Area Blindness: Sensors and Scanning Probes

GiraffasaurGiraffasaur Moderator, Space Cat Posts: 1,102
edited December 2016 in GAMEPLAY (ES1)
Hello Everspace Community and Rockfish Games!

It's Giraffasaur here with another in-depth look at some features the devs have been pouring their heart and soul into. This time, it's all about the latest 0.3 version with the Colonial Gunship, as well as addressing one of the most important mechanics in the game: Observation/Exploration. But first, let's cover a few little details.

Disclaimer: We're not talking all rainbows and unicorns here; I'm a huge fan of this game, but I'm in this development process because I want to see it's potential turn into reality. As such, this is a breakdown of what I strongly believe what's working, and what's not. If you agree OR disagree, please respond to this post: I'm open for discussion! So let's get started.

Revamped Perk System
If any of you have read my Critical Examination of the Perks and Playable Ships post, you'll know I've felt the Perks were the weakest element of Everspace in version 0.2. With the knowledge of upcoming glyphs (previously called runes) and the modifications in the v0.3 update, this is no longer the case. In short (so we can move to the main topic at hand), the unique Ship Perks shine in creating meaningful decisions for the player to make instead of static number value increases, and the selectable starships are more unique from one another than ever before. That said, the Scout is easily the most overpowered ship right now due to it's speed and sensor abilities alone. Let me tell you why.

This is the most important Component in the game.

Let's break it down really quick. When a component is damaged:
Primary Weapons - Reduced fire rate, increased energy consumption.
Shield Generator - Reduced recharge rate.
Engine - Reduced boost speed.
Secondary Weapons - Removes the ability to use secondary weapons.
Sensor - Removes target lock-on (and display for leading a target), removes radar, removes scanning, disrupts FoV.
Life Support System - Puts player on a somewhat short death timer.
Inertia Dampeners - Reduced "space friction," causing significant sliding.

ALL OF THESE DISADVANTAGES ARE REMOVED UPON FINDING THE APPROPRIATE RESOURCES. It is more than possible (albiet more difficult) to continue through the game with a majority of these damaged because they can be counteracted or worked around. Better energy management, clever use of asteroids for evasion, strategically picking the next jump, etc. Sensor damage is different, though. It's loss is catastrophic.

When your ability to FIND RESOURCES is removed because your entire radar is revoked and using a Scanning Probe does nothing to help, how can you find the resources you need to repair? The player is at the mercy of random chance in finding what they need. It's not putting the struggle for survival in the player's hands, but in the game's. This is not a good thing.

Resources and Loot Distinction
Something the game does well is distinguishing where certain types of resources can be found. Ice field? Might find gas. Large asteroid? Likely some crystal. Black hole? Dark matter. There's a few more, but you get the idea. Most of these instances reward the player simply for seeing them, and you don't need a Scanning Probe or your Sensors to know where to get them.

Another great element is finding "loot pinatas." Storage containers are simple examples of this, but they are difficult to find due to their small size. The player must interact with the loot (usually via shooting) to open up a random prize. A larger loot pinata was added in v0.3 and it is wonderful, because the loot is distinguished and findable without having working Sensors:

When this wrecked freighter is found, you're rewarded for your awareness.
This is a fantastic addition to the game.

With disabled Sensors, an experienced Everspacer can somewhat figure out where to get the resources they're looking for. HOWEVER, they're still at a huge disadvantage identifying enemy threats, engaging in any form of combat and distinguishing a handful of loot locations.

I don't believe anything in the game should blind the player like the current damaged Sensors do. The Sensors should not be RELIED upon, nor should the Scanning Probe. There have been some players who think the Scanning Probe should be done away with and have the area map revealed from the get-go since it is a "pointless device that is always crafted and used at every location." This mindset is due to it being a necessity, not an advantage. I don't think removing the consumable is the way to solve this little issue, but I've been thinking of some solutions.

Instead, when Sensors become damaged, they should reduce the effective range down to about 1.5k (similar to that of the space clouds hazard). The radar is not removed, but could possibly flicker slightly indicating the damage. Enemies in this range can still be locked on, and leading the target is still available to the player. The main drawback when Sensors are damaged: the player cannot see ANY details on the Sector Map, as though all the Sector Map Perks were removed. That's right; all those beautiful Perks you spent to locate that next Service Station? Poof. You can't see that without your Sensors.

Sure, a player can memorize the path they want to take...but wouldn't it be a huge inconvenience without those Sensors? A disadvantage rather than a run-ender?

