Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Rekrul »

Disembodied wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 6:31 pm
Always scoop escape pods, is my advice: there's often a decent reward (usually more for Clean pilots, who have insurance; pirates are often whisked away by the cops and all you get is a quite measly bounty payment). The worst thing that can happen is that the occupant doesn't have any insurance or bounty, and you end up with a slave. There is no law against selling slaves (or narcotics, or firearms); you can bring as much of them as you like into a station and nobody will bat an eyelid. What's very definitely illegal is *leaving* a station with slaves, narcotics, or firearms on board.
Thanks. I assumed that it was illegal to bring slaves, narcotics or firearms onto the station.

I just had a strange encounter; I found a pack of four offenders (Cobra Mk1, Anaconda, Asp and something else). I destroyed the Anaconda (it didn't even try to evade me), the others fired a few shots at me and then they all ran. I chased down the Cobra and Asp and destroyed them. They never even tried to fight. The other ship vanished at some point. No escape pods. The Anaconda had a lot of cargo, but by the time I dealt with the two ships, it was off my radar and I had no idea what direction it was in.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by phkb »

Rekrul wrote:
Tue Mar 24, 2020 8:47 pm
I assumed that it was illegal to bring slaves, narcotics or firearms onto the station.
In the default game, you can happily bring them onto the station. You can't launch with them in your hold, though.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

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Decided to try a parcel delivery. Along the way I picked up two others that are in the same area, since the time limit on the first one was like three times the travel time. I jumped into an anarchy system and headed for the station and along the way I encountered an Anaconda that was an offender. I destroyed it and it released a ton of cargo. I probably spent half an hour scooping it all up. Not a single ship bothered me, When I was done, I headed for the planet and immediately got attacked by a group of four. Of course I had almost no fuel left at that point. I decided to try and run. Two more ships popped up on the radar and immediately turned red. Then a group of 5-6 appeared and turned red. Then another group. All total, I probably had 12-15 ships attacking me. I didn't have an energy bomb so I had no hope whatsoever of surviving. Reload a save from a couple jumps back, get there again, get attacked once on the way to the star, jump out without incident.

Hmm, after checking the reference sheet, it appears that the energy bomb doesn't even exist in the core game...

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by phkb »

Rekrul wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:28 am
it appears that the energy bomb doesn't even exist in the core game...
There was a long debate about it (whether it should be in or out). In moving to a non-player-centric gamespace, why was the player given such a powerful weapon that only they could use? I think the q-bomb came about in response to this, which is something an NPC could potentially use. The energy bomb is now an OXP for those who still want it.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Cody »

phkb wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:22 am
There was a long debate about it...
Debate? <chortles>

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by dybal »

phkb wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:22 am
Rekrul wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 1:28 am
it appears that the energy bomb doesn't even exist in the core game...
There was a long debate about it (whether it should be in or out). In moving to a non-player-centric gamespace, why was the player given such a powerful weapon that only they could use? I think the q-bomb came about in response to this, which is something an NPC could potentially use. The energy bomb is now an OXP for those who still want it.
The beauty of being a single-player, stand-alone game, is that it can be left to each player to decide by him/herself... the player can cheat, can make it easier or harder, so what? It's his/her problem... at most it would affect bragging rights here!

I'm new to this game, but I see a natural progression: at first the game is too hard and the new player will seek ways deal with it and/or make it easier (that's what this particular topic is about...), but as his/her skills, kit and understanding improve, it gets too easy (and boring) and off go the crutches... until he/she installs SkilledNPCs, installs ShipConfiguration, tries the Adder start, etc.

And that's good, let people enjoy themselves... putting things that change the balance or the mechanics of the game (pro or against player) in OXPs is a great way to let the player decide him/herself how high to set the bar - and change it as time goes by!

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Rekrul »

dybal wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:43 pm
I'm new to this game, but I see a natural progression: at first the game is too hard and the new player will seek ways deal with it and/or make it easier (that's what this particular topic is about...), but as his/her skills, kit and understanding improve, it gets too easy (and boring) and off go the crutches... until he/she installs SkilledNPCs, installs ShipConfiguration, tries the Adder start, etc.
I can't imagine the core game ever getting too easy when you can be attacked by upwards of 10 ships at a time. Granted, I don't have military shields yet, but as it is, even a couple ships can deplete your shields in seconds and start damaging your ship.

Anyway...

