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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:19 pm 
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I really like the suggestions from Redspear and Disembodied. However, that's not the first time we have this discussion. If I remember correctly, the last time someone did an OXP to help beginners but nothing came out of it.

So let's try to do the simplest that can possibly work: Oolite already includes something like "Starting choices", since it offers Tutorial, Normal and Strict Mode starts to new commanders.

It should be possible to add an "Easy start" entry, that's like the normal start except it gives 1000cr and places the player at Tionisla. the idea of course it to let them buy injectors right away (they are available at level 11, hence not Lave). The extra money is also supposed to let them buy more computers and make greater benefits on the first trip. This should help "boost" the early phase of the game.

Now what we also want is to strongly suggest them to buy injectors first, among other piece of advice. The tutorial is a good place for that. At the end of the tutorial, there's a slightly long final phase when the player travels from the planet to the station. One could give our final words of wisdom here.

I have yet to test this easier start, but that's it for the main part. Is there any technical issues?

Of course, I'm ready to do the work - as much as I can. I might need some guidance on some technical points (I can see the save files used for the different starts, but I can't find the main "engine"). I should be able to submit it as git patches if it helps.

However, I can't help myself but push again the idea that BGS should be installed by default as an OXP. I've played again the tutorial which apparently uses strict mode, and having no engine sound is just too weird. As I said, first impression is important. I don't think it will make the player quit, but I do believe it places them in a slightly negative state of mind. I don't think it is necessary for the tutorial to run in strict mode, because newbies typically won't install any OXP at first I think; if they did, I would say they don't need our help. Veterans (or their computers) that don't like BGS will probably have to uninstall it after each release, which should be no problem at all for people who used to install OXPs manually.

Finally, one difficulty with beginners is that it's not easy to judge what is easy or not for a veteran player; it has been shown in studies that experts (from chess players to robbers!) use all kind of knowledge and tricks unconsciously. So I think when a new player shows up here, we should ask for feedback about the tutorial and the early phase of the game. It probably has been done before, but the "data" might be old and more data points never hurt.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 6:25 pm 
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Thanks all - that Qutiri/Isinor route sounds like a good tip - I'll give that a go :D

I hadn't realised that the political status of a neighbouring planet could have an impact...that makes a lot of sense.


Many thanks
John M
I don't think it would have helped you in this particular case, but did you play the Tutorial by any chance? We would like some feedback on it. Don't be afraid to be right or wrong, positive or negative, just speak your mind.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 7:05 pm 
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However, I can't help myself but push again the idea that BGS should be installed by default as an OXP........having no engine sound is just too weird.
And I in turn have to again scream NO!
As somebody who finds the plethora of not-always-appropriate sound affects distracting (and therefore un-welcome) and who also doesn't really like the background images, this, to me, is a terrible idea. And as to having to un-install great chunks of the game before I even start after each upgrade, well.......
You say that (in your opinion) this would be good for newcomers, but frankly this idea is enough to put this old veteran off the game for good.
You seem to be forgetting that Oolite is a modern interpretation of 1980s Elite. It is should not pretend to be a modern game - it cannot compete with the better professional offerings out there, and it's function is not to seduce the 'want-it-all-now brigade', or to give the ultimate space sim experience. Oolite is unique because of its heritage, expandability and its community and trying to pander to the desires of an audience used to the 'modern' gaming experience would kill it for ever. It is the quirks, anachronisms and retro-ness (and the mod-ability of course) that make it what it is.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:02 pm 
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It should be possible to add an "Easy start" entry, that's like the normal start except it gives 1000cr and places the player at Tionisla. the idea of course it to let them buy injectors right away (they are available at level 11, hence not Lave). The extra money is also supposed to let them buy more computers and make greater benefits on the first trip. This should help "boost" the early phase of the game.
Experimental addition in tomorrow's nightly: Easy Start as described by Astrobe. Needs testing and could be removed at any time if it does not yield the expected results. Feedback very welcome.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 8:40 pm 
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However, I can't help myself but push again the idea that BGS should be installed by default as an OXP........having no engine sound is just too weird.
And I in turn have to again scream NO!
It is a testament to the appeal of oolite that we cannot only disagree so much and so passionately but also that we can actually be playing very different games and still calling them oolite.

