Colony Ship: A Post-Earth Role-playing Game Beginner’s Tips

Having launched their Colony Ship RPG into early access earlier this month, Iron Tower Studio now brings us this Steam announcement where they explain their design philosophy and share some tips for the game’s turn-based combat system. Check it out:

Colony Ship is a challenging game -- the game's setting and theme wouldn't work otherwise, and we think that, in the long run, players find challenging combat more rewarding than easy combat. Because some players have found combat too hard, however, this post is meant to (1) give fair warning of the game's difficulty; (2) explain our design philosophy; and (3) provide some tips for how to approach combat.

Combat is difficult. You’ll be outnumbered and outgunned, so you’ll have to figure out how to even the odds or avoid fights you can't win. If that's not your idea of having a good time, you should either make a non-combat character or find another game.

Instead of making combat easy, or offering difficulty modes, we have created alternative paths that offer robust, non-combat gameplay: diplomacy, stealth, and science skills. In fact, creating a diplomacy-and-science character is effectively a "Story mode," since you will still be able to explore the world, wheel and deal with factions, and complete the major areas of the game. But if you want to roleplay a fighter in a gritty, deadly world, you'll need to understand and to some extent master the combat system.

With that in mind, here is an introduction to the system and some tips:

There are 3 main factors determining the difficulty of any combat encounter and your character's life expectancy:
  • Accuracy
  • Evasion
  • Damage (both dealt and taken)
To succeed in combat, you must learn to control these factors. To start with, here are the formulas for accuracy and evasion.

Accuracy = 50 + bonuses from (stat + skill + feat + implant + helmet/goggles + weapon). You can easily neglect a couple of items from this list and still be a competent fighter, meaning you don't need to min/max your stats (or play the one true build that works) because it's only 1 item out of 6.

The attacker's accuracy is further modified by the attack type (different attacks have different pros and cons), the weapon's gun's effective range, and inflicted penalties.

Evasion = bonuses from (stat + skill + feat + implant + armor handling – armor penalty).

The defender's evasion is further modifier by cover (the exact bonus depends on the angle), gadget bonus (i.e., using a Disruptor Field), and smoke/spore cloud (smoke grenades and certain critters).

The bottom-line chance to hit is always shown before you attack. More detailed information can be found on the character and inventory screens (which show your accuracy and evasion), and in combat, where you can press ALT when targeting while targeting to learn what is affecting the accuracy of a particular attack.

If a shot hits, the damage it inflicts depends on both the weapon and the target's defense. Incoming damage is reduced by damage resistance (feat + implants + armor) and energy shield (gadget and/or energy armor). Weapons with good penetration and/or aimed attacks can reduce enemy's damage resistance, dealing more damage.

To get a sense of what things you can do in combat to improve your odds, pay attention to the Combat AI controlling the enemies. The enemies use the same system as you. They have similar stats, skills, weapons (which you can loot after the fight), and rolls. The AI doesn't cheat but it knows the system better and uses it more efficiently than the new player.

The combat log on the right will show you all the info you need: attack type, damage rolled and resisted, even to-hit ranges and rolls.

If you're torn on whether this kind of combat sounds appealing to you, try the combat demo first. It's harder than the game due to the narrow focus on combat, but if you can handle the demo, you won't have any problems with anything the game will throw at you. And if you have any questions, we’ll be more than happy to answer them.