I completed all three parcel deliveries on time, for which I was paid pocket change. I'm still at the last system and I see that there's a cargo contract I can take. Someone wants 31t of computers delivered halfway across the galaxy for which they'll pay the princely sum of 1,340 credits! Which is only 60 credits less than I can make in a single run between Ensoreus and Isinor. :roll:

Honestly, the whole contract portion of the game seems unbalanced. The normal start gives players almost nothing and they have to build up their ship. To do that, they need money. At first, trading is the only viable option. If there were some contracts available to them that they could take, it would be a choice of whether to stick with the relatively safer, but slower method of trading, or take a risky contract for a bigger reward. Unfortunately, new players are virtually shut out of the contract system. All the cargo contracts are (usually, the 31t one is the first I've seen that I could accept) for more than the Cobra can carry and none of the passengers will accept you until you have a higher rating. The parcel contracts pay almost nothing for the distance that they want you to go. By the time players can afford a ship capable of carrying the quantities of cargo offered, or they have a high enough rating for passengers to ride with them, there's no real incentive to do either. By that point, they can make more money just trading.

I still want to make more money and I can now accept the cargo contract, but I would probably make about three times as much just trading along the way, so whats my incentive for taking the contract versus just trading? I mean if I want to beef up my bank account, taking the contract is basically a waste of time.

I guess the contracts offer some variety, but personally, I would have had the game scale the contracts according to the player's rating. For example, maybe there's a couple contracts at the start where someone wants 10t of machinery delivered to a system three jumps away, for which they'll pay 200 credits. Not a huge sum, but not a huge journey either. That way players could take the chance if they wanted to make money faster, rather than being forced to trade.

Even the mining laser is kind of pointless. I bought a couple for the side mounts and I've used them a couple times just for fun, but it takes way too long to hunt down and scoop the splinters for the little money you get for them. I know it was carried over from Elite, but even there using it for mining asteroids was a waste of time. It had a faster fire rate than in Oolite, so I used to use it in combat as an upgrade to the pulse laser until I could afford the beam laser.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Disembodied »

Rekrul wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:47 pm
I guess the contracts offer some variety, but personally, I would have had the game scale the contracts according to the player's rating. For example, maybe there's a couple contracts at the start where someone wants 10t of machinery delivered to a system three jumps away, for which they'll pay 200 credits. Not a huge sum, but not a huge journey either. That way players could take the chance if they wanted to make money faster, rather than being forced to trade.
Very much agree on this. Small, pootling, local jobs would be a great way to ease the player in.

Frankly, I think there's a case for ditching player trading altogether, and just offering spot-cargo contracts suitable for tramp merchantmen; apart from anything else, that could let us break away from the boring generic "Computers", "Furs", and so on, and allow players the chance to carry SunRise Systems filtration processors, Bolian Wolf Pelts, etc., generated randomly via a process similar to the Random Ship Names.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Redspear »

Rekrul wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:47 pm
dybal wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 2:43 pm
I'm new to this game, but I see a natural progression: at first the game is too hard and the new player will seek ways deal with it and/or make it easier (that's what this particular topic is about...), but as his/her skills, kit and understanding improve, it gets too easy (and boring) and off go the crutches... until he/she installs SkilledNPCs, installs ShipConfiguration, tries the Adder start, etc.
I can't imagine the core game ever getting too easy when you can be attacked by upwards of 10 ships at a time. Granted, I don't have military shields yet, but as it is, even a couple ships can deplete your shields in seconds and start damaging your ship.
You can think of the core game as having essentially three difficulty settings. All three become easier with practice but they change your game experience significantly:

1. Pulse Lasers
Difficilty: excruciating to hard

2. Beam Lasers
Difficulty: hard to challenging

3. Military Lasers
Difficulty: challenging to easy

Simplistic but, I think, basically true.
Quick (but highly controversial and not entirely unproblematic) fix:

1. Remove the pulse and military lasers, as they are, and instead offer upgrades to beam laser damage.

2. Don't grant double range AND double power without expecting the game not to get much easier.

3. Start the player with a relatively weak beam laser and offer upgrades of +1 damage (significant with the beam's rate of fire) all the way up to say +3

4. You then have 4 combat lasers in game, none of which have either the range nor the power of the military laser

Do I think this is a good idea? Not sure but I think it might just be along the right lines.

Disembodied wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 3:58 pm
Frankly, I think there's a case for ditching player trading altogether, and just offering spot-cargo contracts suitable for tramp merchantmen; apart from anything else, that could let us break away from the boring generic "Computers", "Furs", and so on, and allow players the chance to carry SunRise Systems filtration processors, Bolian Wolf Pelts, etc., generated randomly via a process similar to the Random Ship Names.
Reducing the quantities available perhaps (for non contact trading) rather than removing them altogether. Reliably filling the hold with max profit goods is a problem in something as big as the mk 3.