Retro appeal, moddability and a classic design that (if rather bare bones) has gone on to inspire several modern games that remain popular today; oolite has quite a lot going for it. Something it doesn't really have in its favour however is accessibility to the complete beginner.

If the issue is solely game difficulty (unlike the oolite 2.0 thread where things might be a little more complicated) then Astrobe's 'easy start' idea makes a lot of sense.
In such a situation, I might even be inclined to be a little more generous: perhaps a beam laser and some hardened missiles. True, they'd miss the fun of earning them but then this would be the 'easy start', the normal one is not being interfered with.

Something that is often recommended and yet not at all obvious to the starting player is the idea of selling their starting ship. The short term gain to this approach can be quite considerable and if there could be a few guaranteed options in the starting system (or within the game's start menu) then there would be some 'easy' start options of equal credit value to the standard start.

For example:

Cobra MkIII 150,000
  • Pulse Laser 400
    3 Missiles 90
    Total Value 150,490

Cobra Mk I 100,000
  • Beam Laser 1,000
    Fuel Injectors 600
    Fuel Scoops 525
    Energy Unit 1,500
    E.C.M 600
    Shield Boosters 14,700
    1 Hardened Missile 350
    Total Value 119,275

Moray Star Boat 120,000
  • Beam Laser 1,000
    Fuel Injectors 600
    Fuel Scoops 525
    Energy Unit 1,500
    E.C.M 600
    Shield Boosters 14,700
    1 Hardened Missile 350
    Total Value 139,275

The second option is far cheaper than the first and yet also far superior in the short term.
The third choice might be a good compromise in that it is both faster and tougher than the Mk I and yet less so than the MkIII.

If the ONLY change to the game were to be to start the player in Tionisle then such options are massively improved and all that would remain would be to ecourage the player to browse.

Furthermore, with fuel scoops piracy and mining (with a bit of luck) are available from the start and along with bounty hunting become much more viable as careers when you have a reduced cargo capacity.

The mk III strongly steers the player towards trading. The first few runs in a mk III earn you very little as you can't afford to make use of your cargo hold but once you can then they it could be argued that it happens too quickly. You spend ages saving up for your first piece of equipment but soon after you might be buying two or three at a time, with a reduced cargo capacity the pace becomes more even and (I would argue) more fun!

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:23 pm 
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The easy start option seems like a good idea.

Injectors hmmm, what i can remember from the elite days to me was the docking computers,
what a relieve it was to be able to purchase a docking computer...


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 16, 2017 9:34 pm 
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Well, the 'classic' start never put us off back in the day. I think it took about 10 games before I even successfully docked, let alone made any money. But that was then and now is now and even I agree that an 'easy start' option built in would be a good thing.
Redspear brings up a ship trade as a little-mentioned strategy which actually does make sense - I have actually done this myself. In a similar vein I've sometimes wondered whether starting with 150,000* credits somewhere with a half-decent shipyard wouldn't be better than just being given the Mk III and a dollop of cash.
*If you want to be pedantic, make it 150,590Cr

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:17 am 
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However, I can't help myself but push again the idea that BGS should be installed by default as an OXP........having no engine sound is just too weird.
And I in turn have to again scream NO!
As somebody who finds the plethora of not-always-appropriate sound affects distracting (and therefore un-welcome) and who also doesn't really like the background images, this, to me, is a terrible idea. And as to having to un-install great chunks of the game before I even start after each upgrade, well.......
You say that (in your opinion) this would be good for newcomers, but frankly this idea is enough to put this old veteran off the game for good.
You seem to be forgetting that Oolite is a modern interpretation of 1980s Elite. It is should not pretend to be a modern game - it cannot compete with the better professional offerings out there, and it's function is not to seduce the 'want-it-all-now brigade', or to give the ultimate space sim experience. Oolite is unique because of its heritage, expandability and its community and trying to pander to the desires of an audience used to the 'modern' gaming experience would kill it for ever. It is the quirks, anachronisms and retro-ness (and the mod-ability of course) that make it what it is.
Here here! It is the very difficulty of the start of the game that keeps me interested (I played Elite on a C64 back in the day...hundreds of hours, trying every possible role: miner, pirate, bounty hunter, trader, etc.). I tried the BGS and uninstalled it within seconds: too noisy visually and audibly. My last game I started broke adder and eventually made enough to get a MkIII, BOY was that an amazing accomplishment (well OK I did use con stores pretty heavily to earn some bank with precious gems/metals), it was tedious but very interesting.

