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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 6:46 pm 
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If we compare the player progression to climbing a mountain then it is not only the height but the gradient of the climb that affects player experience.

The mountain that is elite is quite steep at the base only to rapidly reduce in angle almost becoming a plateau in the end. Nearly all of the really hard climb is near the base of the mountain/beginning of the game. Sure, there are missions later on but player rewards usually serve to make the game easier in oolite: whether credits early on or mission rewards later.

I'm not suggesting that this is simple to fix but if the hard part were a little later along the player journey then I would expect that to be more fun for everyone. Ideally we wouldn't diminish the progression but might very well wish to delay (rather than remove) some of the difficulty.

Starting with 1,000 credits rather than 100 what does that really get you? A beam laser and you've just a few hundred more tgan the standard start; injectors and you'd be at +300 with a chance of escape? Fuel scoops and at least you could now start as a miner or pirate. Space compass is useful but expensive. The real 'bonus' is in skipping the early grind to make your first 1,000 i.e. the very hardest part of the game. With 1,000 the player has possibilities but is hardly in a well equipped ship.

Equipment is also very likely to be damaged in the oolite early game. IIRC whilst it could be destroyed in elite this would only happen at 'energy low' whereas in oolite equipment and cargo are at risk once the player shields are compromised.

Besides, is it not reasonable that there should be an expectation for any 'easy mode' to be relatively er, easy?

For myself, like Disembodied I will start in a weaker ship and look to climb through the ship ranks with the mk III as some lofty dream. I've suggested starts that put the player in a weaker ship with better equipment having the effect of both making the game easier to get started with and increasing the length of the progressive journey to better ships and equipment. You don't need an oxp to do this, you can just trade down inefficiently.

I'm also rather fond of the '3 aces' idea of unsellable hardhead missiles instead of the standard ones - a significant advantage in the very early game but used up all too soon.

Re 'paddling pools', a possibility option might be to make use of the ships clock:
For example:

Start Time = no anarchies, feudal states or multi-govs. Max pirate pack size is 3.
Time + x = multigovenments start to appear
Time + 2x = pirate packs can exceed 3
Time + 3x = feudal states begin to emerge
Time + 4x = thargoids start showing up
Time + 5x = anarchies now exist.

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 8:05 pm 
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I think the main quality of the "easy start" is that it's done. I think it's the best we can do without asking for... sensitive changes. It was barely accepted (as an experiment) by the devs, and Cim have already hinted multiple times that they won't move unless we have at least sensible proof-of-concept OXPs to show them.

This issue is part of the larger problem of the progression in Oolite. In my view, the actual "huge general structure mistake" is that we havea game in which the better equipment you have, the easier it is to make money, with which you buy better equipment... It's a game that becomes exponentially easier.

If we want to fix this upside-down progression (so I guess it's actually a regression) we can use the full power of OXPs and see if we can fix other problems in the process. I have a few different ideas that I didn't really examine closely like:

- Torus drive that hurts your service level when used, in order to put the brakes on the money train. I've noticed while reading the variable masslock discussion that it would mechanically increase the profits/hour rate. So if VarMassLock is something to be adopted in order to solve the "boring lanes" problem, "expensive Torus" might be interesting because IIRC the maintenance costs scale with the total value of the ship. It implies that the better ship you have, the more "cost effective" you have to be with it.

- Use galactic sectors as "levels". OXPs could use the sector number to spawn more pirates, or more skilled one. One can also make it so that some pieces of equipment or ships are only available in certain sectors. This would be a general policy to be accepted and followed by the various OXP maintainers, so it is probably difficult to achieve (and it's a lil'bit player-centric too).

- Simulate a bunch of NPC commanders that would "grow" over time just like the player does, that would become worthy enemies. I think this one is difficult to do it right.

TBH, we should start with actually listing the problems we want to fix though.


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Mon Feb 20, 2017 11:47 pm 
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Quote:
I think the main quality of the "easy start" is that it's done.
And that it's simple - simple is good. The ramblings above from myself were largely to suggest that it might not be quite the give-away that some might think.

Quote:
This issue is part of the larger problem of the progression in Oolite. In my view, the actual "huge general structure mistake" is that we havea game in which the better equipment you have, the easier it is to make money, with which you buy better equipment... It's a game that becomes exponentially easier.

