Split: Difficulty for new players

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cim
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by cim »

Disembodied wrote:This wasn't possible in Elite, but is possible in Oolite. It's actually not got anything to do with the torus drive at all.
Except that if the player wasn't moving so fast a couple of pirate patrols equipped with fast ships and some sort of AWACS-type ship to coordinate them would have plenty of time to intercept a player taking the off-lane route.
Disembodied wrote:Perhaps there's some mileage there: perhaps we can generate - with a bit of scanning - some manifests for ships: where they've last been, the name of their commander
1.79 makes this bit easier - all the ships in the system have an origin system, crew and cargo manifest already set. (Crew is not yet readable by script, but will be before 1.80 is released)
Disembodied wrote:There might also be potential in communicating with ships
That would be an immense project to get it right, but potentially very good indeed.

To digress slightly... I've recently been playing through the "Derelict" fan add-on for Freespace 2 (well worth a go if you enjoyed the original game). One of the things it has in it - to set up the ambience that you're based at a station on the fringes of inhabited space where not much happens - is a few early escort/patrol missions where literally nothing (in terms of Freespace 2's traditional combat-oriented missions, at any rate) happens, either for the whole mission, or for several minutes. It works, though, because while you're flying that distance the other ships in your patrol are chatting on the comms.

The problem with doing the same thing in Oolite, of course, is the scale - to get to Elite rank we're probably expecting the player to have built up several hundred (if not a few thousand) hours of flight time, so any comms chatter besides the professional (e.g. "target the Gecko", "requesting docking clearance", "your cargo or your life", etc.) basically needs to have a huge data source to work from so that it doesn't end up getting repetitive (something like CCL PhraseGen and similar can of course reduce the data needs, but not by a lot). The technical implementation would be relatively straightforward by comparison to the task of writing and collating all of that.

Similarly - and even harder in all aspects - with giving out mission hooks. Curse of the Black Sunspot was kind of an initial experiment in the direction of the sort of informal mission I think it would be excellent to stumble across (CotBS, because it's the only one, has to really give some heavy hints to the player as to where they should stumble about, and includes a lot more custom code) and choose what to do with. Similarly you might pick up a "routine" passenger somewhere, get dragged into the edges of something bigger when they turn out not to be who they claimed ... and it would be good to have "poke my nose in" and "get well clear of that sort of politics" both as valid options (and I don't mean "mission screen choices") with their own consequences. Somewhat difficult to code, but would need ridiculous amounts of background data [1].

[1] Well, to an extent. So long as it was being produced faster than the majority of players could consume it, it might be possible to do some sort of rolling release of that data file. That's still a big task, though.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Disembodied »

cim wrote:
Disembodied wrote:Perhaps there's some mileage there: perhaps we can generate - with a bit of scanning - some manifests for ships: where they've last been, the name of their commander
1.79 makes this bit easier - all the ships in the system have an origin system, crew and cargo manifest already set. (Crew is not yet readable by script, but will be before 1.80 is released)
Could this be extended? Some brief commander biographies, stitched together out of a seed as per the planet descriptions? We've got a lot more memory to work with, so it might be possible to have rather more variety than the planet descriptions have.
cim wrote:
Disembodied wrote:There might also be potential in communicating with ships
That would be an immense project to get it right, but potentially very good indeed.
Again, from a seed, there could be chunks of random news/gossip generated ... it doesn't have to be game-relevant, just mildly diverting (like the planet descriptions). And it could be occasionally game-relevant. People would get bored with it, I'm sure, but it really doesn't have to do much more than keep new players entertained for the first few trips - like your Freespace 2 example.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by cim »