I usually take months/years breaks from the game and when I come back I always start with a new ship, never starting where I left off, it is the excitement of that gradual opening build-up, the euphoria of *earning* your injectors, that makes the game fun. Give newbies an iron-ass MkIII right out of the gate and they'll be bored in a couple of days and quit.

Oolite has absolutely no requirement to pander to the short attention spans and gameplay requirements of contemporary users. It is Elite, somewhat on steroids, and is meant for those who loved it.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 12:40 pm 
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... it is the excitement of that gradual opening build-up, the euphoria of *earning* your injectors, that makes the game fun.
<nods> Aye! Sic transit gloria ludum!

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 5:24 pm 
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As somebody who finds the plethora of not-always-appropriate sound affects distracting (and therefore un-welcome) and who also doesn't really like the background images, this, to me, is a terrible idea. And as to having to un-install great chunks of the game before I even start after each upgrade, well.......
Would that really be so bad if 'great chunks' were 3-5 oxps?

Quote:
You say that (in your opinion) this would be good for newcomers, but frankly this idea is enough to put this old veteran off the game for good.
So you disagree so strongly that it might stop you playing/contributing and yet it would not affect your personal game beyond a few minutes (at the most) spent uninstalling some oxps once per install of the game?

Quote:
You seem to be forgetting that Oolite is a modern interpretation of 1980s Elite. It is should not pretend to be a modern game
So it is modern and yet it is not? That's probably a fair description of Oolite in some ways. Oolite isn't pretending to exist in 1984 however and so as a modern interpretation of a classic what's wrong with 'meeting in the middle'?

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it cannot compete with the better professional offerings out there, and it's function is not to seduce the 'want-it-all-now brigade', or to give the ultimate space sim experience.
I think you're right, as long as it remains low spec it can't. Do you also mean it shouldn't go as far as it can in being fun for the beginner? Remove the fancy laser effects for example? They're hardly necessary are they? They are (much) more modern however and (to many people's eyes I suspect) much better.

Quote:
trying to pander to the desires of an audience used to the 'modern' gaming experience would kill it for ever.
That's an awfully strong statement isn't it? When what was being suggested was to change the default start (whether cosmetically via BGS or how many credits you get) rather than to cast it in stone unable to be adjusted to just the way you like it. It would mean changing what was the default experience of oolite not what your experience of oolite (or anyone else's for that matter) could be.

Quote:
I started broke adder and eventually made enough to get a MkIII, BOY was that an amazing accomplishment (well OK I did use con stores pretty heavily to earn some bank with precious gems/metals), it was tedious but very interesting.
Tedious = not fun, right?

I've started without the mk III, without a hyperdrive and even without a laser and I think I know what you mean: it could be tedious but the eventual reward made it worthwhile. This trade-off is a bit of a balancing act I think; not only that but it is also rather subjective.

If I started without a HUD would I appreciate it more once I'd earned one - oh yes, I think it would seem the height of luxury, but would I have had more fun doing so, I very much doubt it. The player doesn't really need a HUD however it's just that it's really useful.

Quote:
Give newbies an iron-ass MkIII right out of the gate and they'll be bored in a couple of days and quit.
And yet the current state of affairs appears to be that some are quitting even earlier than that because they are given so little.
No one has seriously suggested an iron-assed Mk III unless I am very much mistaken.

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Oolite has absolutely no requirement to pander to the short attention spans and gameplay requirements of contemporary users. It is Elite, somewhat on steroids, and is meant for those who loved it.
I'd rather Oolite be elite-like than elitist.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:06 pm 
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Redspear, I think you have missed Smivs' next post: "Well, the 'classic' start never put us off back in the day. I think it took about 10 games before I even successfully docked, let alone made any money. But that was then and now is now and even I agree that an 'easy start' option built in would be a good thing."

Just a general comment on the rest of Smivs' and Bogatyr's arguments: Heritage is a bad word. It stinks of death. Creation is what we enjoy, as a spectator or as a maker.


