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Playing the final boss for the first time all over again.
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 89

PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 3:38 am    Post subject: Playing the final boss for the first time all over again. Reply with quote

So, it's been months since I've looked at or played Starscape. Hadn't really touched it since the patch changed the bosses--or well, I'd started a few games, but hadn't finished any. I had a vague recollection that a lot of the bosses had deservedly gotten harder, but I also dimly remembered the last one having become *much* harder.

I thought I'd take another shot at it, today. I had no idea what I was in for.

I like to fly light, fast, and with lots of point damage. My ideal ship is an unshielded prowler with four blasters and a huge engine strapped on it. This is so much how I'm used to playing that I hadn't actually used ions, beams, or shields in quite a while. And I hadn't used a devastator in longer than I could remember. So I looked at myself and said, "You know what? You're going to play a NORMAL game this time. Go up the tech tree. Use all the tech. Build yourself a nice, big, balanced ship."

My pilot skills had degraded quite a bit since my glory days, but it was quite pleasant, really. In zone 2, I was pleasantly surprised to find that ions were still nice equipment. I waited on the shields until I could get the best one, and in zone 4, I finally brought myself around to incorporating one into my design. I had to admit, it did make the ship beefier... but the profile... and the effects of explosive damage... ugh. I ultimately found that I loathed the shield as much as I had remembered. I tried out a few novas, too, which I hadn't used for quite a while, and found them to be as heavy as rocks. And overkill in combination with the ions, anyway. by the end of zone 4, I had a standard beefy devastator with all the standard end-game bells and whistles. Shields. Drones. Ions. Blaster 4's. Heavy novas. It did a lot of damage, I had to admit. It was also exactly the boat that I had remembered. Pigheaded and stubborn.

As I entered zone 5, I looked myself in eye and said, "You know, exploring technology is all well and good, but this is your game. Now that you've tried everything, build a perfect ship: one that you like."

I did. I scrapped almost everything, threw two blasters, two ions, and two missile drones on an avenger. I dumped the novas for the weight. I dumped the shield for the smaller profile. I considered briefly moving down to a prowler for better laser charging, but I decided the added firepower of the ions was worth staying with the bigger ship. It was perfect for me.

I didn't even visit the last Xenarch node. Beams are powerful, but the geometry just never appealed to me, and I wasn't about to put them on my perfect ship. It was my first game in months, darn it, and the ship was going to be just so. Who cared about any supposed tech trees.

So the game went along well for me, until I got to the last boss. As I sat on the node, I vaguely recalled that the boss had unexpectedly destroyed me when I faced it months ago. I had never really followed up on that, what with hard losses wiping out your save games. I considered saving and moving the save files, to be able to play the boss again should something go wrong, but I thought to myself... "Nah... it's such a hassle. Besides, what's the point of playing on hard if you're not going to risk losing everything? And anyway, they may have made it harder, but I'm a good pilot. I'm sure I can handle whatever they throw at me, so long as I'm careful."

I go in. The boss starts launching ships. I've never seen so many ships come from one in my life. This triggers a memory for me--that's right, that's what happened last time. I got pecked to death by little ships. I engage them cautiously, clumping them, trying to take out as many at once as possible, for a brief rest while the boss catches up.

I discover that I can't take them out. I just can't do damage fast enough to outdo the boss' production. I consider the situation, and decide to charge in and take out a fighter bay. Stop the problem right at the source. If I can't do it the cautious way, fierce might swing the battle. Those little fighters don't do *that* much damage, right?

They swarm around me, and I can't make headway against them, so I just focus on the bay and take it out. By the time I'm out of there, I'm at half health (and remember--I left the shields in zone 4. So that's half hull, and it's staying.) "Well that was painful," I think to myself. I guess those guys *can* hurt you in large numbers. But I feel the battle has turned: the boss should be at 3/4 production, it shouldn't be able to keep pace with me.

I blast the fighters again, and I can't make headway. The boss hasn't even slowed down. I start to feel that the battle has turned all right--for the worse. I regret not making those backup save files.

I try the same tactic again, rushing in for a bay, and do it a little more efficiently this time--but not a lot. I come out around a quarter health. I blast at the fighters again and *still* can't make headway! A stray shot hits me and my ship damage alarm sounds. I've still got two bays to go. I start to sweat and concentrate. I consider calling the Aegis for repairs, but reject the idea for now.

My husband has been watching me this whole time, ranting about how horribly unfair it is that I can't kill the fighters fast enough to keep up with the boss. "That's bad game design." he comments. "It just shouldn't be like that. That's just awful."

