The Scientist...

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tjblackhawk
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The Scientist...

Post by tjblackhawk » Tue Mar 31, 2015 9:47 pm

**This actually ended up being longer than I had anticipated, my apologies for that but I wanted to be thorough.

I've been playing Pulsar for about a year now and the biggest thing I've noticed is this: The Scientist doesn't have enough to do in their specific role. They're primarily in charge of cyber warfare, and currently there are only two enemies that also have a cyber warfare suite, the tactical drone and the sector commander. Which leaves the scientist with little to do during all other forms of combat or exploration. Maybe I'm jumping the gun here, perhaps a lot more enemies will be added that have the ability to throw viruses our way. So maybe not a whole lot should be added to the scientist at this point in time, but here are some thoughts I've had on giving the scientist both more to do, more flexibility and in-dependency, and a more essential role.

1. A screen for the scientist, much like the reactor screen for the engineer. This screen manages power to each individual CPU. This would give the scientist a more interactive contribution to the ship's well being, and give them more flexibility on what takes priority (shields/cyber defense/warp charge). Even if its not a slider screen at least something that lets them turn individual processors ON/OFF. This alleviates the issue of the science station always drawing maximum power, and gives the scientist freedom over how to use whatever power is allotted to him/her.

2. More emphasis on sensors and scans. For instance missiles won't be able to target a specific system until a targeted scan has been completed. Targeted scans would also be more helpful if they could tell us O2 levels on the enemy ship (though not helpful currently, would be in future updates), fires on the enemy ship, lifeforms and/or any enemy crew (which I understand is planned), and perhaps some kind of visual aid like a top down view layout of the enemy ship...though would become redundant after crew members become familiar with all the ship layouts but this top down view could give the location of fires, and enemy crew or cargo.

3. Involve the scientist more with teleporting. Perhaps they should be the ones to launch tele-pad probes to unexplored planets, and perhaps require a targeted scan on top of disabling QT shields before being able to teleport to an enemy ship. Also, though I don't know how practical this would be, but having the ability to manually teleport crew back from hostile environments without said crew member having to run back to a pad. For instance the scientist stays behind, while the rest of the crew go down to a planet and things go awry but no one can make it back to the pad. So the scientist being on the ship can lock on to an individual crew member and beam them back to safety.

4. More viruses and programs, and depending on how other things evolve, more capacity for programs and viruses. Right now I think we're stuck at 8, which is fine since there isn't a lot of variety. You know what, 8 seems fine...I'm kinda thinking out loud here. But definitely more variety...like viruses that kill O2 production, or viruses that start fires by overclocking or shorting enemy systems, viruses that shut down the enemy tele-pad so they cannot board us even if QT shields are down, programs to temporarily boost shield integrity, programs to temporarily improve weapon recharge times, and...
----4.a) A mechanism or programs that allow the scientist to manipulate our own ship signature to fool the enemies. In a small ship for the CU and are passing through AoG space, well how about you trick them into thinking you are a massive ship armed to the teeth! Or the opposite, lure in enemies by making them think it'll be an easy fight before you clean their clocks...(never really understood that expression)
----4.b) Interactive viruses, perhaps with some added mechanism that allows the scientist to manually increase the duration of a virus. So activate a virus like normal and then in the last 10 or 15 seconds have the option to extend the time. But they would have to act quickly, perhaps have them answer a simple math problem or complete some other simple task within a few seconds. If they answer correctly it could add 10 seconds or so onto the duration of the virus, and they could keep doing this (theoretically) but would have less time to answer each time, or have harder questions or tasks. This would really help the scientist contribute, especially in squeezing out a few more seconds of useful viruses in a heavy battle.

5. Shield integrity (this is more of an after thought that I'm just throwing out there). But how about giving the scientist some control over the shield integrity as well as adding some passive power draw from shields. I mean shields should be using power just to stay powered up, at least a little bit. So perhaps give the scientist the ability (throttle/slider) to control how much integrity the current generator is putting out, though it wouldn't go over the rated integrity of the specific generator. Lowering the integrity would also decrease the passive power draw. Or how about limiting ARX-SCP's to doing just one thing at a time, adding integrity or boosting recharge but allowing the scientist to toggle between effectively micro-managing each processor. Directing power to recharge rates or added integrity.

