Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

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vaaish1
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Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by vaaish1 »

After playing DW2 for 175 hours I've come to the conclusion that despite all of the insane mechanics at play, there just isn't a spark of life that makes the game satisfying to play. This isn't a hate post or a bash the devs post: I've had relatively minor problems playing DW2 since launch and I really think that the bones of a really good game are in here.

I'm not sure the best way to organize these thoughts as DW2 encompasses so many different systems and provides a fairly varied set of options to customize each game so I'm going to try to keep this to recurring themes I've felt as I've played with different races, difficulties, and galaxy settings.

Economy
When I jumped into my first game and had to explore my starting system, I felt like I'd opened the windows to let in a spring breeze after being inside all winter. It was fun, it was different, it was intoxicating. Fast forward to now and many of the things that were exciting about the game in the early stages well… aren't anymore. I chalk this up to the resource scarcity that existed at the start of the game.

Needing to be careful with my resources until a good source was found made the game interesting and fun. The problem is that every game, once you hit that mid game point, much of what you do is click the button to build yet another mine in a system because it nets you a boost when your private econ builds ships and it's probably going to be useful for something, if only to keep the AI from taking it.

The abundance of resources has three more serious impacts on the game than the simple monotony that could be solved by automating the construction of mines. First of all, there is never a danger of being without any resources. This means that trading is mostly for more luxury items (the one thing I DO find scarce, though more due to every colony wanting some of every possible luxury than an overall shortage) than construction materials. This removes pressure on the player or AI to acquire access to a needed source by conquest.

Further, in war it's not really possible to impact an enemy empire by taking out their mining stations to hamper their efforts to produce ships seeing planets hold enough resources that you'll sooner conquer them than starve them out. Many times, it's detrimental to target mining stations because it can lead to another empire's influence claiming that space while you fight. Better to conquer the empire and get all the stations intact when the final planet falls.

Second, when all resources are plentiful, you don't have to consider your options when researching or constructing anything. Despite the ship designer handily telling me if I don't have access to a resource and what resources are needed to build a ship, it's exceptionally rare that it's ever an issue outside of a brand new colony that has yet to receive resource shipments. What resources I have access to should drive what techs I research and how I design my ships but it just doesn't really matter right now. I can pick whatever strikes my fancy and not worry.

Finally, the impact of individual resources, particularly luxury resources, is diminished. I can honestly say it's rare you see a luxury resource and think it's going to really help your colony. They are a lot like Pokemon: Gotta collect 'em all! These incremental +1% or +6% bonuses stack up over time, but individually they are pretty bland and the number of different types and sources means that the loss of one or a shortage of one really doesn't impact you. I understand that there's some balance issues at play because an inconsistent supply will end up causing some crazy income flux at the empire level, but still I'd rather see bigger bonuses and fewer luxury resources with a rotating selection each game rather than all of them.

This is one area I think might be a fairly simple fix of just reducing the percentage of planets that have resources and giving us a scarcity control in game options to dial in a preference for those who might like more plentiful resources.

Military
This area is a great disappointment to me. There is a plethora of options with multiple different weapons paths and systems that promise some very fun depth when it comes to combat, but despite this it really falls flat. I think that this is due to the lack of real difference with the performance of weapons. Some of the things that promise to make a weapon path unique like armor and shield bypass don't actually function well. As long as I keep a weapon path moving, it doesn't seem to matter if I use missiles, beams, blasters, or kinetic weapons: they all seem just about as effective. I'd really like to see these weapons honed a bit more so that what I pick in a fight actually matters.

Moving a bit farther into military operations, I'm also rather disappointed in the ship options. I understand that you want to provide variety and are using the expanded roles to provide some nudges for players to build ships to do certain things, but these nudges just never really seem to be that impactful. The biggest bonus is just the increased hull space for the expanded ship roles for a class. I feel like I'm unlocking hulls just for the sake of having an extra few research nodes than because it gives me better or more interesting options.

