Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

An area for discussing new ideas and additions to Oolite.

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Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Disembodied » Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:07 pm

Cim has mentioned elsewhere the idea of both expanding the spacelane, and of making spacelane flight more interesting - so I thought it might be helpful (for a given value of "helpful") if we came up with some more-or-less wild ideas as to what players might want to do to divert themselves as they overhaul/work their way around another Python. There is of course a certain pleasure to be had in not doing anything, of just kicking back and enjoying the quiet - but that option is always open. What I'd like to discuss is what players might, in an ideal world, be able to do as well as, or instead of, relaxing and appreciating the downtime. This is all very much blue-sky thinking, and might well be impossible or impractical - but it might spin off a few useful ideas on the way.

As I see it, there are two kinds of activity the player can indulge in during these quiet times: passive, and active. There are already a few passive activities players can do, such as examining the market prices and (with randomshipnames) doing a bit of shipspotting. To this list might be added something like e.g. a randomly generated news service, along the lines of Snoopers, but with much less content (to see something of the sort of thing I'm thinking about, try the Daily Mail-o-Matic, which generates random headlines that might appear in that publication - "Human Rights Act Gives Britain's Swans Swine Flu", for example). We could conceivably have something like this operating in the game. It might even be possible to make some of them vaguely game-relevant, where certain kinds of "events" affect market prices in a system or area for a short period. Another similar sort of thing could be done via communication with NPCs: there could be a bit of random "chat" to be had with other merchants, which might contain some semi-useful trading tips. And of course there's the ability, demonstrated by the Ship's Manual, to display ebooks within the interface.

Passive stuff is (I imagine) relatively easy to do - compared to active stuff, at any rate. The problem is, passive stuff might get old quite fast. Active activities, though, require a player interface, and indeed a new set of skills, unless the activity is just going to be pointless busywork. Active events could be things like interacting with the station and/or other ships - trading in "futures", say, or participating in auctions in order to snag some slightly more advantageous cargo deal that could have time limits on them, i.e. they might expire if you don't get there on time. Or they could involve things like shipboard maintenance.

The former would be (I think) relatively easy to do via the existing interface - see for example the New Cargoes OXP. Ship maintenance though might have a lot of potential: players could save themselves time and money conducting running services and repairs on their own ship, and maybe even tweak a little temporary performance upgrade - as well as running the risk of screwing up and making things worse.

This sounds quite tricky to do (and no doubt it would be) but it might be easier to accomplish than it first appears - at least insofar as it might not be necessary to devise a whole new, original game model to simulate making the repairs. It's always possible to "borrow" from the existing canon of quick single-player timewaster games, and rejig them to represent "tracing the engine fault" or "smoothing out the energy grid" or whatever. Something like Wumpus Hunt could be turned into a procedure for pinpointing and repairing a fault (killing the Wumpus), whilst running the risk of "blowing the grid" and making things worse (getting eaten by said Wumpus). Something like Pipe Mania or Minesweeper might also be retooled to represent other forms of maintenance or repair.

By all means criticise these ideas (I expect no less!) but bear in mind this is all supposed to be open-ended and a bit starry-eyed. But are they interesting? Is there any desire for this kind of thing? What might be the problems - i.e. what happens if you're suddenly attacked in the middle of tracking down a Wumpus in the witchdrive? What other things, active and passive, might be enjoyable to be able to do?

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Smivs » Sat Mar 09, 2013 1:17 pm

We need a 'Make a cup of tea' OXP :lol:
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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Rorschachhamster » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:05 pm

I had this idea... :oops:
Take the stories from the Tales from the spacelanes thread, with the author's permission, of course, (and the more immersive tales preferrably) and make an oxp, where the NPCs, if you stay masslocked with the same for quite some time, begin to tell these tales... one half sentence at a comment... there's an old Münchhausen thread as well... :lol:
Maybe sometimes you would even stay longer than you would have to...
Oh, the first idea was to make this something like the ship's manual... and if you script it that way, that the text is automatically cut into pieces (from . to , or something), you wouldn't even have to revise it too complicated... :D So you could add new stories everytime someone writes one...
That's some chat to have... 8) :wink:

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Commander McLane » Sat Mar 09, 2013 2:51 pm

Disembodied wrote:try the Daily Mail-o-Matic
I did, and what did I get?

Code: Select all

WILL DUMBING-DOWN MAKE THE CHURCH OBESE?
There was also something about the Germans molesting the memories of Diana. :shock: I didn't do it! :oops:

Turns out it wasn't molesting, but something rather more horrible:

Code: Select all

ARE THE GERMANS INFECTING THE MEMORY OF DIANA WITH AIDS?
I still didn't do it! :oops:

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Rorschachhamster » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:04 pm

Commander McLane wrote:
Disembodied wrote:try the Daily Mail-o-Matic
I did, and what did I get?

Code: Select all

WILL DUMBING-DOWN MAKE THE CHURCH OBESE?
There was also something about the Germans molesting the memories of Diana. :shock: I didn't do it! :oops:

Turns out it wasn't molesting, but something rather more horrible:

Code: Select all

ARE THE GERMANS INFECTING THE MEMORY OF DIANA WITH AIDS?
I still didn't do it! :oops:
Me neither! :mrgreen:
Honestly, "infecting the memory" sounds like something Thargoids would do... :wink:
Even if that somehow implicates that we Germans are the Thargoids of the Daily Mail. :? Probably not too far from the truth... :lol:

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by JD » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:40 pm

Disembodied wrote:What might be the problems - i.e. what happens if you're suddenly attacked in the middle of tracking down a Wumpus in the witchdrive?
That could be a key feature of any activity. I sometimes step away from the keyboard if I'm mass-locked and the situation seems quiet, but there's a risk I might get caught out if something kicks off. An inevitable delay in quitting the distraction and getting back to the controls could be a risk you have to consider.