I decide a little guile is in order. I pull back to the edge of the screen and observe the boss for a while. It appears to make fighters up to a maximum number and stop. If I kill them all, it just replaces them and I can't make headway. But if I approach them without firing, maybe I can draw them off, and then I may have time to take a bay on the far side before they swarm.

The plan seems like a good one, but the fighters are obstinate about forming a ring around the station. They won't follow me unless I get close, and even then they won't follow me far. I frown. Such sophistication I did not expect from simple drones. My agile ship is taxed to the limits, dancing in and out of the swarms, pulling them together without firing a shot. Every now and again, a stray shot hits me, and the alarm sounds, intensifying the situation.

I blast through. I get the third bay. The health bar looks much lower than I've ever seen it in a battle I intended to stay in. I back off; the fighters form a defensive ring around the station and leave me alone.

I decide to call the Aegis for repairs and fire support. It's a tactic that works well on some bosses, though it's always risky: some can rip the station to pieces if it warps in in the wrong place. I reason that the station might be in trouble if it gets in range of the main gun here, but I can probably call it off, and it should be able to defend itself all right at the edge of the screen. I think, what's the worst that could happen? The Aegis dies and I lose the game? I'm dead anyway, if I try to fight it out. No way have I got the health to take out that last bay.

I call the station.

It doesn't come.

I'd never tried to call the station during the last battle before. I didn't realize it wouldn't work. I guess it makes sense, but the surprise is rude. As I assess the situation--me with a thin health bar and one more fighter bay to take out, fighters that refuse to be taken out by force or ferocity or guile, no backup, no way to recharge... I get that sour feeling in the pit of my stomach. This is it. I'm going to lose the whole game.

My husband has been watching. "You can't call the station??? That's terrible." He pauses. "You know, if you just quit right here... it'd just revert to your last save game. When was that?"

"Over two hours ago, at the end of zone 4, yesterday."

"Ugh... "

I made two more attempts to get at the fighter bay, taking a few hits each time. My health bar barely seemed five pixels high. The alarms were sounding more and more grim. I paused at the bottom of the screen to consider my husband's advice. It was probably sound. I really should take another run at this battle, I thought. Much as I don't like shields for the rest of the game, they seem essential here. And beams would probably help, too. In fact, either one would majorly swing this. I seriously considered quitting out of the game.

Then I looked myself in the eye, and said, "You know what? You're playing this game on hard. You're not getting out of here cheap. You may die, you may lose your whole game, but you know what? That's the ride you signed up for. Stand up and take it."

My husband looked over. "You're not actually going to play through that, are you?"

Oh yes. Absolutely I am.

I patiently weave back and forth at the bottom of the screen, drawing the fighters down. I don't dare take another hit. I stay down there a long, long time, waiting for them to all come south. I finally draw enough of them off for a run at the bay, and take it out--with a few scratches. I swear my health bar is one pixel high.

Ever so cautiously, I take out the remaining fighters without taking a single hit. Much to my relief, the boss stops launching them. I feel the battle's broken, though not won yet.

The boss proves to have no more surprises, and it's a touch and go battle to the end. I don't dare so much as bump it. I fear the main gun shots. I fear the extending legs. I take at least three passes to clear each one, as the movement of the boss combined with an overenthusiastic afterburner make fine maneuvering tricky and I can't afford to bump anything.

The boss goes down. I cheer. The final ship launches, and I wait for the harmless attack. It's green. I didn't remember it being green. They must have changed that too... hum, it looks neat. I try to dodge it, like I usually do, and only one stray shot hits me.

The ship alarm sounds.

The hair on the back of my neck stands up.

I can't believe I'm still alive. I smack the keyboard hard, and blast that stupid ship, and when the ion shot comes I make darned sure it's BLUE. It goes. The game ends dramatically. I lean back in my chair.

Man, I think to myself. Now *that's* what I call an upgrade.
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Pod Team
Pod Team

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 3734

PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 2:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's really nice to see the gameplay tweaking of the bosses pay of with such an epic battle!

We put a lot of effort into redoing them when we did that update, although we never really made a big deal out of it, so I think many people just assume it's a bugfix release.

The updated Boss 1 is still my favourite though. On our list of Starscape upgrade ideas, we'd love to put in a boss attack mode, because some of them are really fun to play through as a one off.

