Split: Difficulty for new players

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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Norby
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Norby »

spara wrote:gives the player a serious advantage over the npcs. Even when used in the lane.
No advantage if:
A) there are a few NPCs with similarly high speed,
B) Torus is not faster than Injectors.

Solution A is reachable with some new NPC-only interceptor ships with extreme max_flight_speed in shipdata.plist matched to player's torus speed and a ship js to check masslocks. Another smarter way is the position updates from FCB, but the whole idea is refused in the previous posts.

Solution B need some TAF to get similar travel times but NPCs with Injectors can follow the player (in lanes also).

The main difference is not game breaking but tactic changing: if player in green alert then not in safe, even if hit "j" enemies can follow him and will attack again when player get masslock (need improved AI).

If player know this then will act differently to prevent overwhelming, will found the game more challenging and finally maybe will say this game is better than before.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Redspear »

spara wrote:About the other ideas presented here, I'm a bit hesitant as I really believe that the space should be relatively empty and that most of the traffic would concentrate to the lanes.
Hesitant is probably good, this is something that could easily be made worse rather than better...
spara wrote:The main problem is the torus drive, it's an uber device that gives the player a serious advantage over the npcs. Even when used in the lane.
Hmm... The torus drive serves a clear function that makes time invested in the game much more rewarding. It could be argued that the real problem is the lane, or rather the processing cost to populate anything other than a narrow one. Not an issue in the original elite as the sytem was populated only in the areas occupied by the player.

I'd be extremely reluctant to lose the torus-drive.
And although I can't give you a clear reason for it, I don't like the idea of time-acceleration. I realise that's not much of an argument but something about it turns my stomach...

Norby, I haven't tried your oxp yet. I probably should...
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cim wrote:We don't want the warship deciding to jump on the player just because there's no ships nearby, but determining whether the player is "on-lane" is not entirely straightforward, especially if OXPs have added stations which might get their own spacelanes somewhat away from the primary lanes.
I think if the player is isolated - a long way from any other ships or stations - then they're fair game for a Thargoid.

Could patrolling Thargoids be made to avoid the WP-planet lane? Or have two types of in-system Thargoid: the hunter (more common, avoids the lane, avoids stations, jumps any isolated ships that aren't on the main WP-planet lane, maybe avoids the WP-sun lane too), and the raider (rarer, attacks on-lane shipping as at present).
Would it be possible to mix the two types of populating (elite style and oolite style?)
So off the main lane there's no traffic pre-generated but always the chance that a thargoid could be generated 'on the spot'?

Perhaps the triangle of withcpoint to planet to sun is all that needs to be factored in for beginners here in terms of thargoid lane avoidance (I appreciate that I'm saying that like it sound's that it's easy when it probably isn't). Other planets are not the main planet for a reason :twisted:

What if the player's position relative to both the witchpoint and to the planet was averaged? couldn't that be used to as a simple indicator of how much the player had strayed from the lane? (Sorry if I'm stating the obvious here :oops: )
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by spara »

Norby wrote:
spara wrote:gives the player a serious advantage over the npcs. Even when used in the lane.
No advantage if:
...
B) Torus is not faster than Injectors.
...
Solution B need some TAF to get similar travel times but NPCs with Injectors can follow the player (in lanes also).
I'm with you here. Torus should not give you edge over npcs, but it should give you a way to skip / speed up boring parts of the game.
Redspear wrote:
spara wrote:The main problem is the torus drive, it's an uber device that gives the player a serious advantage over the npcs. Even when used in the lane.
Hmm... The torus drive serves a clear function that makes time invested in the game much more rewarding. It could be argued that the real problem is the lane, or rather the processing cost to populate anything other than a narrow one. Not an issue in the original elite as the sytem was populated only in the areas occupied by the player.
Yes. There must be a mechanism to skip those tedious parts of the game. I just feel that the current player centric solution of flying at ludicrous speed while npcs crawl is something that needs fixing. It just feels wrong.
Redspear wrote: I'd be extremely reluctant to lose the torus-drive.
I would still call it torus, it would just work differently. When you get out of mass lock and speed up, so will the others. No more running away from foes with torus, but still a way to skip those tedious parts.
Redspear wrote: Would it be possible to mix the two types of populating (elite style and oolite style?)
In the current game setup, Deep Space Pirates is one of my must have oxps.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Smivs »

