Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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

Post by Rekrul »

Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 10:32 pm
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.
I haven't yet installed a rear military laser because I have so much trouble aiming at distant targets that I figured it would be a waste of money.
Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 10:32 pm
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.
Often when I try to run, there will be one pirate that uses Injectors to keep up. If I don't have a full tank, I often run out, and the lone pirate catches up and starts wrecking me. If I try to fight him, the others catch up and I'm finished.
Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 10:32 pm
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.
I suppose it would have to be player-centric, however it's not as if Oolite models the entire universe independent of the player. I mean, it's not like you can follow a single ship around to multiple planets. You can wait for a bunch of ships to launch from the station, dock, then immediately launch again, and all the ships are gone. I suppose you can say that they jumped away, but I've waited for ships to jump after launching and they take forever. Sometimes they just head off into deep space. Also, as far as I can tell, you're the only ship that uses a tourus drive. Other ships just travel toward the planet at normal speed. Yes, if you're masslocked by them, they're masslocked by you, but you can come to a stop, wait for them to go off the top of the radar, then speed up and they'll still be there, plodding along. At least I'm pretty sure they will be. And what about convoys? If there are ships traveling together, none of them would be able to use a tourus drive either, due to masslocking each other. In fact, the tourus drive seems pretty impractical if all these ships can't use it near other ships.

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

Post by another_commander »

Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:29 am
I suppose it would have to be player-centric, however it's not as if Oolite models the entire universe independent of the player. I mean, it's not like you can follow a single ship around to multiple planets.
Yes you can. Wormholes are tracked while open and if you enter one, the ship that opened it will be on the other side, along with any other ships that may have entered it in the meantime.
You can wait for a bunch of ships to launch from the station, dock, then immediately launch again, and all the ships are gone. I suppose you can say that they jumped away, but I've waited for ships to jump after launching and they take forever. Sometimes they just head off into deep space.
Launching takes a few minutes of clock time. This time is more than enough for launched ships to jump out or start moving towards wherever it is they are going to and enough to leave the station Aegis. It is normal that you would not see them hanging around. And yes, sometimes they head off towards the sun without jumping, that is as per their AI routines. But many will jump out and you will be able to follow them wherever they go, even if they decide to jump multiple times.

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

Post by Redspear »

Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:29 am
I haven't yet installed a rear military laser because I have so much trouble aiming at distant targets that I figured it would be a waste of money.
Difference being that when it's you who is running, but not too fast ;), then they will usually help with the lining up (especially at first when they may not know you have a rear laser). The military laser is brutal enough to finish off some targets with a short burst, some may not even have time to evade.

As I said, not a desirable tactic, but a rewarding one in terms of in-game success.

Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:29 am
Often when I try to run, there will be one pirate that uses Injectors to keep up.
Yep, very often that will happen but a rear laser means that you can engage without necessarily slowing. So you could divide and conquer rather than face them all at once.

Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:29 am
I suppose it would have to be player-centric, however it's not as if Oolite models the entire universe independent of the player. I mean, it's not like you can follow a single ship around to multiple planets.
The first part of your quote is true but not the second (as a_c pointed out). So you see there's the illusion of non-player centricity. The wormhole and all who went through it are tracked until it closes. That way, if you jump through then the illusion is maintained. If not, the game can forget them instead of wasting resources on generating the happenings within approx 2,000 other systems.

The main difference between the original elite and oolite in this regard is not that the action doesn't follow the player, it's that the action is limited to the player's system rather than to the player's scanner. This works well enough to simulate non-player centricity.

Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:29 am
Also, as far as I can tell, you're the only ship that uses a tourus drive. Other ships just travel toward the planet at normal speed. Yes, if you're masslocked by them, they're masslocked by you, but you can come to a stop, wait for them to go off the top of the radar, then speed up and they'll still be there, plodding along. At least I'm pretty sure they will be.
The torus drive is a good example. It's easy to suspect that other ships don't have a torus drive but it's hard to be sure. They don't and one may suspect as much but this isn't truly obvious without either careful observation or poking around in the source code. There's just enough of an illusion to pretend that they do without being constantly reminded that they don't.

