Additional Classes and raising the Crew Limit

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Additional Classes and raising the Crew Limit

Post by Andarus443 » Fri Feb 15, 2019 12:37 am

So one of the issues that has come up for me regarding this game is the extremely restrictive nature of the crew limit and how it inhibits play. I totally understand the developer decision on creating a hard ceiling on how many can play, but the chief problem with this philosophy is it runs directly into conflict with the players themselves trying to play the game. Pulsar is clearly intended to be a cooperative game played by multiple friends but when you can't hit the golden number of five committed players, this game loses its luster fast. Without polish and content, the game is good enough to be fun for all involved. There are definitely aspects that require tweaking and adjustment for a better balanced feel of play, but compared to anything else out there, this is by far the most open ended space crew co-op on the market. But this strength is inhibited by a very restrictive player ceiling limit that forces friend groups to split up into multiple sessions and is ultimately counter to the purpose of a co-op focused game. The bots... help but not in the way that Pulsar needs if its to continue to grow and reach larger audiences. So instead of just complaining, I had a solution in mind that while extremely difficult to implement, would definitely be necessary in meeting players where they're at rather than banking on those golden groups of five to keep coming back to play.

Before going further I do want to express my agreement that these suggestions are ambitious alterations and that I sincerely wish I could have brought them forward earlier in this games development. I totally understand the sense in keeping goals manageable and that adding things all over the place makes ambitious developments like Pulsar almost un-complete-able in the worst of ways, but I also feel that having co-op being such a central focus requires the game to be more flexible in allowing different player groups to meet the game's challenges. Groups smaller than five shouldn't be forced to pick and choose their handicaps because they don't have a fifth to meet all of the roles. Likewise groups of six or seven shouldn't be forced to sit out other players and those players forced to either play very unsuccessful and lonely sessions by themselves or just give the game up entirely. There is a great concept to this game and the hard ceiling of five is, by my experience, strangling it.

The suggestion I'm posing is the addition of classes and the ability to play un-classed, un-classed players being the easiest addition to implement. In modern day navies for example, many new recruits are enlisted as un-designated. That is to say, they have yet to receive any specialization and dedicated function. This allows navies themselves to apply manpower where the organization feels they are most needed and best suited. Such a system would be indispensable for a game like Pulsar. Say you and your friends wanted to play together but there are eight of you. Five take on respective roles and responsibilities, and three of you play as un-classed crewmen conducting various tasks around the ship such as manning guns and operating repairs. Further still, boarding parties would be less taxing on crews with the ability to establish teams of un-classed boarding parties in the teleporter and send the over to wreak havoc on enemy ship systems. This option does create the obvious balance concerns regarding scaling of the enemy to still provide a challenge to larger crews but I feel this could be easily managed considering Pulsar is a rather low intensity game on computing power. By increasing enemy crews with their own matching compliments of boarding parties the difficulty could be maintained without cutting too deep into flow of game-play.

The next suggestion is dividing currently existing and somewhat overworked classes into sub-groups. As it stands, Weapons Specialist and Scientist are both overburdened in combat, the weapon specialist trying to divide their attention between both gunplay as the ships primary security force and turret management. Meanwhile the Scientist is overworked both as the combat corpsman, experimental researcher, and experimental weapons tech and ECM operator. So my recommendation would be to divide these classes into more specialized subgroups and allow for smaller groups to assume multiple roles at once to meet the needs of a more limited crew size.

So my suggestions for classes are as follows;
Marine; a rapid reaction combat class, designed for exploring planetary surfaces, boarding ships and stations, and having increased suitability in gunfights. With class focuses in tankier armor, longer sprinting, and increased small arms damage, the Marine would serve as the ship board security force and first contact body guard to the captain on away missions.
Gunner; a turret operator class, focused on managing the ship's guns, managing missile stores, boosting combat viability in space bound engagements with override abilities, as well as being able to provide orbital bombard support in ground combat scenarios against enemy armored units.
Corpsman; A healer class, the corpsman's responsibility would be to provide medical treatment to the crew and encountered aliens by administering first aid in combat situations across the ship, developing vaccines to alien viruses contracted on planets, and directing the away team with the data pad on the ground. This class would operate out of life support, a ship function which could prove very interesting with more development and depth.
Technician; A support class, designated with operating the ship's Electronic Counter-measures, employing viruses and programs, directing ground teams with orbital views created by fired probes, managing comms with stations and vessels, and also serve as interpreter of alien languages for missions with long lost alien tech or forgotten civilizations.

These are obviously just suggestions and may never be implemented. However if Pulsar is to continue in its development post finalized release, I would love to see additions like the ones suggested for broadening the scope of play. This game is as good as it needs to be for what it does, it just needs more options for slightly larger groups of players to enjoy it together. But with the addition of classes like the ones mentioned, it would also serve beneficial for players to have the option to multi-class and assume multiple roles to avoid the need for depending on the very clunky and unreliable bot system.

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Re: Additional Classes and raising the Crew Limit

Post by Edinstein » Mon Feb 18, 2019 2:17 pm

Thank you for the suggestions and feedback! Your proposed classes are very interesting, and larger crews would be wonderful to have. Unfortunately, you are correct in assuming that it would be difficult to implement. The game is designed from the ground up for five players, and our schedule is currently packed with making features that are necessary to the completion of the game. Massive design changes at this stage are beyond the scope of the project, especially considering we only have one programmer.

We often make improvements to AI, and we want them to fill their roles as best as possible for smaller player crews. Though AI is not the focus of this topic, if you have any specific suggestions of how to improve them, please feel free to let us know.

We do hope to add more features to the game after we release the official version. Although we can't make any promises as to what we'll add post-release, we do hope to add different ways to play the game. I won't make any guarantees, but a play mode with a bigger crew could be a possibility. Right now though, it's not on the agenda, apologies.

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