Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenance

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Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenance

Post by cim » Wed Dec 10, 2014 9:11 pm

Looking at the discussion in the OXP thread, how about this as a potential solution for 1.82. As always, all comments and thoughts are welcome.

EDIT: A few edits to the original proposal based on discussion are highlighted

Mechanics for servicing
If we're making it possible to service early, there should be costs and benefits to doing that - and ideally in most situations it should be the wrong choice to do so.
  • Extend the service level (SL) range to 0-100 (currently it runs 75-100)
  • Double the chance of losing a point of SL - so it'll drop to 50% about as quickly as it currently drops to 75%. (There's rescaling elsewhere so this shouldn't have any gameplay effect - I just don't think there's enough bad stuff to fill in three times as much space as we currently use).
  • Above 70% SL, the effects should be trivial, if at all noticeable. You're running on the normal servicing schedule for your ship, and normal redundancy, engineering tolerances, etc. should keep things going basically to spec.
  • At 70% SL maintenance starts being offered as before. The first time you dock at or below 70% SL, you get an arrival report stating that servicing is now due. Unlike in 1.80, maintenance always restores you to 100% SL. If you ignore it, the effects of low SL will get more severe, but shouldn't be too bad until you get below about 60% SL.
  • Above 70% but below 100% SL, you instead get offered a "tune up" (needs a better name). This also restores you to 100% SL but the description will make clear that it's for early servicing and only really necessary if you expect to be away from a decent shipyard for a while.
  • As currently, the cost of maintenance/tune-up depends on the service level of your ship and the cost of your ship + equipment.
  • The Tech Level quality of maintenance servicing, instead of changing what SL your ship gets set to, sets a hidden parameter which controls the servicing decay rate. Get serviced at a TL:15 system and you might be able to go a while without another even if you put your ship above recommended limits regularly ... get serviced at a TL:7 one, and you might need another one fairly soon even if you don't do anything exciting.
  • New ships (and the player when they start a new game) get the minimum servicing decay rate.
  • Getting a "tune up" will increase the servicing decay rate, especially if done at a low TL system. Eventually the decay rate gets so high that "tune up" stops being offered and you have to buy a full service. (Note that this means that tuning up too often can cost you a fair bit more in the long run)
  • The TL at which servicing is available will no longer be fixed. Instead, you'll need to be at a system no more than 3(?) TL lower than the TL of your ship (i.e. almost anywhere can maintain a Python, but an Asp needs a proper shipyard). We might want to adjust the TLs slightly for this, too.
  • A full service takes considerably more time than before. (A week, perhaps?). Tune-ups would continue to take the 6-12 hours a service currently does. This makes planning both around time-critical activities a bit more important, I think.
Effects of low SL
There's a few extras here to make it worth having SL at all. Anything else?
  • The trade-in price of your ship is reduced by the cost of a service/tune-up (whichever applies), rather than it being a multiplying factor.
  • Fuel cost changes exactly as before. It's trivial at any SL and not going to be worth tuning up regularly just to avoid it.
  • Once you get below 60% SL, the chance of damage hitting cargo or equipment starts increasing significantly. Before that point it'll be mostly flat. The mechanism for increasing this will be made slightly more predictable than it currently is.
  • Below 50% SL the laser cooling rate worsens.
  • Below 75% SL the low SL starts to show up in the player's exhaust plumes as occasional flickering. This is entirely cosmetic. Also in cosmetic changes, the occasional odd noise (e.g. the alert siren going off at condition green) though OXPs which add engine sounds could do a lot more with this.
  • If "equipment disruption" is included (see optional section below), equipment stays disrupted longer below 70% SL, and may spontaneously switch into a disrupted state below 50% SL (at really low SL it may be more accurate to say it may occasionally switch into a non-disrupted state)
  • Misjump chances are reduced from the current ones above 70% SL (and impossible at 100% SL, as a quick fix to ensure that a new Jameson's first jump is not a misjump, though their second might be if they're really unlucky). Between 60% and 70% SL has roughly the current misjump chances, and below 60% the chances get significantly higher.
  • Contracts, especially passenger contracts, will pay less or refuse to travel altogether as SL decreases.
  • We could start draining max speed / turn rate / energy recharge rate once you get below 60%. I'm not convinced this is worth doing, though.
Things which reduce SL
Things which cause unusual stress to your ship, here. Any others?
  • As before, making witchspace jumps has a chance of reducing SL. A misjump (forced or random, but not from following someone else's wormhole) will always reduce SL.
  • As before, combat damage has a chance of reducing SL if it doesn't damage equipment or cargo directly.
  • Cabin temperatures in the critical zone have a chance of reducing SL (even more so if your ship is taking damage from the heat)
  • Overheating lasers may reduce SL but only if you're already below 60% SL.
Equipment disruption (optional)
I've mentioned this idea before, but I think this is a better place for it, perhaps.
  • Equipment gains a state between "normal" and "damaged" called "disrupted". Disrupted equipment can't be used but will automatically return to normal after a small delay (~5 seconds).
  • Not all equipment can be disrupted (e.g. heat shielding can't) - for compatibility this would have to be allowed by an explicit property on the equipment.
  • Lasers can be disrupted (but not damaged) - it sets the temperature to something really high rather than having the normal effect.
  • If disrupted equipment is hit by a second disruption effect before it recovers, it gets damaged instead (assuming it can be damaged).
  • Disruption would normally happen only when taking internal damage, but would be quite a bit more likely than equipment damage currently is.
  • Maybe add some hidden non-damageable but disruptable equipment, which is tied to various HUD dials. So there's a chance if you get hit your scanner/compass/shield gauge/etc. blinks off for a few seconds.
Alternative option
  • Get rid of Service Level entirely and make the current JS value always return 100% SL for compatibility. It's not a very effective money sink at the moment, and the penalty for ignoring it is negligible. So, an alternative to trying to make it interesting enough to add fun, we could just take it out and simplify the game a bit.
Last edited by cim on Thu Dec 11, 2014 6:36 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by Diziet Sma » Thu Dec 11, 2014 2:05 am

