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Feedback on current systems

Let me get off the sideline and hop on the soap box real quick (does Gen Z even know what this means??). I, like many people, recognize the potential for Starmourn and want the game to succeed. On Discord or elsewhere, I generally see a lot of community comments asking for "more content", or wanting classleads, or pitching Spacedudebob's idea for a new feature. I believe that all of these things are important and valid, but for a game that is still in beta with limited development resources, I would really recommend identifying the broad-reaching problems that have smaller, manageable fixes. This should be of equal or even more importance to adding new large features/systems, which can be longer-term projects. I just feel like there are many systems already within Starmourn that go underutilized if not for very minor, repairable issues, or there are small things that could be implemented to better enable existing activities. 

To that end, I'm consolidating my thoughts on, most generally, relatively simple changes, and particularly those which impact community systems (i.e., not just one skill class or interest group). I believe these are either widely agreed upon, have been previously promised to be implemented, or some combination thereof. Of course I acknowledge that this is through my own biased lens, so I'd encourage folks to consider adding other considerations to this thread for things you may care about, like if there's some barrier to item-designing/crafting. I also hope that all of this is taken in a constructive context, not as any particular criticism, since I think we all recognize the challenges in building this game up. 

1. Increase the demand to participate in the economy system by introducing additional commodity/supply sinks and better incentivizing ship-based activities. Currently you can predominantly craft ship supplies and put them on the market, and really just hope that someone is grinding Captaincy or cosmpiercers so you can turn a profit. I'd really like to see expanded uses for the commodities. Mining/manufacturing is a huge Starmourn system that has great potential, but is sadly neglected because there is no great driving motivation to participate. The other barriers to economy participation have been debated, but I think there have been a lot of positive changes implemented. Fundamentally I just don't think we can correctly assess the issues without taking the first step to incentivize participation.

2. Balance the cosmpiercer/cache systems - not a total rework, but small fixes to things like power costs and capture duration - so as to increase ship activity and encourage viable conflict. I think there are a slew of reasons why conflict is stifled right now that deserves its own thread, but as cynical as this is, I don't want to unpack the problems/solutions without some acknowledgement that the devs are willing to address this. Again, I think that we can get to a better place with small, not sweeping changes, but it becomes discouraging when it feels like shouting into a vacuum. For example, please, please address the issue of ship supply loss in space combat - i.e., dropping tens of thousands of marks worth of batteries that get stolen when you blow up. I'm pretty sure people have outright quit the game over this one, and it's been kicked down the road a long time.

3. This one might be abstract, but factions just feel very hollow due to shallow faction mechanics. I think the Starmourn lore and universe has such great potential, but when it comes to enabling players to impact the game, this is where I really lose a sense of purpose and a motivation to log in. We should aspire to enable the playerbase to engage with one another, either in conflict, in collaboration, or in creativity. I really believe that faction or even dynasty mechanics need to be the dev priority, so that we have a reason to care about claiming cosmpiercers, amassing riches, flexing cultural supremacy, waging war, or whatever other myriad themes that players pursue in their gameplay. As it stands, I really don't feel inspired to achieve anything, because I don't see a tangible path in working towards something. Roleplay only gets you so far, and I think a lot of people just crave some mechanics to facilitate ways that we can operate within the world and its player organizations. So, simpler solutions could be intertwined with some of the other issues I listed here - economic incentives, conflict, etc. - which can be supported by factions, and hopefully future implementations like colonization would contribute further. I'd also love things like quest arcs to support faction conflict and roleplay, but that's certainly not a quick fix.

4. Address the issue of insufficient end-game bashing availability - i.e., not enough level 75 areas to sustain even this very small playerbase. Current availability only accommodates 3 active bashers at a time: one each in Ixsei, Usum, and Prugita, by my experience. This is not an exaggeration. Other areas have low spawn rates and/or unsustainable or unfun mechanics. There is an unbelievably easy fix in increasing spawn rates; or, not easy, but building new areas could be a fun project for intrepid Storytellers. But I would also suggest looking at the DPS creep that was introduced by the talents system, particularly with critical hits and virtually no down-time from healing, which means that we may just be bashing too quickly/easily right now.

5. Similar and probably can be combined with the above: create a sustainable group-bashing activity. Xenoslayers/boss fighting was a great idea, but SM would further benefit from viable, more traditional group bashing - i.e., grab your buddies and some lowbies, and knock the doors down. There are so many possible solutions to this, and part of it is probably linked to the above - i.e., there's just no bashing area that sustains more than one person within it at a time before you stand around waiting for respawns. But for more ambitious or fun solutions, I would suggest taking a look at the wilderness mechanic, as it has the most potential and is one of the least utilized (poor rewards, no motivation, but a whole lot of mechanics already developed for it). Wilderness needs some love. 

