A Reflection on Quickfire and Power 2.0

    TheDerpGamerX

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    QuickFire was a failure, but not for the reasons a lot of people think. What happened wasn't out of malice, nor was anyone trying to force anything despite what many say.

    I feel like Quickfire failed due to the following reasons:

    1. The QF Team - Game development studios have people test their games well before release in order to help get feedback on gameplay balance. The QF team weren't game developers in the slightest, they were just a couple of players who happened to know some basic math and scripting skills. In fact, I actually agree with the sentiment that they were not "qualified" to be experimenting with this stuff, but I don't think that's any fault of their own. That leads me into my second point:
    2. Feedback in a Vaccum - The only people testing the changes were the QF members themselves. And to be fair, asking people to test the dev builds on their own was never going to work. From my experience, there's a difference between "testing" and "playing". Making a test ship in single player, firing a few shots at a target, then tweaking the numbers, is testing. When somebody plays on a server and builds systems and fights stuff, that's playing. When trying to balance (and bugtest) a game, the former is almost useless. Testing as I described above won't catch many issues, and of the ones it catches you tend to only get basic surface-level information about it. Actively playing meanwhile, not only catches far more issues, but you also get much more information on them which is much more useful in making an informed decision. The problem with the latter approach is that it tends to take much more time and effort, and unless QF hired people to actively play on a dev build server, it was never going to happen. This leads me to my third point:
    3. Inability to do What Was Necessary - Let's say the QF team did actually pay people to play on a dev build server for a while, and got actual, meaningful feedback. Even with this feedback, their ability to actually fix anything was very limited. In order to actually balance Power 2.0 in a way that mattered, the ability to actually make code changes was absolutely required. Simply tweaking some numbers and equations was never going to be sufficient. To describe the decision making behind the design of Power 2.0 "questionable" is to be a comedian. The fundamental design of Power 2.0 has deep structural flaws and many of it's features were unnecessary bloat that serve only to add complexity. It is not only unfun mechanic-wise, it runs in direct contrast to how people actually play.
    I'm not going to bore you to death with the specifics on what I think it should have been - its a topic that has been done to death on this website. However, I will say this:

    Any good and enjoyable game mechanic should never add complexity for the sake of it. When designing a mechanic, a game designer should ask the following questions:

    1. What purpose does it serve? And to be clear, there is a difference between functionality and purpose. Functionality describes how it works and what it does. Purpose describes why it's important / needed and how it ties into other mechanics. Let's take Stabilizers for example: The purpose of Stabilizers are to "stabilize" the reactor. Do they actually do this? No, but that's not my point. What they actually do (as of this writing) is simply add more regen. This brings me into the second question:
    2. Are both the functionality and purpose unique? Continuing on the stabilizer example, lets ask this question. Do stabilizers add any functionality that is unique when compared to other mechanics? The answer to that question is no! Stabilizers add power regen, but do you know what else adds power regen? Reactors! Not only do they add power regen, they also are essential to both chambers and the overall combat system. So in a way, Stabilizers are just reactors with less functionality.
    3. Without the mechanic, what would change? And would said changes make the game better or worse? If Stabilizers weren't in the game, what would change? Well, ships would have less overall power regen, and therefore reactors regen would need a buff. Other than that, nothing would change. And that's just the current implementation, when Power 2.0 first came out you had to worry about stuff like axis rotations, which were the literal embodiment of "burdening the player with restrictive mechanics for the sole purpose of adding unnecessary complexity". Stabilizers are in the game purely to add unnecessary complexity - they don't introduce anything unique and the complexity they add actively make the game less fun. If a mechanic that adds needless complexity isn't fun in any way, it shouldn't be in the game.
    I could go on and on about tons of other Power 2.0 features that add needless complexity, but I think you get the point. So then, who do we point the finger at? I don't think any one of us is to blame. QuickFire lacked the tools and resources necessary to fix a fundamentally unfun system, and them trying to make do with just what changes they could make actively made parts of it even more tedious. While yes, Power 2.0 is far more balanced than it was at release, it isn't necessarily more fun. And that's the core of what I wanted to get to here: Even though the balance is improved, it hasn't necessarily made the game more fun, and in fact in some ways QuickFire made many parts more difficult and tedious in order to balance them. If balancing a game mechanic comes at the cost of fun, that mechanic is fundamentally flawed.