Am I the only person here who thinks this is a non-problem? Torus is simply a mechanism within the game which allows the impatient to 'fast-forward' through the 'boring' bits, and as such it serves its purpose very well.
I don't see it gives the player any real gameplay advantage over NPCs - after all they mass-lock you when they are in scanner range so the 'benefit' is removed at that point. The only real 'exploit' is if/when you are hunting a certain experimental ship and that only happens once!
The issues of activity in the 'lanes and the spread of other traders and pirates is a separate matter entirely to my mind, and I don't think that discussing redesigning half the game in other ares (torus/TAF) is going to serve any purpose.
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by spara »

Smivs wrote:Am I the only person here who thinks this is a non-problem? Torus is simply a mechanism within the game which allows the impatient to 'fast-forward' through the 'boring' bits, and as such it serves its purpose very well.
Yes, it just might be the best solution. I would not call it as 'fast-forward' though. That would require everything else to be accelerated too.
Smivs wrote:I don't see it gives the player any real gameplay advantage over NPCs - after all they mass-lock you when they are in scanner range so the 'benefit' is removed at that point. The only real 'exploit' is if/when you are hunting a certain experimental ship and that only happens once!
This is a matter of opinion, of course. I think it could be seen as an exploit to flee from an enemy using injectors and just when you're out of scanner range hit torus button. Without it, you could have exhausted your fuel and your nemesis might have overtaken you. Or this could be seen as a game mechanic :wink: . A safety zone for the player.
Smivs wrote:The issues of activity in the 'lanes and the spread of other traders and pirates is a separate matter entirely to my mind, and I don't think that discussing redesigning half the game in other ares (torus/TAF) is going to serve any purpose.
If I recall it right, somewhere earlier cim said that there might be simple solution to the skip lane 'exploit'. And it seems to be of concern to some that the player sort of misses some aspects of the game. I don't really see the problem there as it's the players decision to do so and I don't think it's a good idea to force the player to anything. I also think that the space should be relatively empty. I want it to feel vast and emptyness helps there. But it bothers me a bit that I'm going faster than anyone else. For me it's an immersion breaker, but that's just me of course.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Smivs »

spara wrote:I also think that the space should be relatively empty. I want it to feel vast and emptyness helps there. But it bothers me a bit that I'm going faster than anyone else. For me it's an immersion breaker, but that's just me of course.
Indeed, I like the 'empty space' concept as well - space is vast and meeting other ships should be an Event!
As for going faster than everybody else, well assuming you are flying a Cobby 3 (or something even faster) then you are travelling faster as it is one of the faster ships. Torus is a multiple of Top Speed, so a Cobby 3 under torus will be travelling faster than say a Boa under torus, so you would still catch up whether you are using torus or not. The only missing element as things stand is that you don't see other torus-ing vessels - no big deal in my book.
As I suggested above, the torus is just a game feature for those who find the quiet bits boring. Nobody is forced to use it and many of us tend not to - it's the long drag planetward that makes the game seem 'real' because space is vast and it actually would take quite some time to do a journey like this. If we really were living this life instread of playing it there would be long periods of inactivity, and experiencing them in-game adds to the realism and immersion to my mind.
And if a level playing-field was deemed more important than player 'convenience' then I'd say do away with torus for the player.
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Redspear »

Smivs wrote:Am I the only person here who thinks this is a non-problem? Torus is simply a mechanism within the game which allows the impatient to 'fast-forward' through the 'boring' bits, and as such it serves its purpose very well.
...
The issues of activity in the 'lanes and the spread of other traders and pirates is a separate matter entirely to my mind, and I don't think that discussing redesigning half the game in other ares (torus/TAF) is going to serve any purpose.
What links the torus and the lane is the fact that the former creates a reason to avoid the latter (as well as the important purpose that you point out above). Without the torus, there is no offlane exploit.

So whilst the lane issue can be addressed without suggesting changes to the torus drive, I don't think that means that any changes couldn't be considered.

As you can see however, suggestions to changing the torus have been a little problematic and whilst "changing half the game" might be a bit of an exaggeration, I think you might have a point there ;-)

The thargoid option would certainly encourage me to stay onlane as a beginner, whilst the injectors at start option would make the lane both safer and less time consuming. Injectors would also make the game a little more forgiving on the beginner (getting back to the original concern of this thread). Trouble with that one would be that there's still an advantage to going offlane. I do like the idea however, that the standard advice to beginners rather than 'head offlane and torus in', could become, 'avoid the bigger hyperspace jumps at first, then you'll have some fuel left to get out of trouble'.

