Split: Difficulty for new players

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Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by mandoman » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:02 pm

Moderator: Moved discussion about difficulty for new players from 1.77 for OXPers thread.

I agree with most that this game is a vast improvement over 1.76. I have noticed one rather annoying thing, though. If attacked by multiple Offenders/Pirates/etc all at once, my shields basically disappear within a couple of seconds. That's with the Military upgrades. It's a bit extreme, and I find myself choosing to fly only my fastest, most deadly ships in 1.77. I tried flying a couple of my trader ships, just to see how they handled. The experience was beautiful, with vivid colors in exhaust, star scene, and other details, and all with no loss to maneuverability. However, when attacked as described above, the shields went down so fast on both ships, that I was blown out of space before I could return the favor. That feature raises the difficulty level of this game to a precariously high point. I can deal with it, and will deal with it, because the improvements are incredible, but a newbie is in for a bumpy ride. May even scare many away. Just my thoughts.
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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by cim » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:04 pm

Combat balance is tricky, and so much potentially affects it, so it doesn't surprise me that it's not right.

What are the pirates flying? Specifically, are you using OXPs which routinely give pirates military lasers? The NPC versions of those weapons have been upgraded in 1.77 to match the player spec, which makes them more deadly on the initial attack run (after that they'll have overheated ... unless they have an aft laser too) and a full blast from a military laser will take out most ships.

Assuming it's not that, and you're fighting relatively conventional pirates (one forward laser, either beam or pulse), then the initial attack run from a pack of five or six can still be very damaging - more so than in 1.76, certainly. The idea was to compensate for this by worsening their aim somewhat from 1.76, so that they might fire a scary amount of lasers at you, but most of them would miss - and then they'd be fighting with overheated guns for a while. If the pack comes in and smashes your shields at 10-15km, then they're probably too good at aiming and that needs adjusting. The tricky thing will be getting that adjustment right.

Can you give a few more details about what you're fighting and what sort of range this is happening at? Also, what tactics are you using in the fight, and at what range do you usually notice their hostile intent?
mandoman wrote:but a newbie is in for a bumpy ride
Yes. Though, there are bigger issues of game balance and difficulty curve to deal with there.

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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by Cody » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:16 pm

cim wrote:
mandoman wrote:but a newbie is in for a bumpy ride
Yes. Though, there are bigger issues of game balance and difficulty curve to deal with there.
This is hard to get right, I'd think... and it depends on the dice roll, to a certain extent.
With the Jamesons I've tried recently, some got a relatively smooth/easy-ish beginning, some got hammered repeatedly!
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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by mandoman » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:21 pm

cim wrote:What are the pirates flying? Specifically, are you using OXPs which routinely give pirates military lasers? The NPC versions of those weapons have been upgraded in 1.77 to match the player spec, which makes them more deadly on the initial attack run (after that they'll have overheated ... unless they have an aft laser too) and a full blast from a military laser will take out most ships.
You answered it. What it's coming down to is that my own oxps are too dangerous for 1.77, LOL!!! It isn't JUST them, though, but what you said makes sense. I hate to do it, because I love ship oxps, for the variety, but I guess I'm going to have to start weeding out the more dangerous ships........or bite the bullet to see if I can survive with them present. I think the second course of action is what I'll try for a while. I will say this, I've been having some pretty hair raising dogfights since I installed 1.77. :D
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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by pagroove » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:02 pm

Just had a fight with the Black Mamba's (from Smivs's excellent Xeptatls Sword OXP). Those where very deadly. Had to make some costly repairs but I survived. :D
1.77 is fab. The best game ever. :D
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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by Cody » Wed Jan 16, 2013 10:04 pm

pagroove wrote:Just had a fight with the Black Mamba's...
<chortles> Yeah... tricky devils, those Black Mambas!
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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by mandoman » Thu Jan 17, 2013 12:18 am

El Viejo wrote:
cim wrote:With the Jamesons I've tried recently, some got a relatively smooth/easy-ish beginning, some got hammered repeatedly!
Oh yeah. No Jamesons to run in my Ooniverse. At least no beginners. I tried taking the CMk3 three differrent times, to three different systems, and it got blown to bits every time. My strong suggestion to beginners is to start the game with no other ship oxps, until they get their Cobra pumped on oxp steroids, or buy a faster, more deadly fighting craft.

On the positive end, one tends to start knowing what to do to beat the odds, the more you face the pirate ambushes. Dropping a Q-bomb, and injecting out as fast as possible is one move. If a couple get away and follow you, line up on them with rear lasers, and fire ECM resistant missiles at them. Military everything is highly recommended. :mrgreen:
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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by Switeck » Thu Jan 17, 2013 4:48 am

El Viejo wrote:
cim wrote:
mandoman wrote:but a newbie is in for a bumpy ride
Yes. Though, there are bigger issues of game balance and difficulty curve to deal with there.
This is hard to get right, I'd think... and it depends on the dice roll, to a certain extent.
With the Jamesons I've tried recently, some got a relatively smooth/easy-ish beginning, some got hammered repeatedly!
I coded up a testing OXP that removed pirates along the space-lane from the witchpoint buoy to the planet from "safer" Government systems (Confederacy to Corporate States) in Galaxy Chart 1 while the player had fewer than 100 kills AND less than 10 bounty (so you couldn't corner-the-market and be the ONLY pirate). If they went off the beaten path, Deep Space Pirates (from OXP of same name) would get them...or pirates between planet and sun were still lurking.

With just a little more work, it could be narrowed further down to only remove pirates from "safer" systems near Lave, so new players aren't automatically screwed starting out...so long as they only went to "safe" systems AND stayed on the space-lane.

