The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Cholmondely »

Propaedeutic to the First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite


Kindly ponder the following missive:

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Re: Introduce Yourself.

Post by hijong park » Tue Jun 18, 2019 2:05 pm

Hi, I'm Hijong Park who is having a hard time to enjoy Oolite. I like space and spaceships, so I want to like oolite, but simply can't. everything feels tedious and frustrating...
Disembodied & Redspear wrote back to him hoping to help, but he seems to have disappeared into the ether. Redspear specifically addressed the issues of combat with pirates, mass-locking & docking.

Mr Park was one of just 26 people who both found this Bulletin Board and announced their existence (or return) within the Introduce Yourself topic since the debut of Oolite 1.88 (27th October 2018). I've not yet investigated all the other 61 people who also joined the bulletin board since then (20 of them never even wrote in).

Of those 26, 5 were announcing their return to Oolite after an absence.
•14 had previously played Elite and had discovered Oolite (this is taken from their posts on this board - or deduced from comments on them). Of those 14, at least 4 confessed to having had major problems with the combat. Some, like your humble servant, may never have played Elite long enough to achieve combat competence there, but some may just have found Oolite combat too tough compared to what they were used to.
•2 were unclassifiable by me (as regards exposure to Elite) but one of those clearly achieved combat competence.
•Of the remaining 5 who had never played Elite, one found the combat too tough, and Hijong Park just threw in the towel without giving much detail.

He may well be the same Hijong Park who has a Youtube account demonstrating impressive prowess in a number of different games. Oolite has a noticeably more professional look than the games shown on that account. But despite his combat competence, in what I saw "Youtube Hijong Park" never grappled with more than 2 or 3 enemies at the same time - and in such cases he would always kill them with a single shot. The tougher enemies only appeared one at a time. These games were always in 2 dimensions, not 3. "Youtube Hijong Park" displayed a perfect command of the American language, so an inability to comprehend the game's instructions would not have been an issue. He has also written a number of games himself.

Government Health Warning: As previously adumbrated, it was not possible to judge Combat Competence in all cases, and the 26 who wrote into the Introduce Yourself topic were a subset of the 87 in total who joined during that period. Further, the 87 who joined were presumably a subset of those who restarted playing - or who downloaded 1.88 onto their computers.
__________________________________________________________________________________________________

First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

For my analysis - surprise! - I wish to consider Combat and Pirates.


Thesis: Combat with Pirates in Oolite 1.88 is too hard.

In Elite, I used to be able to be able to fight the pirates I encountered as I whizzed around the galaxy. Not only was I able to fight them, but by gum, I even won in the easier cases once I worked out what I was doing! I knew that if I had stuck with it, I would have achieved battle competence. In Oolite - after 2 months of play - I still spend all my time skulking in the corners with my finger poised over the fuel-injectors button in case another space craft appears on the scanner. I assume that "Grindalf" and "Alvinsanfran" utilise similar tactics (or did for some considerable time before developing combat competence). Ditto for "My Ammo Crate" (A Noob's *Very* Long Rant About Combat).

As we are all aware, there have been a number of changes in Oolite from the original Elite. Whilst the 8 galaxy structure is the same etc, the station interface (F4), the use of colour, the ability to handle mouses and joysticks etc are all major improvements.

For those of you who have finely honed your combat competence in hundreds of hours of combat in less demanding versions, the new combat is also clearly an improvement. But for those of us without, it is a major detraction from what is otherwise a superb and absorbing game. I suspect that I would derive much more game enjoyment from Aegidian's 2004 original - even though I would feel aesthetically deprived (I am entranced by the feel of 1.88 - the look of the universe, the detail of the space stations, the richness of the Coluber & Vimana HUDs etc).



Counterthesis: Combat in Oolite is more realistic.

•Pirates have brains and Darwinian Survival of the Fittest would weed out the more hopeless before I would ever get to them! Just as it weeds me out - and all the others who tried Oolite and chucked in the towel.
•Also, existence is demonstrably unfair (non-player-centric), and I should not expect everything to be laid out for me in a simple and manageable manner. Oolite - as it says on the front page of the Website - is set at a time of degeneration, degradation and decadence as the glorious government of Galcop crumbles into anarchy and conflict.



