Starbase's Top Issues #1: Cannot Begin From Nothing

Vexus

Master endo
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
266
#1
Hello,

As the devs have been dropping hints that a small team is working on Starbase again and that there is a big update planned for sometime in the next few months, I wanted to lay out some detailed information that would hopefully help in ensuring that Starbase can be a game players can really enjoy. I'll be presenting detailed information regarding what I see are the top issues preventing players from really committing to playing Starbase.

Issue #1: The Inability To Start From Scratch

The ability for players to start from nothing and build themselves up from nearly any location is a critical component of survival style games, a feature which Starbase is missing. A player should be able to hover around in an asteroid belt and piece together a ship beginning with nothing except his fists. Such a thing would take a lot of time, but that's not the point - it should be possible. This would allow players to fully repair their ships anywhere in the game world, or create ships or parts out of any other ships they come across in the game world. As it currently stands, there is a bottleneck preventing players from doing this; the player cannot create a hardpoint or resource bridge from their own inventory - the number of inventory slots for mined materials is too low to craft all the necessary items.

starbase_cFP3KdMEiF.png


In order to build more complex items, such as a Resource Bridge, or before that, even a Hardpoint, players need to have 3 materials accessible to them. As the mining backpack has only 2 slots (can hold only 2 materials at a time), players are unable to progress on their own. Out in the wild, in attempting to make a ship from scratch, even with a pickaxe on hand, the player will quickly run into this problem which they cannot overcome - enticed by the ability to craft a basic crafting bench using only Bastium and Vokarium, the player begins to create all sorts of items including beams and small ship parts, but when it comes time to create anything that matters for their ship, they are stuck as they do not have access to three or more material inventory slots to build basic items. Basic Flight Computer, Device Hardpoint, Levers, Panels, YOLOL Chips, Generators, Fuel Rods, Heat Sinks and so much more are unavailable to the player. The player can build Material Crates, however in order to put materials into them, the player needs a Resource Bridge and Hardpoint, which again, the player cannot make. The oversight can be jarring enough for a player to give up on the game. There is a huge bottleneck here which cuts off players from progressing naturally through the game without relying on the ship designer.

starbase_vfUC5W9Rsn.png


During salvage attempts, the same problem arises; if a player wants to make anything to store resources, or to create any complex item, they must have a Resource Bridge and Hardpoint on hand at a minimum, even if they have access to all the materials they want in the game. I have resorted to bolting a hardpoint and resource bridge onto other parts that I can keep in my inventory in case I need them as a backup. For example, if my 1 resource bridge breaks, it doesn't matter how many materials I may have on hand, I can not repair my ship.

It is just as unfortunate that when starting from nothing, the player can make a crafting bench, but is unable to even make a simple Pickaxe (which takes 3 materials) to begin mining in the first place.

Problem: The player is bottlenecked when trying to build a device hardpoint or resource bridge which is necessary to progress towards building more complex parts. The normal progression would be to build material crates and store the multiple resources you need inside them, but without a resource bridge, you cannot accomplish this.
Solution: Increase "mining backpack" material slots to at least 3, and allow mining using melee attack. I'd prefer a more elegant solution like allowing a number of material stacks by default and bringing the backpack system back, but alas, this issue is just to point out this huge bottleneck so it can be resolved.
 
Last edited:

Sylwester

Active endo
Joined
Sep 13, 2021
Messages
27
#2
This problem is far from top starbase issues, but I run into it too when I tried to do "start from nothing" playthrough.
The things you can't craft, that are necessary to get started are hardpoint, resource bridge, battery and full generator (gen is not needed, but battery must have power or resource bridge won't work). You can mine with your fists.

Instead of expanding inventory material slots, another solution would be to allow players to add anything to crafting queue with missing resources and keep it paused. As soon as any of missing resources was present in inventory it would be automatically (or after pressing some button) consumed for the purpose of crafting. Crafting would resume when all missing resources are filled. That way you would be able to craft anything using just 1 inventory material slot.
 