I believe that even with a few changes to the role of scientist it can become a much more valued and critical role on every star ship.
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Re: The Scientist...

Post by yacabo » Wed Apr 01, 2015 2:17 pm

I don't really like the idea of the scientist staying behind, when on a planet it's the scientist's job to pick the flowers, so he can turn those flowers into a bomb (or biscuit)

I do like the idea of giving him teleportation powers but not with enough power that he stays behind when he could be needed telling the difference between the red pana flower and slightly redder pana flower.
I love space

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Re: The Scientist...

Post by maplealmond » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:01 pm

I've been thinking a lot about this myself.

One of the major problems is that programs are like spells. You fire and forget them, and then they go away. They can also be recovered by spending fuel cells -- even mid fight -- which makes battles with the ancient sentry much, much easier.

I think that scientist role needs to take from the engineer role. Programs, rather than being one shots, should be a thing you turn on/off. The problem is that the CPU can run maybe 2-3 of the programs at once safely, any more and all of the programs start to degrade in performance.

This would make those "general computing power" chips extremely important, because they mean science can run more programs at full power. Doubly so for getting a high power limit from engineering.

Programs, when activated, run until such a time as they complete their task, but they can be switched off at any time. They don't "recharge" after each jump, but they're always available.

This means tweaking what the programs actually do. Shield boosting would increase shield gain by some percentage, and maybe optimize the deflection rate of the shields, but it wouldn't be a rapid recharge. System healing should be much the same -- an acceleration but not an instant effect.

Warp Core Charging gets more interesting then. If programs are not fire-and-forget, you can't really do warp core charge. But I've noticed that the developers have started to make jump calculations also important, so the idea that the scientist needs to take CPU power in order to compute a jump also makes sense.

Cyber-warfare then ends up being interesting because even an enemy program which does nothing is annoying and bad. An enemy program which does nothing uses up CPU power - you could even imagine an enemy worm program that starts eating up computing power for no good reason, pressuring the scientist to start running antivirus which eats up even MORE CPU power to kill it.

With high level CPUs, the scientist's job starts to get easier since he can keep programs running all the time, much like how at the highest levels of reactor the engineer can turn everything on max and sit back and relax, but I'm ok with this outcome.

As far as making scanners more engaging, I like the idea of the scientist running a slider of EM sensor output. The more power he sends to the sensors, the higher the ship detection is, but the easier it is to see. He should absolutely see incoming active EM spikes as well, which will tell him someone is trying to find him.

There are a wealth of submarine games which have sensor warfare really well figured out. The science officer could easily steal some of it. One could even so far as to give them a "turret" which acts as a 360 degree sensor scope, and lets them designate enemies or fire directional sensor pings.

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Re: The Scientist...

Post by Bleet » Wed Apr 01, 2015 3:44 pm

I was tempted to post this in a separate thread, but I think this is a good place to add this idea:

There's been plenty of talk about increasing the amount of stuff a scientist can do. What I propose is giving scientists a greater control over the ship's sensors in regard to detecting enemy ships.

One such feature that a few have suggested is give the scientist the ability to control the sensor power consumption/output. I suggest going a step further and allow a scientist to "focus" the sensors on a specific ship (or two), actively painting them as a target.

By focusing the sensor beam/array, it would decrease power consumption necessary to maintain a lock and/or increase the range that a sensor can maintain a lock. It also opens up new possibilities for synergizing with the weapons (faster missile lock-on, damage bonus, highlighting subsystem targets, etc.), which could also be implemented into the Scientist's talent tree or a purchasable sensor/CPU component.

For balance, a ship can't fix lock a target until it gets detected by the standard sweeping sensors. Furthermore, enemy ships will instantly go yellow status or full on attack due to the constant energy directed at its ship. Also, when focusing on a target, your ship will be effectively blind of other enemies (or possibly blind up to extremely close <1KM ranges).

This also opens up the possibility for adding a sensor component to a ship - one that balances between power consumption, sensor strength, lock on/focus strength/bonuses, and detectability of the captain's ship.