If we want to fix this upside-down progression (so I guess it's actually a regression) we can use the full power of OXPs and see if we can fix other problems in the process.
It is an issue to my mind but I have no objection to the player 'earning' a bit of comfort as long as the odd significant challenge remains. Frequent moderate challenges early game, fewer, serious challenges later game. A random mission generator (with varied mission types) might be nice but that's really in oxp territory...

Quote:
- Torus drive that hurts your service level when used, in order to put the brakes on the money train.
I think that at the heart of the money-train issue is trading. Trading is extremely profitable. Early game, standard start the player simply doesn't have the capitol to fully exploit it but even with just 100 Cr it remains more profitable than mining (can't scoop and so piracy is a waste of time) and more realistic than bounty hunting.

This is fine until the player can start affording to fill the hold - then he or she really is on the fast track in a ship like the mk III. Even without the cargo bay extension they can be making, what? 400 Cr a jump? without precious metals/gem stones.
To reliably make anything like that from mining (about half that value from a full hold of minerals I think) or bounty hunting is difficult and likely more time consuming. Then there's the bonuses to be made as a contract hauler.

I'm not sure what the bonuses are like at the extreme end of the courier business but if I can ignore contracts for the moment (I simply don't know enough about them in this regard) then I'd be inclined to make higher cargo trading less profitable.

Bounty hunting will occasionally get you some free cargo, piracy should definitely do so and mining grants you safer but (on average) cheaper cargo. So priracy, bounty hunting and mining should be similar if viewed as a risk to reward ratio but it is trading that seems to be skewed towards reward given that with enough cash the mkIII trader can fill their hold every time for a reliable and predictable profit. True, the pirates are there for the traders but they seem rather fond of targeting the player in any case. The wealthy trader also has a good chance to run from trouble wheras the bounty hunter or pirate has a career that requires them (at least occasionally) not to... and good luck against those interceptors if you're a pirate!

A fix need not be complicated but it will likely be seen as heavy handed: cargo taxes and the like. Reducing the mk III cargo capacity would be way too controversial and (speaking personally) undesirable. Needs a better solution IMHO and better facts and figures to be sure. A smaller starting ship helps in the short term but the problem remains.

Quote:
- Use galactic sectors as "levels". OXPs could use the sector number to spawn more pirates, or more skilled one. One can also make it so that some pieces of equipment or ships are only available in certain sectors. This would be a general policy to be accepted and followed by the various OXP maintainers, so it is probably difficult to achieve (and it's a lil'bit player-centric too).
I tried something similar years ago. I wasn't satisfied with it in the end. The galaxy/galaxies either seem smaller as you are left not going to certain areas any more or you are in a hurry to get back to the more challenging areas if you ever do leave them (that's with the standard circular trip through the galaxy maps).

I don't mind a bit of player-centricism(?), I think the idea has been demonised a little bit. After all a single player game should be player-centric on some level or else who is it for? The illusion of being non-player-centric can be nice however.

I did the oxp allocation myself of course but that kind of concensus strikes me as particularly elusive.

Quote:
- Simulate a bunch of NPC commanders that would "grow" over time just like the player does, that would become worthy enemies. I think this one is difficult to do it right.
Agreed: difficult to do right. If I were to design it, even ignoring my programming limitations, I think it would take quite a lot of thought before it were any better than dull.

Maybe someone else can show the way but I think it would lead to either a reduced sense of scale if you keep bumping into the same ones or eventually to the idea that deadly/elite pilots are ten a penny.

Quote:
TBH, we should start with actually listing the problems we want to fix though.
Nothing wrong with that as far as I can see but going anywhere with them other than oxp will be difficult I think.

Still, why should that stop anyone trying?

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 5:48 pm 
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One of the big things which made Elite easier than Oolite - on the BBC version at least - was that the NPC ships were considerably less resilient than the player ship. A missile would destroy any NPC pretty much unconditionally in Elite, whereas the player could survive a missile hit - perhaps two, if they were very lucky. Most NPC ships would be gone in six or seven decent hits - fewer, with the upgraded lasers - whereas the player ship could take considerably more of a beating and still have shields up.

In Oolite the player gets shield generators as an advantage and that's it. With poor flying, as the ship will attempt to recharge the shields from the energy banks, draining them, this may not make them much more resilient than an NPC Cobra III.