Objection to Counterthesis: How is it more realistic?

•Where are these hordes of pirates coming from?
•How on earth do they get their hands on these vast numbers of horribly expensive spaceships?

Are they wealthy multimillionaires who are already expert in flying and fighting and who just turn to a life of crime on a whim?
Are they seasoned pilots who turn to a life of crime (and who lose money by not trading & possibly lose their lives through their deliberate choice of perpetual confrontation an combat?)
Are they fledgling graduates of Lave Academy with unburnished combat skills who immediately turn to a life of crime?
Are they all disgraced or sacked army pilots (but where did they get their spaceships?).
Are they shipyard staff or others in the space stations who waylay the pilots, steal their keys and make off with their space craft (and are presumably unable to fly them)?
Are they Thargons in mufti?

And: the original pirate/combat system was also non-player centric.


Objection to Counterthesis: It is a damaging deviation from Elite

Ignoring the innumerable copies of copies, Elite sold over 800,000 copies across the various platforms http://wouter.bbcmicro.net/bbc/software ... elite.html. Oolite is free. It would be interesting to know how many downloads of each of the versions of increasing combat difficulty there have been since 2004. But Elite was playable by neophytes. The combat was soon manageable.
Yes, yes, the other games of the day were vastly inferior so Elite stood out. Once one school boy discovered it, he told all his chums. Oolite has none of those advantages. But Elite was very very playable by neophytes such as myself.

But I wonder how many of the current combat competent players would have persevered if they had started with Oolite 1.88 rather than an earlier & easier version - or Elite itself. Some would, definitely. But everybody now involved?
People will persevere and learn skills, but if it is too hard, many will just give up. I cannot but be convinced that that is the case with Oolite 1.88 I suspect that if Elite Dangerous did not charge and thus help ensure commitment to learning their game, that many fewer would persevere. Take a good hard look at Drew Wagar's videos - he is clearly adept at handling Elite and only Elite. He has forgotten the handling of the various Frontiers, he has forgotten the minor differences for Oolite and, crucially, seems bamboozled, bewildered and befuddled by the myriad, mounting and multiplying complexities of ED. He will not be alone.

As human beings, some of us love complexity. The joys of programming, the thrills of legal argumentation and casuistry, the exhilaration of the intricacies of classical rhetoric, the elegance of 11-dimensional string theory etc. Very few of us love it in all areas, and many of us disdain it. Baroque and Byzantine complexity for it's own sake will put many people off (as you yourself can tell in wading through this missive).

To succeed in Elite one could learn all the complexities while enjoying playing the game itself. Why can Oolite not still emulate that?



Counterobjection to the Objection to the Counterthesis: Tutorial & Expansions

These provide an easy way into the complexities of the game for neophytes such as your humble servant. And they are good.



Objection to the Counterobjection to the Objection to the Counterthesis

But the Tutorial in the Basic Game (& cim's combat simulator) insists on you staying within distance of the buoy. I personally find this a major pain in the unmentionables even whilst I understand the reasoning for it. And I'm useless at it. And this is NOT playing the game. It is doing a tutorial. In Elite I learned on the job - much, much more satisfying.

If I am correct in my analysis of the discussion of PHKB's population control expansion, whilst the quantity of pirates is reduced, there is no corresponding lobotimisation of their crania.



Conclusions

I feel that there is a very strong argument - if one wants this game to thrive (and appeal to more than a handful of combat-crazed neophytes) - for ripping out the disimprovements to pirate quantity and quality and returning in those areas to Aegidian's original code from 2004.

Those who desire 'realistic' pirate combat should be able to find it in yet another expansion. It is a complexity - and surely, complexities belong in the Expansion folder.

I am convinced that this change would retain many of those who would otherwise drift away into the void.



Concluding Postscript
•This does not - of course - answer the issues of how one publicises the game to a wider audience. It seems that only a very small proportion discover it.
•At this time I have only been playing Oolite for 2 months, and do not have the deeper knowledge of those who have remained loyal for decades. Also, I have a limited awareness of both the workings of the internet and of competing games.
•Finally, it is not impossible that the Blessed Braben and his Coruscating Cohorts may have insisted on these disimprovements to pirate quality and quantity as a quid-pro-quo for not suing and closing down Oolite. I would not want this and would rather spend the next few months skulking in the corners of the galaxy enjoying the vistas of the Orbital Graveyard, even if I never get to win a fight against the pirates.



