Hello all, its been a while since I posted here, but now that the alpha is out I’d like to give some feedback. I’ve only played for about an hour or two, but its clear the game has some major fundamental flaws so far. I realize this is a process but I feel like if I don’t say anything then the devs will not know what to fix. Sometimes its hard to see problems when you are on the inside and know everything. So without further ado I’d like to give my hopefully fresh perspective as a completely new player to battlescape today. Bare with me because although my playtime was short, I have a lot of feedback to give… Hopefully this comes across as all constructive and not just “game sux tbqh fam”, but I am kind of a dick most of the times so you be the judge!
Firstly, I want to start out with some good things that Battlescape does so far, so you understand that my intention is not to just shit all over the game:
- The biggest most notable thing that Battlescape absolutely nails is the feel of the different types of ships. Fighters feel nimble and fast, yet fragile. Big capital ships feel slow, cumbersome, yet powerful. When you are in a destroyer you feel like you can take on the world. When you are in an interceptor, you need to play quite skittish unless you like dying a lot. (Spoiler alert… I died. A lot. Like a lot, a lot.)
- The planets, graphics, and installations are beautiful. You definitely get the feeling when you take off from the hangar of a station that you are important going out on a mission. It feels urgent and great to blast out of the cramped hangar into the vastness of space and look down and see this massive planet that you can fly to. The freedom and vastness is epic.
- The controls are easily explained and flying is intuitive and easy to pick up, yet incredibly hard to master. More on this later.
- For the most part, the UI is easily understood and its pretty obvious what all the bars and numbers mean when you look at them. Speed is clearly displayed, shield and health are easily read as the bars on the left go down (or up too in the case of shields). It does have its bad sides though.
Now onto the bad (and theres a lot… Like A LOT):
USER INTERFACE, VISUALS, AND AUDIO
Firstly, although the weapons loadouts were clearly displayed in the top left, and I could tell that my target had lead indicators… I had NO IDEA which weapons corresponded with which lead indicator! The reticules are color coded to white and yellow. What these colors mean are not told to the player at ANY time, and the weapons in the top left are not color coded to match. I suggest as a solution to this problem to color code each weapon type to its individual lead indicator.
Reticule colors sometimes disappeared in certain lighting conditions. For example, my target flew into an area with direct sunlight and a light background and my white and yellow lead indicators completely DISAPPEARED! I had no idea where to shoot! All reticules should be HIGH CONTRAST colors.
The “hit” indicator is extremely weak. The only clue you have is a very low volume audio indicator, however in the heat of battle this gets lots easily with the sound of your guns. The audio indicator should stay, but there is a desperate need for a visual indicator as well such as the diagonal “x” that games like Call of Duty and Battlefield use.
The “tracer” on a shot is not even close to being visible enough. As it is now, an enemy combatant might be 5km away, but when I fire a shot at their lead indicator I cannot tell even in the slightest whether my shot hit, was a narrow miss, or went completely wide. I need to be able to SEE where my shots went, and how to correct them. Right now I feel like im spray-and-praying at the lead indicator, and I dont even know if I hit them or not. I realize this would get really confusing if everyones shots were super bright, so what I suggest instead is to exaggerate the shot brightness only of the shots the player fires. So for example, if I shoot it should be SUPER bright to me, but normal brightness to everyone else.
The user interface DESPERATELY needs a 3D velocity indicator to tell the pilot which direction they are travelling in realtion to the direction they are looking. Right now the current indicator is simply speed only with no indication to what direction this speed is going in. Granted, with a bit of wiggling its pretty easy to figure out, but players need more information than this otherwise during combat its very easy to get turned around doing advanced manuevers like shooting behind you, or strafing horizontally or vertically across a target. The only real way to avoid this mistake is to fly your ship like a fighter jet, which is obviously a grossly inefficient way to fly.
