First impressions after a long break.

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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Cody
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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by Cody » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:02 pm

spara wrote:That's true, but you need to know that to be able to do that.
Plain as day on F3, is that - sell laser.
spara wrote:Seriously, if it's that easy to acquire injectors, what's the harm in granting them at start?
Never said there was any harm - merely offering the core way.

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by spara » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:11 pm

Cody wrote:
spara wrote:That's true, but you need to know that to be able to do that.
Plain as day on F3, is that - sell laser.
Except that you need to know how useful they are and where to buy them. they are not on sale on Lave.
Cody wrote:
spara wrote:Seriously, if it's that easy to acquire injectors, what's the harm in granting them at start?
Never said there was any harm - merely offering the core way.
That's true. Maybe the core way would need to be rethought.

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by Disembodied » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:14 pm

spara wrote:Seriously, if it's that easy to acquire injectors, what's the harm in granting them at start?
It shortens the - already very short - progress ladder, is the main problem. Granting the player injectors from the start might be a worthwhile approach if they begin in e.g. a Cobra 1 (in that it would help to make a slow ship playable), but that would still require a rejigging of the ship prices to allow for a realistic progression.

The more I think about it, the better a "paddling pool" approach seems: start the player off in a safe corner of the galaxy, with only occasional pirates and plenty of Viper patrols, and let them work their way into the rest of the game from there.

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by Cody » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:27 pm

spara wrote:Except that you need to know how useful they are and where to buy them.
I could say read the 'Getting started' page, and especially Mr Gimlet's advice, but hey... <grins>
Last edited by Cody on Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:27 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by spara » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:27 pm

Disembodied wrote:
spara wrote:Seriously, if it's that easy to acquire injectors, what's the harm in granting them at start?
It shortens the - already very short - progress ladder, is the main problem. Granting the player injectors from the start might be a worthwhile approach if they begin in e.g. a Cobra 1 (in that it would help to make a slow ship playable), but that would still require a rejigging of the ship prices to allow for a realistic progression.
I like this. Ships as part of progression would be very nice. The current Adder to riches scheme is quite hardcore and not fun TBH. Unless you have masochistic tendencies like I have :lol: . Something like halving the ship prices and starting the game on an Adder or Cobra I with injectors might be a start.
Disembodied wrote: The more I think about it, the better a "paddling pool" approach seems: start the player off in a safe corner of the galaxy, with only occasional pirates and plenty of Viper patrols, and let them work their way into the rest of the game from there.
I'm not sure about this. Sounds a bit boring TBH. But who knows, maybe it would work.

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by spara » Sat Aug 13, 2016 5:30 pm

Cody wrote:
spara wrote:Except that you need to know how useful they are and where to buy them.
I could say 'read the Getting started page' and especially Mr Gimlet's advice, but hey... <grins>
Indeed. Compress it to one sentence and someone might actually read it :( .

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by Stormrider » Sat Aug 13, 2016 6:30 pm

I think the NPC AIs are great but the pirates are a bit generic for how chummy they seem to be. I mean they always group up and I've never seen them fight amongst themselves. If their were different 'factions' of pirates who might be as likely to attack each other instead of the player it might cut down on the size of pirate groups. It could even provide a means of escape for the player if pirates attacking the player are attacked by a rival faction.
Disembodied wrote:It shortens the - already very short - progress ladder, is the main problem. Granting the player injectors from the start might be a worthwhile approach if they begin in e.g. a Cobra 1 (in that it would help to make a slow ship playable), but that would still require a rejigging of the ship prices to allow for a realistic progression.
One of the things I did about this was to create a few lasers that are between the pulse and beam lasers in terms of firepower and range. I've also raised the prices of the beam to 64000 and the military to 110000. I feel that this has really changed the progression even though I have modified start choices so I start with injectors and scoops.
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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by Norby » Sat Aug 13, 2016 7:02 pm

Disembodied wrote:Granting the player injectors from the start might be a worthwhile approach
I like this also, especially with an unarmed Moray Medical Boat. The stats of this ship are near to Cobra Mk3 (145000Cr, 22t cargo, 4 energy banks) and still enough different (small size, no cargo extension, forward laser mount only, 2 pylons, heat shielded, amphibious ;)) to start in a good non-combat purpose ship. With Injectors surely was usable in emergency roles which give an alternative prelude to the pilot.