Conversely, once the player gets a Military laser almost all NPCs can become trivial - fit the laser on the aft mount, use the Cobra's speed to maintain range, and pick them off in complete safety, using injectors sparingly to avoid missiles or gain a bit more distance on pursuit. NPCs with injectors can still be dangerous, but can be dragged completely clear of their pack and fought 1-on-1.

In the original Elite, yes, you'd be a bit tougher once you had full equipment, but there were no shield boosters there, and running from one pirate to aft shoot them would probably run you straight into another, and you were slower so there weren't many ships you could maintain range on either.

So, potential approach (almost all on the areas where Oolite already differs from Elite) - the general aim would be to make combat easier for new players (by reducing the number of enemies in safe systems significantly) but harder for experienced players (by reducing the power of high-end equipment, making the AI more dangerous in packs, and taking away some auto-win tactics that a new player wouldn't think of or have the equipment for):
1) Remove the range differences between lasers - set them all to 12.5km (Thargoid turret laser could stay at 17.5km)
2) Reduce the Cobra III back to 300m/s top speed
3) Add 5 to all NPC skill levels
4) Make beam lasers much rarer on NPCs except in the most dangerous systems
5) Reduce pack sizes for all types significantly - generally 1 or 2 ships only, with 4 or 5 as a pack size for the most dangerous systems. (Under half the current sizes). Similarly reduce escort counts for traders.
6) Remove packs from the 'foreign raider' generation for both hunters and pirates - use individual (but tough) ships
7) Make shield boosters improve recharge rate, not shield size - paired with EEU and especially NEU you'll still get a lot of extra effective shielding, but only if you're not constantly being hit.
8) Possibly also reduce the number of ships generated in total.
9) Make injectors much more fuel-efficient, but only give a small (50%?) speed boost, and generate heat to prevent constant use. Reduce the masslock radius for stars significantly to compensate.
10) Remove 'player-unknown' from the list of roles pirates attack, so that new players get attacked much less (especially if they don't get into an A-B loop)

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Tue Feb 21, 2017 6:18 pm 
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Re the trading 'issue'...

This is the best I've come up with so far.
The details would need fact checking but here's the gist:
Currently the big profit items (legal) are computers and furs. The starting player can't readily exploit them because they are expensive but once he or she can do so then it becomes a case of the rich getting (very much) richer.

Early on investment is the limiting factor for trade but as the player begins to trade successfully, cargo capacity becomes much more significant. For example food can have a very high profit to investment ratio but its profit to cargo ratio is low. Money gets you more money every time but it's not always so consistent in terms of getting you more cargo (each ship has a 'cap' to its capacity).

Applying a bit of extrapolation with simple supply and demand, the computers - furs trade is likely to get rather saturated and with such good supply profits are likely lower. In more dangerous systems however supply is likely poorer therefore profits higher (but no higher than current margins). Even for an experienced and well equipped commander, repair costs can be higher - the risk to reward ratio becomes more consistent.

So what of the safer systems? Well, furs could still be more profitable than food, the difference would simply be less, much less. Suppose the profit on food were 3 Cr per TC and the profit on furs 5 per TC. You'd still stock up on furs, right? Once you are wealthy enough then the answer is likely yes but for the commander on a budget, the food might be a better bet. Cargo loss via ejection or ship damage costs you less and a full hold can be bought more easily. The big freighters/companies on the other hand will still likely go for the furs - proportionally their losses are lower.

This can be graded through all 8 government types if desired.
Perhaps industrial anarchies offer the cheapest computers and industrial dictatorships offer particularly cheap machinery whilst for democracies it could be alloys.

What is could mean is that very early game your trading profits are the same or very similar to what they are now. Later on, the big computer - furs profits are still available but only in the most dangerous government types where risk (and potentially costs) ate much higher.
  • So, big and medium profit items are nerfed in the safest systems.
  • Only the biggest profit items are nerfed in the medium risk systems.
  • No profits are nerfed in the most dangerous systems.

There's also some nice side effects:
  • Computers/furs are not always the most profitable choices.
  • The most profitable choices might not always be the wisest.
@cim

Much of that sounds good to me but in elite there's also higher recharge rates, better range for pulse lasers, smaller scanner range and less problematic mass-locking.

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 7:12 am 
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More random ideas:

I somewhat believe one cannot break the "getting rich makes you more rich" loop. I'm not even sure that the "cost efficiency" concept doesn't boil down to "make money slower", which isn't very sexy because it basically means "slow down progression". So I'm currently looking for other ways to reward the player.