When launched, the Scanning Probe takes up one available Drone slot and follows the player like a Combat or Shield Recharge Drone. It reveals a long range to the player (a bit less than what v0.3 offers when a Probe is used). If destroyed, that range is reset to the default and anything outside that range is removed from the player's radar. This modification's intent is to distinguish either a combative strategy (Combat Drone) or explorative (Scanning Probe) in the given area. It also provokes strategic thinking: you'll want to avoid/take great care in combat in fear of losing that Drone if it were to fall under attack.

This change makes the Scanning Probe less of a necessity (because of the inclusion of more distinguished resources) and more of a bonus if the player takes appropriate action (protecting the Probe).

Paired with the changes to the Sensors, the Scanning Probe can give a reprieve from the Ship's Sensors being damaged (like an Energy Injector to damaged Weapons, for example).

The greatest enemy in the current iteration of Everspace (v0.3) is blindness. If we can't see because of a single component being disabled, it can cost us the entire run. I propose some modifications be made so we can't be blinded in one unfortunate instance, but rather have our sight reduced to provide a disadvantage instead of a complete run shutdown.

Do you find damaged Sensors as destructive as I? Do you think Scanning Probes are fine? What do you think about the topics I've mentioned? Join me in this thread and let's have a discussion!

Thanks for your time.



  • NenacuNenacu Customer, Collector Beta Backer ES1 Posts: 69
    Hmm.. While I agree on some of your points, I'm not with you 100% on this one. Certainly, damaged sensors when you don't have the means on hand to repair them is almost certainly a run ender. Moreso than any other system damage really. It does indeed seem off balance to have all of the sensor functionality completely disrupted when the system is damaged. However, I have an addendum and a counter proposal to your idea.

    Instead of systems being damaged in a yes or no manner, would it not be possible to include degrees of damage and effects mapped to that? I'm not saying we go into anything nearly as fiddly as percentile damage and being able to aim at systems, but more something along the lines of varying stages of damage. Of course, the balance with this feature would be to make systems more likely to be damaged. In this way, for example, we take your suggestion for reducing the sensor range at the first point of damage done to the system. After that would come the damage to the long range portion of the sensors and afterwards would come the total shutdown that we have in place at the moment. I can see this being done to great effect with all of the systems as they currently are and it would both promote using resources to repair before things get too bad, and give more leeway to the player in how to proceed.

    As to the point of scanning probes, I rather enjoy them as they are. Using that consumable slot to have a complete scan of the area is very important. While I can see why some people might say that it's necessary and annoying, I see it as a balance feature. For the first five sectors, I almost always have a full compliment of scanning probes, materials providing. After that though, the need to scan becomes less and having that slot open for other things like a jump stabilizer or nano infusers is a better choice. Not being able to have the space for many things like that from the start of the run works more in favor of the game in my humble opinion.
  • GiraffasaurGiraffasaur Moderator, Space Cat Posts: 1,102
    edited December 2016
    @Nenacu , I absolutely love your suggestion of multiple tiers of damage, though the chances of taking component damage would have to be increased by a tremendous amount (if there were at least three tiers for each component, then it should go up at least 300%)...and that means the player is going to find a lot more wear and tear through the run (which isn't inherently a bad thing, until it starts getting tedious to manage). This might be PERFECT for the Gunship, since it's more prone to taking on component damage anyway. Maybe this should be unique to the Gunship itself?

    With the emphasis of the game being more about combat and exploration, I think the component management is starting to sound a bit too complicated. (But that doesn't change the fact I still like the idea.)

    Scanning Probes really need something done to them, though. I've found myself numb to the repetitive usage of these consumables, finding it more of a required resource expense rather than an viable tool to gain an advantage. I truthfully do not think this should be the player interaction with the consumable, but I also don't think they should be removed from the game.

    That said, I'm struggling to come up with an enjoyable, meaningful way to use them without making it repetitive. Either way, I don't think Scanning Probes are problematic to the current game, just a little more annoying than I think they should be. Maybe this will fade if more distinguishable resources/loot locations are added to the game.

    I think we can both agree that Scanners are the real issue at hand.
  • ROCKFISH_HCKROCKFISH_HCK Moderator Posts: 573
    edited December 2016
    @Giraffasaur Thanks for your detailed and well written post (as always). You address two things that we still have on our list of things to change: Scanning Probes and Sensor damage.