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by Redspear » Sat Aug 13, 2016 7:34 pm

spara wrote:After acquiring Injectors, the game changes drastically. A start option with Injectors and Scoops installed would make the game a whole lot more approachable. I called it "Fast-Track Start" in Start Choices. Maybe it should be called "Modern Start" and be included in the core game.
I've suggested injectors for the player at the start before but, as I recall, it wasn't well received.
Astrobe wrote:To be frank, I think the fact that people who post here are veteran players induce a significant bias towards a harder game, especially at the beginning.
I understand that veteran players value the non player-centric design but I think you should keep in mind that, if you want to recruit more OXP makers, you have to recruit players, and welcoming beginners with a frustrating first experience is a suboptimal approach.
I agree.
I think many of us here have played elite before coming to oolite. Having done so, one understands the basic strategy to equipping your ship. If that were not the case you can easily underestimate (or even miss) any one of the following risks:
  • System government
    Illegal cargo
    Hardened Missiles
    Assassins
    Neighboring 'unsafe' sytems influencing the traffic
    Laser Temperature
    Hyperspace 'escape' is likely to result in being followed
Of the above, half weren't even risks in the original elite and underestimating even one of them could really ruin your trip. On top of that, in elite you could even get from lave to zaonce without a single masslock (at least occasionally - download an emulator and try it! :wink: ) without any spacelane considerations. The much discussed hazard of early docking attempts was also much less frustrating when you hadn't invested so much time getting to the station in the first place.
Astrobe wrote:I like the non player-centric design too, but we have to acknowledge it is by itself a broken design because it makes the game easier as you progress (1). And it is the most obvious at the beginning and for beginners. Experienced players, on the other hand, learned a long time ago how to deal with those issues.
Non player-centric design enables lots of great things that add to the game but at heart a good game is player-centric. Yes, it's great to stumble upon police battling fugitives but who's 'experience' is the more important, the computer controlled ships or the player? If the answer is not the player then who is the game for? The probem with a player-centric approach is that it can make the player feel like a special case and dispell the illusion of a cut-throat universe.
Disembodied wrote:The more I think about it, the better a "paddling pool" approach seems: start the player off in a safe corner of the galaxy, with only occasional pirates and plenty of Viper patrols, and let them work their way into the rest of the game from there.
The 'paddling pool' idea is, I think, a good example of a player-centric consideration as described above: arguably much better early game experience at the cost of asking why it exists or even writing off an area of the map as 'easy' or, even worse, 'exploitable'.

A suggestion: instead of defining the pool by area, why not define it by time? For example, suppose that the 'golden age of peace and prosperity' is just now coming to an end, after a player begins their game. The whole galactic map is now a 'paddling pool' but it won't last - after ten jumps or so there are warnings at every station of unusually high levels of pirate activity (i.e. as experienced in the game at present). The stations in 'safe' systems are advising pilots to stick to other safe systems whilst the stations in the more dangerous systems are promising better prices to traders (or cheaper ship maintenence or lesser penalties for shipping illegal goods or whatever) and encouraging them to return.

Nothing in this suggestion changes the setting, or even the story, it just changes the when to be a little more exciting IMHO.
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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by Disembodied » Sat Aug 13, 2016 7:51 pm

Norby wrote:[...] an unarmed Moray Medical Boat.
True - a very under-rated ship, the Moray.
Redspear wrote:A suggestion: instead of defining the pool by area, why not define it by time?
Very interesting idea!