We have configurable station stock caps now, and that's something that maybe one can use to make the player work a bit harder to make profit. I have experimented this by lowering the caps down to 30 (except non-TC goods). Together with extra stations (planets+Kyota) and Spara's econ OXPs, this means that you don't go straight from WP to station any more. In my set up, going to secondary stations could give more benefits, but even if the prices where the same everywhere within a system, having to go to multiple stations to sell your cargo or fill your cargo bay is interesting. Another use would be to just decrease the caps of the safe systems so that the player is "pushed" to the more dangerous ones.

It seems to me that the ideas Cim exposed suggest to scale the difficulty with the player elite rank. Deep Space Pirates does something like this (it keeps a count of the DSP ship kills and scale the size of the packs it spawns), and is related with the "galaxy-sectors-as-levels" (but more realistic). Then (and here I'm paraphrasing Cim) we have two levers: quantity (pack size) and quality (NPC skills).

I'm a bit reluctant to point 1), remove laser range differences, because in my view the mil lasers are only OP because they have range AND power. I believe that we should keep the tactical advantage of the longer range, because you have to have some sort of advantage when you fight 1 versus many. Maybe it goes together with point 7)? Also why shield regen instead of shield size? I seems to me that one effect of the recent multiple lasers addition is that while it keeps the average DPS the same, it however changes the burst DPS, meaning you inflict the same amount of damage as before but in a shorter time (before overheating). I know from other games that the counter to "burst damage" is a higher HP pool rather than a higher HP regeneration because it prevents you from being killed. The two types of damage. Can you elaborate on those points?


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 2:05 pm 
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Quote:
I somewhat believe one cannot break the "getting rich makes you more rich" loop. I'm not even sure that the "cost efficiency" concept doesn't boil down to "make money slower", which isn't very sexy because it basically means "slow down progression". So I'm currently looking for other ways to reward the player.
I see three simple ways to reward the player:

Money/Equipment/Resources

Very simple but tend to either make the game easier or lead to an arms race.
As Carroll's Red Queen put it:
Quote:
Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place.
Of course it doesn't have to be player gets better lasers so enemy ships get tougher, it can be done with a bit of flavour and perhaps even story. A lot of RPGs have historically taken this kind of approach but with the open-ended ones a player can be left becoming either disillusioned or philosophical about the whole point of progression in the first place...

Gameplay Opportunities

Something I've experimented with a bit is the idea of 'opening up' the game as play progresses. Just as Bell and Braben stripped away the player equipment in order to allow rewards for the players 'score' (credits), other elements of the game could be 'reserved' to be made available later. I've mentioned this before with regards to the thinking behind some of my oxps and in my own game starting with no hyperdrive is something I like.

One of the most obvious ways to do this is by making use of the different galaxy maps.
I don't think it's enough to just make them more difficult. In old platform games they would try to give each level not only a new difficulty but also a new flavour (I'm thinking of Manic Miner and the like). This is easy to do with oxps of course and has led to me installing oxps that I'd otherwise not consider if they were to be ubiqitous across the 8 maps (I seem to remember Galaxy 5 was my 'other universes' map with star destroyers and cylons and in Galaxy 6 none of the core game ships would appear). I'd really want a galactic hyperdrive that could at least head in both directions for this approach however.

It can be done within each map too of course and some of my ideas (not yet implemented) for Station Variation OXP relate to that.

Story

"Thank you for saving us!" etc.
Missions often provide this kind of reward and although brief the reward can be great in terms of variety within a game like oolite.

I've started in Worms and Shuttles with the dream of working my way up but stripping away the gameplay to 'save for later' needs care or the game just becomes more boring early on.

Story elements can be a boon here but for a truly open 'sandbox' game story can be problematic or (even worse) dull.

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Wed Feb 22, 2017 11:59 pm 
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@cim

Much of that sounds good to me but in elite there's also higher recharge rates, better range for pulse lasers, smaller scanner range and less problematic mass-locking.
In an effort to make slightly more sense...

I think it's not just the recharge method (shields and energy banks simultaneously) but also the overall speed at which the ship recovers. i.e. time from energy low, no shields to full recovery would, I suspect, be considerably faster in elite.

  • EDIT: also in elite with equipment only vulnerable at 'energy low' (if I'm right about this) and shields as a simlple extension of energy banks, the ship is usually safer for longer (with regard to EEU, ECM etc. taking damage).

