OXZ and balance

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mossfoot
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OXZ and balance

Post by mossfoot »

In looking at the OXPs in the past I noticed some stuff is just wildly unbalanced (and some just plain silly ;) ). I was wondering if anything being included in the OXZ list for in-game installment is going through any kind of shared agreement on balance issues, or if there is any kind of warning regarding possible imbalance?
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Diziet Sma »

The short answer is.. no, and no.

The long answer would be that only by reading the Wiki and BB would someone be likely to find such information. (And, of course, that the majority of OXP/Zs unbalance the game in some way, whether by virtue of making things easier, or harder.)

Given that in the near future, a whole bunch of Oolite players who had no idea that OXPs even existed, are about to be exposed to the wonderful world of AddOns for Oolite, this topic perhaps deserves some consideration.
Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by mossfoot »

Often times I'm sure balance change is obvious (ie Delightful Docking, which I don't consider a cheat anyway, since I can dock fine on fast spinning stations, but the slower one feels more real).

But, for example, if someone designs a ship the size of a Sidewinder with eight missiles and six energy banks and sells it for 50,000 credits... well... that's kind of mucking up the ship economy and fighter balance and you might not even notice it at first.
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Norby »

I think the whole thing depends on the functions of OXZ Manager. In 1.80 we have nothing so we only can ask the author to do not put an oxz into the manager but I am sure that later we will have filters and other built-in functions which will help avoid surprises, thanks to the brainstormings in the forum and devs who implements the best ideas.

For example if we create a status for oxzs regarding "stability" with three level: safe, extra and dev then all new oxz start and stay in "dev" state until the last new feature update is within a month, then can get "extra" status if no known bugs and missing parts.

After more time if the result is well tested and within obvious rules (not uber) and considered to harmless (ambiences) or restrained (similar ship than the default ones) then can get "safe" status if the community accept it, which mean not only the best code stability but safety for new pilots also.

I think authors should feel that his works are as valued in "extra" status as in "safe", for example a mission oxz which add strong ships into the main lanes can be a sensational "extra" and not enough safe for new Jamesons with basic equipments.
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Smivs »

I don't think anything can be done regarding this issue.
Attempts have been made in the past to introduce some sort of classification of OXPs in terms of difficulty for new players and how un-balancing some OXPs are. They have all failed dismally, largely due to a lack of consensus around the Board, and sadly also due to certain individuals trying to impose their own opinions, or just being downright obstructive. Having tried to introduce something along these lines myself recently, I fear that any attempt to do so will end up failing, and frustrating whoever tries it.
And I don't think anybody wants some sort of 'Quality Police' to monitor, judge and sentance OXZs. Who would do this anyway? The Dev team are the only ones who potentially could control and limit access to the Expansion Manager, and while I would generally trust their judgement I would not like the idea of any small, closed group holding such power over the authoring community.
Up till now 'quality control' has been a process of firstly the author applying a knowledge of what is considered acceptable by the community, followed by release and comments here on the Board, followed by adjustments to the OXP as the author sees fit to 'correct' any perceived problems. This does of course depend on the author having an understanding and acceptance of what the community considers reasonable and acceptable to start with, and also being prepared to modify their pride and joy to make it more acceptable to the masses. Normally this is the case, sometimes not.
And of course there are those out there who actually like excess - just look at the number of people flying uber-ships - Caddy, Vortex, Supercobra, Wonderworm...the list is almost endless. And that is just ships. Some of the most popular OXPs are un-balancing as well. Galactic Navy and YAH are good examples (due to their affect on markets and the balance of shipping along the spacelanes) and there are literally dozens of others.
So it is probably true to say that many, perhaps even the majority of OXPs (and certainly the popular ones) are un-balancing in some way. Therefore trying to Police this is always going to be a thankless and ultimately futile task. As is trying to classify OXPs as mentioned above due to the widely varying opinions around the Board as to what is a 'good' OXP and what isn't.
All we can do is keep this issue alive through debate and hope that authors can (as most already do) exercise restraint and apply a bit of common sense. There will always be those that like excess in any community, and ours is no different. We must simply accept this.
Having tried and failed in the past to address some of these issues, my view now is that the best we can do is maybe try to alert new players to the fact that some OXPs can have very serious consequences on game play and balance and urge caution when they are selecting which expansions to use. This can be done in several ways, mostly via discussion on this board, but perhaps in the Game's documentation as well, and maybe even a quick text warning in the Expansion Manager section within the game itself.
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Diziet Sma »

Smivs wrote:maybe even a quick text warning in the Expansion Manager section within the game itself.
That strikes me as a good idea. Until now, anyone wanting OXPs had to come to the BBS/Wiki to obtain them, so there was at least a chance they'd see a warning about unanticipated effects on gameplay.. but with 1.80, that whole aspect will be bypassed, and people completely new to Oolite AddOns will be able to go nuts grabbing stuff without understanding the consequences.
Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Cody »

<nods sagely at Smivs>
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by cim »

Smivs wrote:The Dev team are the only ones who potentially could control and limit access to the Expansion Manager
While I can imagine hypothetical situations in which it might be necessary to remove an OXP from the list, I can't think of any released OXPs which even come close to the line.