Take military lasers for example. The only non oxp pirate/trader/miner who ever has them is the player. Player-centric? You bet! but for a damn good reason.
True, interceptors and the constrictor can have them (I think...) but then they don't do a lot of trading and if there's a mk 3 with one then it must be the player (or an oxp). And if you meet a mk 3 trader then it won't be as fast as your mk 3 either (I believe that is still the case) because being that fast would exacerbate the mass lock problem - and so another, non obvious, player-centric concession.

To be clear: I actually think that this illusion of non-player centricity is good. I think it was, and still is, the way to go. True non-player centricity would be both resource intensive and (with the current game model) utterly brutal. Adapting a player centric game to a non-player centric one has certainly thrown up some problems but it has also enriched the experience too.

I never played Archimedes Elite (which was also less player centric), so I wonder how it handled issues like mass lock etc....
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by another_commander »

Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:17 am
The wormhole and all who went through it are tracked until it closes. That way, if you jump through then the illusion is maintained. If not, the game can forget them instead of wasting resources on generating the happenings within approx 2,000 other systems.
Prepare to have your mind blown: Any scanned wormhole will be tracked not until it closes, but until all ships traversing it have arrived at their destination. This means that if you arrive at the destination witchpoint beacon eralier, even after having traveled through many systems before, you will see the ships from the wormhole you scanned arriving. The arrival time will coincide with the time reported by the wormhole scanner. You can confirm they are the exact same ships by looking at the entity personality of each ship before departure in the wormhole and at the time of arrival. Ambushing specific ships is very much possible in Oolite. Just a tad bit more to maintain the illusion of non-player centricity. :-)

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

Post by Redspear »

another_commander wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:54 am
Just a tad bit more to maintain the illusion of non-player centricity.
Ah, I didn't know that :-) (as you surmised).
So rather than the system the player is in it's the ships generated in the system that the player is in...
Yes, that does strengthen the illusion and at minimum resource cost :D

Must the wormhole be scanned by the player however?
another_commander wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 10:54 am
Any scanned wormhole will be tracked not until it closes, but until all ships traversing it have arrived at their destination...
The arrival time will coincide with the time reported by the wormhole scanner.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by another_commander »

Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:12 am
Must the wormhole be scanned by the player however?
Yes. For anything not scanned, we can handwave it by saying that the ship was going the opposite way from the player - if the wormhole is not scanned for confirmation of destination, who could ever prove otherwise?

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

Post by Redspear »

another_commander wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:24 am
Yes. For anything not scanned, we can handwave it by saying that the ship was going the opposite way from the player
So it is, once again, the player action that brings it into (or in this case maintains) its existence, right?
And to be clear: I have no problem with this.

another_commander wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:24 am
who could ever prove otherwise?
Exactly! Thus the illusion is maintained :)
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Disembodied »

Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:56 pm
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).
I don't have a problem with this idea - but the problem is, you can never see it. ALL Liquor & Wines from ANY (say) Average Agricultural planet will ALWAYS have the same narrow price range; and it will always have the same, different, narrow price range depending on where you sell it.

I'm not arguing for a move to a more "realistic" model of trade: I'm arguing for ditching "trade" altogether, and having players earning money for delivering cargoes. I think a contract-only system would free us from creaky "realistic" considerations such as "All Agricultural Worlds Always Produce Slightly Cheaper Textiles, And Nobody Has Any Preferences". It would also break down the whole Ag > Ind > Ag > Ind … grind. Planets are big; even the most backwater worlds have nearly a billion inhabitants. The range of any one planet's produce, combined with the sheer variety of potential customers (the rotgut-loving rodents, for example), will mean that there are always lucrative cargoes to be had (it also means that individual ships are not going to make any kind of dent in the availability of goods). OK, the contracts on offer at an Agricultural world could be tilted heavily towards plant and animal produce, but even poor backwaters can have small amounts of very desirable items to trade.

The commodities market is a legacy of Elite's 32K origins. It was the best they could do to create a money-making mechanism within those tiny boundaries. But I think we can make something that feels much less clunky, and much more exotic, which still lets players make money (and, indeed, which would make earning your way up from a small-cargo ship much more interesting).

A planet's economy type would be much less important, to the player, at least. A lucrative contract could be found anywhere. Probably what would affect things would be the number of connections a planet has: the more connected a world is, the fewer high-profit contracts there are (or, at least, the fewer high-profit small contracts). Trade flows easily through worlds with lots of connections, so nobody has to struggle to get goods out. In a world at the end of a line, though, there's not much traffic and you'll get a number of contracts, big and small, piling up at the station.