It's kinda similar to Maplealmond's idea regarding sensor pings, I'll admit, but hey, something to consider!

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Re: The Scientist...

Post by tjblackhawk » Wed Apr 01, 2015 6:43 pm

@maplealmond
One of the major problems is that programs are like spells. You fire and forget them, and then they go away. They can also be recovered by spending fuel cells -- even mid fight -- which makes battles with the ancient sentry much, much easier.
I agree. The fire and forget method seems to be an issue. I recall early devlogs in which there was a mini-game in order to hack into an enemy ship and the more power you had to your processors and/or the less power they had to theirs, the easier the game was, the easier it was to hack. But it was still manual. I'll see if I can find those early devlogs this week.
Cyber-warfare then ends up being interesting because even an enemy program which does nothing is annoying and bad. An enemy program which does nothing uses up CPU power - you could even imagine an enemy worm program that starts eating up computing power for no good reason, pressuring the scientist to start running antivirus which eats up even MORE CPU power to kill it.
This...IS AWESOME!

The potential I see with programs always being available is that it would make them overpowered. There would be no downside to using programs and viruses beyond a higher power demand from the processors. I still think that there would be a way to balance them, perhaps even with keeping the warp/fuel charging...I'll have to think about this a while.

@Bleet
It seems like you and maplealmond were in the same/similar boat on sensors. I like the idea of having a sensor focus which would blur or blind your sensors to other ships. Also I like the added reward of faster missile lock for a ship that the ships sensors are focused on.

This is a conversation (one of many) that I think is important to get ideas out there. Thanks for contributing guys. One thing a friend of mine just brought to my attention was the possibility that the dev's didn't intend on having the scientist play a heavy role in ship to ship combat but more of a passive/support role that does research, helps explore, heals crew and such. Which if the dev's say that is the case then I'll shut up about it.
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Re: The Scientist...

Post by tjblackhawk » Wed Apr 01, 2015 7:02 pm

Here's a quick look at something from their first devlog:
https://youtu.be/AZt3lmfB-zs?t=4m4s

And here's that mini game type thing:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=98FP-cfdXfk
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Re: The Scientist...

Post by maplealmond » Thu Apr 02, 2015 8:57 pm

I agree that having programs always available runs the risk of making them overpowered. That's why I imagine programs will get nerfed. You can't have insta-warp-core charge programs, but you can have "calculates jump drive" as a mandatory feature that the scientist has to run, which means that (s)he has to disable the shield boosting / cyber defense / whatever programs in order to run the jump calculations.

Likewise shield boosting programs would have to be a slow gain boost, since the scientist could have them running all the time. RV would have to spend time working on slowing and destroying enemy programs instead of just BAM, done. This is fine, because the scientist then has to decide "ohh, should I be doing this or that" and making hard tradeoffs, instead of merely going "Oh, shields are low and we're still being hit? Guess I should run SH."

Engaging in cyberwarefare would use up some CPU power, if only to have the hacking program active, which means that cyberwarefare is also a tradeoff. You can go in with your viruses blazing, but if they're properly shielded with firewall and antivirus programs you'll just wish you had focused on boosting programs instead. If they are running performance boosting programs and no antivirus, then you can smack them out. So knowing what programs they are running helps.

That would make running programs a lot more interesting. I'm also a fan of the radar scope turret idea, of course. Trying to integrate all these things together might be hard, but I like the idea of radar scoping for long range detection (is there something out there) and switching to cyberwarefare once the shooting starts.

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Re: The Scientist...

Post by Merglasch » Fri Apr 03, 2015 6:52 am

Wow, some really nice ideas out there guys. Especially maplealmond I really like the direction you proposed.

Love the idea of enemy viruses feeding from your and their cpu power. Would make them double the pain in the ass and the science officer would be forced to make decisions based on that (focus most of his cpu power (enemy virus+antivirus) on getting rid of the virus or live with the virus effects and the cut in his cpu power for the moment to achieve another goal like finished jump calculations or a boosted shield to not blow up).

Also love that knowledge about what programs the enemy ship is running/has available would be important to decide what your cpu power should be invested in.

If I may, I'd like to add 2 ideas to expand this.