Appendix

Analysis referenced in the Propaedeutic

I distinguish below between battle competence and games competence (ie ability to trade and equip cobra whilst fleeing combat)

Thy humble servant: Poor Elitist. Combat issues exist but unmentioned there (- just wanted to say "hello and thank-you" and not spoil it with a grumble)

Evilblade (non-Elitist; possibly already battle competent)

djzejms (competent enough - got to average in a weekend)

Milo’s return: non-elitist; perfectly capable of speaking for himself

Alyinsanfran (Elitist; avoided combat for 5 days but had the game competence to fully equip his cobra)

rhchclr (Elitist?)

Redyemist (non-Elitist?)

Hupynor (Elitist)

Nite Owl’s return: perfectly capable of speaking for himself

Scotty (Elitist; already battle competent)

Colaiuta (Elitist; already battle competent but flustered by the difficulties)

Lazyinthemorning (Elitist)

Robbeasys (Elitist; already battle competent)

Peristalsis (Elitist; already battle competent)

Blue Lake (Elitist; already battle competent)

Skyace65 (non-Elitist; he who found Godot; no other information)

iGregory (Elitist; other posts imply battle incompetence - like me)

Hjong Park (non-Elitist “I want to like oolite, but simply can’t. Everything feels tedious and frustrating”)

Phonebook’s return (Elitist, presumably battle competent)

Rese249er/Mike1six’s return (battle competent)

RogerSena (Elitist; sounds battle competent; dark sider)

Nicksta (can’t classify)

Grindalf (non-Elitist? marmalised in ’17 and gave up for 2 years, now just flees)

Sundiver’s return (battle competent)

BenThomWood (Elitist; presumably battle competent)

Chameleon (Elitist; battle competent)

_____________________


The missing context to really understand what is going on is
1) How many games were downloaded in that period (unknown known) and how many were actually played (unknown unknown).
2) How many of the downloaders gave up because of the combat - and how many gave up because of other reasons (eg: not bothering to read the information, not understanding the information, not finding the information, oolite not being their not their sort of thing and not finding the oxps which would change it for them, being linguistically challenged etc).

_____________________

Unexamined Concluding Postscript

Post by stranger » Mon Sep 17, 2018 11:49 pm
Really interesting message, Milo!
We had similar discussion in the Russian forum. We have a new generation of gamers who never had experience playing old good Elite and this new generation gets its first impressions on Oolite comparing it with modern games such ED or No Man's Sky.
I think Oolite is not just a successful Elite reincarnation with modern graphics. It is a quite mature and very interesting game in space simulators genre per se, and the most interesting aspect of Oolite is high degree of customization (really high comparing with commercial games).
But some aspects of Oolite seem too archaic and too cryptic for new gamers indeed. Text interface from the epoch of 8 bit computers with 48 KB memory is ugly, the lack of reprogrammed hotkeys providing fast access to equipment is terrible. And so on.
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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Cholmondely »

First Supplementary to the First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite
...In the January 1985 edition of The Micro User magazine, two readers letters were published outlining their angst and frustration at playing Elite. The first letter from Paul R. Lemon, Aintree, Merseyside starts by stating, “As soon as I saw the adverts I bought Elite, from Acornsoft. Having been a fan of Atari’s Star Raiders for years I couldn’t resist.” However, the next paragraph goes on to reveal how the reader is less than excited about the game since playing it, stating, “Today I am selling Elite! At 26 I’m reasonably coordinated and until now have had no problems with any computer game but Elite is beyond me. It’s infuriating and potentially dangerous for computers as I’ve never felt more like taking an axe to the keyboard.” From hereon in the reader continues to outline their reasoning behind their dislike of the game, blaming the poor quality of controls, and how although the game is graphically superior to other titles, the overall gameplay lets the game down as the combat sequences prove to be too difficult for the reader to continually overcome. This frustration is echoed by the second reader, A.M.D, Exeter, Devon, whose main complaint is the difficulty of the game from the start. This reader felt the game had a steep learning curve stating, “To get to even a friendly Corporate State planet on your first try you are besieged by countless enemy ships which eliminate you before you can even find them, never mind identify them”.