The game NEEDS a 3D map display, that the user can pull up with a button, for example [M]. Right now it is very cumbersome and nearing on impossible to look spawn, look around the battlefield, and know where your friends, squad, and enemies are. I need to be able to see where I am, where my objective is, where my enemies are, and where my squad is. Otherwise battle can never truly be organized. After all, how am I supposed to fly with my friends if I cant find them?
A voiced fleet commander should pop up on entering the game explaining the current mission objective, and each time the mission objective changes he should pop up again. I imagine this to be a portrait that pops up in the top right of the screen, sliding in from the right, and then changing from static to the commanders portrait. Then a gruff anime admiral yells your orders at you and degrades you by calling you a worthless grunt or a maggot. (This is my fetish, please no bully). Seriously though, there needs to be something besides just some text in the bottom right. Its totally silly and theres basically no feedback when this objective changes. In the hour or two i played the objective changed like 3 or 4 times and I have no idea when or why they changed.
Below is a shitty MS Paint representation of how I think the UI should be changed. Also implements some changes from below in this text.
CONTROLS, AND CONTROL IMPLEMENTATION
The zoom currently is a hold-to-zoom and slowly zooms the player in. This is BAD! The zoom should function as a toggle between various zoom levels, and the current zoom is far too low and slow to be useful. Players should have, say, 3 zoom levels. Normal, zoom 1, and zoom 2. Pressing the Zoom key (Z by default) should cycle between the different levels of zoom. Holding is too cumbersome and makes controlling the ship and zooming too hard. At least let us choose which method we prefer, but I have a feeling most people would prefer a quick toggle button.
The free look function is totally useless in anything other than a capital ship at the moment. When you are flying at 2 km/s in an interceptor guns blazing, and you need to quickly track a target above you, or in your side mirrors, then you want to look back forwards… you can’t. Letting go of the left control button currently just leaves your camera all wonky and out of position with NO way to reset it except to switch between 3PV and 1PV. I suggest making the default operation for free look to snap back to original position when letting go of the left-ctrl button. I would also let players choose how they want free look to function by default. Perhaps it could also be a toggle, Press once to enter free look mode, press again to exit and reset camera. Either way, the current implementation sucks.
GAME MECHANICS AND PLAYER INTERACTION
Alright, on this section… Most annoying stuff first. Personally, these first two things practically break the game for me. They are that bad. If they are left in the game I will legitimately never play it again, and this isnt exaggeration. Its so horrible that I pretty much have no desire to enter the game again at the moment.
Warp should NEVER automatically engage! NEVER EVER EVER! Player control should NEVER be overridden by the game! NEVER! Just limit the “Real space” velocity max and prompt the user with a warning message like instead of saying “Auto Warp Engaging” it should say “Warp Speed Threshold Reached. Press [J] to engage.” I also think it would be fantastic if all warning messages like this were voiced by an A.I. Similar to the commander, her portrait would pop out of the top right of the screen and she would proclaim whatever is going on. “Shields lost. Critical damage taken. Warp is now available.” shit like that. Right now, you practically have to spam J to keep control of your ship…
The meteorite damage is totally retarded. I was flying an interceptor for my first like 45 minutes of play time, and I died instantaneously with barely any warning and barely any explanation because I was going too fast… In the middle of nowhere… With no debris around me at all. Just trying to fly between planets. Firstly, I think even if its realistic that micro particles could rip a ship to shreds, its not FUN. And this is a game, it should be FUN. It is NOT FUN to die instantaneously just trying to fly from point A to point B with no hostiles in sight and no objects around for hundreds of Kkm’s. I think that this kind of damage should be limited to low orbit situations and near planets that have rings. Also the debris should be visible and a real object, not some invisible nebulous speed threshold.
Alright now to some fundamentals…
There are far too many AI ships. So many in fact that I can barely tell where the actual enemy players are. I might as well be fighting NPC fleets exclusively. I personally think that the only AI in the game should be limited to installation defenses, and never to ships. I think there should be player ship combat only. At the very least they should be limited to defense only.