Tricky one, as I think the fumblings of the likes of myself have demonstrated :-P
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Redspear »

Ah, ok so it's not quite true that "without the torus there is no offlane exploit", but without the torus it would be a much more time consuming and dull exploit.
I hope that makes more sense...
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Capt. Reynolds »

Smivs wrote:Am I the only person here who thinks this is a non-problem?
Nope.

As far as I can tell, buried under the last umpteen pages is the problem of making the "boring" mass-locked inbound bits less boring for the new player. If they get put off by that, chances are they'd never stick with the game to the point of getting near Elite status anyway - but that's just an educated guess; I'm not a new player (and neither are the huge majority of people discussing it) so it's practically impossible to put myself back in that particular set of shoes.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by another_commander »

[Warning: Long post ahead]

I fully agree with Smivs here that we are looking at two distinctly different issues: One is the torus drive and I have to say I agree with his point of view and fail to see what the big deal about it is. I never thought of it being a problem in the game until it started being discussed specifically as such in these forums. The other issue is how to make the players stop avoiding the space lanes, effectively exploiting a design issue in the game, which originates from the simple fact that Oolite is not player-centric like its predecessor was.

I will not discuss the torus issue here, but I would like to offer for consideration a proposal that could deal with the lanes problem, at least to a certain extent. For those interested in the background story, keep reading, otherwise jump to a few paragraphs further below where the actual proposal is discussed.

--- Background story start
It all started with the Xevera Incident of 3120 AD. Until then, the space lanes as we know them today did not practically exist and ships were flying freely within any GalCop planet's system space with minimal control. The activity that gave birth to the incident was essentially a coordinated pirate attack on Xevera's Dodec-1, orchestrated by criminal masterminds resident in the system, in collaboration with pirate factions of a few of the anarchies present in Xevera's immediate vicinity. The objective of the strike was, apart from the obvious one of obtaining material profits by looting an entire station and any ship that might be docked at the time of attack, demonstrate that GalCop was not the oh-so-powerful organization that it was thought to be, and to send the message to all parties involved who the real Powers That Be were and effectively take a first step in breaking-off GalCop authority.

Xevera Traffic Control did notice what appeared to be certain ship groups arriving at the station's vicinity from unexpected vectors, including vectors from the planet's direction, when normally the bulk of the traffic was supposed to be coming in from the witchspace beacon direction. What they were seeing were ships designated as Clean; what they did not know was that these ships were in fact either stolen, had their IDs hacked or were pirates who had their record cleaned by deliberately staying out of activity (dropping slowly their legal status), in preparation for the strike. The station did put Vipers on readiness and that is what most likely saved them that day, but they were not really prepared for the near-simultaneous sudden barrage of fire opened by all those ships that appeared to be just traders coming from unusual directions.

The battle that followed is still remembered to this day. The GalCop patrols fought with unprecedented bravery and any and all vessels docked or in the aegis of Xevera at that time joined in on their side without second thoughts. Many were lost that day, but at the end the pirate attack was pushed back successfully. The result was exactly the opposite of what the pirates had thought/wanted and established GalCop as a Protecting Force of any system that belonged to it and raised its image to guardian angel status - that was back in the days before its decline of course. It also demonstrated the dedication and resolve of the GalCop Police pilots, giving them a kind of hero recognition across all GalCop systems. The survivors of the pirate groups who participated in the attack were brought under trial for multiple charges of Piracy and Murder and were punished in an examplary manner.

However, and despite that general happy ending, this event clearly demonstrated the lack of control in GalCop space and the need to establish a regulation that would guarantee the safety of the system and all lawful vessels travelling within it. It was immediately obvious that there could not possibly be resources available for patrolling entire systems and therefore, with the GalCop Anti-Piracy Act #A36/2345 of 3120 AD, what we refer to as space lanes today, were established.
--- Background story end

The Anti-Piracy Act #A36/2345/3120 establishes an area of space that looks like a cone, with base of approximately a three scanner units centered at the witchspace beacon, which converges to a point behind the station towards the direction of the planet, as we approach the station aegis. It states that all vessels entering a system must comply with remaining in this zone during the travel to the station. Exiting the space lane is permitted, but any ship that re-enters it must either a) be in posession of a specific Lane Re-entry Permit, which can be obtained at any GalCop station for a hefty amount of cash or b) return to the withcspace beacon and re-start their approach from there. The Act clearly states that any vessel that attempts to enter the space lane from locations other than the withscpace beacon entry area or without transmitting an LR Permit signal at the moment of entry, will be treated as attackers of GalCop space and be dealt with accordingly. The station itself will be issuing warnings to any vessels moving inside the lane, but close to its border with, let's call it "outer space" and there is going to be a certain tolerance for vessels which just exit by mistake and re-enter immediately, but the exact amount of that tolerance is basically left to the discretion of Station Traffic Control.