Other factors would affect the profitability of a contract: how far away the delivery point is, how time-critical it is, and the political status of the destination system. Taking a few TCs of something non-urgent to the Democracy next door would net the player a small profit; taking a few TCs of something needed ASAP to a distant Feudal world would be much more lucrative.

There would still be a "market", of sorts, but for selling salvage only. As I suggested, the profits for salvage could vary according to the political stability of the system: you'd get a lot more for your scooped goods at an Anarchy (from a shifty-looking merchant) than you would at a Corporate State (from an unsmiling loss-adjuster).

This is, of course, all a bit pie-in-the-sky. It is a radical transformation of the game. But if small, cheap (and occasional small, expensive) contracts were made available from the start in the current game, then things like how profitable contracts should be could be experimented with without having to change the core game.

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

Post by Redspear »

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
I don't have a problem with this idea - but the problem is, you can never see it.
Agreed, it's handwaved. Whether or not that's enough is where we appear to differ.
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
ALL Liquor & Wines from ANY (say) Average Agricultural planet will ALWAYS have the same narrow price range; and it will always have the same, different, narrow price range depending on where you sell it.
Certainly, greater price variance would help (and I'd like that too) but how much depends upon the extent to which one is bean counting. The depending upon where you sell it line is part of what gives me just enough freedom to handwave. Rather than prices, if I consider profit then I find the handwaving easier.

More price variance? Yes please, but it doesn't require abandoning the present market to achieve that does it?

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
I'm not arguing for a move to a more "realistic" model of trade: I'm arguing for ditching "trade" altogether, and having players earning money for delivering cargoes. I think a contract-only system would free us from creaky "realistic" considerations such as "All Agricultural Worlds Always Produce Slightly Cheaper Textiles, And Nobody Has Any Preferences". It would also break down the whole Ag > Ind > Ag > Ind … grind.
I think I understand that and I agree with much of your explanation however...
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
There would still be a "market", of sorts, but for selling salvage only. As I suggested, the profits for salvage could vary according to the political stability of the system: you'd get a lot more for your scooped goods at an Anarchy (from a shifty-looking merchant) than you would at a Corporate State (from an unsmiling loss-adjuster).
...I find it at odds with this unless the market is now wholly randomised in a similar manner to contracts. So no 'food' prices and no scooped cannisters either. I'm not suggested that I would want this but rather that it could work. As I suggested in my last poston the subject:
Redspear wrote:
Wed Mar 25, 2020 7:56 pm
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.

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
A planet's economy type would be much less important, to the player, at least.
This is also less to my taste. We've already 'lost' government type as a reliable indicator of safety, now we'd be losing economy type as a reliable indicator of... almost anything really - at least to the extent that a player might need to reference it.

Whether or not that matters is a matter of opinion of course but I'd find it a shame.

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
This is, of course, all a bit pie-in-the-sky. It is a radical transformation of the game. But if small, cheap (and occasional small, expensive) contracts were made available from the start in the current game, then things like how profitable contracts should be could be experimented with...
I've clipped this sentence as I'm not sure I'd agree with the very last part but that's beside the point.
No problem with offering more of such contracts but what is the safest contract imaginable? A one jump trip to a safe system, right? Then where's your next one to? Not many options withouty making it look like a more interesting milk run (which is no bad thing by the way).

Contracts are best IMHO when they take you on sprawling journeys all over the place. I don't think that the current galaxy maps encourage that as a safe option for beginners. And also contracts are most fun when they are occasional rather than commonplace. The worst thing about milk runs is the sheer repetition. Granted every contract is different but yet another trawl through multiple systems could lose it's appeal when one is compelled to do so repeatedly.

To summarise:
  • More commodity type price [EDIT] variance? Yes please
  • More contract options at the start? Yes please
  • Restrict trading to contracts and salvage? No Thanks
  • However... If you are/were/could to do the last one then I think it would be better to randomise salvage as well.
Last edited by Redspear on Thu Mar 26, 2020 3:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by dybal »

Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 6:29 am
Often when I try to run, there will be one pirate that uses Injectors to keep up. If I don't have a full tank, I often run out, and the lone pirate catches up and starts wrecking me. If I try to fight him, the others catch up and I'm finished.
Try this: run on injectors until only the one with injectors is in scanner range, plus a few seconds, then shut the injectors off to conserve fuel and administer the distance to the one that followed you if you have a speed advantage and a long range aft weapon - if the other pirates didn't follow because they don't have injectors it will take some time for the faster ships to catch up, use that time to deal with the one that has injectors... as was said, divide and conquer!