While different factions do have some nuance to the different hull roles when it comes to slots and weapons options, I'd really rather see factions getting just ONE of the upgrade hull types that matches more with their philosophy than giving me all of them because I don't feel it really pushes me to design that much differently with the different races.

Last of all, I want to mention firing arcs. This is one area the faction ships are fairly different but I want to point out that these differences are many times undermined entirely due to the flight mechanics for combat. A 180 arc is never going to have difficulty hitting a target because the ships tend to stop and pivot when attacking rather than make passes.

A ship with a 180 degree arc is going to rotate fast enough that even the fastest ships will have trouble moving fast enough to keep ahead of the weapon. They have to travel much farther on a larger circle to avoid the incoming fire than the firing ship does when pivoting. If you want firing arcs to have an impact in combat they need to be much smaller. Closer to 60 degrees for a ship with all forward weapons and a max of 120 for wider angle weapons you don’t want to be effectively 360 degrees. Keeping ships moving in combat would also be helpful.

Factions
The different races are pretty good and the bonuses help to make them a bit more unique when combined with different government types but it all feels very basic. There's a few unique techs thrown in and a veneer of a faction specific story along with some differing victory conditions. However, nothing really pushes you to play all that differently, especially once you start collecting independents to fill your species menagerie. There needs to be something different here like favoring particular weapons options or defenses or systems and maybe even making some of these options entirely out of reach for different races.

Final Thoughts
There are a few things that I know come up fairly often relating to automation, fleets, diplomacy, as well as some UI issues that I'm not mentioning here. Mostly that I can forgive, work around, and eventually get used to. My intention here is to highlight things that I believe are more critical to creating an engaging experience on top of the impressive living galaxy. I hope y'all find these thoughts interesting and perhaps worth consideration as you work to polish DW2.
AKicebear
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by AKicebear »

+1 especially on resource scarcity and supply chains as an area ripe for improvement
WiZz
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by WiZz »

vaaish1 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 9:19 pm First of all, there is never a danger of being without any resources. This means that trading is mostly for more luxury items (the one thing I DO find scarce, though more due to every colony wanting some of every possible luxury than an overall shortage) than construction materials. This removes pressure on the player or AI to acquire access to a needed source by conquest.
In early game that danger is very visible. Have you played with poor home system? Finding the resources is very tedious and irritating.
vaaish1 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 9:19 pmThis is one area I think might be a fairly simple fix of just reducing the percentage of planets that have resources and giving us a scarcity control in game options to dial in a preference for those who might like more plentiful resources.
You'd just kill all options of home system below normal. You empire will end with polymer deficit (most common case).
DasTactic
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by DasTactic »

Well thought out and well written. Personally, I'm still having a lot of fun with the game but I can see your points.

I agree with the resources needing to do more in the game. I couldn't tell you in any game one luxury resource above another as long as you keep getting new ones. I'm playing games at the moment with a Harsh or Trying system, many pirates, Starting, Tech 1, and a Boskaran enemy close by - and that has been a lot of fun. You start with basic exploration so you can find a lot of the missing resources nearby without grinding. You need to establish supply lines with diminished resources to build the fleets to protect them. That start gives the need to find, mine and protect specific resources, but the base game doesn't really do that.

Keeping ships moving in combat is an interesting take. That would make the turning rates way more important than they are now. Maybe a minimum speed based on drives and turning rates while in combat. It might be too much when attacking bases and stationary objects but it would be cool to see that.
AKicebear
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by AKicebear »

DasTactic wrote: Fri Jul 01, 2022 3:13 pm Keeping ships moving in combat is an interesting take. That would make the turning rates way more important than they are now. Maybe a minimum speed based on drives and turning rates while in combat. It might be too much when attacking bases and stationary objects but it would be cool to see that.
I quite like this idea as a means to make turning rates matter more and make battles more entertaining to watch.
vaaish1
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by vaaish1 »