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by Britnoth » Sat Aug 13, 2016 10:08 pm

Thanks for all the replies.
phkb wrote:Close range dogfighting works, just not head on.
My issue here is that I downloaded Oolite because I wanted to dogfight other ships. If they never get to face me at a range they can actually hit, it is not much of a dogfight.
Disembodied wrote:The upgraded NPC AI makes the game more survivable at the start - because if you run into a pirate pack early doors you can do what they want (and what they tell you to do), and drop some cargo for them. Pirate encounters don't have to mean a duel to the death. Stashing a few TCs of low-grade cargo to buy your way past anything you can't fight or run away from is worth doing as soon as you can afford to.
Equally, I don't wish to play the game for days running from every battle I come across. Free fuel injectors, or dropping tinned soup to bribe the 10 pirates waiting for me when I arrive in a tech 12 democracy with my 100 credits worth of cargo is not an ideal solution either. :wink:
Also, the soup thing feels like an exploit. Pirates should be able to scan my hold to know if I am worth bothering with, and make a demand accordingly.
Cody wrote:I've just done this with a virgin Jameson - no pulse laser, but I have fuel injectors.
I remember the fuel injectors from when I first tried the game. They always felt a bit of a gimmick that jarred with the existing features...
Remember, I wish to play the fun part of the game: fighting other ships. If my best option to start with is to sell my weapon and get fuel injectors so I can run away instead, I would suggest that the problem is the fuel injectors, and/or having to run away from anything larger than a shuttle craft, or both.
Not the starting equipment I begin with.
Redspear wrote:
  • System government
    Illegal cargo
    Hardened Missiles
    Assassins
    Neighboring 'unsafe' sytems influencing the traffic
    Laser Temperature
    Hyperspace 'escape' is likely to result in being followed
A suggestion: instead of defining the pool by area, why not define it by time?
From this list, the only issues I have with these features are:

1. Hardened Missiles:

I recall these were in frontier, but missiles were fairly slow and not such high damage as Oolite now seems to have.

Either have no ECM resistant missiles, or lower missile damage so that they can one shot only the smallest fighters. Having both would seem excessive (and frustrating).

2. Neighbouring 'unsafe' systems influencing the traffic:

Very unintuitive given the distances implied, and the seemly complete incompetence of the police vipers in otherwise safe systems. If all ships arrive in a similar region of space, then would not the police make a permanent presence there to discourage criminals from entering the system? A single pirate ship might easily disguise itself as a trader and enter that system, but a group of 10 camping the hyperspace exit point is not very subtle. This is one area where the original elite worked perfectly, I feel. More dangerous systems resulted in much larger pirate groups, rather than lone attackers.

Why not define it by time?:
This is part of an idea I was considering suggesting myself. :lol:

Let me sidetrack and bring up another, equally important problem (which I imagine has been brought up before):

The economy is completely whack.

Systems near each other with opposite economies have large differences in commodity prices. Often those systems are pretty safe to trade in. Common sense would suggest that ships would trade between them easily. This would cause supply + demand to reduce the price difference between them, reducing profits. Right now, it seems that how safe a system is has no bearing on how profitable it is to trade with them.

This makes trading easy, but boring. This goes against the lore of the game: That safe trading is safe, but boring, and slow. Trading with less safe systems brings more risk, but more reward.

Imagine changing the game so that security, not economy was the driving factor in trade profit. Prices in corporate and democratic systems are now close to the mean average. The player now has a choice: slow and safe, or faster and riskier. Reduce the danger of being in combat for new players, while at the same time you give them a reward for taking risks when trading in more dangerous systems and you now have them getting out of the boring trade runs and actually experiencing the best part of the game.

Next: Add in a mechanism that starts the game off with less piracy, but increases it the longer you play.

The slow and safe, or faster and riskier choice was still just a personal preference before. Now, it is a critical decision.

Do you just trade safely and ignore combat while the piracy levels are low? Or do you take bigger risks in the hope of being better equipped when piracy does increase for everyone?

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by spara » Sun Aug 14, 2016 7:16 am

I think that one thing about the current AI is a bit off. Why do the baddies launch their sole missile the moment they are going to die? Is it something like: "Ok, I'm going to die, so are you."? I mean, as a player I rarely save one missile to be shot just before "Press Space Commander" moment.

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by cim » Sun Aug 14, 2016 8:48 am

spara wrote:I think that one thing about the current AI is a bit off. Why do the baddies launch their sole missile the moment they are going to die? Is it something like: "Ok, I'm going to die, so are you."? I mean, as a player I rarely save one missile to be shot just before "Press Space Commander" moment.
They're trying to win the fight without having to spend money on missiles. The more desperate they get, the more likely they are to fire one. At that point it's less about necessarily killing you and more about keeping you busy while they run the other way.