Disembodied wrote:Could this be extended? Some brief commander biographies, stitched together out of a seed as per the planet descriptions?
It certainly could be. The coding side of it is well within current OXP capabilities, if anyone wants to make a start on it. Pitfalls:
- procedurally-generated text from that sort of chaining is very time-consuming to translate and end up with a grammatical result
- ideally, I think, you'd want it not to be entirely random. (Two obvious areas: grouped ships should be more likely than otherwise to have pilots with some commonality of biography ; system of origin should have a significant effect)
- should the biography content reflect back to the game? (e.g. if the biography generator says that the pilot was a Viper pilot in the %N war of 2081kD, should they get a significant accuracy boost?)
Disembodied wrote:We've got a lot more memory to work with, so it might be possible to have rather more variety than the planet descriptions have.
Which gives another thought, that we don't really make use of the variety the descriptions give us. At the moment they're not really in a format that makes it easy to do so either, but that might be adaptable.
cim wrote:Again, from a seed, there could be chunks of random news/gossip generated ... it doesn't have to be game-relevant, just mildly diverting (like the planet descriptions). And it could be occasionally game-relevant. People would get bored with it, I'm sure, but it really doesn't have to do much more than keep new players entertained for the first few trips - like your Freespace 2 example.
I don't know ... it's not just new players who find themselves stuck on a long journey in after a 6.4 jump wanting to save what little injector fuel they have left for actual combat. I think it needs to be varied enough that by the time you see a repeat (and even with generation it needs considerably more baseline data than the planet descriptions have) you've forgotten the original - something Random Ship Names, especially in the latest version, does very well. Otherwise I think it might end up breaking the atmosphere a bit for more experienced players.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Norby »

Disembodied wrote:Beginner players often find that they can avoid the dangers and difficulties of the early game by dodging around the spacelanes
This is the first problem, where your suggestion about ASC with some extensions maybe can help.

The second problem: lanes should be much more safe or evenly fast (or slow) than deep space travel to use them later also. This is why we are thinking on 7 possible solutions (see in my previous post) and this maybe can go to a separated thread but imho can be stay here.

New idea: we can justify lanes with gravity: torus can work only near the shortest route between two planetary masses or wormhole exit points (physics know why). We can invent an "anomaly generator" and place into custom stations where we want build lanes also. When a ship go farther from the midline (marked with lightballs) than 1 or 2x scanner range then get "out of lane" lock (similar than masslock) and receive instructions where is the nearest lane.

In addition to this concept some time compression and/or Injectors can help to move into any direction without left behind NPCs.

Plus I suggest more or less pirates around lanes depending on government but without masslock net in this case. Less pirates (+ a few thargoids ;) ) are enough if not only a wall can slow a bit but the whole space.


To talk with ships in lanes is a great idea Disembodied, can turn masslock from an unwanted thing to a wanted one! If player usually get greetings only but a few times some useful informations, missions or contracts also then surely be motivated to fly on lanes.
Mini games are not bad but less important imho.
Disembodied wrote:get your attacker onto your six - then he's not masslocking you, and you can engage your torus drive and escape.
Right, it is exploitable, so bad idea.
cim wrote:some sort of AWACS-type ship to coordinate them
Nice justify to make Scout Drones with visual detection, thanks cim. :)
cim wrote:That's still a big task, though.
We can start with existing things what can get at stations like parcels. A few is enough to player be curious what he can get from a slow ship in his way. I guess need to go within 10km to get a message and in 100m to get a parcel physically.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Diziet Sma »

Norby wrote:New idea: we can justify lanes with gravity: torus can work only near the shortest route between two planetary masses or wormhole exit points (physics know why). We can invent an "anomaly generator" and place into custom stations where we want build lanes also. When a ship go farther from the midline (marked with lightballs) than 1 or 2x scanner range then get "out of lane" lock (similar than masslock) and receive instructions where is the nearest lane.
This just totally breaks the torus for getting around the rest of the system.. a huge pain if I want to go to some rock-hermit out in the middle of nowhere.
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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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Cody »

Disembodied wrote:The more I think about this, though, the more convinced I am that the best approach to the spacelane problem is not through fiddling with the game mechanics, but through altering the system populator to place dangerous pirate nets to catch off-laners (and maybe occasional Thargoid scouting parties, just to really put the willies up people). It doesn't have to be predictably dangerous to go offlane - in fact, it's probably better if it's unpredictable, but potentially very dangerous.
This was my thinking a few pages back - to a new player, a Thargoid warship is definitely very dangerous.

