Without anything better to do in quarantine, a month ago I had decided that I'd return to Distant Worlds—only this time I'd be recording each and every "gripe" I would come across throughout the course of the game. Today I've finished that game, and consequently my list of gripes. I will be presenting my list in this thread.
Now, before you and I each get into a heated debate pertaining to the legitimacy of my criticisms, I would like to say that I've made an extra effort to refrain from critiquing the creative direction of Distant Worlds. For instance: even if I absolutely hate that point defense weapons are incapable of countering missiles, this very fact is the result of the development team's depiction of their game's reality, and therefore I should have no say in whether or not such fact should be. In other words, my list of "gripes" exist solely as constructive criticism for the developer's vision of Distant Worlds. My list serves to enhance the developer's hard work, not completely reconstruct it.
Lastly, I am fully aware that the release of Distant Worlds 2 is right around the corner. I know development is too far along for the developers to make any drastic changes. I am aware my list likely holds little to no significance in the grand scheme of things. Nonetheless, let us begin...
I will organize each "gripe" under larger categories, and further designate each as either major or minor. Otherwise, the following list is in no particular order:
User Interface: (And no, I don't care how attractive it looks)
• (Minor): A search function for the Message History screen. Oftentimes I find myself curious about various empires, planets, or battles, but hardly have a way to look into their history.
• (Minor): A search function for entities. Borrowing from previous games developed by Paradox Interactive, a search function for entities throughout Distant Worlds would do wonders. Occasionally I find myself needing to find various systems or planets, only to be met with the incredibly time-consuming task of scanning throughout the galaxy for what I need. For a game so vast, it's essentially a requirement.
• (Minor): A screen that summarizes the known ships and their total firepower for each empire in any given system. This is self-explanatory.
• (Minor): The ability to highlight the location of each individual ship within any given fleet. This feature would effectively remove the player's need to play hide-and-go-seek with their scattered ships.
• (Major): Categorize the ships presented in selected fleets by their respective ship design. Currently when a player selects a fleet, the ships within said fleet are presented in a seemingly random order in the Selection screen. This makes it impossible to quickly glance at a fleet and understand exactly what ships it's comprised of. Instead, the player is forced to first find and then individually count out however many "Executor-class" frigates are in his fleet. To make matters worse, ships of the same class share the same image, so they appear identical in the Selection screen regardless of their design. It is far too difficult to get a comprehensive understanding of any given fleet. This is a major flaw.
• (Major): The Fleet screen (F12) should list the amount of ships per each ship design in any given fleet. This feature expands on my previous gripe, and I think it would greatly improve the player's quality of life in regards to organizing their fleets. For example, a player could scroll through their fleet screen, examine an individual fleet, be presented with four "Executor-class" frigates, understand he wants five per fleet, and then move on to construct his fifth frigate. No where did he have to manually perform a head-count of a specific ship design. No where did he have to differentiate between tiny, pixelated images in a Selection screen. This would be a significant improvement.
• (Minor): Show the automation status of fleets in the Fleet screen (F12).
• (Major): The ability to filter ships by their respective ship design in the Ships and Bases screen (F11). Again, I find Distant Worlds' utter lack of synchronization between the UI and a player's ship designs an absolute failure. This wouldn't be so bad if Distant Worlds hadn't put such an emphasis on designing ships, but that simply is not the case.
• (Minor): Allow multiple Ship Design screens open at once for quick comparisons.
• (Minor): Display the difference between the total possible energy consumption value (excluding static energy consumption) and the excess energy of a ship in the Ship Design screen. This will stop the player from having to find the sum of all energy consumption and subtract it from the excess energy output of their ship. My brain would prefer not to do basic arithmetic every time it wants to know whether or not a ship is energy-efficient.
• (Minor): A toggle in the Ship Design screen that highlights which components a ship already has at least one of. This feature would work to separate the haves from have-nots, removing the late-game headache of trying to figure out whether a ship design has the "countermeasures" component in a list of well over one hundred ship parts.
• (Minor): The ability to highlight known pirate colonies and facilities on the map. While trying to wipe out a specific pirate faction, I kept finding more of their colonies and facilities throughout the galaxy. It would be helpful if there were a toggle that simply highlighted known pirate worlds and facilities, and even more so if I could filter it by pirate factions. And no, the Galaxy Map screen (G) does not already do this.