    All those threads and arguments over Power 2.0 failed to actually realize the true problem, and only divided the community and in turn muddied the waters further. The real problem was never balance, it was the design of the core mechanics themselves. Any attempt at fixing Power 2.0 purely through configuration was therefore doomed from the start. There is no reality where QuickFire could have actually succeeded because attempting balancing a system that is fundamentally not fun will only serve make it even less fun.

    We all argued amongst ourselves, pointing the finger at each other, arguing whether the QuickFire changes were good or bad. The truth is that it doesn't matter if they were good or bad, wrong or right, because either way the overall mechanic still wouldn't have been fun. There is no combination of changes that would have fixed that. Even if QF didn't change anything, the Power system still wouldn't have been fun.

    So then, is it Schema's fault? I would argue yes, but also no. Why? Because programmers are fundamentally incapable of good game design. I know this sounds silly, but hear me out:
    Programmers are supposed to be the ones that implement the mechanics laid out by the game designers. Programmers rarely actually actively play the game they are making. Like I said before, there is a difference between testing and playing. Schema should never have been expected to design a good power system because he doesn't play the game enough to know what one would feel like. At the same time, I wouldn't expect Schema to do so either, because it's not his job.
     
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    Lecic

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    Lancake outsourced his balancing advice to a small team of PvPers and then pretty much ignored everything we told him that was wrong with the game instead. Myself and maybe 8 or so others from major PvP factions at the time were in a Discord group he made and advised him about bugs, exploits, and unbalanced mechanics relating to PvP during the "power 1.5" era. We were actually responsible for a lot of the balance that went into replacing docked reactors with aux, but after that he didn't really listen to us, and then power 2 came out.
    I have my account title picked for a reason.
     

    MeRobo

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    Without the mechanic, what would change? And would said changes make the game better or worse? If Stabilizers weren't in the game, what would change? Well, ships would have less overall power regen, and therefore reactors regen would need a buff. Other than that, nothing would change. And that's just the current implementation, when Power 2.0 first came out you had to worry about stuff like axis rotations, which were the literal embodiment of "burdening the player with restrictive mechanics for the sole purpose of adding unnecessary complexity". Stabilizers are in the game purely to add unnecessary complexity - they don't introduce anything unique and the complexity they add actively make the game less fun.
    Wouldn't "Just replace stabs with reactors and adjust chamber size requirements accordingly to remain the same as now relative to a given amount of power" be an alternative to buffing regen with the added benefit of not affecting system space requirements (benefit in the sense that capabilities of a given ship would remain the same)?

    Anyway, slightly more on topic: While I can see your point and mostly agree when it comes to Lancake's responsibility regarding the state of both the game and its community, I'd dispute that he is the sole "villain" regarding the community.
     
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    DrTarDIS

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    ...we have been blinded by our anger to realize the true enemy.
    I'm going to say my [No Faction] is much older than your 2017 empire. We are legion.

    Beyond that. Yeah, gutting major systems and leaving buggy transplants instead of debugging and expanding the (placeholder) stuff like shipyards, factions, and fleets was criminal.

    Hopefully the "new-new-new-planets" update has the new planets as a side-dish and has "fixed pathing, fixed fleetspawn, fixed shopstatesaves, fixed blueprint options" as the main dish...
     

    The_Owl

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    It's been SIX YEARS since power 2.0. Why are we writing whole ass essays to dunk on people who haven't been involved in the community for almost as long? The only thing more embarrassing would be making this into an hour long youtube video.

    This entire essay is just childish, especially from someone who's actually pushing updates to the game now, to be larping about a "True enemy" who "Ruined the game" and does not give any actual confidence about the game going in a positive direction. Grow up.
     
