec 1, 2015 @ 12:38pm 
One of my favorite things to do in games is make my own stuff; I'm pretty sure I spent more time in the map editor than ingame back when I played age of empires. I'm glad to hear that you're enjoying tinkering around in a similar fashion in this game!

If you want to skip grinding, you may be interested in cheat codes (look in the readme) or an exploit that somebody else found on this forum (start the game as a gunship, sell off all your stuff, repeat). I'm on the fence about closing this sort of exploit: I like that there's an option to skip grinding if people don't feel like it. Thoughts?

The aiming of the helix should be such that the shots arc out and then cross wherever you mouse was when you fired them. My favorite thing to do with it is start firing on one end of the map and use the afterburner to build up a wave of shots.

> Larger cryopod icons added to the patchlist.
> Hangar test mode added to the patchlist.
I'll have a look at the cheatcodes then. Although by now I've got more than enough money either way. Now about the exploit, I'd say fix it. Reason being, with the cheatcodes there already is a way to circumvent the grind, for those that don't like it.
On the other hand, it's a clever use of the systems and not nearly as "broken" as what some custom ships can do. A game with that many options of tinkering (Hangar, Editor, etc) will always lead to some people breaking the game in fun ways and atleast I think that's part of the charm. The core gameplay works flawlessly anyways (congrats on that, good work).

That said, it doesn't sound all that fun to start a game, sell equipment, restart, sell, restart, sell. So on account of that, I'd say fix it.

And the Helix, interesting. I figured something like that, but the shots always seemed to arc in weird ways and never quite went where I expected them to. My brain is slow. However, I found it easier to aim, when holding the reticule close to the ship. This leads to a broad "beam" of utter destruction.

Currently I'm trying to make the Cruiser Beam work but for the pricetag and the space requirements, I just can't seem to find a way. It seems impractical, more of a joke weapon. Normal beamweapons appear to pack a similar punch and aren't as unwieldy, especially with upgrades.
Might be funny to have the cruiser beam fire nonstop and as a downside, give it mad recoil, so that it requires full thrust, just to keep the ship in place or else the ship goes zooming the other direction. I'll have a look in the LUA files and see if I can't do that on my end. Could hammer home the idea it's not supposed to be put on small ships.
HwanDeag Jan 4, 2016 @ 3:04am 
I just wanted to say I've completed the game 6 times fully and only just found out by reading this post that I could sell items!!
Did I miss something telling me I could sell them ?
I just never tried to sell anything.
Placing 5 Petey's on a ship is way too OP but I guess thats the same with any Hangar designed ship.
wickworks  [developer] Jan 4, 2016 @ 9:25am 
Multiple peteys is great. :)
Selling items isn't a game-critical feature so I didn't spend a lot of time trying to teach it (enough other stuff to teach in the game...)
BlivetWidget Feb 7, 2016 @ 12:49pm 
I too didn't know I could sell items during the campaign...

I felt like the increased repair cost for having more on your ship discourages experimentation. On my first playthrough I fell into a downward spiral of not being able to pay for repairs, needing better equipment to compensate for low armor, really not being able to pay for repairs... repeat. On the following playthrough, I removed everything but my Death Blossom and did just fine. I felt like I was playing the game "wrong" but the normal weapons simply can't compete with the DB.

Oh, and I left my sweet rims on. Naturally. Those things are sweet as hell.

(Bug with the sweet rims, though. Playing around in the hangar between missions and they disappeared. When I left the hangar and came back, I had three.)

If you want using more goodies to be more expensive, maybe have the components themselves take damage alongside you and require repair before using again? Then at least if you're low on money you could strip the ship, repair, and go out again.

But really, with any sort of tetromino puzzle the most fun is to be had trying to arrange the parts and being forced to leave good things behind due to lack of space, not money. I would make parts much more common/cheaper, so you can't fit it all on the ship and are forced to make decisions in the hangar.

Anyway, my two pence. Thanks for the fun game.
wickworks  [developer] Feb 8, 2016 @ 11:13am 
That's some good feedback, thanks. I tried to design the DB to be an easy entry point to the game where it's OP at the start but it stops being effective late-game, but I think it did end up being too powerful. I might eventually nerf it by increasing the overheat time.

Regarding components taking damage: I think the code is too much of a mess to pull that particular system off, but I do like the idea of cheaper repairs if you're going into the next battle nerfed. The current system forces you to think ahead for a turn (will I be able to repair if I go into battle with this much equipment?) but as you've said can lock you into a death spiral if you don't have that one-battle's worth of breathing room. The ability to sell components is my attempt to offer a brute-force way to escape that spiral, but the UI doesn't make it clear that it's an option. Hmm. Food for thought.

There's a few more not-well-documented features that may interest you (besides the selling of components):
> There's a multiplier that builds up to 3X as you shoot enemies (left side of the screen), and things drop that many more points. Only killing enemies with shots/beams increases the multiplier -- the DB doesn't. If you're having cash flow issues, trying to kill enemies quickly helps a lot.
> If you manage to fit all the components on symmetrically, you get an extra "last chance" when you would otherwise die. You're not wrong about the puzzle being too constricted in parts & money. If I were going to overhaul the whole system, I'd probably decrease the power of each individual piece and make them more common, like you suggested.

