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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 1:48 pm 
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Jedi Spam Assassin
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Hmmm, let me think. I'd go for something totally weird, like being a male Human from Earth or somesuch.
:D Your choice … but there's no such planet in Oolite! Of course, all this fluff about the player character can exist perfectly happily inside the player's head, without impinging on the game - but then, the same could be said about the PC's name, and the name of their ship.

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 9:22 pm 
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Of course, all this fluff about the player character can exist perfectly happily inside the player's head, without impinging on the game - but then, the same could be said about the PC's name, and the name of their ship.
I'm thinking more of something like a game mode.
Some players have a self-imposed 'iron man' mode for example but with a few more options we could have some interesting game scenarios which might enhance replay value.

Some 'bare bones' possibilities:

Career Mode
  • You have a set time limit before retirement, achieve all that you can.

Explorer Mode
  • Gal Cop has yet to integrate with non-humans. The only system data available (besides danger level) is for Human Colonial Systems. Travel to unknown systems and do enough 'local good' (e.g. destroy enough pirates) to become accepted. Do it across enough systems with similar inhabitants and goverment and they become known and accepted by Gal Cop.

Battlefront Mode
  • The Thargoid invasion is slowly gathering pace (similar to Astrobe's idea). Can the player complete all of the default missions and perhaps a new final one: discover a path to the fabled 9th galaxy that might even contain a planet or two with particularly satisfying names :wink:

Iron Man Mode
  • We know this one, the only difference being that the game itself now imposes the ruling.

Pariah Mode
  • You've done something bad, or at least they think you have. Maybe you stole the only ship with a torus drive :wink: Default status is 'offender', even the slightest transgression and you become 'fugitive'. What's more, your bounty grows with your reputation (combat rating). Maybe there's a way to clear your reputation but perhaps only with certain races, governments or organisations and then only one at a time. Perhaps absolution lies in a final mission where your reputation can be transformed (I think there might be a suitable one in the core already...)

Open Mode
  • The default game as we know it.

Premonition Mode
  • A disaster is coming to your home system but only you have forseen it and being a lowly Adder pilot none will listen. Work your way up to owning a mighty Anaconda, the only ship with anything approaching enough cargo space for the rescue mission to save your family, friends and their families from impending doom. Again, there is a default mission that already fits the bill we just need a time limit to be imposed, perhaps adjusted 'on the fly' so that it doesn't become too easy. Maybe time is one factor (own an anaconda within a fairly generous time limit) and another is distance (perhaps you must buy a particular ship from a particular planet and galaxy) or hazards (once the disaster takes hold your system becomes a pirate magnet).

This might be what the 'scenarios' are supposed to be for but most of the above deviates very little from the default game. This list is by no means exhaustive but in most of the above cases we now have an ending IF the player wants one.

Even in this short list (which is likely far too long for full inclusion) we have time limits (not in standard game*), survival (not in standard game*), exploration (not in standard game*), salvation (occasionally in standard game) and even redemption (not in standard game*).

* at least not in the same sense

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Mar 05, 2017 11:11 pm 
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I quite like the idea of "Pirates!" in space. When you start the game you select a combination of allegiance and time period which impacts the difficulty, you can get good standing with more than one faction depending on your behavior, the world and its events unfold around you, ...


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 9:55 am 
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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)
I'm working on it. I basically slapped together Skilled NPC and Deep Space Pirates, and modified so they scale with the player's score (aka number of kills). From Harmless to Dangerous, Skilled NPC will apply a "baseline" from -5 to +5 and DSP will spawn from 1 to 10 ships. That's +1 accuracy every 32 kills and +1 ship every 50 kills or so. I chose the dangerous rating as an upper limit because higher ranks require so many kills that you have to make hundreds of kills to see a slight difficulty increase.

I modified DSP to make it "active" everywhere (except near stations) and as soon as one uses the Torus drive, with probabilities adjusted so that it spawns something about every minute of Torus use. So that should result in 2 or 3 encounters for a trip to the sun (I'm assuming a "distant sun" here).

So DSP focuses less on "pirate coating" the lane(s) and more on acting as an ad hoc populator (with the idea that the main station shouldn't be the only destination any more), and Skilled NPC rather acts as an "unskilled NPC" at the beginning of a game. Spawning unskilled ships is not only for "noobs". Being more fair in the early phase makes it less of a hassle, doesn't call for ugly player-centric features (350 PC/300 NPC Cobra etc.) and doesn't prevent from fixing ridiculous exploits (off-lane travel, injector+torus escape etc.).

Numbers certainly need to be adjusted, and for now the difficulty level is global to all systems. When I make it local to each system (with effective local difficulty= average difficulty of the neighbour systems), I'll consider increasing the local difficulty each time the player enters a system, so that easy-money-milk-run won't last forever.

This is slightly different from the suggested plan, which might be effective but certain points are just un-sexy.