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    Dr. Whammy

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    As the years pass and real life takes precedence, I find it counterproductive to worry about things like "blame" or declare people who are essentially random internet strangers with a common interest "enemies" since, in the grand Schema:catnod: of things, it really doesn't matter who or what caused this situation.

    What does matter is that some of us still want to play StarMade but are faced with an incomplete product and a choice:
    1) Continue to play the game as is; limitations, flaws and bugs included.
    2) Alter the game's configuration files in an attempt to fit your preferred play style.
    3) Play something else.

    Having personally done all three of these things, I reached a point where neither Schine nor quickfire had any impact on how I chose to play the game. StarMade is playable and can be tailored to suit the needs of most players if you know what you're doing. ...and it's sandboxed so you can have multiple installations/mods/versions (including power 1.0)
    on your computer to test in case you screw up and break the universe.

    Regardless of past events, it might be worth your while to take a step back and appreciate the fact that there are still people building things, making content and playing StarMade when it was basically deemed a failed game half a decade ago. Now, thanks to a recent invitation, I am apparently one of them again. You could be too.


    TL;DR, if you have any interest in playing StarMade, it is pointless to dwell on who broke the game or who should fix it. You; the player have access to community content, config files, mods and (IIRC) the un-obfuscated code itself. When development stalls, use them. Then go grab some friends, play the game your way and have fun. ...or don't. It's ultimately your choice.
     
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    Blakpik

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    Every few months or years I check back, to see what's going on on this website.

    I will say, if nothing else, that I am utterly astonished at this community's refusal to die. But I am more astonished by the fact that, to my knowledge, there doesn't exist a more feature-complete competitor to Starmade after all this time.

    Is development even still continuing? Who's paying to keep this website up? Who's still moderating it? How does this community still exist?
     

    Dr. Whammy

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    Every few months or years I check back, to see what's going on on this website.

    I will say, if nothing else, that I am utterly astonished at this community's refusal to die. But I am more astonished by the fact that, to my knowledge, there doesn't exist a more feature-complete competitor to Starmade after all this time.
    Agreed.

    Of all the space voxel/builder games I've seen/played, none seem to match the building capabilities of StarMade.
    There are games which are more popular, have better visuals, better shape options, or have actual content besides, "shoot at ships/shoot at big rocks". But none seem to pull of any kind of "Total package". I was neck deep in Empyrion for about a year and fell madly in love with the visuals. ...But one day, a fellow SM community member contacted me and invited me to join him for some StarMade. Now we're building bases, shooting pirates and doing wacky experiments, ...Haven't played Empyrion since.

    Is development even still continuing?
    Yes. Schema recently announced that the Universe update has made substantial progress. How close he is is anyone's guess but it should be noted that several community-made mods are also being considered for addition to the update. Hit the StarMade discord for Details and as always, take everything they say with a grain of salt.

    Who's paying to keep this website up? Who's still moderating it?
    Not a clue. Activity has been sparse here; roughly a dozen people posting sporadically but no visible signs of mod/admin activity/presence. It might be a good idea to get contact info from any forum members you'd like to keep in touch with, in case the site goes down.

    How does this community still exist?
    Discord is where most of the activity is now. However, there seems to be a few of us who
    a) prefer this forum due to things like familiarity, community content, shipyard threads, etc.
    b) aren't a fan of the absolute clusterfuck characteristic of a discord chat room of that size.

    I suppose the point is, there are a few of us who are for whatever reason, still stuck on StarMade. If that describes you as well, grab a few buddies you see posting here or on Discord and maybe have some fun; as we're apparently not done yet.
     

    TheDerpGamerX

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    I'm going to say my [No Faction] is much older than your 2017 empire. We are legion.

    Beyond that. Yeah, gutting major systems and leaving buggy transplants instead of debugging and expanding the (placeholder) stuff like shipyards, factions, and fleets was criminal.

    Hopefully the "new-new-new-planets" update has the new planets as a side-dish and has "fixed pathing, fixed fleetspawn, fixed shopstatesaves, fixed blueprint options" as the main dish...
    Dovan Empire has existed since 2013 wtf are you on about.
    Hell, I joined in early 2014, this is just a new account I made a few years back. My original account was "TheDerpGamer" but it got banned for reasons I wont get into.
     