Following on that, I think that when you enter the game for the first time during a session, the user should be prompted to join or create a squadron. Likewise, players in the game should have the option to at any time join or create a squadron. This is supposed to be a team game, so players should have mechanics that allow them to organize into groups. Also, there should be visual indicators on your screen that show you where your squad mates are. For example, if a squad mate is off screen to your left, there should be an arrow point that direction at the edge of your screen showing their direction and distance. Squad mate target indicators and arrows should also be a different color than the normal green.
The following two are subjective, but I think that they form the basis for what will make Battlescape special: large, newtonian, fleet battles.
- Faction money should be paid out ala planetside. Each faction has a pool of resources, in the current case it is $Dollars. The name doesnt matter, it could be Schrute Bucks for all I care. In any case, each tick of say “X” minutes the faction should gain resources based on the amount and TYPE of installations held by that faction. Some installations should generate a lot of resources, and some installations should generate no resources. This will be in addition to a base resource gain per tick, such that no faction ever has 0 income. See below for example formula.
I invision three types of installations: Commercial, Martial, and Logistical. Commercial will generate the most resources and have the least installation defenses. Martial will generate no resources and have the most installation defenses. They will also function as the only installation spawn points, with the other way to spawn being a carrier. Logistical installations will generate a medium amount of resources, have a medium amount of installation defenses, and will be the sole installations where players can repair and re-arm. Logistical installations will function as warp-lanes between planets and re-arm and repair installations. At each tick, all resources will be added to the factions resource pool and divided between all online faction users and installations. (installations will use these funds to automatically repair themselves over time).
Resource per tick = Base Income + (#ofInstallationTypeA * X)+
(#ofInstallationTypeB * Y)+ (#ofInstallationTypeC * Z)
- Each objective needs a REASON for us to fight over. Why is Zephyr more important than any other installation? Furthmore, fighting should be concentrated on certain theaters of war in a type of pseudo-lattice system. Each planet will be connected by a “lane”. This lane will have end points that are of the logistical installation type. I view them as sort of warp gates. In reality, the current warp system should remain, but the “warp gates” should have the ability to instantaneously accelerate the player to maximum warp speed in the direction they are travelling when they pass through the gate. It should of course still be possible to warp normally as the player wishes. I view each planetary system as having 1 logistical installation per inter-planetary connection the developers wish that planet to have. For example, if Cinder is connected to 3 planets/moons, it would have 3 logistical installations. Following these logistical installations would be a ring of martial defense installations, creating the defensive fall back position from the logistical installations. Finally, either in low orbit or on the planet itself should be the commercial installations. These could be cities, mining installations, etc. Either way, they are generally civillian in nature but major money makers. But basically you should have to peel away at the defenses of a planet in order to get to the next. I dont think you should particularly have to go in any particular order EXCEPT when moving the theater of war between planets/moons. In this case, I think you should always have to fight for the logistical installation corresponding to your attack point first. If this system, or a system LIKE this one isnt implemented then fighting in Battlescape will come down to this: send a small strike force to attack an undefended installation, take it, then leave and go to the next undefended installation. If you get killed, respawn and go to the next undefended random installation. Sun Tzu, attack your enemy where he is not. I think this is BAD, because I think Battlescape should focus on big, cinematic, newtonian fleet battles between lots of players. Not random 3 man conflicts spread out over a vast solar system. Of course you should still be able to have small battles, but I think the major focus should be on big organized fleet battles between factions over important strategic positions. Below is a really shitty MS Paint Diagram of what I think a lane system should be like.
So thats basically it for now. Theres a lot more stuff that could be said, but since those arent within the scope of the alpha, I dont want to include those yet. I hope you all found my feedback useful or at least not too retarded.
Thanks for reading my massive wall of text, and I look forward to hearing your responses, critiques, and suggestions.