first impressions

A space strategy macromanagement game with turnbased battles.
slugthog
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first impressions

Post by slugthog » Fri May 16, 2008 9:15 am

I really want to like the game but there are several items that interfere with my enjoyment.

1) The need to click the NEXT TURN button over fifty times before I was able to build my first fleet of two ships. This is simply poor design. Players should not have that much dead time before they can take a meaningful action.

2) Needing to click the NEXT TURN button over a hundred times before I had a fleet large enough that it was not immediately eliminated by neutral defenders. See number 1.

3) No documentation on how to actually capture another system.

4) No saves during battles. Some of us have lives. With combat taking upwards of an hour not being able to save in mid battle makes the game unplayable.

5) No SAVE GAME prompt upon exiting the game. Prompting to save data upon exiting an application is Programming 101.

6) Saving during a game does not register on the SAVED GAMES list.

7) No explanation of the game icons. What does the little alien head mean? Why are there half a dozen planets shown for a system but no method to access them?

8) Impossible starts. I began a game with NO systems within reach of my starting position. How many times was I going to need to click the NEXT TURN button before I had the technology to capture another system? Why should I bother?

9) Technology progress is way to slow and way to complex. At the very least there needs be an in game chart of technology relationships. I mean, for heaven's sake, I'm playing a game on a damned computer why should I have to develop a paper bookkeeping system just to track game technology when the application has all of that information already and the ability to display it in a comprehensible manner.

10) No undo move for the currently selected ship during combat. Since it is extremely easy to send a ship to the wrong location by an inadvertent click the failure to include an undo is at least in bad taste.

11) Weapon icons on ships should display both range & default power. Players have enough to do with needing to keep paper records of effects.

12) And the most important missing element: Documentation. You took my money and delivered a product without adequate instructions on how to use it. One thing I used to tell my students, "If you can't document it, it is criminal to charge for it." No matter how clever the graphics is the user doesn't have the information he needs to play the game then you are simply stealing his money.

Clean up these things and you might have a playable game.

...granpa sluggy who is no more disgruntled than usual.

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jack1974
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Post by jack1974 » Fri May 16, 2008 10:11 am

Thanks for the suggestions. I can say that I agree on those points and I'll implement them on next updates:
4 (saves during battles)
5 (propt for save on exit)
10 (undo moves during battles, but not for firing)
12 (docs, I'm going to write a PDF manual)

About other parts of the game. First of all docs are missing, but if you checked the tooltips they actually explain everything. Of course this is not a perfect solution, but for my past games I noticed that MANY people just ignored the manual, and played directly the game, so I had to decide at one point if to delay the release by an extra month, or use tooltips.
I write this because some of your (legit) doubts, like 1-2-3 and 7-8-9 can be solved reading the tooltips. For example you see the alien head in the starsystem, click on it, and in the zooming window you see on Battlefield Type, "Alien Technology". If you move the mouse over there and wait (depedning on the tooltip speed you set in options) you'll see a popup message explaining what it is:
There are alien relics on this starsystem. Capturing it will help us discover a new unique special weapon and unlock the associated ship's blueprint.
And also the fact that your have to press enter several times before building a ship is probably because in the resources screen you didn't put many resources to scientist. If you put many there, you'll see the research is much faster.
However now that I think about it, maybe you played an early version 1.0, try redownloading the game, since now by default you start with 1 scout and 1 transport design researched, and with them you can already attempt to conquer a starsystem. I've also added a pop-up window explainin that if you choose a galaxy with few starsystem you can't reach them easily.

I definitely understand your problems, and indeed I designed the game mostly for the "hardcore" gamers which are used to play reading only tooltips, or don't need lot of info because they instantly recognize some gameplay mechanics from old games of the past. However I know I need to do more and make the game more understandable even to those like you that maybe didn't play this kind of games before, and in general make the game more accessible to a wider public. But I assure you that many people are playing the game, so the game is playable :lol:

Some of your complaint are also design choices. If you start with few starsystem, you'll have less battles to do, but you'll have to reasearch more before you can reach the starsystem nearby. This is similar to Civilization 1-2-3-4 settings, if you play with less adversaries, could pass lot of game turns before you can do a battle.

About the technology, actually there is a sort of tree system, if you click on the "technology required" you can know which ones you need to research. But I have simplified it more, by just letting the player put a "goal technology". Since the game is most combat oriented, you'll probably set as goal technology just the ship blueprints. The computer will take care to research all the past technologies automatically. Again, this is based on the award winning Civilization, where you can set a goal technology and you'll see that even playing that game there are LOT of turn to pass before you reach the wanted tech. Then of course on Civilization you have lot more variety of gameplay, I know I can't compete with such big games :)

One last thing about your point: 6 is weird. You mean that after saving the game you don't see it in the list ? this could be a problem of permissions of your Mac, the game should create a Supernova2 directory in home (username) and save the games with slot0-1-2-3 etc.