So, this is basically it. Why I think it's a reasonable proposal:
1) It does change the way the game is played, but it does not change the mechanics of the game as we currently have it. The lanes as we know them do not have to change (maybe spray a few pirates in the outer zones for effect).
2) The player is not restricted in their choice to leave the lane if they so desire. There is no handwavium saying "no, you cannot leave the lane because you're gonna explode". If the players want to leave the lane, fine, but the station can be approached legally only from within the lane and they can arrive and dock at the station from the outside, but they will have to deal with the Offender tag that they'll get for attempting that stunt.
3) It does not prohibit re-fueling from the sun or hermit-tourist runs, provided that the protocol for lane re-entry is followed.
4) Acquiring LR permits could be a nice money-sink for when you have those hundreds of thousands of credits with nothing to do with them.
5) I am pretty confident that all this could be OXPed even right now, which means that we could possibly test how it works in the game and, maybe adopt it if we are happy with it or can it completely, if we are unhappy with it. Hopefully I am not mistaken in thinking that no core code changes are needed.

Thoughts? Would you accept GalCop Anti-Piracy Act #A36/2345/3120?

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Zireael »

Disembodied wrote:
cim wrote:
Disembodied wrote:Could this be extended? Some brief commander biographies, stitched together out of a seed as per the planet descriptions?
It certainly could be. The coding side of it is well within current OXP capabilities, if anyone wants to make a start on it. Pitfalls:
- procedurally-generated text from that sort of chaining is very time-consuming to translate and end up with a grammatical result
- ideally, I think, you'd want it not to be entirely random. (Two obvious areas: grouped ships should be more likely than otherwise to have pilots with some commonality of biography ; system of origin should have a significant effect)
- should the biography content reflect back to the game? (e.g. if the biography generator says that the pilot was a Viper pilot in the %N war of 2081kD, should they get a significant accuracy boost?)
What we'd need to begin with here would be a general character profile - what sort of stats can a pilot have? Basic things like e.g. name, planet of origin/species, gender, and then functional ones like accuracy, courage (which could affect odds calculation), aggression (how likely they are to attack an enemy), Elite ranking (?) ... If NPC pilots can have attributes like these, these could sometimes be reflected in their biographies. Producing a grammatical output could be tricky, right enough (and would cause further problems for translations), but Svengali's done a fair amount of work on this front for the CCL PhraseGen. If the biography was broken up into discrete chunks, which might or might not be displayed, it could be easier to keep things grammatical.
cim wrote:We don't want the warship deciding to jump on the player just because there's no ships nearby, but determining whether the player is "on-lane" is not entirely straightforward, especially if OXPs have added stations which might get their own spacelanes somewhat away from the primary lanes.
I think if the player is isolated - a long way from any other ships or stations - then they're fair game for a Thargoid.

Could patrolling Thargoids be made to avoid the WP-planet lane? Or have two types of in-system Thargoid: the hunter (more common, avoids the lane, avoids stations, jumps any isolated ships that aren't on the main WP-planet lane, maybe avoids the WP-sun lane too), and the raider (rarer, attacks on-lane shipping as at present).
Going to check out CCL PhraseGen and I like the idea of two Thargoid types and the idea of pilot stats/biographies is just too EXCELLENT not to be done.
That would be an immense project to get it right, but potentially very good indeed.

To digress slightly... I've recently been playing through the "Derelict" fan add-on for Freespace 2 (well worth a go if you enjoyed the original game). One of the things it has in it - to set up the ambience that you're based at a station on the fringes of inhabited space where not much happens - is a few early escort/patrol missions where literally nothing (in terms of Freespace 2's traditional combat-oriented missions, at any rate) happens, either for the whole mission, or for several minutes. It works, though, because while you're flying that distance the other ships in your patrol are chatting on the comms.

The problem with doing the same thing in Oolite, of course, is the scale - to get to Elite rank we're probably expecting the player to have built up several hundred (if not a few thousand) hours of flight time, so any comms chatter besides the professional (e.g. "target the Gecko", "requesting docking clearance", "your cargo or your life", etc.) basically needs to have a huge data source to work from so that it doesn't end up getting repetitive (something like CCL PhraseGen and similar can of course reduce the data needs, but not by a lot). The technical implementation would be relatively straightforward by comparison to the task of writing and collating all of that.