Overall, I quite like the proposal.. a few thoughts came to mind whilst reading through it, though..
cim wrote:
  • Double the chance of losing a point of SL - so it'll drop to 50% about as quickly as it currently drops to 75%. (There's rescaling elsewhere so this shouldn't have any gameplay effect - I just don't think there's enough bad stuff to fill in three times as much space as we currently use).
    ...
  • At 70% SL maintenance starts being offered as before. Unlike in 1.80, maintenance always restores you to 100% SL. If you ignore it, the effects of low SL will get more severe, but shouldn't be too bad until you get below about 60% SL.
Given the doubling mentioned in the first point, the drop from 70% to 60% mentioned in the second point won't take very long to roll around. Should this perhaps be reduced to 55%, or even 50%? (With a concomitant reduction in the levels at which equipment disruption begins, of course)
cim wrote:
  • Getting a "tune up" will increase the servicing decay rate, especially if done at a low TL system. Eventually the decay rate gets so high that "tune up" stops being offered and you have to buy a full service. (Note that this means that tuning up too often can cost you a fair bit more in the long run)
This would appear to me, at first reading anyway, to be rather a subtle effect.. one which might not even be noticed. I like the idea, but hope it will be implemented at such a degree that players would soon realise that having too many 'tune ups' was actually false economy.. (I bet you also get more than a few "bug reports" about it, down the track.. :mrgreen: )
cim wrote:Alternative option
  • Get rid of Service Level entirely and make the current JS value always return 100% SL for compatibility. It's not a very effective money sink at the moment, and the penalty for ignoring it is negligible. So, an alternative to trying to make it interesting enough to add fun, we could just take it out and simplify the game a bit.
This is about the only thing I really don't like. I don't see SL as being about the 'money sink' at all (though it often is, for my bounty-hunter, who often struggles to 'get ahead', which I quite like).. this is about realism (ships -and long-lived ones, at that- which never need maintenance simply isn't realistic), immersion and tactics. Servicing vs not servicing introduces a number of tactical decisions and choices which need to be made.. ie, risk vs reward.. and the rest of the proposal takes things to a new level, where such decisions will have significant and even decisive impacts on gameplay.

