Boarding in v.3.0+ - A Boarding Journal

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XenonSurf
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Boarding in v.3.0+ - A Boarding Journal

Post by XenonSurf » Wed, 20. May 15, 16:11

[**UPDATED**] 07.09.2015 // 20:31

Post updated with:

- I totally forgot about Landing Pods...They can be destroyed by turrets
- Some important notes about crew training, especially MO
- A new chapter: Advanced Boarding with the Traitor Drone
- Other tips against very strong ships after I've played it :D

When I started with XR a lot of Youtube videos have already been posted, some of them are very fun, but most of them have become obsolete not reflecting any more the newest XR versions. So watch them for your leisure, but don't expect these procedures to work when playing the newest XR 3.53 and beyond. Also a lot of guides only contain some vague advices, to say at least, which only makes you lose your time trying to reproduce them.

A successful boarding in 3.0+ can be resumed in the points below. I will introduce the differences and changes, present a very short ToDo list for successful boarding and then, for anyone interested, expand on the details.

I'd like to thank here in particular Snafu_X3 for his ideas and article named '1st Capping Tutorial (Titurel)'.
http://forum.egosoft.com/viewtopic.php? ... 71#4520971
All this has inspired me to make a in-depth research about the boarding mechanism in XR.

All players who have been playing XR v. 1.xx should read the changes below, because the boarding will not be anymore a piece of cake.

Changes in v.3.0+ (tested with v.3.53)
Veteran and Elite Marines cannot be buyed anymore; your marines get promoted to a higher rank instead (Veteran, Elite).
If your Skunk is not exceptionally strong, stronger than the enemy's ship, then you MUST succeed with the missions given by Yisha during the boarding. Failing 1 of those missions is not yet a guaranteed fail, but failing 2 or more certainly is.
It's now possible to TRAIN the skill of your Marine Officer (or any other hirable crew). A 5-Star MO and the presence of veteran and elite marines will contribute *much* more to your ship's strenght and a successful boarding.

Very short ToDo list to board a ship successfully:
Check your 'Battle Strenght' in the Skunk info and the 'Battle Resistance' in the enemy's ship info.
To give the Boarding command, your ship should be as strong or stronger than the enemy's ship. To make this true, you must destroy parts of the enemy ship or hull (or you are already stronger and can start the boarding asap).
Only then, give the Boarding command and succeed in Yisha's instructions.

Here are the boarding factors analyzed in detail:

1. Skill of Marine Officer and Distribution of Marines mk1/mk2/mk3
For marine losses occured, the code looks first at your marine skills, picking the recruit marines as highest loss probability.
Your attack strengh during the boarding is directly function of MO's skill and your Marine type.
Your strength may change once boarding is initiated, but the enemy's BR (in the enemy ship's Info) will remain CONSTANT. So it's important to damage him first, dependent on your Boarding Strenght before the boarding (Skunk Info).
After a successful boarding, any recruit marine has a 20% chance to be promoted to Veteran, and there's only a 2% probablility for a Veteran to become Elite. So once you have a good nr. of elites, better avoid doing foolish boarding attempts :D
I haven't yet analyzed the numbers for the MO, but it's likely that the less marines you lose in a boarding, the better the secondary skill increase for your MO, and the higher increase in the % needed for his next higher star in 'Boarding Experience'.
All this means: Be sure to TRAIN your MO and re-buy recruit marines for a maximum (50) after you succeed, or you will occur more veteran or elite marine losses in a subsequent boarding, making your overall BS much weaker.

2. Failing or skipping Yisha's missions will likely make your boarding a failure
Except if you are in the lucky state of point 4 below.
For these missions, a provisory attack strenght AT is assigned to you dependent on the skills of your marines and MO.
You must succeed any Yisha's mission within 2 or 3 minutes depending on how much shield protection the targets have, maybe you can't do it with a simple mk1 cannon, also better bring a good nr. of missiles to speed things up. Your weapon choice becomes especially important for the high-class ships like Phoenix or the Fulmekron.
You may get a Hacking Mission if you have an appropriate drone loaded, and if you succeed, most parts of the ship will have its shieds lost making your task easier.