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jack1974
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Post by jack1974 » Fri May 16, 2008 10:19 am

Ah just wanted to add that as other users suggested in this thread: viewtopic.php?t=508

I'm going to implement a very different playing mode called Skirmish, that will probably make the game more appealing also to players that just want to battle and do fights, rather than use the macromanagement part of the game. It is more "instant action", less tactical, and I believe could be more fun for those that don't want to wait long time before doing a big battle! :)

Have no estimate release date for this new playing mode, but I'm working on it already, and on the documentation as well 8)

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iulius
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Post by iulius » Fri May 16, 2008 10:42 am

I had no problem playing the game by reading the tooltips, but ... once again, I was an avid player of MO2, Ascendancy, etc and so on, so good part of the game was pretty self-explanatory to me.
However I understand his point of view, and also he gives some very good suggestion like the save possibility in middle of battles (some take really a lot of time).

To slugthog, don't worry, jack usually fixes all the problems in his games. Just read the forums thread in Magic Stones or UBM. Heck, I remember playing version 1.0 of UBM and had lot more issues than Supernova 2 :lol: but now he added so many features for free in UBM (or even Magic Stones) that is like having an almost new game, for free.

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Post by slugthog » Fri May 16, 2008 11:44 am

I will wait until you implement battle saves before trying the game again. I just launched an attack with 24 ships, I won't hazard how many hundred turns it took to build them and had to stop after two hours. My only option was to escape the battle. So I pretty much wasted three hours of my time for no gain.

It is still not clear how to conquer a system though I assume that I must occupy ALL of the planets.

It also appears that the defense in a system depends upon the number of ships I attack with. That 's a curiious choice.

I might also suggest that you incorporate some method to scale the combat map so that the objectives on a map are visible without scrolling, reduce the size of the information frame so that it does not obscure so much of the map, provide a convenient means to dismiss the annoying info frame at the bottom of the map and not employ the <esc> for a different purpose in the battle screen than in the economic screens.

As for my gaming experience... i began wargaming in the Fifties and played my first computer game on my Apple ][+ in about 1976 some fifteen years after I wrote wrote my first program. I have played all of the Civ games including their precursor Empire and several many versions of Conquer the Universe games with one of my favorites being Spacward Ho, the grandsire of your effort. I fully understand the advantages of including documentation in tool tips though feel that at least minimal textual documentation describing all of the primary game parameters is an absolute necessity.

I patiently await rev 1.x

...granpa sluggy

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jack1974
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Post by jack1974 » Fri May 16, 2008 12:07 pm

Yes I understand what you mean: inded I'm doing the in-battle save right now. It is absolutely needed for big battles.
The number of enemies scales (in percentage) based on how many ships you attack to avoid having battles too easy (was a feature requested by some users), however I think I'll reduce the impact of this variable. After all if a starsystem is tagged as poorly defended, it should be that way :)

To conquer a starsystem you need to destroy all the enemies. I don't know if also introduce the rule that you can win also by occupying all the planets...

The map scaling can be done, actually I had it in the beta version (you could scale in real-time with mousewheel) but had some minor bugs, however I think I can re-implement it easily, the only thing is that you won't be able to move or attack if you zoom out (but don't think is important).

About other suggestions, I could use ESC in the wargame to bring up the load/save screen (similarly as in the maingame). To reduce the size of the infoscreen is a bit harder, I need to think about it since at the moment don't know how to display all the info required, without using that space.

Maybe I can try out an alternative GUI that shows up on bottom of the screen, but have to think about it.

Cool about your past playing experience. I realized now that your suggestions were very valuable and that actually you're a veteran player after posting my previous message: I tried to start a new game and looked carefully the research flow (is hard to test everything myself, so this time put lot of effort in looking only at this specific thing) and indeed it needs some speedup, in particular in the early technologies.

Later technologies that can lead to big/powerful ships can take more turns, but the initial ones should be faster, even if you research the neutral/standard ships it is indeed faster.

Thanks for now, I'm off resuming my coding work 8)

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Post by slugthog » Fri May 16, 2008 7:12 pm

Things that might reduce the real estate cost of the info screen are font size, transparency and linking it to the info trigger (I).

Speed of play, ease of battle scaling and variable player strategies are all things directly influenced by objective based battles (capture the planets, destroy the mothership). Perhaps you could employ objective based or grind based (kill all the bad guys) battles depending upon the meeting to provide more variety for the player. i.e. "You have entered the Garblnartz system you must kill the mothership", "The Friznitz will not surrender until all their planets belong to you." "Destroy the Marfl fleet!"

...granpa sluggy who really doesn't want to make your task more difficult.

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jack1974
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Post by jack1974 » Fri May 16, 2008 7:40 pm

Ah good idea... could make it transparent or maybe even better slide in-out automatically if you move the mouse in or out of the edge of the screen... I'll do some experiments to see which option is best 8)

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Post by jack1974 » Sat May 17, 2008 4:46 pm

If you want, I've uploaded a BETA version (mac only) here:
http://www.didone.com/games/SpacewarTrial.zip

some testers are trying out the load/save in the wargame part. I've also added lots of your other suggestions, even if not all, will take some time to implement them all! I'm also writing the manual online (will convert to PDF later), but I'm still in the beginning.

Beta so far seems to work fine, nobody reported any trouble in load/saving while in the wargame part. Once they say it works fine I'll release it officially :) if anyone is interested in testing on pc as well, let me know and I'll upload the pc version too.

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Post by Jude » Sat May 17, 2008 5:39 pm

Celso,
Check my email about a bug in loading battle saved games.
Jude

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