    TheDerpGamerX

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    It's been SIX YEARS since power 2.0. Why are we writing whole ass essays to dunk on people who haven't been involved in the community for almost as long? The only thing more embarrassing would be making this into an hour long youtube video.

    This entire essay is just childish, especially from someone who's actually pushing updates to the game now, to be larping about a "True enemy" who "Ruined the game" and does not give any actual confidence about the game going in a positive direction. Grow up.
    ...You realize that last part about Lancake was a shitpost right?
    Don't get me wrong, Lancake failed to do his job, but calling him the "true enemy" was a joke. I even put it in big text all dramatic-like for comedic effect.
    Did you actually read any part of it other than the Lancake shitpost part?
     

    Ithirahad

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    The main failing of QF was simply that we had no direct code access.

    Scypio and I can program, but it didn't matter; we had to beg Schema to change stuff and that was right at the end of when he had time to work on SM at all. Bandwidth was limited.

    Not that Schema was to blame here: he tried his best to be helpful, he did retract the purple vomit streams, add things like the armour formula and UI support for getting rid of stabilizer distance - but there was only so much that could be done in that arrangement. It wasn't agile, it wasn't direct, and it wasn't unlimited in scope.

    If we had the latitude to actually make the desired changes, stabilizers would literally be a decorative block (EDIT: or only lower the overheat threshold or some other function), we'd have SHP back, and reactors would not need to be ridiculously large as they are now. (They're scaled like this just to provide a reasonably wide target for the HP bar that literally cannot be given to anything other than reactor blocks.)
     
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    Nuclear Doughnut

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    It's good to see sporadic posts by the community. Personally I think Quickfire salvaged the community as best as they could. I quit majorly playing after Power 2.0 because of how much trouble it was. I agree that there's always things that could have been done better. I hope someday Schema has time to comes back to this and makes it so we can fix the core issues of the game.
     

    Dr. Whammy

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    If we had the latitude to actually make the desired changes, stabilizers would literally be a decorative block, we'd have SHP back, and reactors would not need to be ridiculously large as they are now. (They're scaled like this just to provide a reasonably wide target for the HP bar that literally cannot be given to anything other than reactor blocks.)
    That explains the issues I had in the mod I was creating.

    When I split off from mainstream StarMade Builds and started modding, I tried to fix this issue myself but my efforts in the config files had no effect.

    Thanks for the confirmation.

    The old SHP system from power 1.0 was very economical with regard to the universe database since it wasn't "instakill" like the old "coring" mechanic but didn't require you to completely evaporate 80% of a ship to the point of absurdity just to hit its reactor. SHP also helped cut down on combat-related "space junk" and made battles less tedious. Why this mechanic was abandoned in favor of reactor-only HP baffles me.


    I'm pretty sure there was nothing QF or any of us could have done to correct this. Damn shame.
     
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    Nuclear Doughnut

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    I think Power 2.0 was the true cause of the collapse. It was driven forward by a small group of testers that were around Schema that did not have the *Far reaching Consequences* of their game visualization in mind.

    if we go back to around that time. There was a significant divide in the community of what I remember were *The Creative Builders* and the *PVP Factions*. Most of the Community was being funded/supported by the PVP servers as there were only a handful of true creative servers. The issue with the PVP builds is that you could not have a functional PVP optimized ship while being *Pretty*.

    This may be a personal bias but as a former server owner/operator we saw Schine/Schema group being surrounded by the creative builders who introduced ideas/shaped the direction. Yes they held the public's eye in terms of Youtube/Twitch views but the community backbone was the server owners.

    Once Power 2.0 Came out all the formerly PVP players left and so did the server owners. With no *Community* left and the constant hassle of redesigning things over and over. People just got tired of it.

    Running Servers isn't cheap. And if you enjoy the PVP and it's broken. No point in paying.