When you fail or skip Yisha's instruction for the first time, the minimum marine losses will be 15-25% and any other sub-mission will have MORE losses (less if you succeed but you still occur losses) and your nr. of marines get down fast. Eventually you lose the boarding.

If you succeed Yisha's missions, Your AT will go up and the better marines and MO you have, the better + bonus you get in your AT. This all happens in the background, once the boarding is started you don't get a chance to see these numbers.
To succeed, just be sure to do quickly all these sub-missions.
Or get tricky: In the 3rd submission, do NOT destroy the Drone Bay (for money reasons); your AT will drop back to the boarding start value. Be sure not to hang around during these missions, because destroying the targets is not enough, you have to do it within the time limit.
Assuming you succeed in the remaining sub-missions (else I don't bet a penny on you): You will for sure lose more than 25% of your marines and your overall BS after the boarding will also hit the floor. It's your choice :D
If you are really good for skipping the 3rd mission and making the remaining 2, expect to be left with no more than 10-20 marines. With 3 marines left you FAIL the boarding. If I succeed the first 3 sub-missions, I'll for sure skip the Drone Bay mission on the 4th (not if I have a lot of Elites), but I'll have then to make it in the last sub-mission, and yes, this can also be the Drone Bay!
Incidentally, the drone bay accounts for a major part of the enemy's ship strenght, so destroying it will make a bording success a lot easier.

When AT + 10 > enemy BR , then you WIN.

This simple formula essentially means that if you start a boarding when the enemy ship is still too strong (BR), then you CAN'T win and you will lose your MO together with all your marines, even if you succeed in all sub-missions given by Yisha.
You won't see your AT value during the boarding, just concentrate on Yisha's instructions.

3. External factors that may cause a boarding failure
The formula above doesn't account for what happens around you.
Before the boarding, it's great that some neutral or friendly ships actually help you by attacking your target. But it's not so great once you give the Boarding command, because their attack may well cause the target to explode and kill all your marines in the process :evil:
The key for success here is to NOT start the boarding. Just keep watching the show, maybe helping the attackers. Watch the BS and BR numbers until they get to the formula above. Then quickly start with the Boarding command before the ship is killed, but it's very risky. The critical point is the 2nd sub-mission (engines), only after this one your marine task force will be sent to the ship (1st sub-mission: yeah, yeah, no nasty surprises...destroy the Jump Drive; 2nd sub-mission: destroy the Engines; all others randomly give ship surface elements).
If you think the ship is going to explode (Hull=0) then by all means DON'T do the 2nd sub-mission!! Your marines will not get onboard and you only fail the boarding with no bad consequences. Use your Long Range Scanner to locate some cargo containers, a consolation price for your efforts :D

4. You have to get the enemy's BR minus 10 to your BS
You will then not suffer any marine losses and you succeed. You may be in that case before the boarding, maybe after damaging the ship somewhat, so check out the numbers, you have then a guaranteed win :)
Early in the game, your BS is always inferior to all the ships (possible max. 252.5), this means you will have to destroy elements of the ship or the hull BEFORE giving the Boarding command so you get the enemy's BR down. Once boarding initiated, his BR will NOT go down anymore and it's all about succeeding point 2.

For my first boarding, I would get a L-type down to 30% Hull before boarding. Get it down more and your 'client' may explode...see point 3:)
For really high-value targets like the Phoenix or Fulmekron, prepare yourself to fight against a horde of drones and escort ships that will make your life a painful one...You better take these out BEFORE the boarding! For such targets, I will join the fight with a good number of fighting escorts myself. Here it's important to send your supporting ships away before giving the boarding command, otherwise they will continue to attack and maybe destroy your prey. Against such targets, only at least mk3 weapons will be useful, don't expect to last very long with some mk1 piupiu gun...Also carry 2 specialized drones for refilling your shields, a real life-keeper if you are under intense fire.