WiZz wrote: Fri Jul 01, 2022 3:10 pm
In early game that danger is very visible. Have you played with poor home system? Finding the resources is very tedious and irritating.
I have, and the issue I'm highlighting isn't related to the early game exploration which is quite fun and engaging. What I'm speaking about is more toward mid game where you've probably got a decently sized empire and a few colonies. At that point, I can't say there's ever been a moment that I was constrained in any way by resources. It has zero impact on what I decide to design, research, or build. That's a huge disappointment over the early game where I need to be careful what I'm building until I find sources of Silicon or Carbonate for example. The core of this issue is that there are too many systems with too many resources, so the scarcity just doesn't happen.
You'd just kill all options of home system below normal. You empire will end with polymer deficit (most common case).
I'm not speaking about the home system, this is fine for your start, I'm talking about the resource distribution and scarcity of the galaxy as a whole is off. However, there SHOULD be a real possibility that you have a deficit of a critical resource because that would drive your actions like further exploration to find that resource or military action to take it from another empire or even picking a different research path based on the resources you DO have. Now, that's not something everyone would probably enjoy if it was too extreme which is why I'd suggest it be an option to manage the scarcity levels in the galaxy as a whole.
vaaish1
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by vaaish1 »

DasTactic wrote: Fri Jul 01, 2022 3:13 pm Well thought out and well written. Personally, I'm still having a lot of fun with the game but I can see your points.

I agree with the resources needing to do more in the game. I couldn't tell you in any game one luxury resource above another as long as you keep getting new ones. I'm playing games at the moment with a Harsh or Trying system, many pirates, Starting, Tech 1, and a Boskaran enemy close by - and that has been a lot of fun. You start with basic exploration so you can find a lot of the missing resources nearby without grinding. You need to establish supply lines with diminished resources to build the fleets to protect them. That start gives the need to find, mine and protect specific resources, but the base game doesn't really do that.
I have tried most of those settings, but not with a Boskaran close by. I have a list of random sizes and conditions for the starting AI empires I'm still playing with, but they are always random races and it's never started me next to boskaran yet :) I may give it a go. That may spice up the early game, but I feel you'll still hit that point where you no longer have a resource issue.
AKicebear
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by AKicebear »

Re resource scarcity - maybe the easier solution is scaling resource requirements for each level of components significantly so that it is always a challenge to build the latest fancy. The trade off is use weaker (or, for drives, much slower) tech for longer, or have your resource usage scale 2x (or 10x? That needs testing) every new tech level to maintain an edge over an opponent.
Jorgen_CAB
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by Jorgen_CAB »

While I find the game still entertaining I do agree on all the points raised, there are some balance that is duly needed to make the game a bit less stale.

I do also like the idea of forcing ships to move forward and standing still not really be much of an option. It also feels funky when ships just stop in their tracks and jerk around trying to get their weapons into fire positions. Acceleration and deceleration should be way slower. You also could make it so deceleration is even slower than acceleration.

I also think firing arcs need to be looked at... I also would like an option of true broadside mounts. Weapons that may fire at both left and right of a ship as one system, say 60-90 degrees to either side of the ship.
OrnluWolfjarl
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by OrnluWolfjarl »

I feel the design philosophy of luxury resources is primarily to power the private economy, rather than being a part of active gameplay.

Similarly, I feel that construction resources are meant to hamper the player indirectly, rather than directly. A ship costing more and requiring a larger variety of resources means it needs a larger mining/trading network and time in the construction yard to make each ship.

I 100% agree that mine building should be largely automated.

I also think that resources should be woven better into diplomacy and war. For example, allow trade agreements of specific resources and in specific bulk every interval of a specific time period, as a means of tribute from a vassal/defeated/trading partner to an overlord/winner/trading partner.

