Losing the game should happen faster

General discussion about the game.
Derakon
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:05 am

Losing the game should happen faster

Postby Derakon » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:10 pm

I've played FTL for about 10-15 hours now, and of course I quickly noticed that it's a very random game. The game can choose to punish you at will (e.g. the Engi/Mantis event, or warping to a solar flare zone) or reward you (random weapons floating around in space) and is generally hugely capricious. While every event is, generally speaking, survivable, many of them are not winnable in the sense that you're better off after having completed them. You often accumulate more damage than the payoff from the event can repair, you can lose crew, and of course you're out the fuel/missiles/drones you used. These setbacks then make future events more challenging, too. And that's fine and all, except for two things:

1) You have to gain enough power to be able to defeat the boss at sector 8.
2) There's a time limit.

When you combine these two things with the game's occasional decision to just randomly punish you, you can end up with a situation in which you get knocked so down far that you can't possibly recover enough to be able to defeat the boss. For example, if you take heavy damage early on, then you have to keep spending your scrap on repairs instead of on upgrading your systems, which means you take even more damage -- it's a vicious cycle. There's no option to go hide, lick your wounds, and try to claw your way back from the pit you've been buried in -- get knocked too far back and you have effectively lost, even if your ship hasn't been blown up yet.

Then there's the secondary issue of build screw. Each ship starts out with certain offensive capabilities. If you don't find more offense somewhere in the reasonably early game (by end of sector 4 at least) then you're not going to be able to survive later fights. Many's the time I simply haven't gotten any additional weapons, nor a teleporter, and found myself with e.g. a Kestrel A (Artemis / Burst Laser 2) trying to take down a ship with level-3 shields and a 40+% dodge rate. One of those fights might be winnable at the cost of your entire missile stock; an entire sector of them is not.

I'm a big proponent for ending games as soon as they become unwinnable. If I play a game for three hours and at the end discover that I had effectively lost 90 minutes in, then I'm going to be annoyed. That in mind, some thoughts on how this problem could be mediated:

* Have a boss fight at the end of each sector -- a Rebel ship guarding the waypoint that you have to defeat to pass. These would be tougher than the usual fights for the current sector. If you fall too far behind the power curve, then you'll lose as soon as you run into one of these guys. However, the payout for defeating them would also be larger, and possibly allow the player to choose what category of reward they get (e.g. the ship is collapsing, but you have time enough to empty out the cargo hold, cut out a weapon, or download the ship's data and schematics). Of course these rewards should scale with the sector, so you probably wouldn't get a guaranteed chance at a new weapon for finishing sector 1.

* Scale what is sold at shops. Having the first shop in the game sell a Glaive Beam and Burst Laser 3 is just irritating. Expensive weapons and augments should usually show up later in the game, when the player has had a chance to upgrade their systems to use them. And shops should also adjust what they have on sale based on what the player has (had the option to) purchase. If you haven't seen a weapon shop yet and it's sector 4, then the next shop should sell weapons, because if you wait any longer you simply won't be able to kill anything.


On a totally unrelated note, when you get extra map data from an event, that should include marking all the jump paths on the map.
Kestral B
Posts: 48
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 2:42 pm

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby Kestral B » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:23 pm

TL;DR. (no offense, maybe I will later)

Anyway, IMO FTL is like solitaire in that not every game is winnable, and that's just fine.
Of course, if you use savescumming every game is definitely winnable. But a perfect player is not enough to guarantee victory - it requires an omniscient, perfect player. :)

Edit: Ok, read your post. Since the game is scored, there actually is (potentially) a reason to keep going even when all hope is already lost. Also, winning might not be the goal of the player in every mission. Maybe you're trying to unlock a ship or get the pacifist or "tough little ship" achievement. That goal might still be possible even if winning the game no longer is.

I am in favor of perhaps adding a few less-random shops to the game...having the Federation Base in sector 8 always have a weapons store, for instance, doesn't seem at all unreasonable! :) Honestly, it's a freaking MILITARY BASE, how can they not have a few weapons and drones to buy?? =P
Last edited by Kestral B on Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Apollysis
Posts: 4
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 3:24 am

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby Apollysis » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:29 pm

I like the suggestions. I in particular though that there SHOULD be a boss at the end of each sector. Not just for the above reason but to add more variety to the challenges you have to overcome.
Derakon
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:05 am

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby Derakon » Wed Sep 19, 2012 5:36 pm

Kestral B wrote:Anyway, IMO FTL is like solitaire in that not every game is winnable, and that's just fine.
Of course, if you use savescumming every game is definitely winnable. But a perfect player is not enough to guarantee victory - it requires an omniscient, perfect player. :)

I think you mean that FTL is like Klondike in that not every game is winnable. ;) There are plenty of interesting but always-theoretically-winnable solitaire games out there.

Anyway, it's not so much that a given game is unwinnable that bugs me; more traditional roguelikes can have that too when e.g. the game decides to spawn a gnome with a Wand of Death. It's that I can get crippled by an event, stagger along for another hour or so, and only then run into something that I cannot possibly handle because that earlier event set me so far back I was unable to survive. If you're going to kill me, kill me quickly.
Derakon
Posts: 111
Joined: Wed Sep 19, 2012 4:05 am

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby Derakon » Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:41 am

I'm going to bump this, just once, since it rapidly got buried under a sea of other posts and I think it's pretty different from most of the other discussion here. For people who saw the wall of text in the first post and went TL;DR, let me summarize:

* When you get knocked too far down, the game becomes unwinnable -- you will be unable to achieve enough power to beat the boss.
* However, you don't actually die until well after the getting-knocked-down part.
* Ideally, you should be killed as soon as possible after the game becomes unwinnable.