As you progress in the game, make sure to TRAIN your MO and possibly get his skills to 5-stars because that's the critical factor. With a less skilled MO you can also succeed but it gets much harder. The MO's main skill, the Boarding Experience, is the most important and cannot be trained, this will only increase with a lot of successful boardings, so watch out when you hire him: look for a 'good' boarding experience! The secondary skills of a crew member are even more important, why? If you look carefully at their skills, you will notice that some skills are in bold. Only these will be subject to training, the other skills will remain unchanged. This means: When you hire a crew member, especially the Marine Officer, then chose one with already good secondary skills! The MO's skiil that can be trained later are 'Leadership' and 'Morale'. The 'Combat' skill can NOT be trained, as strange as it sounds, it is meant for the Defense Officer.
For other crew members, the Captain, Engineer and Defense Officer, the skills are important as well: A good trained crew will not only give you better response times, but also much more money value: A 'medium' engineer will repair the hull up to 75%, an expert engineer will make the same job to 90%. This makes a huge difference should you sell the ship! Note that you can fine-tune the crew's behavior in their Detail Menu. Things like auto-refuel and defense or attack attitude for the DO can be set here.

If you ever decide to sell a ship be sure to collect your crew and sell or transfer everything you have on board beforehand, every ware or drones left on your ship when selling it will only get you 50% value from the ship vendor. Maybe you should install a less experienced captain so you don't have to redo the training of the better one (you cannot sell a ship without captain onboard). Also before selling, get in an expert engineer to repair the hull to 90%.
For doing such subtle crew changes, and also in various other game situations, the MoreCrew mod is very useful because expanding the number of crew members your Skunk can carry. The crew limitation in the vanilla game is odd in any case because the Skunk is meant to be a larger freighter (carrying 50 marines!)

5. Advanced Boarding: Traitor drone
You can get this ROV drone by the drone dealer. Each drone will carry 10 mines for the purpose of sabotage. You place them on hard surfaces (stations, ships, maybe asteroids?) and then you detonate them remotly with a keystroke.

[TO BE CONTINUED...]


Good hunting,
XenonS
Last edited by XenonSurf on Mon, 7. Sep 15, 20:42, edited 27 times in total.

Snafu_X3
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Post by Snafu_X3 » Wed, 20. May 15, 19:23

Nicely written XS; tks for the acknowledgement too :) I would also suggest changing the link to http://forum.egosoft.com/viewtopic.php? ... 71#4520971 to ensure ppl read the whole thread

BTW I'm not sure what
the better the secondary skill increase for your MO
refers to..

Also I'm sure some Dev (Lino?) mentioned that capship shield generators had a higher time limit than the other surface elements WRT Yisha's demands, due to their excessive shielding & consequent time needed to break through. This may have changed with the Teladi DLC's introduction of their Mk3 mining weapon, though I doubt it: the basic game /should/ remain unchanged whether or not you have access to the DLC's extra gear

[edit] Your post inspired me to make some minor changes to mine, so reread & comment please (bearing in mind it was meant to be a /first/ capping/boarding tutorial) [/edit]
Wiki X:R 1st Tit capping
Wiki X3:TC vanilla: Guide to generic missions, Guide to finding & capping Aran
Never played AP; all X3 advice is based on vanilla+bonus pack TC or before: AP has not changed much WRT general advice.

I know how to spell teladiuminumiumium, I just don't know when to stop!

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donzi
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Post by donzi » Thu, 21. May 15, 06:16

Unsure if hacking is applicable back to 3.00, if so..

If you ever manage to mix external ship hacking, something Yisha may suggest during boarding, it would be interesting.

I've went ahead and hacked many times when Yisha suggests it, this isn't a pass|fail thing with her like the engine destruction, etc. AFAIK.

Hacking seems a little X2 sagt Bussi auf Bauch during boarding too. Sometimes the indicated hack nodes do not remain, progress long enough to successfully hack and will restart fresh if the boarding process is still dragging out.

XenonSurf
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Post by XenonSurf » Thu, 21. May 15, 16:24

Hi,
of course this is still not the whole truth, and subject to update, looking and interpreting the code is not so easy at all (for me). I will have to re-check the 60 second time limit to see if this is really linked so to make my statement true (and not linked to something else).
For the Hacking mission, if you have the hacking drone loaded, there is a higher probability (together with other surface targets), i think 50%, that the hacking mission will be triggered. Also if the 60 seconds is true, a hacking mission will be very hard to do within time limit :P Will have to take a closer look.