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by gizmo » Sat Mar 09, 2013 3:54 pm

Rorschachhamster wrote:I had this idea... :oops:
Take the stories from the Tales from the spacelanes thread, ...
I like this idea!

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Hans Olo » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:01 pm

I like these ideas, and would like to see an OXP. Whenever I get mass locked by anything I can't blow up I usually point in the opposite direction from the other ship to get out of mass-lock. if that takes a while I do something irl, like play guitar. If you think about it, you can do anything within the same room as your computer and still be playing the game. Your computer is the viewscreen and console, and the room is the cockpit.

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Wildeblood » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:07 pm

Rorschachhamster wrote:I had this idea... :oops:
Take the stories from the Tales from the spacelanes thread, with the author's permission, of course, (and the more immersive tales preferrably) and make an oxp, where the NPCs, if you stay masslocked with the same for quite some time, begin to tell these tales... one half sentence at a comment...
How about a radio scanner equipment that let you listen in on the private comms between a lead ship and its escorts? So you could cruise up behind a freighter, switch it on and you might hear anything from a simple "Some clown is following us", to useful trade information, to the pilots exchanging long stories as you suggest.

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Rorschachhamster » Sat Mar 09, 2013 4:31 pm

Wildeblood wrote: How about a radio scanner equipment that let you listen in on the private comms between a lead ship and its escorts? So you could cruise up behind a freighter, switch it on and you might hear anything from a simple "Some clown is following us", to useful trade information, to the pilots exchanging long stories as you suggest.
That's doable, too, but not quite what I thought about.
I just imagined how you hit injectors because on of these python pilots tell's a story you heard three times before... unasked... :D
If you think about it, these stories would be full of useful info for inexperienced players. Players that mostly don't have the cash to pay for injectors right away... :wink:
I'm (finally) feeling comfortable enough around the js in Oolite to be able to script the talking and the circumstances in wich it will begin and end (Attacked by pirates? Telling a story the police shouldn't eavesdrop on?), but I still get a little frustrated by vectors atM... :mrgreen:
But your idea has merits, too. Especially with OXPs like In-System-Trading or New_Cargo... :)

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Paradox » Sat Mar 09, 2013 5:58 pm

I know this would be quite a "bit" :D more involved, but since we are just throwing ideas out here... What about ship to ship trades? you could make a "call" to another ship nearby to see what they are hauling, or they could contact you, and initiate a trade of x number of their goods for yours etc?

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Smivs » Sat Mar 09, 2013 6:11 pm

Smivs wrote:We need a 'Make a cup of tea' OXP :lol:
Well, we do, so now we have one! Look here. 8)
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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Bogatyr » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:29 pm

Disembodied wrote:Cim has mentioned elsewhere the idea of both expanding the spacelane
Expanding in what dimension? I like the current dimensions, I think it corresponds to original Elite, and I almost always avoid the spacelane when I have "stuff to do or places to go." OXPs of course are optional, and a "busy/long/thick" spacelane OXP I'm sure would be interesting to try, but I'd hope that such a change wouldn't make it into the core game....

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Commander McLane » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:33 pm

Bogatyr wrote:Expanding in what dimension?
Making it wider. For instance 50 kilometers wide instead of the current 25.

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Re: Things to do in the spacelanes when you're masslocked

Post by Disembodied » Sat Mar 09, 2013 8:53 pm

Bogatyr wrote:Expanding in what dimension? I like the current dimensions, I think it corresponds to original Elite, and I almost always avoid the spacelane when I have "stuff to do or places to go." OXPs of course are optional, and a "busy/long/thick" spacelane OXP I'm sure would be interesting to try, but I'd hope that such a change wouldn't make it into the core game....
It's just an idea kicking about at the moment - it would make the spacelane broader, so that it would be possible for the player to fly around a mass-locking ship and still remain within the lane, where the action (and the game) is.

In the original Elite, the game would magic up ships for you to meet whichever direction you flew in: the game was wholly centred around the player, and when a ship disappeared from the player's scanner it ceased to exist - if you turned around and went looking for a ship you'd just passed, it wouldn't be there (but something else might be). In Oolite, that doesn't happen; all the ships are where they are, whether the player meets them or not - so consequently you can leave the lane and avoid the game. A broader lane would basically be expanding the volume within which things can happen. It's part of the tension between making the game non-player-centric (a good thing) and having large portions of the game devoid of all player content (a bad thing, in my opinion). If going off-lane can be used to take a shortcut and avoid trouble, why doesn't everybody do that?

Like I say, it's just an idea. In any case, I don't think players will be prevented from going off-lane. If they want to, nobody would stop them. What would be good would be to have other things for the player to do when masslocked, so there's active reasons to stay in the lane and encounter the other ships.

With that in mind, perhaps something that players might be able to do within the lane would be to scan ahead, and see (a bit vaguely perhaps) what the traffic is like up front, and to maybe plot a course (or a series of waypoints, visible via the ASC) through a lane to avoid, or encounter, traffic. How that would work, I don't know - it might need some sort of 3D GUI ...

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