<nods at Diz's post>

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by cim »

Cody wrote:This was my thinking a few pages back - to a new player, a Thargoid warship is definitely very dangerous.
With the way the 1.79 system populator works, you might well already meet the occasional Thargoid scout (or even a whole pack of them) if you go off-lane. Probably not, though - space is big.

Of course, if there was anyone who could be justified as being able to emerge from witchspace right on top of someone, and have sufficient control of witchspace to be able to make a jump within the same system (which should have virtually instant transit time)

It wouldn't always happen, since there isn't always a Thargoid in the system, but it wouldn't always need to, so that's fine. They're tough enough that by the time you can survive the encounter you can probably survive the lanes anyway too, which is also good.

So ... okay, change the in-system Thargoid AI so that a lone warship is mostly on scouting duty: observe the system, hit targets of opportunity using witchspace microjumps, don't get into big fights. The trick is perhaps determining when a ship is a suitable target: if the spacelane is quiet (and the sun-witchpoint one often won't have a ship for hundreds of kilometres) what stops the warship jumping in there? We don't want the warship deciding to jump on the player just because there's no ships nearby, but determining whether the player is "on-lane" is not entirely straightforward, especially if OXPs have added stations which might get their own spacelanes somewhat away from the primary lanes.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Norby »

Diziet Sma wrote:a huge pain if I want to go to some rock-hermit out in the middle of nowhere.
Not entirely, I imagine these with additional time acceleration where your Injectors can give reasonable time to travel there. To reach a Rock Hermit at 500km need about a minute with torus and the same time plus 5LY fuel with Injectors on 4x TAF which is permissible in green alert (else 2 minutes with 2x TAF).

Player should go to the main station to refuel if just arrived to the system before start a Rock Hermit journey but this is acceptable imho. A bit more color to catch these valued places.

The main goal why I think to worth make such changes is to strenghten up pirates with Injectors, so if a player exit from a battle then his enemy can follow him. More real if pilots can escape in Pods only.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Cody »

Norby wrote:Player should go to the main station to refuel if just arrived to the system before start a Rock Hermit journey but this is acceptable imho.
No, that is not acceptable at all, Norby.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Disembodied »

cim wrote:
Disembodied wrote:Could this be extended? Some brief commander biographies, stitched together out of a seed as per the planet descriptions?
It certainly could be. The coding side of it is well within current OXP capabilities, if anyone wants to make a start on it. Pitfalls:
- procedurally-generated text from that sort of chaining is very time-consuming to translate and end up with a grammatical result
- ideally, I think, you'd want it not to be entirely random. (Two obvious areas: grouped ships should be more likely than otherwise to have pilots with some commonality of biography ; system of origin should have a significant effect)
- should the biography content reflect back to the game? (e.g. if the biography generator says that the pilot was a Viper pilot in the %N war of 2081kD, should they get a significant accuracy boost?)
What we'd need to begin with here would be a general character profile - what sort of stats can a pilot have? Basic things like e.g. name, planet of origin/species, gender, and then functional ones like accuracy, courage (which could affect odds calculation), aggression (how likely they are to attack an enemy), Elite ranking (?) ... If NPC pilots can have attributes like these, these could sometimes be reflected in their biographies. Producing a grammatical output could be tricky, right enough (and would cause further problems for translations), but Svengali's done a fair amount of work on this front for the CCL PhraseGen. If the biography was broken up into discrete chunks, which might or might not be displayed, it could be easier to keep things grammatical.
cim wrote:We don't want the warship deciding to jump on the player just because there's no ships nearby, but determining whether the player is "on-lane" is not entirely straightforward, especially if OXPs have added stations which might get their own spacelanes somewhat away from the primary lanes.
I think if the player is isolated - a long way from any other ships or stations - then they're fair game for a Thargoid.

Could patrolling Thargoids be made to avoid the WP-planet lane? Or have two types of in-system Thargoid: the hunter (more common, avoids the lane, avoids stations, jumps any isolated ships that aren't on the main WP-planet lane, maybe avoids the WP-sun lane too), and the raider (rarer, attacks on-lane shipping as at present).