If you don't like hacking or are not good in the Minigame, just sell the drone before boarding, you will not get any hacking mission.

One thing still in suspend and to be checked is if marines do additional damage to a ship, maybe causing it to explode. I've done a lot of quicksave loadings to check things and I saw once the Hull going down to 0 very fast WHITHOUT any other ship shooting to the target, but then I may be wrong, it's hard to see everything! I haven't totally excluded this scenario, I must check further, but in the code I haven't found any evidence of this or wans't able to find.

XenonS

donzi
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Post by donzi » Fri, 22. May 15, 10:15

The hacking maybe is 60 sec from node to node. I am certain that I've never been able to get the whole chain of nodes done within 60 sec.

AFAIK the hull damage freezes at boarding (maybe once all marines are in) in vanilla 3.53.

Maybe a final hit from an allied station or ship before they back off once marines are onboard.. or maybe a ally of the boarded ship (eg: a HV fighter) who doesn't care about your marines. ;-)

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Post by XenonSurf » Mon, 25. May 15, 05:04

Ok, here some important updates about time limit in sub-missions.
I just want to precise that my main post above was also based on direct observations, not just the analysis of the boarding.xml file. But afterall, what counts is the code and not my eyeball :)

Time limits for sub-missions:
My 60 seconds above are wrong and totally to forget about. The code has in fact a variety of time limits and tollerances within these limits, also some delays after success. Here the numbers that I have located for sure in the code.

Sub-mission 1 (jump drive): no time limit
Sub-mission 2 (engines): no time limit

It's also logical: if u do nothing, then the ship will escape :D

Destruction of 'normal' Surface Elements: 2 minutes
Destruction of "Hard' Surface Elements: 3 minutes

Both have an additional tollerance of 5 seconds. Hard elements are those with a big amount of shields.

After sub-mission 2, your marines get on board and it's decided if you will get the Hacking mission if you have the appropriate drone.
Here the numbers say:
'Weight' of Hacking versus Destruction of Surface Elements: 20 to 80. This seems very low to me, but I'll have to go with these numbers.

The time limit for hacking is difficult to establish. Before the hacking process code starts, the time limit is reset to 2 minutes and there's no trace of any limit within the hacking process.
The logic is that if you succeed the hacking, any further destruction of 'Hard' targets would get easier, thus you get 2 min. instead of 3 min.

As some interesting stuff, I found a very long part for a Boarding Retreat in the code, I wans't aware that any retreat is possible, so my post doesn't mention that, but maybe this part has simply been 'deactivated' ?

Article updated. I have added some final tips for difficult high-value ships and actions after boarding.

XenonS

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Post by w.evans » Mon, 8. Jun 15, 15:48

XenonSurf wrote:As some interesting stuff, I found a very long part for a Boarding Retreat in the code, I wans't aware that any retreat is possible, so my post doesn't mention that, but maybe this part has simply been 'deactivated' ?
Yup, it looks like Ego planned to implement a retreat complete with boarding pods lifting from the target ship and flying back to the Skunk. Was never (yet?) implemented, though.

There are hints of a PreScan function too (where you use a Beholder drone before launching pods), as well as some sort of training mission.

Nice guide!

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Post by A5PECT » Mon, 15. Jun 15, 03:14

At the start of the boarding pod phase certain marine commanders will sometimes complain that the player hasn't scanned the target, implying that doing so has (or is supposed to have) an effect on the operation.

After the complaint the operation seems to go through the boarding process normally. I haven't done any testing on whether scanning the target beforehand does or doesn't affect boarding success in some way, or if it least quiets up the marine commander. :p

It's likely just a point of evidence that there were additional planned-but-unimplemented features for boarding.

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Post by xirsoi » Sat, 11. Jul 15, 19:50

I recommend the excellent Marine Rebalance mod, which improves the whole experience.