Furthermore, as has become abundantly clear over on the ED forums, what players want (actually, demand is a better term) and expect from games like Oolite/Elite is more depth and complexity, not less.. simplifying things would altogether be a move in the wrong direction, IMO.
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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by cim » Thu Dec 11, 2014 7:35 am

Diziet Sma wrote:Given the doubling mentioned in the first point, the drop from 70% to 60% mentioned in the second point won't take very long to roll around.
SL doesn't drop all that fast to begin with. At the moment it's 1 in every eight internally damaging hits which doesn't cause equipment or cargo damage, and about 1 in every eight witchspace jumps.

This matches the current thresholds where you get offered servicing at 85% but the only really bad effect (more misjumps) doesn't start until 80%.
Diziet Sma wrote:This would appear to me, at first reading anyway, to be rather a subtle effect.. one which might not even be noticed. I like the idea, but hope it will be implemented at such a degree that players would soon realise that having too many 'tune ups' was actually false economy..
I would intend to make that reasonably clear in the description on the F3 screen.

It probably would be a reasonably subtle effect to start with, though - taking a tune-up before going on a full-chart delivery run should be a good idea - it's just to make sure that the player has to get their ship properly serviced at least occasionally. The false economy would come from buying tune-ups in situations where you don't actually need to guarantee a top-condition ship for an extended time: it'll be more expensive to keep the SL topped up with tune-ups (even before you've taken so many that your SL decay rate is wrecked...) then it would waiting for it to just hit 70% and then getting a proper service the next time you're in a decently high-tech system.

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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by Redspear » Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:07 am

Diziet Sma wrote: Furthermore, as has become abundantly clear over on the ED forums, what players want (actually, demand is a better term) and expect from games like Oolite/Elite is more depth and complexity, not less.. simplifying things would altogether be a move in the wrong direction, IMO.
I'd like to add a qualifier there if I may. Many players do want depth but that comes at the cost of complexity. The best rules IMO are the ones which score highly in depth over complexity. True, oolite itself can do all the tricky calculations for us but we need a sense of them in order to make those tactical decisions that you mention.

So yes, I'd like to see maintainance stay in the game. I also like the disruption idea and personally I'd imagine the most fun use of a 'tune up' in game would be a scenario where the player can't afford the time and/or credits for full maintainance and so gets a quick and dirty patch up instead. That would be more engaging to me in terms of both the tactical decisions and a sense of adventure too.
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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by Smivs » Thu Dec 11, 2014 9:39 am

We keep drawing analogies with cars here, which is sensible I think as they are something we can relate to, so here are my thoughts.
Firstly, when I service my car I carry out routine maintenance (oil change etc) to ensure that it continues to run well. This is done to a schedule of either so many miles covered or so long in terms of time, whichever comes sooner. So to carry this over into the game, a service should be based on LYs travelled (probably not easy to do I'm guessing) or time - ship's clock reading.
Equipment wear and damage is another matter really. Take the alternator in my car as an example. It does not get any routine maintenance, but continues to function for years and years normally. If it starts failing, or fails completely (which can happen suddenly and unexpectedly) it has to be replaced. Now I accept that a spaceship is a bit different in that a sudden failure could have far worse consequences than just a flat battery in the car, so I think we can assume therfore that in our ships much more equipment has a service schedule than that fitted to cars, and that this would be included in the servicing. Servicing could perhaps be a bit more expensive, and failure to service on schedule could have more serious consequences.
So what I'm thinking is that instead of a 'tune-up' option, perhaps more (non-critical) equipment should just fail, like the alternator example. It would be unpredictable for the player (and a right PITA sometimes), but not life-threatening and would add to the realism/immersion of the game. A failed item would need to be replaced at full price. I assume when you buy a ship it is 'as-new' - is it possible to keep a record of how long the ship has been owned so that equipment failures are only likely after the ship has been owned for quite a long time? Perhaps replacement fail-able items could be offered to the player after some time 'just in case the old one fails'.
The net result of all this would more incentive to service on time (or early - a feature I would like to see), more serious consequences for not servicing, and the occasional unexpected bill for a breakage - another cash-sink for the game which I think is something it needs.
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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by Venator Dha » Thu Dec 11, 2014 10:48 am

