The Oolite NPC ecosystem (and other questions)

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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Cody
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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Cody » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:28 pm

Disembodied wrote:... e.g. a demand from the opportunist that the player drops cargo...
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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Disembodied » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:32 pm

Cody wrote:Stand and deliver! Your lupins or your life!
:D "Stop your grinnin and drop your linen" could be an alternative ...

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Cody » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:57 pm

<chortles> Yeah... give the player a 'WTF' moment.
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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by cim » Tue Jul 30, 2013 1:59 pm

Disembodied wrote:it'll keep them rare - although they'll be more frequent early on, because that's when the player is more likely to be outclassed
Well ... that depends on how the odds assessment calculates "outclassed".

At the moment I'm looking at two separate groups of assessment parameters. Firstly, ones which can be obtained from looking at the ships, e.g.
- how many are there
- max speed
- max energy
- max missiles
- scan class
- is it currently running away?

Secondly, ones which can only be discovered by knowledge of that specific ship, e.g.
- installed laser weapon
- pilot skill
- has ECM (injectors, etc.)
NPCs know the values of these for their own group, but can only use them in assessments of other groups after entering combat (or witnessing that group in combat, I suppose, but for efficiency I'll probably mostly ignore that).

So a Jameson in a Cobra III will get the same initial assessment as an Elite pilot in an iron-ass Cobra III. All else equal the opportunists will go for them equally. However, the Elite pilot is more likely to be hanging around in systems where an attack is likely.
Disembodied wrote:I think it would be sensible, then, to at least provide the player with clues as to what's going on - e.g. a demand from the opportunist that the player drops cargo - to let them know that, Clean or not, the attacking ship is a pirate, and the game hasn't gone buggy.
Oh, yes, they'll do the same as a regular pirate there.

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Disembodied » Tue Jul 30, 2013 2:58 pm

cim wrote:So a Jameson in a Cobra III will get the same initial assessment as an Elite pilot in an iron-ass Cobra III. All else equal the opportunists will go for them equally. However, the Elite pilot is more likely to be hanging around in systems where an attack is likely.
A good point!
cim wrote:Oh, yes, they'll do the same as a regular pirate there.
Aha ... does this mean we can expect chattier pirates in general? Will there be a way to measure this against NPC skill and come up with a definitive mouth/trousers rating? :)

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Wyvern Mommy » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:04 pm

Disembodied wrote:There's still a problem with players being attacked by "Clean" pirates, and then getting a criminal record (and worse, being attacked by Vipers) because they're witnessed by the police firing back in self-defence.
As if the real life police would always know (or care) who the real instigator in an alley fight is.

If the player gets out of this with a criminal record, well, that's life.

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by metatheurgist » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:21 pm

Wyvern Mommy wrote:As if the real life police would always know (or care) who the real instigator in an alley fight is.
They might not care about a fist fight but I'd hope they'd care about a gun fight.

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Disembodied » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:31 pm

Wyvern Mommy wrote:As if the real life police would always know (or care) who the real instigator in an alley fight is.
The real-life police reaction on encountering an alley fight isn't to place an immediate death sentence on, and to start shooting at, whichever combatant is nearest, though.

It is a mistake, I think, to excuse some unfair part of a game by comparing it to the unfairness of real life (or even "real life"). By all means include bad luck in a game, but out-of-the-blue bad luck that has a major effect on gameplay - the kind which encourages the player to say "Screw it" and reload from saved - should generally be avoided. An unfair life is only to be expected, but there are few things more annoying than an unfair game.

But in any case, though, it looks like the devs are on top of this one.

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by spara » Tue Jul 30, 2013 3:46 pm

Could the game keep a short time record of who shot first in case of clean player vs clean npc? In case of police interference that would be used to decide the guilty one. Not really realistic, but I fear that putting an offender tag on player trying to defend him/herself will feel more like a bug/quirk than a feature.

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Diziet Sma » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:05 pm

Disembodied wrote:The real-life police reaction on encountering an alley fight isn't to place an immediate death sentence on, and to start shooting at, whichever combatant is nearest, though.
It often is if you have the misfortune to be living in the US.. :wink:
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: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Wyvern Mommy » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:06 pm

Disembodied wrote: The real-life police reaction on encountering an alley fight isn't to place an immediate death sentence on, and to start shooting at, whichever combatant is nearest, though.
Actually, they do just that if the brawler is about to use deadly force against his adversary.