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

Post by Disembodied »

Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:27 pm
More price variance? Yes please, but it doesn't require abandoning the present market to achieve that does it?
Price variance would cease to matter: the player's interest would be in the price for the job, not the value of the (entirely fictional) commodity. A short, safe hop, carrying a couple of TCs of Blushful Hippocrene, might offer quote a good price, because of the value of the cargo - but you'd need a sufficiently high reputation (and a decent downpayment) to win the job. A longer-distance job, hauling 20TCs of fretted stembolts, might offer a similar price, but have a lower downpayment and reputation requirement because the goods are cheap and easily replaced.

Essentially, the "market", insofar as it would exist at all, would be hidden from the player. All the randomly generated commodities would still belong to one of the basic types - Food, Textiles, Minerals, etc. - and this could affect the price offered to the player when they come to sell salvage. It could even be possible to split commodities into low, medium, and high-value types, with an appropriate value multiplier, as long as we could build in some clue in the random name. This could be non-obvious, and could be something the player would gradually pick up on.
Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:27 pm
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
A planet's economy type would be much less important, to the player, at least.
This is also less to my taste. We've already 'lost' government type as a reliable indicator of safety, now we'd be losing economy type as a reliable indicator of... almost anything really - at least to the extent that a player might need to reference it.
Yes, but I'd argue that we should fix the issue of government type and safety. Safe systems = zero or very occasional lone-wolf pirates; moderate systems = lone-wolf pirates, occasional packs; dangerous systems = pirate packs a-plenty.

Currently all the economy type does is determine whether you're bringing in Furs and shipping out Computers, or vice-versa: that's not really much to lose. What would be different is the *fluff*: an Agricultural planet would have all sorts of foodstuffs, spices, textiles, furs, skins, wines, beverages etc. on sale - "ivory, and apes and peacocks, sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine". Industrial planets would have lots of processors, machineries, ores, radioactives, alloys, and so on. But the player wouldn't need to care about the per-tonne value: the cargoes on offer would just be different jobs. The player's economic interest would be in fitting together as many different jobs as their cargo hold, and their route, will allow.

Given that some cargo can be destroyed in transit, there would need to be a mechanism to allow for part-delivery for a lower fee (and a reputation hit). Players could also buy their way out of an existing contract; if they desperately needed an extra 2TCs to take a prime cargo on board, they could drop off those 4TCs of MegaSpuds for someone else to pick up. They'd lose their deposit on that job (and possibly have to pay some compensation), and take a reputation hit too, but it might be worth it. But those would be interesting decisions for the player to make, as opposed to "They've only got 28TCs of Furs here … I guess I'm adding some Liquor and Wines to the manifest this time".
Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:27 pm
No problem with offering more of such contracts but what is the safest contract imaginable? A one jump trip to a safe system, right? Then where's your next one to? Not many options withouty making it look like a more interesting milk run (which is no bad thing by the way).

Contracts are best IMHO when they take you on sprawling journeys all over the place. I don't think that the current galaxy maps encourage that as a safe option for beginners. And also contracts are most fun when they are occasional rather than commonplace. The worst thing about milk runs is the sheer repetition. Granted every contract is different but yet another trawl through multiple systems could lose it's appeal when one is compelled to do so repeatedly.
A one-hop contract to a safe system would be the ideal starting job for a beginner. Stations would have *lots* of contracts on offer, and ideally the player could sort them on price, distance, reputation required, etc. When you take a short hop to a safe system, there will be other jobs - short, medium, and long - on offer when you get there. In a well-connected system, the jobs will be more mundane; people can pick and choose, so the high-paying jobs will need big downpayments and flawless reputations. In an end-of-the-line burg, though, people have to be less choosy about who they hire, and the chance of picking up a juicy job would be much higher.

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

Post by Redspear »

I think we may be at the thread split stage but... Forgive me if I lay this out, if even only for my own clarity/sanity.