I'd also like to see piracy become available to non-Pirate nations. There should be a diplomatic state of Cold War/Confrontation which allows 2 nations to have a war without declaring a war. The navies of the two sides can veer into each other's space to attack stations and freighters with the explicit goal of dismantling each other's economy and supply network. If too much blood is shed in a short period of time, then the situation could escalate automatically to full war. This would make resources and their locations actually matter way more than they do now, because you are absolutely right. Attacking mines during war, when you want to conquer, is just self-defeating.

I also agree that luxury resources need more flavour and stronger bonuses. Perhaps synergistic bonuses would be nice.
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KingHalford
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by KingHalford »

My analysis of the way resources work in wartime in Distant Worlds is that they're not scarce enough initially to get your economy going (a good thing: most players hate having to restart maps because they can't get a certain resource) but unless you've got a lot of sources, their limited mining rate won't allow you to expand fast enough to be competitive. You are incentivised to take more territory because it sucks having that fleet construction you need on permanent hold because you can't build a critical ship component. That can be pretty severe if you're at war, especially with fuel, when your entire economy comes crashing down because you can't fuel your ships.

The game wasn't about denying the player a specific resource (like the desire to go to war for a source of Iron or Coal in Civ) because the resources are limited through their mining rate, rather than being a finite thing. Sure you've got a source of something, but if you can't extract it fast enough to keep up with your opponents you lose a war of attrition.

I feel like the situation where you hit the midgame and need to go to war over resources is already in the game, and has been since DW:U, because on Hard and above you're not going to be competitive unless you've got several sources of each resource you need. Sure, you can tick along if you're playing steadily but unless you've got the game set on some very vanilla settings you're going to be outpaced by anybody with more territory than you have.

All this being said, I'm all for more options in the game to change things like resource levels. This works very well in the only other 4X I know that has a resource-based economy, Imperiums: Greek Wars, where the game has extensive setup options to fine-tune resource scarcity directly, and with more general map settings that also make resources more meaningful (distance between nations and map shape being two examples) which were closer to the way we indirectly controlled resource distribution in DW:U.

Having somewhat uneven distributions of resources is, I think, already supposed to be happening in the game. I think tweaking that distribution a bit to see how it affects the game is a nice idea.

Another consideration: I've pondered how it would change the game to make resources in DW2 just more difficult to get and I suspect that doing so would nerf the abilities of the AI into oblivion. Strategy game AI usually gets either huge bonuses to things like resouce production, or it ignores it altogether because it's apparently not that easy to get the game to figure out how to do it right, or adds massive complexity to an already difficult maths puzzle. One way I've seen modders make better AI for certain games is to remove their need to worry about in-game resources of one sort or another (and consider in Shadow Empire how AI regimes don't pay for roads as a good example of this), which leads me to suspect that making resources more scarce might seem like it's making the game more challenging for the player, but would probably end up making it much more difficult for the AI to compete.

So I think some way of tweaking the relative distribution of resources would probably make more sense than just making them more scarce overall, which probably won't work.
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Lunalis
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by Lunalis »

vaaish1 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 9:19 pm Moving a bit farther into military operations, I'm also rather disappointed in the ship options. I understand that you want to provide variety and are using the expanded roles to provide some nudges for players to build ships to do certain things, but these nudges just never really seem to be that impactful. The biggest bonus is just the increased hull space for the expanded ship roles for a class. I feel like I'm unlocking hulls just for the sake of having an extra few research nodes than because it gives me better or more interesting options.

While different factions do have some nuance to the different hull roles when it comes to slots and weapons options, I'd really rather see factions getting just ONE of the upgrade hull types that matches more with their philosophy than giving me all of them because I don't feel it really pushes me to design that much differently with the different races.
this was also one thing i was thinking of in my last game...
from the 3 upgraded ship variants for escorts/frigates etc i always just build the hull with the extra weapon. i never build the one with the extra engine or the 3rd in any game yet. (than again the game currently is bad with multiple types of one ship hull anyways. and i never got to building the upgraded cruisers/battleships)

so the idea i had was that the upgraded hull tech would give you randomly one of the 3 ships and not all three.