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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:50 pm 
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Redspear, I think you have missed Smivs' next post: "Well, the 'classic' start never put us off back in the day. I think it took about 10 games before I even successfully docked, let alone made any money. But that was then and now is now and even I agree that an 'easy start' option built in would be a good thing."
Not so, although I appreciate it might seem odd with my replying to the earlier post (the way quote boxes are working at the moment also confuses things a bit).

If I understand correctly, Smiv's agreed that the 'easy start' was a good idea but not the BGS et.al. oxps from the start (another issue) which he appeared to object to very strongly. I believe my subsequent reply largely related to the latter. Besides which, Bogatyr requoted many of Smivs points in agreement and so I thought it fair to question some of them.

Whether I should be replying to Smivs or Bogatyr I'm not entirely sure at this point but my main concern was to address the arguments within in attempts at resolution or (more realistically perhaps) at least some clarity.

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 8:57 pm 
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It's probably easier just to ignore me :P

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:05 pm 
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It's probably easier just to ignore me :P
:lol:

I think I/we/anyone can see that your concerns all come from a good place.

[stating the obvious]Questioning can be helpful to all parties I think.[/stating the obvious]

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PostPosted: Fri Feb 17, 2017 9:13 pm 
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An OXP could crank down the number of pirates in the Old Worlds, making them far safer than other, similar systems elsewhere. Provide an island of low-profit relative stability, where players can learn the basics and build up some skills and a bit of equipment, before heading out into deeper waters. The one tricky part would be fiddling prices on the fly to make sure that players don't make big profits trading between the Old Worlds and outside systems
The easiest way to OXP this would be by altering the government and economy types of the Old Worlds
- compact the governments to the Corporate-Confederacy range
- compact the economies into the Rich Ag - Poor Ind range
- to encourage leaving once you've got a few upgrades, reduce TLs around the region, so maybe nothing above 8

That would give a starting safe area (well, mostly safe - there'd still be a few pirates, but nothing organised or well-armed) with limited trade profits and equipment, that didn't require any sort of special-case rules.

Compatibility with other OXPs would probably be better if you instead picked a fairly isolated region - top-left, or the right side of the 'coathanger' cluster - which doesn't get much use otherwise, and moved the player start location there. To make it easier to set up the scenario file in the OXP and to avoid affecting other scenarios, the economy/government/TL changes should be in the scenario's savegame, not in its planetinfo.plist.
Quote:
I've played again the tutorial which apparently uses strict mode
Not quite - it restricts which OXPs can be loaded, because anything which adds content to the space lanes, significantly rewrites the HUD, affects NPC behaviour, adds new 'default' equipment, etc. could quite easily break it - but it's not in strict mode.

OXPs which are compatible with it may include 'oolite-tutorial-compatible' in their manifest's tag array, and will then be loaded as normal, as documented on the Scenarios.plist page

There may well be some OXPs which could set this tag which haven't done so.

(Note: an OXP with that tag will also load all its dependencies whether they have the tag or not, so test carefully before adding it to a published version!)
Quote:
Redspear brings up a ship trade as a little-mentioned strategy which actually does make sense - I have actually done this myself. In a similar vein I've sometimes wondered whether starting with 150,000* credits somewhere with a half-decent shipyard wouldn't be better than just being given the Mk III and a dollop of cash.
A problem here is that ship prices are way out of scale with equipment prices, for the amount you get.

A Cobra I with all optional upgrades is considerably cheaper than a stock Cobra III - and considerably better for everything except bulk hauling. Even a Cobra I with the few thousand in optional equipment you get for trade-in - losing around 40000 credits - is more dangerous.

Dividing the ship prices for Adder to Cobra III by ten and giving the player 16,000 to start with could work quite well.
- Cobra III traditional (and ~500 credits spare rather than 100) for probably the hardest start but good potential trade profits.
- Cobra I with two beam lasers, injectors, energy unit, some decent trading capital (or Moray with a bit less equipment, but an LCB for better trading)
- Adder with military laser, energy unit, injectors, various utilities

The other ships are very mispriced - the FDL and Asp are about equal with the Cobra III in combat, but significantly worse at trade, so should probably drop to around 15,000 as well. The Python, Boas and Anaconda are able to make very fast trade profits, so should probably stay at quite a high price, though except the Anaconda they could come down a bit too.

Of course, this sort of reduction would make almost all OXP ships very overpriced, so would be impractical to do in the core game.

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