It's funny, but I think by the end of the game, everyone assumes Rin is saying the same old stuff she always does, and they miss the "we can't help you" comment. We even get that reported as a bug quite often Very Happy Voiceovers might be helpful if we can get them sorted out someday. Although I never realised how many people were calling in the Aegis to help out with boss battles!
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 21 Dec 2003
Posts: 522

PostPosted: Sat Apr 16, 2005 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ugh... just played it. Beat it easily, but it wasn't nearly as enjoyable as before. The final boss just launches way too many fighters -- even after you've taken out most of the fighter bays. It seems like it would make sense to have it launch fighters more slowly if it has fewer ways to launch them... reward the player a bit for taking out the fighter bays...

I liked the other modified bosses (though the zone 3 boss still regularly kills me when I fly through his insides -- which I think is a bug due to the way you resolve collisions) but the fighters on the last boss felt like a gimmick to keep you on your toes. It was a pretty disappointing finish, especially compared to the other (improved) bosses.


I could definitely go for a "boss attack" mode. It'd be especially fun to be able to take on some of the earlier bosses with late-game ships. I wonder how the zone 3 boss would stand up to beams? Smile
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Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The last boss releases X ships per minute from each of the 4 bays until a global upper limit is met. If you take bays out then it should increase the time it takes for the boss to launch fighters back to full strength. I think currently the launch rate is too high so you don't get any feeling of advantage. I think it would be better if the global ship limit was removed, so if the boss has half the number of bays then there are half the number of fighters in the air. That makes more sense, i'll add that to the list of changes for the next update.
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 3:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Do you mean to reduce the rate of production and raise/remove the global limit? Or are you going to change the limit so that it's proportional to the number of functioning fighter bays?
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Poo Bear
Pod Team
Pod Team

Joined: 14 Oct 2002
Posts: 4121
Location: Sheffield, UK

PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 7:24 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Change the limit to be proportional to the number of surviving fighter bays, that way you would get a permanent reward for taking one out. It could make it a lot easier, we'll see.
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

PostPosted: Sun Apr 17, 2005 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Finished my hard-mode game that I'd left sitting at the start of zone 5 for a few weeks. I beat the boss with an avenger with -- EDIT, Oops! Not L1, L2 -- shields, four L4 blasters and two blaster drones. I was too lazy to finish my research or visit all the Xenarch. Those enemy drones poured out of the boss like water! Still, it wasn't too hard to manuever round them and blast the ports without getting shot up too badly. The hardest port was the last one, because with the others gone it meant that the whole cloud of new drones was appearing right where I didn't want it to be. After that, the rest was fairly straightforward. Oh, btw, in the ending sequence the Aegis's turrets appear on top of something they shouldn't.

Last edited by Weeble on Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:41 am; edited 1 time in total
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Starscape Jedi
Starscape Jedi

Joined: 25 Apr 2003
Posts: 1143
Location: Glasgow, Scotland

PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2005 8:40 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Figuring it didn't much matter if I lost the save-game now, I went back and redid the last fight with "PURIST", a plucky little prowler with four L2 blasters, L4 engine and generator, and an L1 shield. I should have stuck more closely to the name, because the shield cost me more health (when it caught a green blob I would have missed otherwise) than it could possibly have saved me from being shot at. Still, we limped through in the end.
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PostPosted: Fri Apr 22, 2005 4:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I really did enjoy the grim "cutting a swath through the swarm" feel to it. It made it exponentially more challenging than the previous bosses. That boss battle took me at least an hour, or so it felt. Even after I destroyed all those pesky hangars, I still had a fleet of drones to kill before I could even consider going up against the flagship of flagships.
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PostPosted: Sun Dec 04, 2005 8:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Fost wrote:
Although I never realised how many people were calling in the Aegis to help out with boss battles!

I've used it to fix my ship when the Boss was almost out for the count. I can understan the Aegis not wanting to be there when the swarm of ships are there but when they have all been taken out, why not let the Aegis come so the player can repair his ships to finish off the job ? I also noticed the Aegis won't even come when I'm in an escape pod.

The only Boss I've been able to take out so far without help from the Aegis is #2 and 3.

I like this game, it reminds me of Star Control II. Except that in SCII, planets were mined for ressources with small landers and there was only one ship. I like being able to salvage equipment from destroyed ships, it is a feature I wished had been in SCII.

How about an option to repair the Xenarch and start building starbases of them ? Or an option to have the spare ships in the Aegis being remote-controlled (computer controlled) to help out against the Bosses ?
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Monkey Mauler

Joined: 29 Nov 2005
Posts: 10

PostPosted: Mon Dec 05, 2005 5:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

ive never used the aegis - its seems so useless. but mmy wicked prowler (4xtype 2 beams and lvl 4 gen,eng,shield with a nova or 2 Twisted Evil ) i beastly.
the aegis just wont beable to cope? Confused
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