Crew discussion 2012

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pagroove
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Crew discussion 2012

Post by pagroove »

Multi crew ships still would be cool and was discussed at length in the past. See:

here:

http://aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f= ... w&start=15

and here

http://aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?t= ... light=crew

However we now got a new generation of oxp-makers in the house. So time for some new fresh visions on how to implement crew on the bigger ships. I assume that with the latest developments something like a crew would be possible. However I could be wrong.
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by CommonSenseOTB »

Hmmm...I'd like to say something, but I'm not going to. :wink:

:lol:
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by pagroove »

Well say it anyway. I bumped this discussion because there are some good ideas in it. O do you have a surprise in store? :wink: :?: :lol:
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by Fatleaf »

pagroove wrote:Well say it anyway. I bumped this discussion because there are some good ideas in it. O do you have a surprise in store? :wink: :?: :lol:
I like surprises :mrgreen:
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by Smivs »

Fatleaf wrote: I like surprises
Boo!
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by CommonSenseOTB »

Oh no, no surprises. I would just much rather have crew wandering around my ship first person like and to implement that requires first that you yourself can wander around the ship too. I think just about all that can be said about crews has been said. To make the first person experience happen is quite the task. Crews as just a statistic like equipment with no real interaction, does it add to the fun? or just add more complexity without accomplishing much? Crews would be nice but so would the whole person to person interaction that could happen at each and every port of call with hundreds of beings to interact with on each station. Adding an RPG element to oolite would give something really tangible to do on the stations and ships, even just meeting some mysterious woman at the station bar to arrange transport for her and negotiate price could be the foundation of a really awesome game that draws you into the story and makes you feel like you are there. Even just the walk from the ship to the bar could have unforseen consequences. That would be the way I would like to see oolite enhanced, make me really feel part of the game. Like I'm a person, not a ship. A person trying to survive and prosper in a cruel universe. Then 6 billion people will be playing this game and not before you see this fundamental change.
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by DaddyHoggy »

To be honest - all I need from a crew to be "realistic" is a cost for having one - so if you own a big ship you need to hire and keep an crew.

Possibly using Snoopers to interject some bemoaning on docking about bunk sizes, the food, the wages, the smell, the hours...

Everything else is gilding the lily.
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So what's the aim?

Post by Ramirez »

I wanted to post in this thread because crews have always been an interesting idea, but I couldn’t think of anything to add other than ‘yeah, that’d be great’. However, I’ve just been looking into some stuff these past days and have been really enthused by what I've found. I've broken things down into a few posts to make things manageable

I had to download the Frontier manual to remind me how things worked in there. Sure you have to hire a certain number of crew once you get onto the big ships, but apart from some initial haggling over wages, not much else seems to happen. The crew positions weren’t associated with any particular ship systems and although you could fire and replace individuals I don’t think they could be injured in combat. Despite a hint in the manual that ‘you get what you pay for’ I doubt there was any real difference in crew members once they were hired – you can correct me if I’m wrong on that.

In fact, the interesting challenge of having to hire a crew only really cropped up the first time that you bought a larger ship. Once you’re regularly running Pythons and Boas etc, hiring a crew becomes routine and probably a bit of a chore, especially if you can’t get enough crew to actually leave the space station!

Really, all Frontier gave you was this principle that without a certain number of crew, you couldn’t operate the ship at all. That doesn’t sound like a particularly interesting concept, and to be honest I don’t think it’s really worth all the effort in developing job markets, crew rosters, etc, if that’s all the impact that crews are going to have.

Looking at Oolite, while we could take Frontier’s basic principle of 'no crew, no takeoff', and build lots of flavour around that, what I’d really like to do with the crew concept is to have it affect the efficiency of the ship in a major way.

Now there are some limitations here. You can’t change fundamental ship characteristics like max speed, thrust, energy recharge rate and pitch and roll dynamically via script. Energy you can do some cheats with, but it gets messy very quickly. Anyway, I think it’s appropriate that given a certain ship model, there are always going to be some things that shouldn’t really change no matter how good the crew may be.
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What to do with a crew?

Post by Ramirez »

So what kind of things could we do with a crew?

I often look to other games to plagiarize to take inspiration from. The other day I was planning on having a bit of a play on the excellent subsim Silent Hunter III. Sadly I couldn’t actually get it to run but it prompted me to look at the way crew quality affects the game – or at least how I remembered it. These included:

• Shorter torpedo loading times
• Longer visual/hydrophone/radar detection ranges
• Better deck gun/flak gun accuracy
• Shorter repair/healing time
• Quicker targeting capacity

In addition to these analogue effects there are some rather more discrete (and probably more annoying) effects:

• Engines won’t run if not enough crew in the compartment
• No visual/hydro/radar updates without an assigned crewman
• Steering requires a navigator in position
• Various mechanical functions require an engineer in position

Basically there are a handful of specific functions that simply won’t operate any more if sufficient crew isn’t in the right place.

So in theory there are two ways, analogue and discrete, that a crew (or lack of it) can be made to have some kind of effect and which with a bit of a leap we could translate into Oolite.
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What does this mean for Oolite?

Post by Ramirez »

Putting the Battle of the Atlantic to one side, what does this mean for Oolite?

Well an obvious issue is that all the stock equipment, as well as most additional OXP equipment, is easily operated by the pilot alone. With improved scripting, many of the more complex features can also been automated, and we now have a wide range of auto missile defences, chaff launchers, analysers, targeters, etc available. In fact, most of the areas where we might instinctively introduce some kind of crew-related performance effect have already been the subject of (very good) OXPs, with all control and responsibility in the hands of the player.