6. Create a group ship activity. Conceivably CPs would fill this niche in part if it was a viable mechanic, but there will always be a barrier to participate for people who don't like conflict. Here I'm thinking more of a ship-based PVE activity, like a super incursion that spawns many more baddies than one person can handle. I think a rare, high-risk high-reward incursion could be cool, and virtually all the mechanics already exist to support something like this. 

7. Consider ways to more regularly implement special events like "double xp" or bashing competitions (great hunts, weekly competitions, double xp days, something). This will help inject some excitement versus just another day in SM, and I'm guessing this is literally just a switch you flip on.  

8. We talked about this in one of the monthly discussions, but please provide a counter to bounties - e.g., allowing bounties to be transferred - as well as removing the bounty if the bounty hunter is beaten. Tangentially, I'd also love to pitch ideas for new hacking objectives, many of which wouldn't take many resources to implement, to further explore hacking conflict avenues.

9. It must be stupidly annoying that I keep asking for this, but please create a means for players to initiate arena events. Again, I think the best solution is like the Lusternia system: say, 5 people online have to join the queue, and then the event auto-initiates. I imagine they'd be willing to share their code for this, even. The entire PK scene wants this. 

10. I waffled on including this, but please just take a look at fixing poker. I think this is the only leisurely game we have, and it's so close to being viable. It probably just needs an hour of love to squash the bugs from when it got imported.

If the devs would like to explore any of the issues above or suggestions on solutions, I'd be happy to provide further thoughts. A lot of these probably deserve their own thread, but I don't want to chase something that the community doesn't care about or that the devs won't support. Maybe we can figure out some brainstorming priorities, like "This month we want to work on X - give us thoughts and ideas." And again, I don't want to detract from any accomplishments or hard work that folks are putting into the game - we appreciate it! - but rather just wanted to offer my feedback and hopefully give some focus to a path forward. In any case, thanks for the consideration.


  • I'm surprised to say that I agree with all 10 of those points, including that faction (and even dynasty) mechanical support should be high priority. There's some low hanging fruit to be had that would help a lot. Not all 10 of those points raised by Azlyn are the lowest hanging out there, but many of them seem reasonably doable relatively quickly. Of course, I'm speculating -- I am merely Steve. Anyway, to add to Azlyn's comments:

    More areas would really help existing players stick with the game while the staff takes the time it needs for expanding the game. I think I'd look at expanding levels 1-30 and level 75 possibilities for leveling and bashing, respectively. Shoot, I'd get excited, as a player, to offer some writing to help with creating new zones or expanding existing ones. Maybe a contest? I don't know whether that's feasible, but it's asking a lot of a busy team.

    To elaborate on factional/dynastic mechanics to add, one approach to these changes that would help Song (and presumably SH and CA, too) would be to allow factions to more directly interact with a lot of game systems rather than having to rely on players to serve as proxies for the factions. Examples: allow the factions to have their own trade terminal shops, actually manage taxes on foreign refineries and autofactories, add similar controls to factional trade terminals, issue market orders and offers, and be able to exclude other factions from things like trade terminal shops and market orders/offers.

    For the record here (I've stated this plenty of times elsewhere), I'd add that the ship system should really get a balance pass -- there's cannon 1, massive cannon 1, massive cannon 3, and skipdrive (and weapon damage shipmod, to a lesser extent). That, to me, appears to be low-hanging fruit for improving the game. Similarly, porting the harvest drone code over to a ship mod and lowering the captaincy ability for it to pretty low seems like a great accessibility move and similarly relatively low hanging fruit.

    Also, classleads. Not much of that is low hanging fruit, but some of it is.
  • I was reminded that afflictions are extremely important to SM's combat working and they are very out of whack. I think that, while not necessarily low-hanging fruit, a thorough rebalance -- with class mechanics in mind -- is highly important to pvp and player retention.
  • On the topic of wilderness, the lack of map is incredibly jarring compared to any other part of the game. I don't feel comfortable going to one because it's so easy for me to get lost. I know it's a consequence of its randomized layout, but possibly consider having those work like caches do, where there is a consistent layout that enables the game to show you a map. 

    A simple change like that would suddenly add so many more viable bashing areas for a lot of people. 
  • If poker gets fixed I will start logging in daily again. Not sure if this is an incentive or a deterrent, though.
  • This is a fantastic post, and I agree wholeheartedly with all of it. This will fall slightly in the same vein as point 3.

    Factions need a way to make money without purely slinging credits. There should be no reason why Factions don't have their own physical shops that they could sell to players. Even if it is only one or two.