Ok, so please correct me if any of this isn't true:

We're talking about two different models here. One is the current model as it operates within a default install of oolite and the other is your suggested model of 'buying' contracts, rather than buying goods from the relict elite market that has existed for over 30 years.

Complicating matters somewhat, we're also discussing possible options and/or tweaks within or to either or both of those models.

Furthermore, we're considering intersystem trade generally and how it might work in a sufficiently non-immersion breaking (rather than strictly realistic) sense.

I'm also probably guilty of jumping between each of these discussion points without much introduction.

With that said...

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:27 pm
More price variance? Yes please, but it doesn't require abandoning the present market to achieve that does it?
Price variance would cease to matter: the player's interest would be in the price for the job, not the value of the (entirely fictional) commodity.
Yes it would, you'd remove the problem, agreed. However, increase the variance sufficiently (within the current model) and you would also remove the problem, specifically that...
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
ALL Liquor & Wines from ANY (say) Average Agricultural planet will ALWAYS have the same narrow price range; and it will always have the same, different, narrow price range depending on where you sell it.
Two different models, two different solutions.


Switching to your model again...
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
Essentially, the "market", insofar as it would exist at all, would be hidden from the player. All the randomly generated commodities would still belong to one of the basic types - Food, Textiles, Minerals, etc. - and this could affect the price offered to the player when they come to sell salvage. It could even be possible to split commodities into low, medium, and high-value types, with an appropriate value multiplier, as long as we could build in some clue in the random name. This could be non-obvious, and could be something the player would gradually pick up on.
Good, liking that it's hidden in your model as that addresses one of my earlier concerns.
Suggestion: ditch the sub types and simply add sufficient price variance OR...

Substitute the sub types with suitable prefixes. For example: 'high quality', 'rare', 'vintage', 'antique' etc. for the high value; meanwhile 'shop soiled', 'damaged', 'low grade', 'budget' etc. for the low value items. Enables greater variance with fewer string entries (how very 'elite' :D)

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
Yes, but I'd argue that we should fix the issue of government type and safety. Safe systems = zero or very occasional lone-wolf pirates; moderate systems = lone-wolf pirates, occasional packs; dangerous systems = pirate packs a-plenty.
Well, I think we're mostly in agreement there...

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
Currently all the economy type does is determine whether you're bringing in Furs and shipping out Computers, or vice-versa: that's not really much to lose. What would be different is the *fluff*: an Agricultural planet would have all sorts of foodstuffs, spices, textiles, furs, skins, wines, beverages etc. on sale - "ivory, and apes and peacocks, sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine". Industrial planets would have lots of processors, machineries, ores, radioactives, alloys, and so on.
Voluntary, non contract, trade route planning, that's what we have to lose.
Even if it were much lower profit then I'd like it to stick around. Within your model, if I'm understanding correctly, it's gone. If I were trying to work with your model then I'd at least try to make it relevant in terms of where to deliver salvaged goods, rather than lose it altogether.

Within the current model it means that I consider the economy type when planning my route as well as the government type (an important consideration in contract runs - less so than before but...)

As for fluff, why not make use of the Ma Corn plantations or famous Evil Juice mentions to influence food and liquor/wine prices respectively. You could use this approach with either model I think. I've thought of it before (as others have I'm sure) but it was way beyond my skill to oxp back then.

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
But the player wouldn't need to care about the per-tonne value: the cargoes on offer would just be different jobs. The player's economic interest would be in fitting together as many different jobs as their cargo hold, and their route, will allow.
Multiple, simultaneous contracts are something that I rarely dabble in as I prefer not to complicate things too much (which may or may not be obvious from my posting history :P ) and so yes, that does add another layer of strategy. True freedom can quickly become dull but so can too much structure. I think the reason that I often avoid multiple contracts is that with each additional one I acquire, I lose choice with regards to route planning.

Besides, with the current model you can opportunisticaly take advantage of any industrial to agricultural possibilities (for example) that present themselves as you go. I think your model largely loses that, at least in such a simplistic form.

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
But those would be interesting decisions for the player to make, as opposed to "They've only got 28TCs of Furs here … I guess I'm adding some Liquor and Wines to the manifest this time".
Yes, this is a problem with the current model but again, greater variance alone could fix this. "Ok, so they've got 28TC of furs here but hold on, check out those liquor prices! ... Forget the furs, a hold full of wines this time!"

Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
A one-hop contract to a safe system would be the ideal starting job for a beginner. Stations would have *lots* of contracts on offer, and ideally the player could sort them on price, distance, reputation required, etc. When you take a short hop to a safe system, there will be other jobs - short, medium, and long - on offer when you get there.
Ok, so this is where I'm not following. You do your first, one-hop, safe sytem contract and you make a little money. Then what? Where is your next jump to? You might not need to consider economy anymore but are there many safe options left? Glancing at the map I don't think there's much room to manouver without visiting the same few systems repeatedly and it doesn't help that Lave is a dictatorship, making backtracking dangerous.

Again, I don't think that the current galactic maps support this approach very well.
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
In an end-of-the-line burg, though, people have to be less choosy about who they hire, and the chance of picking up a juicy job would be much higher.
Reward for risk is good but risk without much choice (when in the beginner's shoes/ship) is not much choice at all, unless that choice is to keep visiting the same few 'safe' systems as before but then we've kind of neutered contracts, or at least the fun part of them.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Rekrul »

another_commander wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:00 am
Yes you can. Wormholes are tracked while open and if you enter one, the ship that opened it will be on the other side, along with any other ships that may have entered it in the meantime.
I didn't explain this very well. Sometimes I think of more detailed explanations in my head and then forget to write them down. What I meant was that while you can follow a ship through a wormhole, if you actually followed it all the way to the station, it would basically cease to exist once it had docked. You couldn't wait outside the station until that same ship launches again, and then follow it to the next system. Or can you? Does the game maintain the list of what ships have docked and eventually launch them again? Or do they cease to exist once they dock and the game just generates a random list of ships to be launched?

In any case, I'm sure it doesn't model all ship movements in all the systems of the galaxy all the time, right? It only models the ones in the system you're in and any that are connected via a wormhole to where you are. Even then, does it model all the other systems if ships open wormholes to three other systems all at the same time in case you decide to fly through one of them? Or does it only track the ships that opened the wormhole and then populate the system with other ships if you decide to jump there?

Also, I've been wondering; Is it possible for the NPC ships to follow you through your wormhole?

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

Post by phkb »

Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:11 pm
Is it possible for the NPC ships to follow you through your wormhole?
Yes, some pirates or assassins might follow you if they're really keen.
Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:11 pm
What I meant was that while you can follow a ship through a wormhole, if you actually followed it all the way to the station, it would basically cease to exist once it had docked.
The OXP [EliteWiki] Station Dock Control attempts to implement this idea, in that ships that dock will later launch.
Rekrul wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 11:11 pm
It only models the ones in the system you're in and any that are connected via a wormhole to where you are.
And the OXP GalCop's Most Wanted attempts to implement the movement of a set of high-bounty ships around the galaxy, essentially creating an admitted somewhat small set of persistent ships. (A small note on this OXP - some players have found the difficulty level in tracking down bounties is quite high. It's something I want to address in future updates.)

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

Post by Disembodied »

Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:20 pm
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 1:27 pm
More price variance? Yes please, but it doesn't require abandoning the present market to achieve that does it?
Price variance would cease to matter: the player's interest would be in the price for the job, not the value of the (entirely fictional) commodity.
Yes it would, you'd remove the problem, agreed. However, increase the variance sufficiently (within the current model) and you would also remove the problem, specifically that...
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 12:13 pm
ALL Liquor & Wines from ANY (say) Average Agricultural planet will ALWAYS have the same narrow price range; and it will always have the same, different, narrow price range depending on where you sell it.
Two different models, two different solutions.
The problem with too much randomised price variance is that it all just becomes a crapshoot. And how long will prices persist? What if you turn up at planet A, find a great price for Liquor and Wines, take it to the Industrial planet B next door, nip back to planet A again, and the prices have all changed, in a matter of hours? Or will Planet A always produce incredibly cheap L&W? In which case, there's the chance of finding a nearby world with very high L&W prices - creating a free money pump.

With the current model (or indeed anything like it, where the player looks to buy low on one planet and sell high on another) there will always be the problem of milk-runs and money-pumps. Every Elite-alike game I've ever seen falls into this same hole (probably because, as in Elite, the trading is just there as a basic mechanism to enable the player to earn credits to improve their ship and go out and shoot more bad guys).