I think you addressed the laser issue.

Smaller scanner range is very significant I think and it's something I'm currently looking into.

The mass-lock issues I was getting at relate to scanner size as well as ship heading (as I've mentioned/beaten to death before).

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 12:53 pm 
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Here's an idea, which may allow for a "natural" ramping-up of difficulty as the player progresses, combined with perhaps making trading a bit more varied, interesting, and risk-based. It can be summarised as:

Let's Make Some Commodities Really Expensive

At the moment, the most expensive cargo comes in at just over Cr100 per tonne. That's as high as it goes. Generally speaking, the most expensive commodity a player is ever likely to buy will be somewhere around Cr60–70 per tonne. The player's trading experience generally involves making a couple of Food/Machinery runs, with perhaps a bit of Liquor & Wines, before very quickly settling into the good old Furs/Computers rut. I've previously suggested that making some high-value commodities relatively rare could inject a bit of variety, but it occurs to me that we might really get somewhere if we start making some commodities rare and expensive. If, say, Furs cost Cr500 per tonne, and sold for Cr650, then players would have to have built up quite a lot of money before they could afford to carry Furs. Luxuries could cost Cr1,500 per tonne, and sell for Cr2,000. Crucially, the amounts of these commodities available to buy would have to be reduced: rich players wouldn't be able to fill up with 35 tonnes of Furs and make a profit of over Cr5,000. But they might be able to buy five or six tonnes.

Pirate AI could be tweaked, so that pirate packs aren't interested in cheap cargo: they only have so much cargo space available and they don't want to fill it up with cheap crap. A beginning player - or even an experienced player who wants to play with a minimum of combat - can carry low-end cargoes with impunity (or near-impunity: there will always be occasional desperate lone-wolf raiders, especially in more dangerous systems). Players with high trader reputations, though, who are known to be stocked to the gunwales with treasure, can expect to be preyed upon; pirates might even demand quantities of specific cargo types.

What would be the effects of this? Beginners could play without being attacked by large hostile groups - although those groups would still be there when the player starts to make more money, if they choose to start carrying precious cargo. Carrying high-value cargo would be more profitable, but also more dangerous - plus, there's a major increase in the "Aargh!" factor of "Computers destroyed" … And there would be the chance of occasional bonanzas - scooping a single cargo canister worth Cr1,500 could really make your day (of course, the mechanism for creating salvage would have to be tweaked, to make high-end canisters rare).

Piracy would become much more profitable - so the penalties for being a pirate would need to be increased, and Fugitive players should be barred from docking in main system stations.There could be a possibility that any surviving witness to a player's crime might be able to report it, meaning players would have to be much more careful, and thorough, about who they attack, and when. This whole issue might need more work … it might be worth reserving "Fugitive" status for crimes of violence (so you can trade in illegal goods all you like: your bounty might go up, but you'll never be rated as more than "Offender"). Bounty hunting would also become more profitable, as pirates would be more likely to be carrying expensive cargo; this might help make both career options more attractive.

As with any change - especially to the economic system - there are repercussions, and it's likely that other elements can be thrown out of whack. But I think there might be mileage in considering this: commodity prices are such a basic part of our assumptions about the game, and we might be surprised by the results if we begin to question them. Are there any other effects - good and bad - that such a change might produce?

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:38 pm 
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As with any change - especially to the economic system - there are repercussions, and it's likely that other elements can be thrown out of whack. But I think there might be mileage in considering this: commodity prices are such a basic part of our assumptions about the game, and we might be surprised by the results if we begin to question them. Are there any other effects - good and bad - that such a change might produce?
One of the things I actually like about the current commodities market is how generic it is. Whilst that may well have been out of necessity when elite was designed it does allow for the illusion that almost everything might be available. Once it becomes more specific then either the illusion is broken or a good deal of simplicity is lost.

How does this relate to Disembodied's post?

There is a special category within the list that little is made of and yet it is arguably the most glamorous : Alien Items.

The trouble with these things is that in practice they are nearly always Thargons and so if the value is too high then the rewards for taking down a Thargoid battleship become rather generous. I think alien items could fill the role of these special cargoes: rarely available pirate-magnets that (very) small fortunes can be made from with just a cannister or two.

For this to work I think it might be necessary to break the Thargon = Alien Items link. Suppose scooped Thargons were simply 'alloys' - this would mean that they actually fetch a higher price then they do currently! The Alien Items category would then be freed up from this association.