    Quickfire did it's best with what they were given. I still occasionally boot up *Old Starmade* (Pre Power 2.0) just to play around with some of the old mechanics. Yes there were issues but that's when the game was at it's best IMO.

    Now for me to go inactive for another 3 years and wait to see how much is left...
     
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    Ithirahad

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    When I split off from mainstream StarMade Builds and started modding, I tried to fix this issue myself but my efforts in the config files had no effect.

    Thanks for the confirmation.
    The reason behind this is that HP is counted per reactor, and only reactors know which reactor they are; other systems don't care, so it's impossible to say which reactor their HP must go to without adding a decent amount of new logic to the game code. Which is unfortunate, considering how wildly impractical it is to have multiple reactors even in power 2.0's release state due to stabilizer mechanics (and how much worse it is in QF due to mass constraints). It's a really terrible cross for SHP to die on, but here we are.

    I think Power 2.0 was the true cause of the collapse. It was driven forward by a small group of testers that were around Schema that did not have the *Far reaching Consequences* of their game visualization in mind.

    if we go back to around that time. There was a significant divide in the community of what I remember were *The Creative Builders* and the *PVP Factions*. Most of the Community was being funded/supported by the PVP servers as there were only a handful of true creative servers. The issue with the PVP builds is that you could not have a functional PVP optimized ship while being *Pretty*.

    This may be a personal bias but as a former server owner/operator we saw Schine/Schema group being surrounded by the creative builders who introduced ideas/shaped the direction. Yes they held the public's eye in terms of Youtube/Twitch views but the community backbone was the server owners.

    Once Power 2.0 Came out all the formerly PVP players left and so did the server owners. With no *Community* left and the constant hassle of redesigning things over and over. People just got tired of it.

    Running Servers isn't cheap. And if you enjoy the PVP and it's broken. No point in paying.

    Quickfire did it's best with what they were given. I still occasionally boot up *Old Starmade* (Pre Power 2.0) just to play around with some of the old mechanics. Yes there were issues but that's when the game was at it's best IMO.

    Now for me to go inactive for another 3 years and wait to see how much is left...
    I come from a creative building background first and foremost, and I broadly support the vague goals Schine wanted to work towards - but it's still readily clear to me, with the benefits of hindsight, that the implementation was utterly backwards and some of the choices make no sense :\

    They went back to the drawing board from the first Power 2 "heat" proposal, but they used the same faulty logic to come up with the second concept unfortunately.
     
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    Dr. Whammy

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    The reason behind this is that HP is counted per reactor, and only reactors know which reactor they are; other systems don't care, so it's impossible to say which reactor their HP must go to without adding a decent amount of new logic to the game code. Which is unfortunate, considering how wildly impractical it is to have multiple reactors even in power 2.0's release state due to stabilizer mechanics (and how much worse it is in QF due to mass constraints). It's a really terrible cross for SHP to die on, but here we are.
    If not hard-coded to prevent this, a possible solution might be to set RHP to a flat value given per block and then add the total RHP for all reactor blocks, regardless of the number of reactors, their sizes or activity states.

    Rough example: Let's say reactor power has 10HP/block.
    If the first reactor has 10 blocks (100Hp and the second reactor has 2 blocks (20HP), then the total RHP would be 120HP. This would remove reactors (active or inactive) as a variable for HP calculations.

    Your thoughts?
     

    Lecic

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    If not hard-coded to prevent this, a possible solution might be to set RHP to a flat value given per block and then add the total RHP for all reactor blocks, regardless of the number of reactors, their sizes or activity states.

    Rough example: Let's say reactor power has 10HP/block.
    If the first reactor has 10 blocks (100Hp and the second reactor has 2 blocks (20HP), then the total RHP would be 120HP. This would remove reactors (active or inactive) as a variable for HP calculations.