than there could be another tech that would add module slots to ship hulls.
either "+1 sensor, +1 engine or +1 general slot" to all ships of that hull type (i.e. both escort hulls)
or another tech that would give you one of "+1 weapon, +1 hangar or +1 defence"

so the techtree could look instead of:
frigates->upgraded frigates

frigates->+1 low module-> upgraded frigate ->+1 high module

most of the modules could be internal slots, jsut the added weapon would be a problem... and that you would need alot of ship designs with different module amounts or some way to add a module to a ship.
Jorgen_CAB
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by Jorgen_CAB »

Lunalis wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 9:09 am
vaaish1 wrote: Thu Jun 30, 2022 9:19 pm Moving a bit farther into military operations, I'm also rather disappointed in the ship options. I understand that you want to provide variety and are using the expanded roles to provide some nudges for players to build ships to do certain things, but these nudges just never really seem to be that impactful. The biggest bonus is just the increased hull space for the expanded ship roles for a class. I feel like I'm unlocking hulls just for the sake of having an extra few research nodes than because it gives me better or more interesting options.

While different factions do have some nuance to the different hull roles when it comes to slots and weapons options, I'd really rather see factions getting just ONE of the upgrade hull types that matches more with their philosophy than giving me all of them because I don't feel it really pushes me to design that much differently with the different races.
this was also one thing i was thinking of in my last game...
from the 3 upgraded ship variants for escorts/frigates etc i always just build the hull with the extra weapon. i never build the one with the extra engine or the 3rd in any game yet. (than again the game currently is bad with multiple types of one ship hull anyways. and i never got to building the upgraded cruisers/battleships)

so the idea i had was that the upgraded hull tech would give you randomly one of the 3 ships and not all three.

than there could be another tech that would add module slots to ship hulls.
either "+1 sensor, +1 engine or +1 general slot" to all ships of that hull type (i.e. both escort hulls)
or another tech that would give you one of "+1 weapon, +1 hangar or +1 defence"

so the techtree could look instead of:
frigates->upgraded frigates

frigates->+1 low module-> upgraded frigate ->+1 high module

most of the modules could be internal slots, jsut the added weapon would be a problem... and that you would need alot of ship designs with different module amounts or some way to add a module to a ship.
I actually build ships with extra engines, these ships do add both tactical and strategic value to your tactics.

I also use many different hull types of the same class, I just use one per fleet as you can only designate one ship of each class to a fleet but different fleets can have different versions of the same class. You then just designate which next ship of that class ships in that fleet upgrade to and they will do that automatically. I'm sure allot of people have missed this little information in how to use different ships of the same class with little to no hassle.
So, I can have a fast patrol fleet with a patrol version of my escort and frigate class and then a different escort and frigate for my system defence fleets.
Lunalis
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by Lunalis »

Jorgen_CAB wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 7:24 pm I actually build ships with extra engines, these ships do add both tactical and strategic value to your tactics.

I also use many different hull types of the same class, I just use one per fleet as you can only designate one ship of each class to a fleet but different fleets can have different versions of the same class. You then just designate which next ship of that class ships in that fleet upgrade to and they will do that automatically. I'm sure allot of people have missed this little information in how to use different ships of the same class with little to no hassle.
So, I can have a fast patrol fleet with a patrol version of my escort and frigate class and then a different escort and frigate for my system defence fleets.
oh yea the different hull types are definately nice in combination with fleets.
or you could even use different modules on different fleets like:

-hyperdrive with the highest speed on defense fleet ship hull types, so they get to places that are attacked quicker.
-hyperdrive with the quickest jump charge for raid fleets so they can jump out quickly when they get in troubble.
-hyperdrives with good efficiency for attack fleets so they use less fuel and can jump mroe often between targets.
Cubano
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Re: Thoughts on DW2 under 1.51

Post by Cubano »

I am a fan of making higher tier cimpnents cost more resources than they currently do. It keeps different quality home worlds still playable in the early game but makes fighting for resources an actual goal in the later game
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