This is my example "Difficultly" .js code:
http://pastebin.com/0XxFvGqH

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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by Disembodied » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:22 pm

cim wrote:
mandoman wrote:but a newbie is in for a bumpy ride
Yes. Though, there are bigger issues of game balance and difficulty curve to deal with there.
Definitely - I think the easiest way to deal with this though would be to have Corporate States pirate free, and to have them rare as hens' teeth in Democracies, and downright unusual in Confederacies (Switeck's suggested mod sounds about right). Thargoid attack would still be a possibility, of course, but generally speaking these sorts of systems would be places where law-abiding beginners and aces alike could go and be pretty much safe from attack. There aren't many true milk-runs to be had in-game: no Poor Agricultural Democracies next to Rich Industrial Corporate States, for example, so there's always the lure of greater profits to draw the Jamesons out into deeper waters. But at the moment, everywhere seems risky: I can't remember the last system I visited - even a Corporate State - where I didn't meet at least one pirate, and one pirate is usually enough to do for a starting player. I do have Tough Guys installed but only at the "Anarchy" setting, which I don't think adds extra pirates. Maybe of course it's allowing those pirates to survive longer, so I'm more likely to meet them ... What I might do is strip out the TG OXP and try a new Jameson myself: see how easy it is to survive a first trip out to Zaonce!

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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by Cody » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:39 pm

Disembodied wrote:... would be to have Corporate States pirate free, and to have them rare as hens' teeth in Democracies, and downright unusual in Confederacies
I wouldn't want to see this - even in a Corporate State/Democracy, you should still find bandits occasionly.
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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by Pleb » Thu Jan 17, 2013 1:43 pm

Agreed there are and should be pirates everywhere, but perhaps they should be adjusted (as was mentioned before) to only appear depending on what kind of ranking the player is? So a Harmless 'Jameson' would only ever encounter the odd pirate, whereas a Deadly commander would be constantly fending off attacks.

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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by Disembodied » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:34 pm

El Viejo wrote:I wouldn't want to see this - even in a Corporate State/Democracy, you should still find bandits occasionly.
There are pirates off Somalia, but none in the English Channel. Barring widespread social collapse there will never be any pirates there, despite the volume of trade. It's too dangerous for the pirates, and there are no nearby places they can use as a base: why would they run the risk? There should be systems where - Thargoids excepted - there are no hostiles as long as you're Clean. Apart from anything else, it helps to differentiate the various system types. At the moment there's barely any difference between a Confederacy and a Dictatorship: both are, for a new pilot, fairly dangerous. And for beginners, especially, it's important that they can have some places to go to where - docking incidents aside - they can fully expect to survive the trip. It could help smooth out the learning curve, too.

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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by JazHaz » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:46 pm

Pleb wrote:Agreed there are and should be pirates everywhere, but perhaps they should be adjusted (as was mentioned before) to only appear depending on what kind of ranking the player is? So a Harmless 'Jameson' would only ever encounter the odd pirate, whereas a Deadly commander would be constantly fending off attacks.
NO, NO, NO, NO!

This is bringing Oolite back into a player-centric universe. Something we do not EVER want to go back to.

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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by another_commander » Thu Jan 17, 2013 2:58 pm

Disembodied wrote:
El Viejo wrote:I wouldn't want to see this - even in a Corporate State/Democracy, you should still find bandits occasionly.
There are pirates off Somalia, but none in the English Channel. Barring widespread social collapse there will never be any pirates there, despite the volume of trade. It's too dangerous for the pirates, and there are no nearby places they can use as a base: why would they run the risk? There should be systems where - Thargoids excepted - there are no hostiles as long as you're Clean. Apart from anything else, it helps to differentiate the various system types. At the moment there's barely any difference between a Confederacy and a Dictatorship: both are, for a new pilot, fairly dangerous. And for beginners, especially, it's important that they can have some places to go to where - docking incidents aside - they can fully expect to survive the trip. It could help smooth out the learning curve, too.
If you have locations in the game where it is guaranteed that there will be no danger, then you only end up damaging gameplay (dodging the tradelanes falls under this category too in my book). One of the things that makes E/Oolite what it is, is that there is always a creepy sense of danger. You are never fully safe. I think it's nice to keep that.

I also agree with JazHaz that we should not be generating situations in the universe based on the player's condition. The universe should have a life of its own and be player-unaware.

Edit to add: Split the difficulty discussion to own thread.

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Re: 1.77 for OXPers

Post by Disembodied » Thu Jan 17, 2013 3:07 pm

another_commander wrote:If you have locations in the game where it is guaranteed that there will be no danger, then you only end up damaging gameplay (dodging the tradelanes falls under this category too in my book). One of the things that makes E/Oolite what it is, is that there is always a creepy sense of danger. You are never fully safe. I think it's nice to keep that.
But at the moment the only option open to beginners is to either dodge the lanes (which I agree is an unfortunate exploit, and which does damage gameplay), or to run a severe risk of death even when visiting a supposedly safe system. It would be a better universe, I think, if there were safe parts and dangerous parts. The safe parts would never be utterly, totally safe: there's always the chance of meeting the Thargoids, after all. Or, if there is a desire to have slight chance of a pirate encounter everywhere, make it much, much lower in the Corporate States, much lower in Democracies, and a bit lower in Confederacies than it currently is. I can't remember who posted about this late last year* but there was one new player who had tried several times to get to Zaonce, and had been mugged each time. In a Corporate State. That was bad luck, no doubt, but it should have been astronomically bad luck.
another_commander wrote:I also agree with JazHaz that we should not be generating situations in the universe based on the player's condition. The universe should have a life of its own and be player-unaware.
I'm with you here, definitely - which still leaves the problem of how to make the game accessible to new players?

* Edit: it was Sparetomato, in this thread. In which I note that I'm repeating myself ... :oops:

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