To me this suggests that, in order to make crewed ships a worthwhile experience, we’d actually need to roll back a bit in terms of ship capabilities, particularly in terms of avionics, so that a good or bad crew can actually have an impact. However, I’m sure we can come up with some suitable handwavium to explain away the apparent decline of technology if it results in new experiences. Really all we’re trying to do is find ways of putting the human (or the blue furry rodent, or the black horny insectoid, whichever it may be) back in the loop.

I’m also mindful that Oolite and most of its mechanics are designed very much around the lone pilot doing their thing and so aren’t actually that compatible with having an active and dynamic crew. It may be that a crew can only be made to work well if you impose some constraints e.g. by putting the player in a ship that lacks automation and has been designed very much with a crew in mind.

Potential scenarios that immediately come to mind: medical ship / emergency response unit for GalCop/Military / search and rescue / scavenger / salvager/ pirate ship / star cruiser
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by maik »

I like your train of thought, Ramirez. Given my limited knowledge of what can be done, I think the repair bots that we already have an OXP for might as well be crew. If you introduce some experience component which makes them more likely to be successful the longer you have them, some chatter, some wages, the risk of them getting injured when the shields get penetrated etc. then there would already be the first member. Depending on the wage you are willing to pay you might get people more or less experienced to start with. Regularly not paying wages or leading a too boring life might result in desertions (think Pirates!).

Then you might have the on-board medic who is sort of a repair bot for crew members.

Looking at things that seem unlikely to be doable at the moment we could have
  • longer/shorter times to arm a missile depending on the skill of your weapons officer
  • better/worse aligned lasers or sometimes malfunctioning lasers (also weapons officer)
  • shorter/longer time until overhauls are due or lower/higher prices for them (ship engineer)
  • earlier/later malfunctioning of devices / the HUD when in low energy situations (ship engineer)
  • higher/lower equipment repair prices (ship engineer)
And probably a lot more...

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What would I do?

Post by Ramirez »

Thanks Maik. We do seem to be thinking along similar lines. Here are the kind of things I came up with (quoting from my hastily-written notes):
Simple mechanics:

Weapon loading time – let scenario involve a ship with a single missile/torpedo pylon served by some kind of JS-controlled autoloader. It’s powerful but slow, something that can be improved based on a crewmember’s rating.

Repair time – use modified repair bot to allow a crewmember to repair damaged equipment, but with various time and quality factors based on their rating. If no appropriate crew, any repairs have to take place at a shipyard.

Turrets – it may be possible to alter the turret characteristics by removing and replacing the subentities. Turrets could therefore be made more/less accurate/powerful based on the rating of an appropriate crewmember.

Note - I doubt laser performance can be degraded/improved as their characteristics tend to be hard coded

Additional mechanics:

Add new mechanics/features that cater for performance considerations from the outset. To be accessed using the Shift+N menu or Resistance Commander-style control panels, but all dependent on presence of appropriate crewmen.

e.g.

• Long range scan – distance/accuracy variable with the crewmember’s rating
• Target acquisition/identification, where a good crewmember can determine useful target characteristics (e.g. flight profile) beyond normal scanner/IFF range
• A clever trick to make good use of a PWO would be:
o Potential target is well out of scanner range, player asks PWO to designate
o Via script, spawn a beacon next to entity with speed zero
o This is effectively an instantaneous ‘fix’ on that target
o Fix degrades over time and eventually disappears (self-destruct via AI timer)
o On repeat scan, remove and replace beacons as necessary by script
o Use a js timer to handle continuous/repeated scans; rate dependent on crew skill
o Show mass/size, range and speed; other data dependent on crew
• Medium range scan, using crew to track targets out to 60km rather than the usual 30km
At this point my notes developed into a stream of consciousness and I started writing down random phrases and acronyms:
Technically all ships should have an IFF transponder so a short range scan should always be able to reveal detailed ship type info (display name, maybe bounty and oehter entity data)

RADAR!!

Maybe radar combined with ship-ship comms capablity (or at least a listening capabilty managed by another crewman - SIGINT?)

AWACS!!

Damage reports!!

Ship-to-ship docking – need to be able to evacuate personnel off stricken ships somehow, so need systems and personnel to support this (equivalent of a winchman – loadmaster?)
I've realised that all I'm doing here is job creation, trying to invent new mechanics that crew members could play a part in and could have a noticable (and scriptable) effect upon. That's not to say there aren't lots of small but effective reporting-style things like Maik mentioned that might be doable in future.

More to follow...
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by Cody »

A somewhat light-hearted suggestion for crew: don't forget the catering.
A steward to run the mess, with associated costs. Crew won't stay too long if the service in the mess is not good enough.

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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by Ramirez »

Excellent - instant performance increase of 10% across all crew stations due to the hiring of a superb new ship's cook!

(Of course the opposite is true - 10% decrease due to salmonella outbreak caused by a dodgy chef with a forged culinary college certificate...)

I tend to be way too serious in my OXPs - I could with some lighter moments!
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Re: Crew discussion 2012

Post by maik »

And here I was thinking you meant a priest when you talked about mess... Which lead me to remember Sid Meier's Civilization. This game has lots of ideas about what to add to a city to keep people happy or make them more productive. Or, how morale deteriorates when you neglect them. Some of these ideas might be applied to crew on a ship.

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