Dear Mr Zarkonnen
So, I have played around with your game for a couple of hundred hours. I love it. It's definitely one of my favourite games of all time. Still, always room for improvement, right?
So, here are some suggestions - ranging from the objective to the highly opinionated, on issues both small and trivial, and large and gamebreaking. Happy breakfast reading.
Getting the negative out the way first, if I was going to characterise what I don't like about the game:
Now, don't get me wrong, I think game balance is amazingly good given the number of variables and permutations. And I'm happy to concede:
Still, I think that generally speaking the suggestions
I've tried to keep the suggestions as simple to implement as possible (being a programmer myself). I also should mention I haven't had the chance to read many of the other posts, so a lot of my suggestions might be just repeating what others have already said.
Lastly, can I just say I totally approve of your decision to limit the number of in-game commands. It's great to be able to sit back and actually enjoy a battle without being overwhelmed by micromanagement chores.
Hope you get some use out of this!
In the unit selection screens, the currently selected ship/building name (left hand column) glows yellow. The cost value in the right hand column should also glow yellow.
When you boot up the game, a window appears listing graphics resolutions:
You often have to repeat yourself in the lobby, as the person you communicate with pops in and out. It would be handy if pressing a key (back arrow or whatever) filled in your previously transmitted line of chat text.
It might be nice for the multiplayer overlay listed number of players in game as well as those in the lobby, e.g. 6/2 meaning 6 players in game, 2 in lobby.
When you create a multiplayer game, it would be nice if it remembered and prefilled the last name you used, or generated a default name (perhaps based on your user name). At the moment game names degenerate into qq, ww, ee...
I recommend turning the "one ship" option button into a toggle button which cycles through three choices:
One vs One - Squadron - Fleet
Not sure what the best value for Squadron would be, something like a max of 3,4 or 5 units.
I recommend adding a toggle button which cycles through the following battle types / play modes / battle modes, whatever you want to call them:
Ships Only - All - Landships Only - Buildings Only
For above you could also add an "Assault" mode for people who want attack/defence games. I think a reasonable a/d game could be made with just two rules:
1) the attacker cannot spend any money on buildings
2) the defender must spend at least half their money on buildings.
I often find I want to play a game midway between 5 and 10k, or about 15 or 20k. You can do this using the 50k option, but it requires extra negotiations and a bit of trust (as the battle screen only lists your own fleet value, not your opponents, possibly add that?) So, personally I think adding 7.5k and 20k buttons would be nice. Thinking more laterally though....
There's really no reason the host shouldn't be able to press multiple cost buttons to created the desired limit, e.g. 5000+2000+500 buttons = 7500 limit
When you place a building and remove it, the cost for flattening the ground persists, you have to exit the multiplayer game to clear the cost.
As a beginner, I found it hard to distinguish between the different kinds of armours. How about renaming "steel wall" "iron wall".
As a veteran airshipman, I still find it hard to visually distinguish between the armours, how about adding some rust to, or using a lighter shade of grey for, the iron wall, and making the brick wall brownish, and the stone wall more streaky? Just saying...
Using dollars feels so bland. You can do better than that - I know you can, from all the other nice little touches I notice in the game. So how about using some currency more in vogue (during the steam era), maybe:
I find the term "secret police level" jarring. It has connotations of denunciations, betrayal, arrests and torture, rather than gentlemenly cloak and dagger espionage. I implore you to consider calling it something else. Here are some alternative names and levels, admittedly of varying merit:
If you made it represent the government type in the province, you turn it into a "freedom/income vs security" issue, very topical... something like
Two sky-type coat-of-arms symbols that seem to be missing:
The coat-of-arms design screen should display a second, icon-sized, image of your coat-of-arms as they look quite different small and large.
It might be nice to add "For the Empire!" as one of the sailors voice bubble shouts upon winning a victory. It would be even better if that phrase could be customised by the player (maybe in the coat-of-arms design screen).
Thank you for the vast amount of feedback! Given it's now late at night, I will indeed wait until breakfast to read this thoroughly and comment upon it. :)
No hurry ....
Response time, part 1!
the design rules encourage squat ugly shoebox designs
Yeah, they do. I've been trying to get away from that by adding more modules with external sticky-out bits and placement rules.
There is not quite enough control over parameters when setting up a multiplayer battle
You address this in detail below. In general, more parameters are good, though I want to prevent people from being able to set up combats that benefit their side too much.
the combat rules significantly favour boarders over gunnery and ramming
Yeah. Boarding is currently - as the kids say - way OP.
the combat rules seem to favour a fleet of small ships over a large vessel
This is to some degree intentional, depending on what you mean by large and small. The idea is that the sweet spot of ship size is in the $700-2200 range. I intentionally want to discourage ships of size 4000+ because they have performance problems. (Parts of the code are pretty irreducibly O(number of crew X number of modules), so really O(size^2). (I assume that as a fellow programmer, you know big O notation. :P))
the game churns/lags on my computer when large numbers of boarders, or fleets bigger than say 30k are used.
So yeah, see above. Boarder AI should have room for improvement, though. Currently, a lot of calculations are done for each boarder when they could be done once for a group of boarders. Which just leaves the question of identifying groups for purposes of those calculations.
This seems very specific to me, and I think it would constrain your opponent's options too much.
Yeah, this is a popular request, and one which I shall fulfill.
This again seems very specific, and #7 sounds like it would do most of that.
So the reason why the cost value isn't just an input field is that I want to prevent the scenario where a player creates a ship costing $3741 and then sets up a combat with exactly $3741 as a limit. But I can probably add some in-between values.
Yeah, that's just because it has currently no way of undoing your terrain edit. Something to fix.
Yeah, good idea
So I don't want to add more colours to the palette, but point taken.
Yeah, florins or kroner or something sounds cool. In fact, what I'll do is just exchange the $ symbol for a fancier-looking currency symbol.
What gave you the impression you were playing the good guys? :D
Clouds are actually really rare in heraldry. I intentionally did not put in a lightning bolt because I want to steer well clear of anything that could be used to produce nazi imagery because unfortunately, this is a thing some people like to do.
I think they actually say that. Shout customization's quite a nice idea though.