Yisha won't bother giving you missions if you have an overwhelming advantage (if your Boarding Strength is something like more than 150% of there Boarding Resistance), so you can spare the drone bay, if you are tough enough. You can optionally begin the operation by scanning the ship with your Beholder drone. Doing so reduces the combat rounds from 10 to 4. If you can risk having the Skunk sit still for a minute or two while you scan, it's a great way to make it go much faster. It's downright critical if you don't have a significant advantage.

There are also hacking missions to improve your odds.

Anyway, in vanilla (and the mod, of course), you can destroy the engines and jump drive before you start. Destroying the engines is actually pretty helpful most of the time, because they just may fly someplace that will get them destroyed before you can cap them.
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XenonSurf
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Post by XenonSurf » Sun, 12. Jul 15, 19:25

xirsoi wrote: (...)Marine Rebalance mod, which improves the whole experience. (...)
This mod will mainly link your boarding success to the difficulty levels you chose in the game, whereas the easiest is a milk run and medium/hard is *really* hard.
xirsoi wrote:Yisha won't bother giving you missions if you have an overwhelming advantage
True, but you don't need a mod for that, the vanilla will do it, you don't have to care anymore about Yisha's mission. But it's a long, long way to get there, believe me :) Your max BS is 252,5 and still it will be inferior to most strong ships. So, apart the paper ships (Rahanas, L-type) you still have to work hard.
xirsoi wrote:scanning the ship with your Beholder drone.
Yes you could do that, but it's a loss of time IMO, the point is: you gain very little and your risk is high (at least against stronger ships !). But yes, thanks, I have to investigate this further.
Another thing to do is hacking inside ships if you have the necessary crafting items. Be aware that the Minigame will be 2x as fast, but if you succeed you essentially get what the hacking mission does: all the shields down. The Hacking Mission will do it way faster. I don't like hacking inside ships because it's too hard to succeed in order to waste your time for, and there's not much punishment if you fail, not making it very interesting.
Anyhow, I will have to update my post adding these 2 possibilities after playing them and seeing more clearly.
xirsoi wrote:Anyway, in vanilla (and the mod, of course), you can destroy the engines and jump drive before you start.
It doesn't matter because the main boarding starts *after* you have destroyed jump drives and engines. Only then your marines will get onboard. You can take all the time you want for these 2 missions also.

The main thing to keep in mind for Yisha missions is: it's about to destroy the *less possible* of the ship before the boarding command, so you have the luxury to skip the 'Drone Bay' mission and be assigned something else; if only little remains to be destroyed, then you have a very high chance to be assigned the Drone Bay. You don't want this because it often contains 50-60 valuable drones that you can sell for millions. Also 20+ elites are worth much more than any drone bay IMO, so in this case just destroy everything (if you have to) to avoid losing elite marines.
Actually, I find this part of the code very well-done and challenging for the player, and I can only raise my hat to Egosoft for this 8)

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Post by xirsoi » Tue, 14. Jul 15, 01:43

It may even be responsible for giving you (Trojan Drone) hacking missions to lower boarding resistance.

It also is responsible for creating an optional Pre-Scan step that reduces the number of combat rounds from 10 to 4. Which is HUGE if you don't have an overwhelming advantage. If you lose 2 marines in each round that is a difference of 12 marines. And that isn't factoring in how your boarding strength will go down with every marine you lose, so it's likely to make an even bigger difference.

I'm on Medium and my BS is 240+ and I only have a handful of Elites.

Being able to choose where your boarding pods will spawn is pretty important if you want fast capping. Take out all of the turrets on the underside of a Taranis, lay under the ship facing its belly and near the front, with "up" going toward their engines, and the command the boarding operation. The pods will have a quick and easy flight straight to the hull and be nowhere near the turrets.

If you train your marines on a bunch of L cargo ships and miners, you'll have a BS of 200+ in no time. You'll be able to cap any cargo ship without even doing hull damage, no problem.
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Re: Boarding in v.3.0+ - A Boarding Journal

Post by jayman1000 » Sun, 19. Jul 15, 15:24

XenonSurf wrote:Watch the BS and BR numbers until they get to the formula above.
Um, this may be considered a dum question: How do I "watch" the BS and BR numbers? I didn't find anything to show these numbers anywhere?