    Your thoughts?
    Ithirahad is one of the people who has access to the source code these days. He could just straight up change how it works, but that's kind of a major change for him to be doing on his own without permission.
     

    colonel lacu

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    To offer my 2 cents into this foreverargument.
    I think the current state of power is a good base for a fun system. it just needs something that would make it take creativity or challenge the player to get to a great design. if i look at games similar to starmade such as Stormworks: build and rescue. that game makes the systems designing challenging by having the player wire all the components and make pipes for different fluids and fuels. the complexity is also greatly increased by the logic having numerical components and not just boolean like starmade does.
    i also feel like starmade's systems could use soft factors and even some major factors to achieve a similar goal. for example:
    Distance between the reactor and thrusters could have a negative effect on thrust
    Guns could jam or overheat when damaged.
    perhaps reactors need the ship to have a steady rate of power consumption to stay on, otherwise they would need an exhaust for the excess they make while they're running. when that energy isn't leaving the ship through thrusters or shield or gunfire.
    Power capacitor or some kind of battery could be introduced.
    Cameras could fail if power runs out or they could get a static effect if power hangs too low.
    shields could have a directionality feature exposing one side to strengthen the rest.
    Reactors could consume fuel. which would require to be stored on a ship. that fuel could be radioactive and damage the player if the fuel tank block is damaged. maybe raw fuel could be salvaged from asteroids and refined into a usable or sellable resource.
    Maybe a gun could shoot that onto enemies and it would do corrosive damage.
    Maybe there could be a turbo stabilizer that uses fuel but takes up far less mass to provide stabilization to the reactor.
    maybe thrusters could require time to get running from cold. perhaps they could need cooling. perhaps reactors or stabilizers could need cooling.
    Each one of these point is their own can of worms. (Especially fuel and yes, i know its been discussed to hell and back)
    Anyway i just wish the best for the game. i think it would be unwise to scrap the current power system entirely.
     
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    Dr. Whammy

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    To offer my 2 cents into this foreverargument.
    I think the current state of power is a good base for a fun system. it just needs something that would make it take creativity or challenge the player to get to a great design. if i look at games similar to starmade such as Stormworks: build and rescue. that game makes the systems designing challenging by having the player wire all the components and make pipes for different fluids and fuels. the complexity is also greatly increased by the logic having numerical components and not just boolean like starmade does.
    i also feel like starmade's systems could use soft factors and even some major factors to achieve a similar goal. for example:
    Distance between the reactor and thrusters could have a negative effect on thrust
    Guns could jam or overheat when damaged.
    perhaps reactors need the ship to have a steady rate of power consumption to stay on, otherwise they would need an exhaust for the excess they make while they're running. when that energy isn't leaving the ship through thrusters or shield or gunfire.
    Power capacitor or some kind of battery could be introduced.
    Cameras could fail if power runs out or they could get a static effect if power hangs too low.
    shields could have a directionality feature exposing one side to strengthen the rest.
    Reactors could consume fuel. which would require to be stored on a ship. that fuel could be radioactive and damage the player if the fuel tank block is damaged. maybe raw fuel could be salvaged from asteroids and refined into a usable or sellable resource.
    Maybe a gun could shoot that onto enemies and it would do corrosive damage.
    Maybe there could be a turbo stabilizer that uses fuel but takes up far less mass to provide stabilization to the reactor.
    maybe thrusters could require time to get running from cold. perhaps they could need cooling. perhaps reactors or stabilizers could need cooling.
    Each one of these point is their own can of worms. (Especially fuel and yes, i know its been discussed to hell and back)
    Anyway i just wish the best for the game. i think it would be unwise to scrap the current power system entirely.
    Honestly, that sounds like a bit much; especially given how slowly development moves for this game.

    System HP was already tried and while not ultra-realistic, it worked well as a StarMade gameplay mechanic; hence why it was mentioned.

    With the Universe Update (supposedly) right around the corner, perhaps it would be better to focus on polishing what already exists and what we already know works.

    Baby steps. Otherwise we're back to...

     
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    OFW-Osirus

    Owner of Orion Fleetworks
    Joined
    Apr 17, 2014
    Messages
    61
    Reaction score
    61
    • Community Content - Bronze 1
    • Purchased!
    • Legacy Citizen 9
    miss the days of just before power 2.0 he he