It will also never match the sheer range of cargoes that we can imagine an entire planet might produce. This latter is a big one, for me: it's so small-scale. The entire output of a world can be covered by just 16 things, all virtually indistinguishable from the same things produced elsewhere. We can try adding granularity to it, by creating sub-types, and sub-sub-types, and so on, but it rapidly becomes overwhelming. We can try to model an economic system, and accept that it will inevitably create money-pumps and problems of balance, or we can dump the whole thing out of the game altogether, create window-dressing to make it *look* like there's a huge complex interstellar market out there, and just offer the player jobs with rewards based on a) how difficult the job is, and b) how experienced the player is.
Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:20 pm
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
Currently all the economy type does is determine whether you're bringing in Furs and shipping out Computers, or vice-versa: that's not really much to lose. What would be different is the *fluff*: an Agricultural planet would have all sorts of foodstuffs, spices, textiles, furs, skins, wines, beverages etc. on sale - "ivory, and apes and peacocks, sandalwood, cedarwood, and sweet white wine". Industrial planets would have lots of processors, machineries, ores, radioactives, alloys, and so on.
Voluntary, non contract, trade route planning, that's what we have to lose.
Even if it were much lower profit then I'd like it to stick around. Within your model, if I'm understanding correctly, it's gone. If I were trying to work with your model then I'd at least try to make it relevant in terms of where to deliver salvaged goods, rather than lose it altogether.
I absolutely would make political stability relevant in where to sell salvaged goods. Safe systems will give you a smallish insurance bounty; they have the administration to cover this sort of thing, and in any case they don't want to encourage ships to bring in cargo-holds full of stuff that's fallen off the back of an Anaconda. But there's always the chance of selling scooped goods on the side: the chance would be close to zero in a Corporate State, but reach 100% in an Anarchy (perhaps, too, the player's reputation could help here). Black-market prices for scooped goods could be much higher than any insurance payouts.

So you'd have a choice, if you had a bellyful of "found" items. You could hand them over for salvage like a good citizen, and accept your fairly nominal reward … or you could hang on to them, and wait until the next time you're visiting a dodgier system, and sell them for who knows how much on the black market - but they're taking up space in your hold, which will mean you might miss out on paying jobs.
Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:20 pm
As for fluff, why not make use of the Ma Corn plantations or famous Evil Juice mentions to influence food and liquor/wine prices respectively. You could use this approach with either model I think. I've thought of it before (as others have I'm sure) but it was way beyond my skill to oxp back then.
I think these should definitely all be used, but there aren't nearly enough of them. There's maybe ten or twenty planets in each galaxy who are famous for one product. I'd hard-code these in, so they crop up in those particular named systems, but they'd just be one item on offer in a whole medley of cargoes.
Redspear wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 7:20 pm
Disembodied wrote:
Thu Mar 26, 2020 5:24 pm
A one-hop contract to a safe system would be the ideal starting job for a beginner. Stations would have *lots* of contracts on offer, and ideally the player could sort them on price, distance, reputation required, etc. When you take a short hop to a safe system, there will be other jobs - short, medium, and long - on offer when you get there.
Ok, so this is where I'm not following. You do your first, one-hop, safe sytem contract and you make a little money. Then what? Where is your next jump to? You might not need to consider economy anymore but are there many safe options left? Glancing at the map I don't think there's much room to manouver without visiting the same few systems repeatedly and it doesn't help that Lave is a dictatorship, making backtracking dangerous.

Again, I don't think that the current galactic maps support this approach very well.
No, true - but the player's first contract page could offer a 10TC contract to Zaonce and a 5TC contract to Isinor. From Zaonce and Isinor, other local jobs can be picked up to shuttle goods between nearby safer systems like Ontiat and Ensoreus. There will always be smallish shipments needing to be taken to nearby, low-threat worlds; the pay won't be enormous, but it'll be enough to let beginners get started.

I also agree that the current setup is not helpful. My personal preference would be to divide the galaxies up into subsectors, with different piracy ratings. The Old Worlds could be pretty calm and peaceful, regardless of political rating (and shipping fees within the Old Worlds could be low because of it).

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