Careful with those random names though ;)
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

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Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:43 pm
Reducing the quantities available perhaps (for non contact trading) rather than removing them altogether. Reliably filling the hold with max profit goods is a problem in something as big as the mk 3.
But if you ditched the individual commodities trading, this wouldn't be a problem. Instead of all Food being cheap (potatoes priced the same as caviare), you could find a lucrative contract to deliver 6TCs of Teesdiian shrew cutlets to a planet 18LY away. Contracts would require down-payments by the player, to insure against theft, but there would still be good profits to be made. The trick would be to assemble chains of contracts.

Players could still scoop salvage (or pirate NPC ships), and sell these goods on the open market, for more generic prices.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Redspear »

Disembodied wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:53 pm
But if you ditched the individual commodities trading, this wouldn't be a problem.
Agreed but my point is that you don't need to - reducing quantities for sale achieves the same. Assume perhaps that the bulk of available comodities has all been pre-purchased by the big companies and contractors, which seems reasonable to me.

Disembodied wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:53 pm
Instead of all Food being cheap (potatoes priced the same as caviare)
As you may already know, I rather like the generic categories for reasons I've explained before. Caviare more expensive than spuds? Maybe because it's classed as a luxury. Simlistic yes but simplistic can be good.

Disembodied wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:53 pm
Players could still scoop salvage (or pirate NPC ships), and sell these goods on the open market, for more generic prices.
But I don't think it's an open market if the player can't buy freely from it.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Disembodied »

Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:14 pm
Disembodied wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:53 pm
But if you ditched the individual commodities trading, this wouldn't be a problem.
Agreed but my point is that you don't need to - reducing quantities for sale achieves the same. Assume perhaps that the bulk of available comodities has all been pre-purchased by the big companies and contractors, which seems reasonable to me.
Well, ish … but you still end up with "Food", "Minerals", and so on. True, caviare might be a luxury, but "Food" will be covering everything from wheat to beetroot to soylent green, and it's always the same low price. "Liquor and Wines" doesn't distinguish between bathtub rotgut and fine vintages. "Textiles" ranges from canvas to silk, and so on. "Luxuries" just becomes a dumping ground for any high-quality commodity - and again, it's all the same price whether it's rare spices, or jewellery, or Atrebibiian monkey-glands.
Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:14 pm
Disembodied wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:53 pm
Players could still scoop salvage (or pirate NPC ships), and sell these goods on the open market, for more generic prices.
But I don't think it's an open market if the player can't buy freely from it.
Well, call it the salvage market then - people who'll give you something in return for whatever you bring in. This could be more profitable in shadier systems, who are happy to ignore awkward questions about where things might have come from, rather than fuss around with paperwork and insurance claims and petty queries about laser scorching. This would add a natural higher risk = higher reward system to the game.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

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Disembodied wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:29 pm
True, caviare might be a luxury, but "Food" will be covering everything from wheat to beetroot to soylent green, and it's always the same low price.
Almost, I think, but not quite...

Prices vary by system of course, largely predictably but with some variance I think. If I buy from sytem A and sell at sytem B then I have two variables determining profit. If I bought at A and sold at C for example then my profit may be different, perhaps even by a factor of difference. Relatively big profit? assume you sold the good stuff to wherever it's needed. Relatively small profit? then it was the low value stuff to where it was more commonplace.

One man's/humanoids's meat is another bird's/feline's/etc. poison.

It's demand, not just supply that determines price of course, so what if 'bathtub rotgut' is considered the sophisticated choice for rodents everywhere? Move to a more 'realistic' model and there are suddenly a lot of considerations to be made. I may be playing with words a bit here but given that I can handwave the lot without having to make any changes then why change to something where specific questions will present themselves? (to me at least).

Disembodied wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:29 pm
"Luxuries" just becomes a dumping ground for any high-quality commodity - and again, it's all the same price whether it's rare spices, or jewellery, or Atrebibiian monkey-glands.
EVERY category is a 'dumping ground', not just luxuries. That is the best and (as you have identified) the worst part of the current system (IMHO).