  • This begs some other questions:
    If Thargons aren't Alien Items then what is?
    Who are the 'Aliens'?
    How does one trade in them? Where are the supply/demand chains?

If alien items are to be sufficiently rare then I think a degree of mystery around them could be fine. Some may remember reading 'The Dark Wheel', the novella that came with the original elite, and recall a possible cargo that could fit into this category. As for the last question in the above list, I think that needs a better answer.

Alien items would likely be most valuable to those who could exploit them. Governments or agencies with sufficient levels of control and technology to be able to harevst whatever one might be able to from such cargoes without undue interference.

So if we have a buyer then who might be in a position to sell?

An easy answer might be to give these items a chance to pop up anywhere as a random low chance at potentisally any station for variable degrees of reward depending on where they might be shipped to. I find that rather unsatisfactory however as it makes them a bit more dull. a better answer might be that those selling them simply don't realise what they are and how valuable they might be. Low tech, losely governed/highly corrupt systems that just want to sell their wares as quickly as possible before the opportunity is gone.

So that would mean a price increase from low tech to high tech.
It might also mean that they tend to become available in the more dangerous systems - in a corporate system they might be bought before they made it to the market.
Perhaps they are illegal to buy from the safer systems?
Maybe the biggest profits are to be made selling them to high tech anarchies where there is both suffient technology to exploit them and insufficient police/navy presence to confiscate or restrict such practices.

We would then have a plausible, exotic, high-risk, low availability item that might even enrich the game experience.

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 3:59 pm 
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Just to be clear, my suggestion above re. cargo prices wouldn't change the generic nature of the commodities (I have ideas about that, too, but those would probably be more suited to an Oolite II than 2.0) - it would just greatly increase the base price and quantities available for a small selection of commodities. The primary purpose of this would be to give a plausible in-game reason why beginning players (and players who want a quiet life) are generally ignored by the more dangerous pirates, allowing a gentler introduction to the game.

I agree, though, that Alien Items are a bit of a disappointment, as a commodity … they are initially mysterious, and they're challenging to come by in the wild (and I don't think they should be in the random mix for cargo dropped by NPCs) - and then when you dock with Alien Items in your hold you find that nobody's that interested and they're often not even worth that much.

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 4:21 pm 
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Just to be clear, my suggestion above re. cargo prices wouldn't change the generic nature of the commodities (I have ideas about that, too, but those would probably be more suited to an Oolite II than 2.0) - it would just greatly increase the base price and quantities available for a small selection of commodities.
I think I understand that but i feel it does relate to my wider point. For example I see computers in a generic sense and so when you buy 1TC of the stuff you get a mix - maybe sometimes if you paid more then you probably bought slightly better stuff. Selling price is unrelated to purchase price in game but 'realistic economics' are complex enough to provide possible explanations for the random price changes that do exist. In the year 3,000 + whatever it seems unlikey for computers in a generic sense to be rare.

Of course such things very much depend on how you choose rationalise the situation but I think a more generic categorisation suits a more general availability.

Alien items by definition could be exceptional in this regard as could gold and platignum (both being specific metals).

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 5:16 pm 
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I've experimented with market definitions that have full random quantities and lowered stock caps. This kinda works, except that the stock caps must match the cargo bay size of the ship to be effective. With this, trade becomes unreliable in the sense that you're both not sure you'll find your computers at the rich industrial system A and not sure you'll be able to sell them at poor agricultural system B (I'm looking at you, Xexedi). I think that it could be a mean to "nerf" the high-profit goods without lowering the profit directly; instead it is just less reliable to trade them in the sense that you might have to visit more than one station to buy/sell them. I like the idea of raising their prices so that they are both less accessible and make for a better scooping reward. Non-traders need some love. Traders should not be able to scoop stuff, or rather the fuel scoops should cost them maybe a couple of TCs of their precious cargo space.

Alien items could be used not for money but to collect some sort of "research points", that in turn would allow you to unlock advanced weapons - some type of hybrid Thargoid tech. Mining could also yelled alien items - it would actually be the most reliable way to get research points.

A similar idea could be applied to "military" equipment - that's hardly a new idea. Cim talked earlier about nerfing the range of the military lasers. All military equipment could be unlock-able with "navy credits" (or else one buys super-expensive military variants of standard ships). Then one can introduce a less powerful equivalent of the military laser. I like the tactical advantage of the range so I would nerf the damage instead.