- Point 1) kills the tactical advantage of the mil laser. Killing variety is bad - we actually need more of it. Why not nerf its damage instead, and make the AI more clever about it (like inject and dodge to get in range, or otherwise abandon pursuit when the base speed difference makes it obvious they won't be able to do that)? There's in particular one AI behaviour that needs to be fixed: the one that gets just in range, then goes right and fires a few shots and then goes left and fires a few shots, etc. It becomes really ridiculous when you realise that it matches your speed to stay exactly in range, so if you stop it will do its little dance in the distance and occasionally hit you.

- Point 5), 6) and 8) is I believe the opposite of what people want. I believe they'd prefer to fight huge packs of low accuracy bots rather than 1 or 2 aimbots. Aimbots are just frustrating, and reducing shield regen and/or size as suggested further down make them even more frustrating.

- Point 7) has a problem with multiple lasers. Especially with the "multiply" option. This configuration trades sustained damage for burst damage. So 1 or 2 ships with multiple mounts and good accuracy can bring down your shields very fast. The counter to burst damage is increased HP, errr, I mean shield size, not better regen. if multiply and split mounts option are real alternatives, then the player should have a choice between shield size and shield regen.

- Point 9) is a problem for in-lane masslocks. Fixes are being worked on, though. BTW is there something like equipment-overrides.plist?

I'm also considering a different start: a Medical Moray converted for mining, with cargo bay extension, mining laser, fuel scoops, injectors, and 0 credits. It's approximately the same value as the default start. It's interesting to note that many alternative starts feature mining. A miner start in this configuration has a number of advantages in my eyes:
- you go from place to place, shoot asteroids, catch splinters. It is a relatively fun activity that not worth the time later on in the game (computer/fur milk runs etc.).
- your fuel tank stays full nearly all the time, so it is relatively safe with injectors.
- the Moray is less of a potential über-ship than the Cobra 3, so players can set themselves goals: e.g. pax/parcel Cobra I or trader Cobra III
- it uses only core game elements and requires 0 scripting.


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 11:14 am 
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I'm also considering a different start: a Medical Moray converted for mining, with cargo bay extension, mining laser, fuel scoops, injectors, and 0 credits. It's approximately the same value as the default start. It's interesting to note that many alternative starts feature mining. A miner start in this configuration has a number of advantages in my eyes:
- you go from place to place, shoot asteroids, catch splinters. It is a relatively fun activity that not worth the time later on in the game (computer/fur milk runs etc.).
- your fuel tank stays full nearly all the time, so it is relatively safe with injectors.
- the Moray is less of a potential über-ship than the Cobra 3, so players can set themselves goals: e.g. pax/parcel Cobra I or trader Cobra III
- it uses only core game elements and requires 0 scripting.
Just a detail here, on mining: might it make things a little bit more interesting, especially for beginning players, if there was a low (1%?) chance of a scooped splinter yielding 1kg of gold or platinum, or 2D6g of gems? And maybe even a 2% chance of getting Alloys instead of Minerals? When the player scoops cargo pods, there's always the anticipation of what might be inside: it would be good if a small element of that applied to scooping splinters, too.

There is, of course, the Ore Processor OXP, but it's very old, and requires the purchase of a high-tech item of equipment: I think it would be better just to give players a small chance of finding something shiny now and then, without having to spend money up-front to get it. Once a player can afford to lay out Cr3500 on an Ore Processor, they probably don't need to - and in any case, maybe the Ore Processor could just increase the chance of finding something other than Minerals.

_________________
Oofiction: Calliope: a Captain Hesperus adventure | Stranglehold: a Captain Hesperus adventure | Local Midnight in the Vacuum Bar | A Farewell to Arms, Legs, etc.: the Blaze O'Glory Story


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sun Mar 12, 2017 2:17 pm 
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BTW is there something like equipment-overrides.plist?
You can just re-write the item in its own equipment.plist and that should work.

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"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-)


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 11:26 am 
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Quote:
BTW is there something like equipment-overrides.plist?
You can just re-write the item in its own equipment.plist and that should work.
Thanks, that was the confirmation I was looking for.
Quote:
Just a detail here, on mining: might it make things a little bit more interesting, especially for beginning players, if there was a low (1%?) chance of a scooped splinter yielding 1kg of gold or platinum, or 2D6g of gems? And maybe even a 2% chance of getting Alloys instead of Minerals? When the player scoops cargo pods, there's always the anticipation of what might be inside: it would be good if a small element of that applied to scooping splinters, too.
Yes, I'm thinking about something like that. A small percent chance to get alien items or alloys when splitting an asteroid or a boulder (I think there's an OXP somewhere that does that), or selling the harvest at the hermit rock for a small fee (might not even be necessary, considered that the prices are already low there) and a chance to get some gold/plat/gems. Kind of gambling with rocks. Another idea would be some sort of quest in which you get alien artefacts that unlock something... I'll decide based on what other purpose it could serve and how complex it is to program (Ideally if I can pillage yet another OXP...).
Quote:
There is, of course, the Ore Processor OXP, but it's very old, and requires the purchase of a high-tech item of equipment: I think it would be better just to give players a small chance of finding something shiny now and then, without having to spend money up-front to get it. Once a player can afford to lay out Cr3500 on an Ore Processor, they probably don't need to - and in any case, maybe the Ore Processor could just increase the chance of finding something other than Minerals.
Equipment prices need to be made consistent. For instance Waypoint Here is very useful for miners (to mark asteroids), but is priced 2500Cr - about 10 times the price of the ASC it is supposed to upgrade. 250Cr is a more acceptable price. On the other extreme, Phkb's Fast Targeting is extremely useful, but is priced only 10Cr and depends on nothing. Pricing it around 2500Cr and making it a multi-targeting system enhancement upgrade seems the right way to integrate in (this/the) game logic. I like the idea of a feature upgrade path for equipment - that's a logic that's already present in the core game. Moreover, the equipment value is part of the overhaul cost, so piling up equipment has a cost too.