To be fair, moving to a contract only system would partially free us from this model but unless you generate similar randomised goods and sale prices for scooped items (which could be interesting) then the market remains, with all of its current foibles. A market more obviously at odds with the contract system - reason being that in such a situation the player is much more likely to use the contract system because they have little choice other than to do so.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Rekrul »

Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:43 pm
You can think of the core game as having essentially three difficulty settings. All three become easier with practice but they change your game experience significantly:

1. Pulse Lasers
Difficilty: excruciating to hard

2. Beam Lasers
Difficulty: hard to challenging

3. Military Lasers
Difficulty: challenging to easy
It's only easy when a single ship flees straight away from you at normal speed and doesn't fight back. When the other ship is twisting and turning all over the place, I struggle to keep it in the crosshairs long enough to do any damage. Plus, while I'm doing that, his buddies are draining my shields to the point that I have to break off and go into a spiral while the shields recharge or I'll start losing equipment. A couple times, I've chased a Moray Star Boat and while I'm trying to line up a shot, it's draining my front shield with its rear laser. Then its friends get in front of me and join in. That's the biggest problem I have in fights; Multiple ships drain my shield at a pretty rapid pace.

As for the beam laser, I couldn't even kill a Sidewinder with it.
Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:43 pm
Quick (but highly controversial and not entirely unproblematic) fix:

1. Remove the pulse and military lasers, as they are, and instead offer upgrades to beam laser damage.

2. Don't grant double range AND double power without expecting the game not to get much easier.
The military laser may have a long range, but I can't hit s*** with it if the ship is any distance away. Even with a HUD that turns the target box red when the ship is centered, I don't get more than a single hit before they turn or just naturally move off center due to their course. And trying to target a fleeing ship while others are closer to me is suicide because while I'm trying to line up a shot on something that's only a pixel in size, the others will pummel me into oblivion.

Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 6:43 pm
Reducing the quantities available perhaps (for non contact trading) rather than removing them altogether. Reliably filling the hold with max profit goods is a problem in something as big as the mk 3.
How about if your trading (at least temporarily) affected the markets?

If you keep buying computers from one system, it might cause a shortage and you'd have to look elsewhere. Or if you keep selling computers to the same system, it would cause the price to go down due to an over-abundance of them.

This would prevent people from doing what I've been doing and just trading furs and computers between two worlds. That would only work for a time and then they would have to look for new systems to trade with. Which would encourage them to explore more of the galaxy and taking the contracts would become more attractive. Along with this though, I'd like to see the game engine tweaked so that it's a little more likely to offer cargo contracts that would fit in the Cobra. It doesn't have to be one at every system, but they shouldn't be rare either. It's not unusual for me to visit ten different systems and every cargo contract is for more than 35t, with some being for 100t or more. If I had a ship large enough to haul such cargoes, I could make more money just filling it up and trading.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Redspear »

Rekrul wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:59 pm
It's only easy when a single ship flees straight away from you at normal speed and doesn't fight back.
The way to 'create' this situation is to run. Once you have a military laser (rear mounted) and a fast ship (mk 3 will usually do nicely) then you only need to be occasionally accurate. If they dodge and weave then they only fall further behind you. Meanwhile your energy banks and shields are recharging whilst (almost certainly) not all of the pirate pack can keep pace.

Injectors complicate this of course but then if you have a military laser then you almost certainly have (or at least can afford) injectors.

Rekrul wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:59 pm
The military laser may have a long range, but I can't hit s*** with it if the ship is any distance away. Even with a HUD that turns the target box red when the ship is centered, I don't get more than a single hit before they turn or just naturally move off center due to their course. And trying to target a fleeing ship while others are closer to me is suicide because while I'm trying to line up a shot on something that's only a pixel in size, the others will pummel me into oblivion.
This is one of the reasons for the high numbers of pirates. If you run (instead of them) then you can snipe relatively safely but (of course) that only works with a rear mounted military laser. They'll often even line up for you as they try to keep pace, especially if you slow down just enough to draw the fight out.

That the 'best' (or at least easiest) tactic is to run is both counterintuitive and less fun. Folks like me have suggested (and in some cases tried to oxp) solutions but getting it just right is not easy. Furthermore, assuming that one does get it 'right' then pirate numbers would likely have to be readdressed in order to make it work well.

Rekrul wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:59 pm
How about if your trading (at least temporarily) affected the markets?
Been suggested before (and it's a good suggestion I think) but are you imagining a player-centic effect or a non player-centric effect?
The former might work as you describe but the 'traditional' Oolite model would be closer to the latter, in which case such saturation points would likely have already been reached due to trade from other vessels.

Rekrul wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 9:59 pm
This would prevent people from doing what I've been doing and just trading furs and computers between two worlds. That would only work for a time and then they would have to look for new systems to trade with. Which would encourage them to explore more of the galaxy
There are a number of ways to do this (or at least to encourage it). Oxps like Explorer's Club or my own Weapon Laws for example. The former is more gentle, the latter more severe in its 'encouragement'.
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