The long playing hours, open-ended possibilities and space-trading nature of Elite means it is often seen as being an innovative starting point in the creation of different game genres. To move from Harmless to Mostly Harmless to Poor to Average to Above Average to Competent to Dangerous to Deadly and finally Elite takes time and investment from the player, something that wasn’t built in to as many digital games at the time. This resulted in failure for quite a few players, a factor recognized by Juul in his book The Art of Failure. As Juul (2013, p. 5) notes, “players tend to prefer games that are somewhat challenging, and for a moment it can sound as if this explains the paradox -- players like to fail, but not too much”. In the case of Elite the game was not balanced enough for all players. This factor, combined with Elite offering a different style of gaming from point collection and quick play times, meant that not all players could adapt to the experience as easily as others. As A.M.D in the January 1985 issue of the Micro User concluded in the closing paragraphs of his letter about Elite to the magazine, “A game is only a game if it allows you a chance of winning. Continual failure is very depressing and I have quickly developed an anti-game attitude”.

These two letters caused such a debate among other readers that the entire Micro Mail reader’s letters section of the April 1985 issue of The Micro User magazine was dedicated this to ensuing conversation between different players of Elite who subsequently decided to write in. The ensuing comments ranged from similar voices of frustration with readers complaining about “being attacked and watching your energy decrease every second” as you are trying to save up for a docking computer to other players writing that “Elite is for the macho among us, and if you can’t cope then you must resort to other tactics”. By seeing these different responses to the game, it is possible to see how Elite was not a ‘Top 25 Game’ for all players, and its new, celebrated features were not features to be praised by all...
Excerpted from The Platform and the Player: exploring the (hi)stories of Elite by Dr Alison Gazzard

Taken from Game Studies: the international journal of computer game research
volume 13 issue 2 December 2013 ISSN:1604-7982
Sir Cody of El Viejo (Bart), Portcullis Pursuivant of the Galactic College of Heralds has finally extirpated the blot on our family eschutcheon!
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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Redspear »

Hi Cholmondely. That article's an interesting find...

An Elite Veteran's Confession

Way back when, I found the original Elite both enchanting and disappointing. After playing it for hours at a time for several days I just lost interest: quite simply the effort to reward ratio was too high for my pre-teen self. Like Hijong Park, I wanted to like Elite but simply wasn't enjoying playing it.

Months later I heard of a 'cheat' that worked with my version on the game (zx spectrum) and this inspired me to try again. If one timed the hyperspace coundown to ovelap with docking at a station then one would be docked at the station in the target system rather than the station actually approached. In other words: launch, flip over 180 degrees, initiate hyperspace to target system, dock in present system before hyperspace countdown expires and find yourself docked in your target system. So I could avoid all traffic, all combat and almost all of the difficulty associated with docking (being already perfectly aligned with the station that I had just launched from).

It was almost pure trading but by the time I was done I had a mightily well equipped ship (incl. docking computers) and could enjoy the game without the need for the cheat.

Even then you could hardly call the combats dogfighting. I'd slow to a stop and turn to target whichever ship I could and just take them down, as if I was operating a turret rather than flying a ship. However, being in a well equipped ship, sticking mostly to the safer systems, it worked. I might need to eject occasionally but it was genuinely exciting and fun!


Redemption of a Sort

Fast forward about seven years and for some reason I felt compelled to revisit elite but this time no cheating. Initially it was much more fun, with each upgrade granting a sense of earned satisfaction before the 'rinse and repeat' nature of the gameplay started to take its toll.

Many years on I've since demonstrated, at least to some degree, that Oolite is the much harder of the two games but it's interesting that avoiding the traffic (the spacelane in Oolite's case) remains a popular choice.

In Elite you could (with a little practice) reliably take on allcomers in safe systems without needing any upgrades to do so. In Oolite however, the same approach borders on in-game suicide. Running is sometimes an option but the time it takes to get to the station can be gruelling, especially if one is avoiding all combat (and therefore most of the excitenment).