Something to mention here: the expansion pack index URL is hard-coded into Oolite but users can override this in the config files. This is mainly intended to allow for disaster recovery and testing, but if you want to run your own manifest server with different rules for inclusion you can.

There wasn't time for 1.80, but for 1.82 I want to add some better filtering to the OXP manager, including the ability to filter on tags. You could start inventing and using a tag scheme now (or, given the previous history of such attempts, two or three overlapping tag schemes...) so that there's something to work with later. I also want to improve the dependency handling a little so that if you install an OXP which requires other OXPs, Oolite will offer to go off and download the dependencies for you as well. That's mainly a user convenience thing, but it would also open up the option to produce "<name>'s Recommended Starter OXP Set" or "<name>'s Ultra Difficult Ooniverse Pack" which don't contain anything itself except a manifest - they just require other OXPs.
Smivs wrote:So it is probably true to say that many, perhaps even the majority of OXPs (and certainly the popular ones) are un-balancing in some way.
For a lot of OXP types it's really difficult to write an OXP which doesn't significantly affect game balance - usually in the "easier" direction. I want to look more at that in later versions. Station and equipment OXPs are almost impossible to have them both make a significant difference to the game and be balanced, even if the author wants to do that, for instance, and I have some ideas for giving OXP authors more options in those areas.
Diziet Sma wrote:and people completely new to Oolite AddOns will be able to go nuts grabbing stuff without understanding the consequences.
In fairness, that's exactly what I did after installing Oolite - I think I was easily over 100 OXPs before I even started the game - because I'd played Elite in various forms for years and didn't just want a copy of that. I had a great time and I'm not sure if I'd have stuck with the game long enough to reach even Deadly rank or start writing my own OXPs if I hadn't done that. Maybe I would - it's the only game in its various incarnations I keep coming back to consistently over the decades - I don't know. The risks of grabbing every OXP at once are I think somewhat overstated...

I only have six installed now (all cosmetic), but that's mainly because OXPs get in the way of developing and testing the core game.
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Neelix »

What I think would be helpful would be a readme viewer in the expansion pack manager.
Perhaps have the readme.txt files uploaded alongside the OXZ and the readme URL added to the manifest, so it can be downloaded and viewed without first downloading the OXZ? Or perhaps the readme.txt could be uploaded to the expansion pack index server along with the manifest.plist?

At least then users could choose to make an informed decision as to whether or not to install an OXZ without having to exit the game to fire up the wiki or forums to look it up.

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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Diziet Sma »

Neelix wrote:Perhaps have the readme.txt files uploaded alongside the OXZ and the readme URL added to the manifest, so it can be downloaded and viewed without first downloading the OXZ? Or perhaps the readme.txt could be uploaded to the expansion pack index server along with the manifest.plist?
Even that's a little problematic.. some OXP/Z authors seem to be in love with RTF readme files.. a little irritating, IMO, because I can instantly pop open a text file in any text editor, but to open a RTF file means loading up a full word-processor. I don't see Oolite being able to easily display RTF documents.
Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Smivs »

I thought rtf was the recommended format for readmes.
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Neelix »

I have to agree with Dizzy - I'd prefer to be able to open the file in any text editor myself.

As for the format actually used, if it was made an official part of the OXZ registration process then having a copy of the readme in .txt format could be made a requirement if the OXP author wants to have it readable in game.

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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Diziet Sma »

Smivs wrote:recommended format for readmes
I wasn't aware there was one.. :)
Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Smivs »

I can't remember where I got that, except I recall some discussions a while ago when some members complained about .txt readmes, which I had always used before.
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Re: OXZ and balance

Post by Diziet Sma »

<chuckles> I guess that goes to show you can never make everyone happy.. :lol:
Most games have some sort of paddling-pool-and-water-wings beginning to ease you in: Oolite takes the rather more Darwinian approach of heaving you straight into the ocean, often with a brick or two in your pockets for luck. ~ Disembodied
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