    For the scanning probes I had the exact same idea: Make them scanning drones that increase your sensor range while they follow you. We also see that using scanning probes becomes some sort of automatism but we don't wan't to completely remove them. Maybe scanning probes AND scanning drones both have a right to exist. We will discuss this further with the team.

    Sensor damage: Same thought here: If your sensor is damaged it is very hard to find the resources you need to repair it. Also, entering a fight without sensors intact will most likely kill you. We will discuss this further. A greatly reduced sensor range would be an option. And the missing information on the star map when your sensors are damaged sounds interesting, too.

    @Nenacu Degrees of damage sounds good but I don't think we want that in our game because it would be a bit too much depth. Right now, after some time you know what each component does when it is damaged and what key ingredient you need for repairing it. Maybe in a more simulation-like game...
  • GiraffasaurGiraffasaur Moderator, Space Cat Posts: 1,102
    edited December 2016
    Your post has hatched an idea @ROCKFISH_HCK . If Scanning Drones existed outside the realm of Scanning Probes, then I think they'd need to provide some kind of feature the Scanning Probes otherwise wouldn't.

    While Scanning Probes provide Sensor range, maybe Scanning Drones could reveal the quantity and type of resource available from the resource point/storage container?

    Example: using a Scanning Probe would reveal two crystal nodes inside of a distant large asteroid, next to a small loot container. If the player flew towards it and popped a Scanning Drone, it would immediately tell them that each crystal would only provide 2 and the loot container is empty, making them realize their time could be better spent exploring the opposite end of the area.

    The Scanning Drone could also reveal the loot drop of an enemy, too. This might incentivize a player to take the risk of fighting the G&B Elite because they know has an Access Key, or the Okkar Corvette Mk II loaded with 10 nanobots they need really bad. Not to mention, the Scanning Drone could possibly pinpoint those pesky Outlaw Snipers by decloaking them.
  • NenacuNenacu Customer, Collector Beta Backer ES1 Posts: 69
    @ROCKFISH_HCK I can understand your point of view there. I've said a number of times that this game shouldn't tread further into simulation territory more than it absolutely needs to. I was merely basing my thought process off of games like FTL where system damage is incremental. Not all suggestions are winners after all! :)

    @Giraffasaur See, with that you've swung me over to advocating for both scanning probes and drones. If I had that functionality in Gunship runs, I certainly would be able to plan out my route through an area much more efficiently and definitely would not mind the loss use of a drone spot for it.
  • ben1000bhpben1000bhp Member Posts: 7
    I like the idea of scanning drones aswell as scanning probes. One thing I would like to add, is maybe instead of scanning probes telling you where enemy's are once you have scanned the area it instead show the place they WERE (maybe is a red-ish grey colour) when you scanned and increases the range your sensors could lock for the next minute or so? Also, another idea to make it so scanning probes only tell you it's a "container" and the scanning drone will tell you it's a "tech", "normal" or "resource" (Hint hint, nudge nudge) and once you get slightly closer, what is in said containers.
  • GiraffasaurGiraffasaur Moderator, Space Cat Posts: 1,102
    edited December 2016
    From the discussion in this thread, @Firun speaks of the scarcity of the gas resource during an entire run. This has hatched an idea.

    There are some individuals (myself included) who would LOVE to acquire more information on the Sector Map, even if it were temporarily so. If Scanning Drones were to the immediate area, then Scanning Probes could be towards the Sector Map. With this kind of use, the Scanning Probe could reveal specific types of environmental hazards or reveal what kind of resource points will generate in the next possible areas.

    This would help players who are looking for a particular resource be able to direct them after probing the sector (which makes a lot of sense both gameplay-wise and lore-wise), as well as giving them feedback as to the possible hazards they could face along the way.

    This could also identify significant G&B, Outlaw or Okkar presence, helping a player decide if they want to risk G&B reporting the attack or not, or risk meeting an Okkar Frigate.

  • ROCKFISH_AndiROCKFISH_Andi Administrator Posts: 1,179
    We'll probably be adding more information regarding resources and/or asteroid type to the map. But it's not really decided, yet, and also not how exactly it would work (consumable, perk, glyph, etc.)
  • FirunFirun Member Posts: 13
    edited December 2016
    I like this idea. Actually, I feel that the scanner perk is currently not very useful. For the most part the traders and service stations have nothing I want; however, showing hazards is something I really like. Repairs and fuel are usually a nonissue, and the selection (even with upgrades) is just too small and hit and miss. Therefore, I'm all for more useful scanner information.
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