Ship Orders & Empire Management:
• (Major): Let's talk about construction ship queues. Firstly, when a construction ship with a build queue dies, its queue should be redistributed throughout the rest of the player's construction ships, effectively preventing build queues from being lost, and no longer forcing the player to backtrack on re-queueing fifteen different mining bases. Secondly, the player desperately needs the ability to rearrange construction ship queues. Time and time again I've found myself in need of a spare construction ship, have upwards of twenty at my disposal, yet still end up building a new one to avoid overwriting my existing construction ship queues. For instance, imagine my capital ship is left without a hyperdrive. Again, I have plenty of existing construction ships, but somehow I am still more willing to build a new one rather than redirect any that already exist—simply because I'd rather not overwrite their fifteen-order-long queue and have to backtrack on micro-managing mining bases. Even an effortless "push order to front of queue" button would go a long way with minimizing the cluster that is queues in Distant Worlds. Although I understand the impact of queues on the overall gameplay of Distant Worlds is minimal, it was still one of the more irritating gripes for me, and therefore I've designated it as a "major" gripe.
• (Minor): The ability to exempt specific ships within a fleet from receiving fleet orders. For example, one ship needs refueling. Another needs repairs. I don't currently need either blockading my enemy's capital, but I'd still prefer for them to stay organized within their fleet.
• (Minor): The ability to designate the exact percentage of Caslon and Hydrogen each resupply ship should reserve their cargo capacity for. It drives me mad that when using only one fuel source, 50% of my resupply ship's cargo capacity is simply wasted.
• (Major): Allow players to manage which resources should be exported and to which empires.
• (Minor): Allow players to manage which species should lawfully be able to migrate/immigrate and to which empires.
Improvements to Existing Game Mechanics:
• (Major): An overhaul of map modes. The big, bustling galaxies within Distant Worlds demand easily accessible, well-presented information to be at the fingertips of the player. A great method of presenting information in grand strategy games is map modes. Distant Worlds has already taken a jab at precisely this, where the Galaxy Map screen (G) fills the role of all the player's map-related needs—at least in theory. However, it's fairly limited in its size and scope (literally, the map is small and strains the eye), and only offers the most essential information to the player. First and foremost, I'd argue the Galaxy Map screen should be completely integrated into the actual "playing galaxy" itself. There's hardly a reason for the player to mess around with a separate screen, especially when some map modes can already be viewed within the "playing galaxy" (i.e. potential colonies, scenic locations, & research locations). Presenting all map modes on the "playing galaxy" would provide a much more seamless experience for the player. My second suggestion is simply more map modes. All of the information displayed in the Diplomacy screen (F5) (such as total firepower, total GDP, tax revenue, population, diplomatic relations, reputation, etc...) would be so much easier to digest if presented through the use of map modes. The player's ability to read the state of the galaxy would greatly improve; no player will miss scrolling through the large lists of empires, interpreting oodles' worth of numbers, and juggling those many numbers between the many empires—all while trying to desperately paint a picture of what the [redacted] is going on. Distant Worlds could certainly use some love in its map-mode department.
• (Minor): A new screen that measures the trade volume of each planet throughout the galaxy, coupled with statistics on each empire's share of said volume at each planet. I feel as though this would be a worthwhile addition to Distant Worlds, considering the complexity of the game's economy, and would serve to improve the player's understanding of wealth distribution throughout their galaxy.
• (Major): Record more history and have it be more easily accessible to the player. Whether it be graphs recording the value and supply of resources, or the recorded date and location of a single ship's construction, I want my galaxy to have a greater sense of history. The overarching goal of Distant Worlds is to simulate a living, breathing galaxy. Nothing should live or breathe without the passing of time; an epic is only as profound as the events which unfolded throughout. My most recent Distant Worlds game created an expansive, detailed, and truly vast galaxy, ripe with battles, stories, peoples, and more. It was all so extraordinarily fun and fascinating to experience, yet painfully difficult to reflect upon and savor. When the game finally came to an end, I felt as though my universe of history slipped out from under me, lost to the stars indefinitely. This gaping hole is distasteful to the soul. Give me history or give me death.
• (Major): The addition of any game mechanic that works to detract from the current state of fleet battles, where the player throws their giant "fleet ball" at the enemy's giant "fleet ball." The player should be encouraged to make tactical decisions before and throughout any given battle. Allow me to propose a suggestion: assuming the avoidance of more micro-management is of importance, perhaps my suggestion of "fleet behaviors" would be a safe solution. For instance, the player could define specific fleet parameters, such as engagement ranges (long, medium, point-blank), fleet formations (arrowhead, column, line, echelons, etc.), fleet density (tight, moderate, loose), and other options that would give the player a sense of tactical control without necessarily requiring a great deal of micro-management. I understand that this suggestion is by far the most aggressive, and certainly aims to "reconstruct" the current state of Distant Worlds, however I strongly feel that space battles lack a certain "something" and are one of the weaker aspects of the game.
< Message edited by Galaxy227 -- 1/8/2021 8:50:51 AM >