This looks interesting, and I think it would be a good addition to the the game, especially for those commanders running time limited missions. I'll comment on a couple of points below, but really it would be good to see how this plays out in game before making too many judgements.
cim wrote: Mechanics for servicing
[*]Getting a "tune up" will increase the servicing decay rate, especially if done at a low TL system. Eventually the decay rate gets so high that "tune up" stops being offered and you have to buy a full service. (Note that this means that tuning up too often can cost you a fair bit more in the long run)
I'm not sure of this one. If I was to maintain my ship at say 90% I would have a time and cost penalty greater than if I let it drop to 70% and had a service. This however might be better in some circumstances such as constant passenger-courier runs.
cim wrote: Effects of low SL
There's a few extras here to make it worth having SL at all. Anything else?
  • We could start draining max speed / turn rate / energy recharge rate once you get below 60%. I'm not convinced this is worth doing, though.
This I would like to see. Especially if it also affects NPC ships. I'm currently flying a FdL (core ships only) and many times my survival has been because of the energy recharge rate. Having something that reduces this would be interesting and could force a service at a sub-optimal time. Having a ship that feels sluggish and unresponsive because it's poorly maintained would be a fun element.

Something else - Have SL affect the likelihood/rewards of contacts - A high SL ship gets better paying passengers for instance.
cim wrote: Alternative option
  • Get rid of Service Level entirely and make the current JS value always return 100% SL for compatibility. It's not a very effective money sink at the moment, and the penalty for ignoring it is negligible. So, an alternative to trying to make it interesting enough to add fun, we could just take it out and simplify the game a bit.
No thanks.
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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by spud42 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:10 am

continuing with the car analogy, a poorly maintained car usually has a lower mpg figure than a well serviced car. also this drops with age/hours of use etc. maybe a consequence of not maintaining your ship could be a reduction in range? equivalent to using more fuel per Ly of distance? suddenly the 6.8 Ly jump may not be obtainable.
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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by Disembodied » Thu Dec 11, 2014 11:43 am

cim wrote:As currently, the cost of maintenance/tune-up depends on the service level of your ship and the cost of your ship + equipment.
Personally, I'd like to see some variation in maintenance costs based on a planet's economy, too - perhaps based on the planet's production in MCr? Anything which helps make visiting system A different from visiting system B is a good thing, I think. There's quite a bit of variation possible: for example in Galaxy 1, at the bottom there's Qudira (Anarchy, Poor Agri, Prod. 768 MCr., TL: 1), and at the top there's Ceesxe (Corporate State, Rich Ind, Prod. 56320 MCr,, TL: 15). There's probably not much they could do for anyone on Qudira except stick a patch over a hole, but at least it would be cheap ...
Venator Dha wrote:Something else - Have SL affect the likelihood/rewards of contacts - A high SL ship gets better paying passengers for instance.
Good idea. I think there may also be some mileage in letting ship SL (if it's above 90%, say) affect NPC odds calculations, too: pirates could be more wary of shiny new ships. Why risk taking on what might be a very hard target, when there are clapped-out rustbuckets out there? This could give a small helping hand to new Jamesons, for their first few trips, and give players who want to minimise their combat risk an incentive to keep ploughing money into keeping their ship in top nick. It might also mean that players who want to hunt pirates have to trade off between having a reliable ship, and scaring away some of their prey.

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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by streb2001 » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:40 pm

I agree with most of these suggestions. Failing to service your ship should have some consequences but it should not be a major aspect of the game. If I want an environment where I have to trawl back and forth trying to make money to keep my habitation and transport serviced and legal then I get far too much of that in real life. Boring! :lol:

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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by Redspear » Thu Dec 11, 2014 1:42 pm

Venator Dha wrote:
cim wrote: [*]We could start draining max speed / turn rate / energy recharge rate once you get below 60%. I'm not convinced this is worth doing, though.[/list]
This I would like to see. Especially if it also affects NPC ships. I'm currently flying a FdL (core ships only) and many times my survival has been because of the energy recharge rate.
Recharge rate is interesting in that it's only apparent when the ship is under stress.