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by cim » Tue Jul 30, 2013 4:53 pm

Disembodied wrote:Aha ... does this mean we can expect chattier pirates in general? Will there be a way to measure this against NPC skill and come up with a definitive mouth/trousers rating? :)
The AI library I'm working on has space for communications hooks on particular events. I originally threw it in as a testing feature to get the AI to tell me what it was doing at a very high-level without having to log every last decision it made.

It needs a bit of tweaking to be more useful, but I think I'll be able to set it up so that a few essential behaviours have comms messages attached (initiation of piracy, response to distress calls, police fines, etc.) but it's easy for OXPs to extend both the variety of messages and the set of behaviours with them attached.

At the moment you get very specific pirates - "Cobra III, give us 7 cargo canisters and we'll let you go" - which doesn't quite feel right but is useful for debugging.
spara wrote:Could the game keep a short time record of who shot first in case of clean player vs clean npc?
Not easily, no. With ship groups, 3-or worse-way fights, running battles, friendly fire, and so on, coming up with a definition of "shot first" that doesn't lead to bizarre outcomes is quite tricky.

It's not going to be a common occurrence. Fewer than 5% of traders are going to behave this way. Of those, not all of them will be clean to start with anyway, and not all of them will feel the player's ship is weak enough to take in a fight. Then they've actually got to get the player alone - ensuring that there aren't any witnesses - which is going to be tricky in the busier systems. Then, despite the precautions that there will be no witnesses, a police ship has to show up before the fight is resolved ... and then it's got to pick the wrong target.

Far more likely is that the player, travelling at torus speed, will zoom through the "no witnesses" exclusion zone, and discover a fight already going on. And then they can make the wrong decision about who to shoot.

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Disembodied » Tue Jul 30, 2013 5:02 pm

cim wrote:The AI library I'm working on has space for communications hooks on particular events. I originally threw it in as a testing feature to get the AI to tell me what it was doing at a very high-level without having to log every last decision it made.

It needs a bit of tweaking to be more useful, but I think I'll be able to set it up so that a few essential behaviours have comms messages attached (initiation of piracy, response to distress calls, police fines, etc.) but it's easy for OXPs to extend both the variety of messages and the set of behaviours with them attached.

At the moment you get very specific pirates - "Cobra III, give us 7 cargo canisters and we'll let you go" - which doesn't quite feel right but is useful for debugging.
Oh, fantastic! :D Will the pirates be able to adjust their demands based on ship size/player rating/pirate strength, etc.? They might reasonably expect a bit more from a Python than from an Adder, and more if there are a dozen pirates, as opposed to just a couple ...

I wonder how cheap such "tolls" might reasonably be? If they're set too high, then people will hardly ever cough up the cargo. And it's not as if a huge amount of cargo spills out of the average ship when you blow it up, anyway. It would make sense for the demands to be fairly low: anything the pirates get is pure profit, and if it's surrendered without a fight it's largely risk-free, too.

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by cim » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:29 am

Disembodied wrote:Will the pirates be able to adjust their demands based on ship size/player rating/pirate strength, etc.?
Yes, they do. I'm not happy with the current equation yet, so suggest things.

Things I am happy with:
- they won't ask for more than the listed cargo capacity of the ship they're robbing (for convenience, they'll have to magically know whether the player has an LCB)
- they won't ask for more cargo than they can fit in their remaining holds
- they'll make bigger demands in less patrolled systems

However, the exact demand range is tricky. If you blow up a ship, then regardless of size, you'll get no more than 15 surviving canisters, and within that rule you'll usually get about 10% of the cargo surviving.

So (assuming they have hold space left) asking for 10% or 15 canisters, whichever is less, seems about right for robbing a freighter, as an average. Less in safe systems because if you ask for too much the cops are bound to show up before you can collect it all ; maybe a little more in dangerous systems because you're very unlikely to be interrupted, and if you can intimidate a trader into dumping cargo without (much of) a fight, they should be willing to give you more than you could have salvaged from the remains of their ship.

The problem is that those numbers don't work so well for the smaller traders. 10% of a Cobra I is one container. So - what should they settle for there? Should most pirates just leave the lighter trade ships alone as not worth the risk of losing a ship? Or should they have a minimum demand - maybe 5 containers?

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Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Smivs » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:50 am

I'm liking the way this is going, but it would not be easy to translate into a player function :(
What I'm thinking is that the player cannot communicate with NPCs, so a player acting as Pirate has no way of demanding anything from the NPC, other than opening fire and hoping the trader dumps some cargo. I know it's been mentioned before (and I appreciate the difficulty in making this work) but I'm just saying, you know...
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