Vexus

Master endo
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
266
#3
Thanks for the reply, Sylwester.

I wasn't initially planning to respond but then I realized that responding would help highlight the main point behind the issues I present.

The reason this is a "top issue" is because if a player encounters it, the player loses faith in the game as a whole. When you're completely prevented from proceeding, it becomes something that cuts against the mind of a gamer, who will then find it difficult to recover and put their trust back into the game. My issues are generally these kinds of things - psychological as much as physical blocks to doing something.

For example, when I point out "dev intervention" it may seem like it's good to help out players who suffer loss due to a bug. However the effect is that, psychologically, a player who finds out that certain people are getting help, or getting help quickly, when they themselves are not, becomes a barrier for retention. They won't want to keep investing in the game when there are these blockages to enjoying the game fully.

Unexpectedly losing one's ship due to gravity when experiencing it for the first time for example is not a bad thing - it can lead to additional gameplay, the player can recover their ship if they wish - but they cannot if they do not have a resource bridge on hand, not even if they are willing to salvage their own ship to attempt repairs. They are shut down from even trying. But if someone does lose their ship to gravity and complains, and gets a free ship in return, that hurts gameplay and leads others to think that if they don't seek out the most efficient solution to a loss - asking devs for a refund - that their time isn't worthwhile spent actually playing the game and recovering their situation manually.

So the point is that these issues compound other issues; these are foundational issues that once corrected will leave the game in a state that can only grow as players invest into the game more and more. Those players will then be ripe for additional monetization aspects such as skins or whatever else the devs come up with to pay for the game over time. But without invested players, none of that happens, and these issues are severe roadblocks to keeping invested players.
 

Sylwester

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Messages
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#4
The reason this is a "top issue" is because if a player encounters it, the player loses faith in the game as a whole.
This can be applied to literally anything based on individual tastes. My definition of top issues would be things that have most impact (affects most players * severity). In my opinion those are in this order:

- game dev halted
- lack of content / nothing to do (unless you are into ssc)
- bugs (vanishing ships, broken stations / capitals)
- no pve / enemy AI / npc

Some more serious issues:
- no basic guns on all ships / no incentive to install guns for new players
- smallest ship with lasers can win against max size miner (in other space games low power guns of small ship would not even pierce shields of big ship), ship owner should have advantage against 1 boarding player, but it's opposite
- tech tree that pretends to lock tech, but doesn't
- ship size doesn't limit maneuverability, top speed
- ssc split from ebm (should be 1 drive in ssc with ship/blueprint updating and beginner mode with simplified tools)
- repairing ships is very different from what tutorial teaches you
- bad ship stealing mechanics
- armor is heavy and does almost nothing
- ugly LOD, draw distance, performance
- mouse aim for ships

The crafting problem doesn't even make it onto any of my issues lists, as I see it only as a minor design flaw that should be eventually fixed.

I disagree on dev intervention. It's just a bandaid (if you have a blueprint, you still lose in-world ship changes) and the problem is that it's not advertised enough. I could recover from ship vanishing, but many players would proabably rage quit if they can't get their ship back. That no dev intervention policy is often used for arpg hardcore mode, but there is no softcore option here. Just imagine playing any other mmo where your character gets randomly deleted after ~200h and devs tell you to just make new character and grind again. Such game would fail.
 

Vexus

Master endo
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
266
#5
I agree with most of your issues. And yes, individual tastes will drive what seems more or less important. I'm not going for what looks good or feels good, but how gamers will often find some solution to a problem, if there is a solution, but if there is no solution, or if the solution brings them out of the game, the end result is players seeking fun elsewhere. Gamers can tolerate a lot, but when they run into complete bottlenecks that prevent gameplay or require strange gameplay just to compete with others, it stops being fun - you're no longer playing the game, but instead these out-of-game solutions. But in general it's nice to see your list.