So with poor servicing, a ship might still hit that max speed and appear to run just fine but... once you're up a certain waterway without a certain implement, then the effects of reduced recharge rate could really become apparent and you might wish you'd invested in that service when you had the chance.

streb2001's point is also a good one IMO.
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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by spara » Thu Dec 11, 2014 2:47 pm

I would prefer effects that are visual. Lowering the recharge rate has an effect on play, but since you don't see it anywhere you might not even realize what's going on.

I like the idea of degrading speed and energy after 60 %. There could be a visible line in the bar that marks the current achievable max. That would also serve as a maintenance indicator for the player. Laser max temperature could also be degraded. It could also have a small marker showing the current max temperature.

Flickering hud and sudden dropping out of torus speed with a message saying there is a malfunction would also be very visual and clear signals for the player to do some maintenance.

I'm not sure about equipment damaging. Malfunctions with notifications so that the player understands the cause might be enough. Hard to say anything without testing, feels very harsh though.

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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by ralph_hh » Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:00 pm

I like the idea of a degrading service level. But it should not be a dominant factor in the game. Having fun in bounty hunting, I find it sometimes annoying that I have to spend much time with milk runs or simply take care to have an eye on the shopping list in every system in order to earn some money to fix expensive broken hardware.

If S/L is getting lower, you should be given a warning. It would be nice to know, if you are close to perfect or if you reach a level, where system failure is almost inevitable. The idea of this display from the OXP is nice :-) Gives you a chance to determine if you should fix it now or if it can wait two more jumps when you get to a TL14 system anyway.

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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by Redspear » Thu Dec 11, 2014 4:09 pm

spara wrote:I would prefer effects that are visual. Lowering the recharge rate has an effect on play, but since you don't see it anywhere you might not even realize what's going on.
True but there are ways around that, as you suggest. Perhaps the scenario I described in my previous post makes more sense when buying a second hand ship and is less relevant to the current discussion.
spud42 wrote:continuing with the car analogy, a poorly maintained car usually has a lower mpg figure than a well serviced car. also this drops with age/hours of use etc. maybe a consequence of not maintaining your ship could be a reduction in range? equivalent to using more fuel per Ly of distance? suddenly the 6.8 Ly jump may not be obtainable.
This could be an elegant solution however and may be one of the simpler ones. You even have a 0.2 buffer before jumps start to become inaccessible.

For those with injectors it would be a strategic consideration. As it stands you don't buy a unit of fuel but rather a fill-up, with fuel and range being pretty much interchangeable. So it's just a change in the max fuel cap, with the player still paying for a top up to 7 LY as before.
It would be something you might hapily ignore for a while on the safer, shorter routes but there would come a point where it was potentially crippling.

Easy to understand, easy to implement (er, right?...), affects both navigation and combat and is already something the player likely monitors closely. It seems to tick all the boxes for me.
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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by Disembodied » Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:31 pm

ralph_hh wrote:If S/L is getting lower, you should be given a warning. It would be nice to know, if you are close to perfect or if you reach a level, where system failure is almost inevitable. The idea of this display from the OXP is nice :-) Gives you a chance to determine if you should fix it now or if it can wait two more jumps when you get to a TL14 system anyway.
I agree, the player needs some sort of cue as to the SL of the ship, but I'd prefer to avoid a straight numerical display. Cim's engine flicker below 75% is a good example of a bit of analogue feedback to allow the player to estimate the state of the ship ... are there other cosmetic effects which could be used as clues that a service is about due? Any possibility of engine noise stutter, say?

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Re: Proposal for 1.82: updates to service level / maintenanc

Post by spara » Thu Dec 11, 2014 5:48 pm

Disembodied wrote:
ralph_hh wrote:If S/L is getting lower, you should be given a warning. It would be nice to know, if you are close to perfect or if you reach a level, where system failure is almost inevitable. The idea of this display from the OXP is nice :-) Gives you a chance to determine if you should fix it now or if it can wait two more jumps when you get to a TL14 system anyway.
I agree, the player needs some sort of cue as to the SL of the ship, but I'd prefer to avoid a straight numerical display. Cim's engine flicker below 75% is a good example of a bit of analogue feedback to allow the player to estimate the state of the ship ... are there other cosmetic effects which could be used as clues that a service is about due? Any possibility of engine noise stutter, say?
Slowly the ship starts to steer left/right so that you have to constantly make corrections :lol: .

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