The sweet rims bug is on my radar, but for the life of me I have not been able to track it down. Plus I think it's kind of funny.
BlivetWidget Feb 8, 2016 @ 3:14pm 
Thanks for taking the time to read my comment, Wick. And thanks for the tip on the point multiplier, I didn't notice that one.

I think the DB may actually be okay, it still takes some skill to avoid getting hit. It's more that - like in the video you linked - the higher-skill techniques are not powerful enough for the skill required to use them. Maybe I'm just not good enough yet at your game, but it's very difficult for me to avoid trading damage using conventional weaponry. Primarily, the range is just so short. Combine that with your shields going down when you fire, and those little enemies with the beam lances make for a problem. If weapon range on conventional guns were doubled, I would use them more than the DB.

Agreed that components taking damage would be a technical hurdle. You could treat it as binary (functional/damaged). Every time your ship takes a hit, you could roll the virtual dice to see if you need to flip that bit. No effect during mission, but you couldn't use it again until paying to repair it. Depending on how you wrote the inheritance in your weapon class, that could be easy or hard...

It's not really important, though. I think really that perhaps we're trying to play different games. You're playing a resource scarcity game, where blue crystals have to be carefully rationed or you end up in a hole and have to start over. I'm trying to play an optimization game, where cost is irrelevant, repairs are cheap enough to be essentially free, and the challenge is finding a way to pack things into my ship in the best possible way. As the creator, obviously you're playing it right, so I guess I need to get with the program on that. Or ask if you've got a modding guide.

I did find the weapon recycle option, now that I looked for it, thanks.

Do sweet rims actually make the ship more maneuverable? I felt like they did, but the rims are so sweet I may be suffering from some placebo effect.
Last edited by BlivetWidget; Feb 8, 2016 @ 3:16pm
wickworks  [developer] Feb 8, 2016 @ 7:40pm 
Thank you for the feedback again, it's always a pleasure to hear what people think.

Re: damageable components:
It'd actually more of a problem with how I pass around the component data to ship configuration files and saved game and such. I didn't really know what I was doing so just made it so everything could be converted to a string with a set order of saved values (open up any of the .ship files in code/configSource in a text editor to see what I mean) so I'd have to update all the current content for the game. Plus the UI issues: if you have two Sweet Rims, one damaged and one undamaged, are they two different entries in the hangar?

A hard lesson I learned making Rubicon is that most of the time it's not too hard to get things ingame to behave, but all of the metagame data organization to handle it can be a nightmare. Then when you change anything, you have to modify everything accordingly. Options menus, save games, UI design + implementation... it's definitely not what I dreamed about doing when I said "I want to make a spaceship game!" but it's (apparently) pretty dang important.

Re: conventional weapons not feeling powerful enough: noted. Did you find the weapon addons to address that at all? There's one that doubles the range of the attached weapon, for example.

Re: sweet rims: that'd be a placebo. :)

Re: modding guide: I started writing one & left it in the main folder (rubimod.txt) but it's pretty incomplete. For the stat tweaks you're talking about though, you can just open up any .lua in code/componentSource or gunSource with a text editor and start editing files right away.

For the "pack things in the best possible way" style of play, that's what the free-edit hangar mode in the main menu is for! (unlocked through beating the game/in the unlock menu/cheating)!
BlivetWidget Feb 9, 2016 @ 10:29am 
Yeah, adding a feature post-facto is always the hardest. Also, in my experience anything that's expected to be used by normal humans is going to quadruple the code length, at least. Interface, hand-holding, etc. I feel your pain.

I did find some nice addons, and the Scope specifically does exactly what I want. I found two of them, actually. Then I stuck them both on my Death Blossom... So maybe the real balance issue there is that special powers are already powerful enough. If I can't upgrade the DB, I would be forced to use upgraded guns, and then those guns would be more useful. Granted, I like that you can upgrade the special weapons, in a philosophical way, but that could be at the root of the issue.

Haha, so the sweet rims really don't do anything? I totally had myself convinced that they did =P

The hangar is cool, but I think playing my optimization game in the campaign would be fun.

Okay, so the files in there aren't just for reference / pre-compiled. Gotcha. So I assume that if I go into Starship Rubicon\code\componentSource and edit the "cost" item for everything, that will lower the repair cost of the ship because that's a factor in the repair cost calculation. Can I assume the cost has to be a non-zero integer, or is zero a valid entry? I'll whip up something in Python and post it in the modding forum.

Probably gunSource would be a bit dicier to batch edit, as those look like they get used by the enemy as well. I think I'd be pretty happy with just reducing the cost of the weapons. Alternatively, if I could increase money drops that would work too, but that looks at first glance to be a lot more involved.

Thanks again for the info.

Edit: Just ran through a campaign with items set to zero cost and didn't notice anything weird.
Last edited by BlivetWidget; Feb 10, 2016 @ 12:10pm
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