I suggested adding a miniboss at the end of each sector to accomplish this -- if you get knocked down far enough that you can't beat the miniboss, then you're unlikely to be able to recover enough to beat the final boss either.

I then went on to suggest a couple of ways that "build screw" (being unable to find important upgrades) could be mitigated. The first would be to let the miniboss give you a choice of rewards; the second would be to adjust what items the shops sell based on what the player has managed to find so far.
HumbleSloth
Posts: 13
Joined: Fri Sep 07, 2012 6:33 pm

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby HumbleSloth » Thu Sep 20, 2012 11:54 am

The miniboss sounds like a pretty good idea. I would say maybe you can test yourself by letting the rebel fleet catch you at the jump point, but that probably wouldn't be wise since the reward is just 1 fuel.
SeemannTheAssamite
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:32 pm

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby SeemannTheAssamite » Thu Sep 20, 2012 12:42 pm

Derakon wrote:* When you get knocked too far down, the game becomes unwinnable -- you will be unable to achieve enough power to beat the boss.


True - ran into such situations more than once. But that's one of the things I love about the game. It does not "make sure" the player has everything and then some needed to defeat the boss.
First time I went into the fight I died after his 2 volleys (after 10th or 11th run, too. I'm bad, I know. :P). My reaction: *blinks*... *grins*... *rofls*... *squees about this game to everyone who'd listen*. Literally. Squeed.

Derakon wrote: * However, you don't actually die until well after the getting-knocked-down part.


After a while, you can see for yourself if you are able to succeed. Believe me, I'm speaking from experience.

But... I tend to play to the end anyway. I'm out to save The Federation, right? Or die trying! And who knows? There is always a possibility that you'll get what you need even in the last sector, either via a store or by defeating a "normal" ship there.
The "let's see if there is a shop after that jump... or the next, or next..." aspect is one of the things that make it so fun.

Derakon wrote: * Ideally, you should be killed as soon as possible after the game becomes unwinnable.


No, no, no, and please no!
First of all, why? There is never a clear situation where "game becomes unwinnable", except ones when you actually die. You can always try to escape an unbeatable (for you at that moment) ship and try to find some positive encounters and/or shop
An example from my Stealth Cruiser A game: Got to sector 5 with no weapon upgrades. Had to run from a 3 shield auto ship. As I jumped away I got into an event that gave me a burst laser mk III. (I went back and, out of sheer spite, destroyed that damn thing. :P)
Second, You usually are killed the very moment the game becomes unwinnable. By meeting something that you can't kill and/or run from.

Derakon wrote:I suggested adding a miniboss at the end of each sector to accomplish this -- if you get knocked down far enough that you can't beat the miniboss, then you're unlikely to be able to recover enough to beat the final boss either.


I've mixed feelings about this one.
On one hand - HELL YEAH! Give me moar challenge!
On the other - Look above. "Unlikely" is not "certain". I'd hate it for the game to arbitrarily decide that I'm going to fail.

Derakon wrote: I then went on to suggest a couple of ways that "build screw" (being unable to find important upgrades) could be mitigated. The first would be to let the miniboss give you a choice of rewards; the second would be to adjust what items the shops sell based on what the player has managed to find so far.


Taking the random out of a rogue-like? Bad idea. Let's face it - In this game, you are not supposed to be able to win every time. I'd go as far as to say you're not supposed to succeed more than a third of your attempts at most. There are all too many games that do everything to "let" you win that I really hope *this* one won't turn into one.

EDIT: Typos and...Zomg - now that is a TL;DR post if I ever made one... ^,.,^
If you say 'pls' because it's shorter than 'please', then I say 'no' because it's shorter than 'yes'.
^,.,^
PirateCat
Posts: 30
Joined: Mon Sep 17, 2012 6:45 am

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby PirateCat » Thu Sep 20, 2012 3:24 pm

SeemannTheAssamite wrote:
Derakon wrote:I suggested adding a miniboss at the end of each sector to accomplish this -- if you get knocked down far enough that you can't beat the miniboss, then you're unlikely to be able to recover enough to beat the final boss either.


I've mixed feelings about this one.
On one hand - HELL YEAH! Give me moar challenge!
On the other - Look above. "Unlikely" is not "certain". I'd hate it for the game to arbitrarily decide that I'm going to fail.


The game giving you a challenge that you can't surpass, and doing every time you play not just when you're weak, isn't really arbitrarily deciding anything. Its you simply failing and not too different from failing to a ship that spawned that is too strong for you to take out. Personally I really like the stage boss idea, even if they're only found in red sectors, or make them rare random encounters might work, too. Rare enough not to be in every sector, but common enough you should face one or two before the end of the game.
SeemannTheAssamite
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:32 pm

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby SeemannTheAssamite » Thu Sep 20, 2012 7:57 pm

Actually - it seems I've put that point in the wrong place. What I meant was that this:
Derakon wrote:* Ideally, you should be killed as soon as possible after the game becomes unwinnable.

is untrue in the sense of that unless you actually loose the fight and your ship and/or crew is obliterated there is always a chance, no matter how miniscule that you can still win. Like I said -
SeemannTheAssamite wrote:There is always a possibility that you'll get what you need even in the last sector, either via a store or by defeating a "normal" ship there.
:P
If you say 'pls' because it's shorter than 'please', then I say 'no' because it's shorter than 'yes'.
^,.,^
Patchumz
Posts: 7
Joined: Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:31 am
Location: Wonderland

Re: Losing the game should happen faster

Postby Patchumz » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:32 pm

If you feel like you're in an unwinnable downward spiral... that's when you press Esc and click "Restart". No need for the game to artificially choose your point of no return.
El Psy Congroo.

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