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Redspear »

Thargoid idea is interesting and would make good 'game-sense'.
Disembodied wrote:... get your attacker onto your six - then he's not masslocking you, and you can engage your torus drive and escape.
True, a 'fix' requiring another fix suggests that may not be much of a solution.

I have another suggestion but it's a different kind of controversial...
Give the starting player injectors.

New players would then have a means to address both kinds of 'difficulty' that I mentioned above without any changes to game mechanics.

Purists might argue against it but where were the injectors in elite? I'd be interested to here Aegidian's thoughts on this but I'd have thought that being able to reduce time spent in mass-lock was as important a design consideration as escaping combat.

With regards to keeping to the lanes, that's more likely to be done by players if the safe systems are safer and that mass-locks less frustrating. Then encountering other ships is more fun. Is this bit too tough or boring for you? Then you can skip it, at a cost of fuel of course :-)

This would be simple, easily implemented and could even encorage use of the lane (not so hard or so time consuming as before).

Not a true fix but perhaps a sizeable and simple and familiar step towards one .
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Norby »

Cody wrote:No, that is not acceptable at all, Norby.
Ok, then use the gravital speciality of these places to justify some technical differences between lanes and deep space in favor of lanes. I ask only to give to both player and NPCs (I prefer balanced changes before wangles).

These are my first ideas, open to criticism:
- Torus with two speed levels, more on lanes or less out of lanes.
- Injectors with two speed levels and with two fuel consumption rates.
- Maybe bonuses applied to the right direction only like on a slope to the larger mass (W->P, W->S, P->S) and deducted if a ship fly to the opposite direction.
- Changes from either level to another can be smooth from 1x to 2x scanner range away from the midline and from 0 to 180 degree.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by spara »

Would something break really badly, if torus would in practice be taf? I understand that battles fought out there would end differently and ships could fly through asteroids and such, but from the player point of view would it make a difference?

And a little addition: Would it be possible to replace torus with taf so that the acceleration factor would automatically scale depending on the distance to the closest masslocking entity. It could be double when just out of scanner range, quadruple when double the scanner range or something like that. The main idea being that the anomalies resulting from taf would not affect the player although they might affect npcs.
Last edited by spara on Fri Dec 20, 2013 10:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Norby »

spara wrote:from the player point of view would it make a difference?
If you mean what is the difference from the original Torus:

1. When player arrived into a not so friendly system and see more laser flare before his eyes players still tends to do a 90 degree turn and hit "i" regardless of gifts in lane or pirates out. Can do it safely due to once managed to left behind masslocks and hit "j" no other ship keep step with his uber engine. So space lanes are not safer than deep space.

If we accept a solution then players will be choose the lanes more often or almost all times due to good reasons.

2. Player can start a fight and escape with injectors easily anytime. No chance to intercept nor follow once are in green alert.

3. After a short hyperjump or with fuel OXPs the situation is even worse: can hold down "i" and arrive to the station soon regardless of anything even if in Anarchy.

If there is a chance to intercept then we can make more intelligent enemies which follow the escpaing player to solve the last two case. After a few "press space" he will be more curious to choose his path, double check enemies before attack them and as a side effect will stick to the lanes if unsure.


If your question mean we should award Torus to at least a few combat NPCs (which is not so hard from an OXP using position updates) then the previous problems can be solved but others bring up, some are described by Disembodied, one more is these high speeds compress the system and we can lost the feeling of big space. So I think lowering the speed of Torus to 7x to match with Injectors and enable a few TAF is better than increasing the speed of some NPCs to 32x to match the original Torus.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by spara »

Norby wrote:
spara wrote:from the player point of view would it make a difference?
If you mean what is the difference from the original Torus:
I'm sorry, I'm being vague. I mean that the player would not have the advantage of an uber speed cheat called Torus Driving when pressing j, but instead taf would gradually kick in depending on the distance to the nearest mass locking entity. What I wanted to know is this: is there something happening somewhere where the player is not that would break the game.

About the other ideas presented here, I'm a bit hesitant as I really believe that the space should be relatively empty and that most of the traffic would concentrate to the lanes. The main problem is the torus drive, it's an uber device that gives the player a serious advantage over the npcs. Even when used in the lane.

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