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Feb 26, 2017 10:29 pm 
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Non-traders need some love. Traders should not be able to scoop stuff, or rather the fuel scoops should cost them maybe a couple of TCs of their precious cargo space.
According to the original eilte manual the sidewinder was too small for the fitting of fuel scoops so such a requirement is quite faithful to the source material even if it would change the numbers on a cobra. I begin to percieve the large cargo bay as a bad idea, even within the original elite...

Quote:
Alien items could be used not for money but to collect some sort of "research points", that in turn would allow you to unlock advanced weapons - some type of hybrid Thargoid tech. Mining could also yelled alien items - it would actually be the most reliable way to get research points.
Interesting. Needs some flesh on the bones of course but could add a new element to gameplay. Maybe a cascade mine needs alien items in order to be produced, or perhaps it's hardhead missiles that need coating with the alien ECM resistant materials. If hardheads could be rarer then ECM could be less common and therefore standard missiles more useful.

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Mon Feb 27, 2017 11:52 am 
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Non-traders need some love. Traders should not be able to scoop stuff, or rather the fuel scoops should cost them maybe a couple of TCs of their precious cargo space.
According to the original eilte manual the sidewinder was too small for the fitting of fuel scoops so such a requirement is quite faithful to the source material even if it would change the numbers on a cobra. I begin to percieve the large cargo bay as a bad idea, even within the original elite...
I just forbid myself to use it on the Cobra. The moray has a variant that allows it, but this variant has no aft weapon mount so it's ok.
Quote:
Interesting. Needs some flesh on the bones of course but could add a new element to gameplay.
The generalized idea is that if you want the player to perform certain specific activity for certain specific rewards, use a special currency. Most F2P games have a "grinding" currency and a "credit card currency" for instance. I used to play a sandbox MMORPG that had over forty currencies, one for each level area. You could buy certain uncommon equipment and objects with those currencies at the area shop. The purpose of this was to avoid excessive grinding only, as you could get those items from drops, crafting, or buy them from other players.

Oolite has multiple currencies as well: rank, reputations, and some OXPs introduce their own currencies too. However most of the core extra "currencies" just convert to credits, which is not the best use of them.

About "the flesh and bones" - thinking about rewards and money inevitably leads to think about the end game. It's a little bit strange to think about the end game for a sandbox, non player-centric game but it has to exist, otherwise the end game by default is the player being bored. "Replay-ability", that is diverse ways to play the game, is important as well. So you have two axis: game length, and game variety.

What you want for a game like Oolite is a story that "never ends". Or rather, it ends when your character dies if you play IronMan. That may actually never happen if you reach the unkillable IronAss stage, because the main goal in Oolite is to survive to and by making more money. So the end game has to be a survival game. Just like the drop speed increases in Tetris, the difficulty has to increase gradually until it's humanly impossible to win. The overarching story is that the galaxy is dying and there's nothing you can do about it because you can't be a save-the-world-in-the-end hero in Oolite. It can be simply achieved by just increasing the number and skill of hostile ships, although we have hardware limits for the numbers and playing against aimbots isn't that fun. Also, Oolite is a bit more featured than Tetris - it actually has an infinite number of features thanks to OXPs.

So the idea is this: increase the difficulty as the player get ranks (can be clock-based too or a mix of both and perhaps other factors) by increasing the number and skill of hostile ships, up to the point where it "doesn't work" any more. Then the game enters a second phase where Thargoids make their move and invade the galaxy. In this phase, systems slowly regress to low-tech agricultural anarchies. Killing Thargoids (and perhaps other player actions, missions) slows down the invasion, but it cannot be stopped. The goal then for the player is to survive as long as possible in a galaxy where earning money and making repairs is more and more difficult. Military equipment unlocks help in the first phase and hybrid thargoid tech unlocks help in the second phase. Also, I'd like to have different strategies for the various roles, and then maybe players could look for role switches that maximize their survival chances in the long run.

All this is not really new; some OXPs do things like that but AFAICT they are old, unmaintained or just broken and without an explicit licence statement. Also, I aim at making a minimal set of simple and as much as possible independent OXPs that I can do myself - which means minimal programming, maximum reuse of existing OXPs and core game features, but at the same time try to provide a "framework" in which missions, ships, equipments etc. can be inserted easily.


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