Similarly - and even harder in all aspects - with giving out mission hooks. Curse of the Black Sunspot was kind of an initial experiment in the direction of the sort of informal mission I think it would be excellent to stumble across (CotBS, because it's the only one, has to really give some heavy hints to the player as to where they should stumble about, and includes a lot more custom code) and choose what to do with. Similarly you might pick up a "routine" passenger somewhere, get dragged into the edges of something bigger when they turn out not to be who they claimed ... and it would be good to have "poke my nose in" and "get well clear of that sort of politics" both as valid options (and I don't mean "mission screen choices") with their own consequences. Somewhat difficult to code, but would need ridiculous amounts of background data [1].

[1] Well, to an extent. So long as it was being produced faster than the majority of players could consume it, it might be possible to do some sort of rolling release of that data file. That's still a big task, though.
I think there's nothing stopping us (the community) from starting. I'm going to poke about Kaks' comms demo and Norby's better HUD ideas to find any worthwhile possible comms chatter.

Ooh, and maybe I should start a separate thread for the comms/immersion thingy?

@ up: Not bad if you can acquire the Permit from Rock Hermits/additional stations.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Cody »

another_commander wrote:It also demonstrated the dedication and resolve of the GalCop Police pilots, giving them a kind of hero recognition across all GalCop systems.
Hero status, yes... but not escape capsules. <resumes pondering the proposal>
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Diziet Sma »

another_commander wrote:The Anti-Piracy Act #A36/2345/3120 establishes an area of space that looks like a cone, with base of approximately a three scanner units centered at the witchspace beacon, which converges to a point behind the station towards the direction of the planet, as we approach the station aegis. It states that all vessels entering a system must comply with remaining in this zone during the travel to the station. Exiting the space lane is permitted, but any ship that re-enters it must either a) be in posession of a specific Lane Re-entry Permit, which can be obtained at any GalCop station for a hefty amount of cash or b) return to the withcspace beacon and re-start their approach from there. The Act clearly states that any vessel that attempts to enter the space lane from locations other than the withscpace beacon entry area or without transmitting an LR Permit signal at the moment of entry, will be treated as attackers of GalCop space and be dealt with accordingly. The station itself will be issuing warnings to any vessels moving inside the lane, but close to its border with, let's call it "outer space" and there is going to be a certain tolerance for vessels which just exit by mistake and re-enter immediately, but the exact amount of that tolerance is basically left to the discretion of Station Traffic Control.
Interesting proposal.. conceptually I'm not opposed. But a bit more detail/discussion about this permit system is called for, methinks.. how hefty is "a hefty amount of cash"? How long is a permit good for?

I can see this heavily impacting asteroid-mining, rock-hermit supplying, and Random Hits missions (amongst other things). It could make them a major hassle, and even unprofitable, if not handled right.
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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Commander McLane »

Redspear wrote:Ah, ok so it's not quite true that "without the torus there is no offlane exploit", but without the torus it would be a much more time consuming and dull exploit.
Yep.

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Re: Split: Difficulty for new players

Post by Commander McLane »

@ a_c's proposal:

I see two problems with this:
  1. The proposal as it is currently laid out is ignoring the fact that there is not one, but three lanes in each system. Practically this means that a sunskimmer would naturally approach the planet from the sun and not bother about re-entering the WP-P lane. (It's also not easy to determine where the WP-P lane is located in the first place, if you're coming from the sun, which is a whole separate problem.) Also, there are usually asteroid fields and Rock Hermits between planet and sun. Whoever wants to trade with them should not be forced to search for the WP-P lane first before approaching the station.
  2. It is not uncommon to leave the corridor sideways during a fight. I'm quite often finding myself either fleeing from a pirate or pursuing a pirate into deep space. During a fight I am not usually concerned whether I'm leaving the corridor, and in the heat of the battle it would be highly likely to miss an alarm or message to that effect. I would find it extremely annoying to have to go through some bureaucratic hullaballoo first in order to re-enter the corridor—again, if I find back to it in the first place. The same goes for OXP-induced battles that take place outside the corridor to begin with. Let's say I have just slain a Thargoid Carrier en route to a Kiota Habitat and am celebrated as the hero of the day. How would it feel to be fined at the main station after my victory run?
So I think this needs some more thinking and tweaking.

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