(It would to an extent be sensible tactical behaviour to use them earlier, especially if otherwise outmatched, but that would probably lead to a pirate pack saying "Ooh, there's the player. Missile Swarm!")

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by spara » Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:02 am

cim wrote:
spara wrote:I think that one thing about the current AI is a bit off. Why do the baddies launch their sole missile the moment they are going to die? Is it something like: "Ok, I'm going to die, so are you."? I mean, as a player I rarely save one missile to be shot just before "Press Space Commander" moment.
They're trying to win the fight without having to spend money on missiles. The more desperate they get, the more likely they are to fire one. At that point it's less about necessarily killing you and more about keeping you busy while they run the other way.

(It would to an extent be sensible tactical behaviour to use them earlier, especially if otherwise outmatched, but that would probably lead to a pirate pack saying "Ooh, there's the player. Missile Swarm!")
Fair enough. Two things might be worth mentioning though.

Firstly, the injectors are a kind of a must to survive missiles. "Keeping busy" often means injecting away. And missiles happen right from the start, so injectors are pretty much top priority to survive in Ooniverse. I think that that should somehow be made clear to new players or as I have stated before, the game should start with injectors in place.

Secondly, the NPCs often feel to be reacting at the brink of destruction. Just before the final, killing bursts of laser fire hit home. Maybe it should happen a bit earlier so it would not seem/feel such a suicidal behavior?

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Re: First impressions after a long break.

Post by cim » Sun Aug 14, 2016 9:36 am

I would say regarding Oolite's balance and general playability that there are three general strands of thought for what sort of game Oolite should be:
- as faithful a reimplementation as possible of the original Elites (inc Elite+) on modern hardware
- a modern reimplementation of Elite with its own extensions and feel
- a space trading-combat game loosely in the spirit of Elite

Generally I think in practice it fits somewhere between the 1st and the 2nd, and given what the project is moves towards the 3rd would be immensely controversial.

On the other hand, I think the 3rd is probably necessary to make any significant progress on these problems - an Oolite II rather than an Oolite 2.0 which started with far more of a blank slate, because a lot of the current issues are inherited from the bits of the 1984 version it would feel most wrong to move away from for Oolite (or, at least, one would never get any consensus about how to move away from them).

1) The map scatters safe and dangerous systems largely randomly, so you can in practice see basically all the game without ever leaving the Old Worlds.
2) The trade goods are pretty boring and don't take system danger into account, and there's really only two economy types and one plausible trade good each way
3) Ship equipment is by far the most significant factor in quality - a fully equipped Cobra III is virtually impossible to kill, whereas a stock one is a tough challenge to survive in even for a top pilot. (Injectors are particularly crucial in this respect)
4) Ship specs and design is still based around the player only ever actually flying the Cobra III
5) Every ship is multi-role, and most of them are terrible at it. Freighters like the Python and Boa are basically just much bigger versions of the Mamba or Sidewinder - they fly about the same, they're just slightly tougher (and not even that much tougher). Compare with something like Tie Fighter or Freespace where a freighter is very definitely not a slightly bigger fighter.
6) Changes in graphics resolution since the 1980s have meant the particular scale choices and the game mechanics resulting from them which worked then work much less well now.
7) Missiles basically have the same problem the Energy Bomb had, weapon balance in general is still based very strongly on the original.
8) Interactions with NPCs are basically "shoot/flee" or "ignore", and a clean player will be picking "ignore" almost all the time.
9) Game balance strongly encourages keeping clean status - piracy is not really a supported career beyond a very basic being possible, smuggling anything except Narcotics is less profitable than honest trading, and a Fugitive status will clear back down to Offender on one jump.
10) Ships (other than the player ship) are essentially either fully capable or dead.
11) Once a fight is started, it basically must end in the destruction of one side. (Unless you have injectors, and then you can basically leave any time you like)

Of course, if anyone wanted to go for solving those - and other - issues, it's basically all OXPable.

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