    Secondly, factions should be able to put commodities for sale or offer to buy them mechanically via orders. Instead of me selling or buying as an individual, I think factions being able to sell to their members would be a better option, especially considering how much a faction can hold and it being so accessible to those within said faction. Just those two things would go very far in giving people somewhere to consistently buy or sell to without having to wait and hope to catch someone online who can. 

    And Finally, factions themselves should be able to put bounties on players. I feel like a crapper if I put a bounty on a player, since it is not personal. I don't mind if they know it is me, however they should know it was done on behalf of the faction and not a personal altercation. It's an important distinction.

    Great post, we need more like this, please.
    Character: Vega
    Faction: Song Dominion
    Class: Engineer 

    note: I am always up for RP, antagonistic or friendly. If she's being a bitch, it's because you're from Scatterhome or she's trying to meet a deadline and has nothing to do with whether I want to RP with you or not. Thanks in advance for the RP!

  • Thanks to everyone who posted, but sadly I think this thread isn't getting visibility or is being ignored. As maybe my last plea, please - @Eukelade (I guess Zersiax doesn't have an account?) - consider our requests, and please be transparent about your priorities. It really feels bad that long-time, loyal, influential players have posted here and other threads without any response or acknowledgement (even a "thanks but no thanks").

    I've lost a lot of trust and faith that the game development will align with my expectations. I'm waiting for what feels like things that will never come, and have been for a long time. Every update or release just feels like a disappointment that those dev resources weren't spent on other things. Please recognize that you're losing the playerbase because of mistrust and frustration.

  • Azlyn - thanks for taking the time to write all this out, and I'm sorry you feel neglected and unheard. It can sometimes be hard to keep track of all the ways that player feedback comes to me. I think one of the side effects of making our Discord official is that the forums feel a bit quieter, so I don't check them as often as I should. This isn't an isolated problem, by the way! A lot of gaming communities are seeing their forum activity fall due to more reliance on discords. I will definitely make an effort to check in here more and respond to your feedback in a more active way!

    The reality that I hope you all recognize is that we will not be able to boast the same development progress of a game twenty years older than us until, well, about twenty years have passed. :) I know it can be hard to wait and wait for the game to reach the state you want it to reach. The going has been slow, especially in the past few months as we've had the major speedbump of a staffing change and training a new person. But we are moving, and we do have a plan.

    I think your list is really great! I would love to see a lot, if not all, of those things implemented. And while I wouldn't call many of the things you listed "quick fixes", necessarily (especially for a two person dev team...) a few of the things you mentioned are already actively on my radar.

    A full arena revamp with options for factional involvement (and letting players run events!) is the next big project on my todo list, as is a new top-level bashing area. You are 100% right, also - we really are due for a double xp weekend soon at the very least! 

    I appreciate all this feedback, and hope you keep it coming if you have the energy (and if you don't, that's also ok.) It's really helpful! 

  • Thanks for the response, and I understand that you inherited a difficult situation. I can appreciate that players have a lot of wants and desires that it's not feasible to make everyone 100% happy, but I also tend to resent just using the Discord to base decisions since the feedback pool is limited to whoever happens to engage at the time. It also lends to being reactive to complaints, instead of being proactive to thoughtful feedback that the community can weigh and vet.

    I think it's great that you're looking into new additions, and I know you've all been busy with events and such. My point was that I really think Starmourn has a lot to offer that gets underutilized because of relatively small shortcomings which could be addressed - especially prioritizing mechanics that foster inter-community engagement. I'd also wager that there are many half-finished projects (pharmaceuticals, robots?) that might have been close to releasing, but who knows if we'll ever see them.
  • I just wanted to say thank you for the efforts already made to accommodate some of these requests. I was pleasantly surprised to see the mob spawn rates changed especially for the Xenohunt, and on top of juggling the event resolution and everything else behind the scenes. I appreciate the effort.

    If there's any particular area we broached here that you're interested in working, please feel free to let us know if you'd like additional ideas or more feedback on a specific item. Otherwise it sounds like there are other priorities (which is fine); I just don't want to burden the to-do list or be unrealistic in expectations.
  • 10. I didn't even know poker existed and I'm not interested.
    9. I don't PK and I thought we already had an arena.
    8. I don't mess with the bounty system.
    7. More special events wouldn't interest me if the core game isn't improved.
    6. Group space stuff sounds interesting.
    5. Group bashing also sounds interesting.
    4. I'm never getting to endgame so more endgame areas don't affect me.
    3. I somewhat agree that faction gameplay is important.
    2. I ignore cosmpiercer/cache because it's so self-contained and seems dangerous and unappealing to me.
    1. I agree that the economy gameplay is important.
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