1. Different programs could have different needs for cpu power and there could be variants of single programs (stronger, longer effects, but more cpu intensive and have a certain cpu level requirement), so having a better cpu wouldn't necessarily allow you to simply run most of your programs and lean back, but give you a choice wether you want to run for example a light shield boost, a virus and some slow jump calculations or a medium shield boost and slow jump calculations or (if you've been infected) the enemy virus and a medium antivirus program. Of course one could also achieve that with being able to distribute different amounts of cpu power to a program, but then I'd propose that your cpu and maybe even your "programming talent" would have to have a certain level first so as you progress, you're tactical options become more varied. (of course balanced in a way that there is never the one solution/your so overpowered that you don't have to care).

2. The Charge with fuel capsules
I could see this getting adapted to this system in one of two ways (or both).
-Maybe some programs or viruses have a cooldown and a duration for which they can be run at maximum. Expending a fuel capsule could reset the cooldown or prolong the duration in this case.
-expending a fuel capsule could give you a temporary boost to your cpu power, so that you can run that one program you really need for a few seconds. After that time (a couple of seconds 5/10/20/30 - may depend on your cpu and skills) you'd have to expend another fuel capsule to keep the cpu at this powerlvl.

I'm also quite interested in that minigame aspect seen in the devlog and proposed by tjblackhawk. Could be really fun trying to squeeze out that couple of extra seconds or breaking through the enemy firewall. Would have to see if the scientist isn't overloaded with stuff to do at some point, but if not...:D

The sensor turret also seems interesting, not sure how complex that should get but having to aim at a ship to scan for components/link up weapon system/scan for lifeforms etc could be fun. Since doing this during the engagement would be dangerous time the scientist couldn't do anything else it would represent an interesting difference between the fights you start prepared and the ones you stumble into.

I agree that the scientist shouldn't have to stay behind while the others go exploring, but involving him somehow in the teleporting progress/possibilities could be interesting.

In terms of non combat stuff to do, we can only wait and see. My guess is that the other crewmembers will have more problems in that department, since he can do "science".^^

I really like this discussion and am excited for more :D

Just wanted to quickly add
It just crossed my mind that if every program had a duration for which its effects lasted(e.g. shield boost) or which it needed to achieve its goals (e.g. charged warp drive) then charges could still be a possibility. During the active time it would need a certain amount of cpu power, could be aborted at any time or could crash if cpu power limits were exceeded for too long (caused by a virus or lowered cpu power for example). Though I guess having charges in addition to that might be too much of a restriction, but I'm not sure. Just wanted to quickly add this and ask what others think about it.

Have a good day ;)

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Re: The Scientist...

Post by tjblackhawk » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:31 pm

More on programs and viruses:

If the mini-game in the devlog or something similar were to be implemented there should be a way to fight the virus or sever the connection. I thought about something that implemented a kind of bandwidth between ships. Once through the enemy firewall (playing the mini-game) any programs you had turned on would be sent to their ship. However on top of being able to turn programs on/off or maybe replacing a toggle switch would be a slider for each program and the total usage couldn't exceed the bandwidth. Lets say sitting duck and phalanx were being sent, and SD was set to 62%, then phalanx could be 38% or less. SD at 62% wouldn't kill engine power, but rather cut it by 62%. Now to fight viruses, without restarting your ship could be trimming the bandwidth. Say you have those same viruses coming in at you so you drop your bandwidth, bottle-necking both incoming and outgoing signals meaning that their cyber attacks will be less effective but so will yours. If both ships are using the same channel/bandwidth for attack then they would be fighting each other for that bandwidth. This could be settled by a cyber attack processor, and whichever one has more power gets that much more bandwidth. Another way to fight the viruses would be to simply kill the process, like they were showing on the left screen in that devlog. Which might seem OP, but whats stopping the enemy ship from hacking again? Nothing. But yes, the science officer could baby sit that screen and hunt for viruses, but then they'd be neglecting their other duties. I don't know...just some thoughts.
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Re: The Scientist...

Post by pyr0kid » Fri Apr 10, 2015 1:23 pm

MY GOD YES ON 1! :shock:
“When a person lies, what is important is not the lie itself. No, it is their reason. Their why.” -Holo

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