I play-tested the Moray Miner start yesterday. It works well, except the profits you make are ridiculous compared to the infamous computers/furs trade, especially with regard to the time spent. So once you have enough funds to fill your cargo bay with those goods, your miner career is almost over, which is sad. However "Eastern eggs" in asteroids could help with that, and the computers/furs problem has to be addressed. Furthermore, as a miner you don't kill and don't jump much (it probably will be part of the difficulty formula), so it might be good strategy to extend your miner career even though there are better profit opportunities, or even switch back to it later (when you buy a new ship, for instance).


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Mon Mar 13, 2017 10:55 pm 
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For instance Waypoint Here is very useful for miners (to mark asteroids), but is priced 2500Cr - about 10 times the price of the ASC it is supposed to upgrade.
Well, almost 4 times the price anyway. The default price for the ASC is 650cr. I know you were just using WH as an example, and that the issue is broader than just one OXP, but as I'm currently the maintainer of Waypoint Here, I could certainly drop the price if there was a general feeling that a lower price would be more appropriate. I'd also need to check with Neelix, the original developer.

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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 6:40 pm 
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Quote:
For instance Waypoint Here is very useful for miners (to mark asteroids), but is priced 2500Cr - about 10 times the price of the ASC it is supposed to upgrade.
Well, almost 4 times the price anyway. The default price for the ASC is 650cr. I know you were just using WH as an example, and that the issue is broader than just one OXP, but as I'm currently the maintainer of Waypoint Here, I could certainly drop the price if there was a general feeling that a lower price would be more appropriate. I'd also need to check with Neelix, the original developer.
When I wrote that "equipment prices need to be made consistent", I didn't even realise that it's easier said than done because I was thinking in the context of my own plan, where there is a (clear) logic that guides that kind of choice; an OXP on its own has a much heavier burden of choice. TBH, that same logic might have me switch to the pylon-based alternative to WH if I see fit.


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Sat Apr 15, 2017 1:05 pm 
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On the earlier topic of lanes, one can combine several observations:
  • for a long time we have had this problem that NPC traffic can be avoided by going off lane. Deep Space Pirates tries to solve this issue by "pirate coating" the lanes. Other solutions have been devised, like "Space highways". With the rescaling experiment part of the last remaining problem (encounter rates) is, I believe, unintentional "off-laning".
  • discussions about the early game (most recently, the "easy start" topic) make it obvious that fuel injectors are key to the game.
  • Fuel burning rate is a rarely modified yet crucial stat for ships. Unlike speeds, changing it for the players' ship is less visible.
  • It could be a welcome balancing parameter aside from base speed and cargo space, because it plays a role both offensively (when chasing a fleeing enemy), defensively (when fleeing) and routinely (when overtaking).
So:
  • make the Torus drive use fuel like injectors, but at a more advantageous burn rate.
  • when the player is on a lane, the burning rate is further reduced.
The current lane is easily defined as the two closest large bodies: sun, planet(s), and witchpoint.

This almost requires some sort of indication for the players about their position relative to the lane. It may be a LED indicator in the HUD, a moving navigation point in the compass, or a virtual display of the lane on the screen.

The general idea is that the players have a real incentive to watch for and stay on lanes, because using the Torus drive or injectors outside of the lane burns more fuel, which indirectly compromise their safety. It also helps with overtaking peaceful NPCs on lanes (with injectors).

One weakness I can immediately see though is that not everything is on a lane, so one might be forced to use burning rate figures that take this into consideration and compromise the effectiveness of the mechanism in the standard case.


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 Post subject: Re: Oolite 2.0 or II
PostPosted: Thu Apr 27, 2017 10:07 am 
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Just checking in on this discussion.. haven't read it since my return, and just wanted to say I very much like the way the conversation has gone, the last few pages.
Quote:
I'd also need to check with Neelix, the original developer.
If you have trouble reaching him, I have his phone number.. (hope it's still current.. haven't caught up with him in a long time)

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Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied


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