Just imagine playing any other mmo where your character gets randomly deleted after ~200h and devs tell you to just make new character and grind again. Such game would fail.
Well, our character is not deleted so far from any of the bugs encountered, which would be understandable. In this case, it is the work-effort. If a game like Rust or Ark or Escape From Tarkov had some bug where all inventory or a base was somehow lost, the solution is to first fix the problem and recover the state or perform a rollback. But plenty of times players from Escape From Tarkov for example load in and lose control of their character and end up dying, losing all their gear. The devs don't refund the gear - the player must suck it up. It's not possible when lots of people are playing the game to micro-analyze all these situations and issue refunds. It's not possible to maintain at a large volume nor ensure abuse doesn't happen. A character being deleted is much different than a ship being lost. The player should be under notice that they risk losing their entire ship at any point and they will have to deal with it. Your point is not exactly on par with the main point - yours is a character deletion, but the issue is resource deletion, and not an entire account of resource, but simply a single ship, of which there can be many. The player should just move along and play the game instead of playing the dev-interaction-waiting-maybe-get-a-response game which limits their desire to do anything else in the meantime since waiting for a refund is more cost-effective.
 

Sylwester

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Sep 13, 2021
Messages
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#6
In other mmos you invest in your characters. In this game you invest in your ships / stations, so losing them is comparable to an extent.

Tarkov is not a good example, because your survival rate is ~50% anyway, so it may be annoying to lose 1 set of equipment in a match due to a bug, but it makes little difference. In Rust offline raiding is well known, so you know what you are getting into. In Starbase you are warned that you may lose your ship due to game mechanics, but not a bug. Maybe if it was explained to players and suggested to keep multiple ships and use blueprints for easier recovery, then it would be sort of fine. The best solution to this problem is to fix the bug.
 

XenoCow

Master endo
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
545
#7
Solution: Increase "mining backpack" material slots to at least 3, and allow mining using melee attack. I'd prefer a more elegant solution like allowing a number of material stacks by default and bringing the backpack system back, but alas, this issue is just to point out this huge bottleneck so it can be resolved.
An alternative could be to add a small inventory to the crafting bench itself, or the ability for it to pull ores from nearby blocks so that you can just place the ores around the crafting bench and then use those within a small area of effect.

Additionally, maybe some "Junk Tier" parts could help players get back on their feet or to quickly patch up their ships. These could be things like an FCU that just directly controls the thrusters by just grouping thrusters but does no balancing, thrusters that are slow but run directly on ice or even by spitting out molten rock, and combustion engines to quickly get power running without needing any fuel rods (Nhurgite can be tricky to find sometimes). These of course could also be used for other purposes like backups and balancing too... but they primarily could help players who are floating out on their own to get something that moves with just a few resources.
 

Vexus

Master endo
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
266
#8
add a small inventory to the crafting bench itself
This would be viable. It is also fairly easy with the current tech, to make the radius that allows crafting to also enable some sort of separate 3-4 slot inventory for ores. Disabling the pick up of the bench if it has stuff inside of it would probably be prudent.

"Junk Tier" parts
This would require too much work for these rare cases.

Consider the absolute easiest immediate fix for this issue is to go into the code and change "num mining backpack inventory slots" variable from the current 2, to 3.

Why make it any more difficult. Outside of fast-travel/insurance transfer with ores (which, a check could be done to ensure no materials are in the backpack before a transfer can take place, and that upon death, any ores on you are lost) there is almost no reason I can think of to not just increase the slots available to solve this problem in 5 minutes.
 

XenoCow

Master endo
Joined
Dec 10, 2019
Messages
545
#9
This would require too much work for these rare cases.
Of course. I didn't mean that this was the most optimal solution to fix the issue now, more of a grander scheme kind of thing to imagine what might help a player start with absolutely nothing or who, like me, is perpetually poor to cheaply slap together something that works well enough. For most of the parts, they could just be the same kind of thing where they are distinguished by a color stripe and stat differences. But as you say, an easier and quicker solution to the problem you are discussing would just be an increase of a 2 to a 3.
 
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