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Re: Boarding in v.3.0+ - A Boarding Journal

Post by Santi » Sun, 19. Jul 15, 16:41

jayman1000 wrote:
XenonSurf wrote:Watch the BS and BR numbers until they get to the formula above.
Um, this may be considered a dum question: How do I "watch" the BS and BR numbers? I didn't find anything to show these numbers anywhere?

"Very short ToDo list to board a ship successfully:
Check your 'Battle Strenght' in the Skunk info and the 'Battle Resistance' in the enemy's ship info."
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Re: Boarding in v.3.0+ - A Boarding Journal

Post by jayman1000 » Mon, 20. Jul 15, 01:42

santi wrote:
jayman1000 wrote:
XenonSurf wrote:Watch the BS and BR numbers until they get to the formula above.
Um, this may be considered a dum question: How do I "watch" the BS and BR numbers? I didn't find anything to show these numbers anywhere?

"Very short ToDo list to board a ship successfully:
Check your 'Battle Strenght' in the Skunk info and the 'Battle Resistance' in the enemy's ship info."
Ah must have missed that, sorry. And thanks!

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Post by w.evans » Thu, 23. Jul 15, 22:44

Thanks for the recommendation, xirsoi. Just wanted to correct this:
xirsoi wrote:There are also hacking missions to improve your odds.
xirsoi wrote:It may even be responsible for giving you (Trojan Drone) hacking missions to lower boarding resistance.
Both vanilla. Only thing changed with regard to hacking was to generate single random hacking points. Last time I checked, vanilla gives you several points, and you have to hack one of them?

I remember the change was done to address a comment that someone made about using Boarding Options to get Yisha to give just hacking missions, and being able to just sit over one point in a Trojan Drone, repeatedly hacking the same point as Yisha calls them, and satisfying all of Yisha's missions that way. (I remember someone really liked hacking.) Was a while back, though, so it's possible that md.RML_Scan_TargetPoints.ScanTargetPoints has changed since then.
XenonSurf wrote:
xirsoi wrote:Yisha won't bother giving you missions if you have an overwhelming advantage
True, but you don't need a mod for that, the vanilla will do it, you don't have to care anymore about Yisha's mission. But it's a long, long way to get there, believe me :) Your max BS is 252,5 and still it will be inferior to most strong ships. So, apart the paper ships (Rahanas, L-type) you still have to work hard.
Is this true? I don't see it.

Code: Select all

<do_if value="$target.owner == faction.ownerless">
  <set_value name="$missiontype" exact="1" />
</do_if>
<do_else>
  <do_any>
    <set_value name="$missiontype" exact="2" comment="Hack mission" weight="20 * $hackerdroneexists"/>
    <set_value name="$missiontype" exact="3" comment="Destroy surface element" weight="80"/>
  </do_any>
</do_else>
If the ship is abandoned, Yisha doesn't give missions, and a 20 second timer is set between rounds.
If you're packing a Trojan, there's a 20% chance that Yisha gives you a hacking mission.
Otherwise, you get a mission to destroy a random surface element.

Would be very interested to know if this has changed.

Also just wanted to comment on:
XenonSurf wrote:
xirsoi wrote:(...)Marine Rebalance mod, which improves the whole experience. (...)
This mod will mainly link your boarding success to the difficulty levels you chose in the game, whereas the easiest is a milk run and medium/hard is *really* hard.
It started as that, especially in the wake of the shock that was the change to boarding in 3.00 Beta 7, but it kind of grew as I found things to play around with, as my projects usually do. In the end, the goal was to make boarding more fun by:

extending the journey to when your marines are really powerful,
make that power more rewarding,
make the player more aware of what's happening, when, and why,
give the player more control,
and make more tactical possibilities, well, possible.

Tying things to difficulty was just a convenient way to make more balance points available. (With the three difficulty settings, there are six balance points available between the versions in Steam and at the Nexus. Figured that it would make it more likely that folks would find a balance point that they're happy with.)

Was rather happy with it by the time I finished and moved on to playing with fleets.

Sorry, XenonSurf. That went longer than I had expected.

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