Praise (...of a sort)

Where Oolite really improves upon the original IMHO is by adding much more variety. Contracts, missions, big ships, comms broadcasts etc. there's so much more to engage with. Perhaps unfortunately however, it also requires much more patience with which to do so.
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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Milo »

I recall complaining about the difficulty of combat when I first joined this community, as well. Even as a beginner, I did not find pirates difficult to avoid, once the almost-essential injectors were acquired, or with the torus drive "avoid the lane" option. With the Telescope OXP, it is even easier to avoid encounters that are not favorable. This is, certainly, an unfair advantage, but I am addicted to the increased visibility range provided by Telescope and wouldn't dream of playing without it. It is moderated by the fact that Telescope does not identify from beyond scanner range whether ships are hostile: it just shows their locations. Still, by avoiding packs that might be pirates, the same result is obtained.

For me, pirates are too easy to avoid. If I can evade them, why can't others? This comes back to the perennial debate about "why do traders fly in the lane" which should be answerable by "greater safety, greater efficiency, lower cost" but in practice appears less safe because it is predictable and police do not effectively deter piracy in the lane.

I still find hostile ships almost impossible to defeat "as intended." My combat victories are entirely due to a modified SniperLock OXP that replaces my incompetent aiming ability with an aim-bot that means I simply need to acquire a lock once and thereafter my ship will center on the target automatically. I rationalize that we have computers and autopilots in these ships, so why shouldn't those computers be able to steer the ship to maintain a target lock if I instruct it to do so? As I have no joystick and was unaware until yesterday of the CTRL+SHIFT+M option to enable mouse steering with yaw instead of roll, I find it very difficult (and not difficult fun, just difficult frustrating) to center a moving target manually. I have on a few occasions encountered cloaked ships that my SniperLock cannot follow, and it feels tedious and frustrating ("I can't make the ship do what I want it to do") even though I ultimately did manage to win most of those battles (so I guess my manual aiming skills have improved since I first started playing, or their AI was not competent enough, probably a combination of the two).

But my personal aim-bot cheat has exposed a different problem: I find that the AI doesn't flee realistically when I demonstrate that I am dangerous. I would expect after seeing a fellow pirate ship vaporized next to you in a matter of seconds, survival instinct would kick in and the rest of the pack would scatter, but that hardly ever happens. It might be that the "smart flee" AI is limited to pilots with higher accuracy, and I haven't seeded my Ooniverse with enough high-accuracy pilots. I am using Skills NPCs to increase their accuracy somewhat, but not all 10's. It might be that the "smart flee" AI doesn't sufficiently take into account what happens to other members of the group. This is something I haven't investigated yet.

Coming back to your thesis and counter-theses, firstly I agree with the design principle that the baseline difficulty of the game should be suitable for a wider audience, with more challenge available to players that want it.

I also question where the hordes of pirates come from, and the economics of piracy. To choose a high risk lifestyle, there must be high reward, and the typical reward for piracy (several hundred credits by selling goods you didn't pay for) seems heavily outweighed by the risk (ship destruction or death). The risk is reduced by teaming up with other pirates, but in teaming up the reward is also split. A pirate necessarily must sell the cargo they illicitly acquire, and where are they selling it? In low government / anarchy systems or black markets, presumably. What is the primary source of income of anarchy systems that allows them to pay for an endless stream of pirated goods using the GalCop-recognized currency?

Also, the "risk" to pirates has perhaps increased too much with the advent of better policing AI and bounty hunter AI. To improve "realism," one also could argue that there should be less risk for pirates (else they would choose other careers), so we should modify the game to have less baseline opposition mounted by the game against pirates. If the backdrop of the Ooniverse is the crumbling of GalCop, then the trend over time will be towards fewer police (too expensive to hire or replace) or less effective police (flying battered, old ships) in the majority of systems (all but the richest or highest TL). Perhaps the time period in which the game is set is still early in that trend, but the assumption is that the pirates and those who fund them are winning the overall conflict (which implies that they have economic -- or technological -- superiority, somehow).

So, if we accept the thesis that combat with pirates is too hard, what changes should we make?

Having enemies to fight is clearly desirable for a combat space sim. Antagonists provide a reason for upgrading one's ship. This leaves the question of whether it is better to have many incompetent foes or few but competent ones. Many incompetent foes provide cannon fodder for a player who enjoys the thrill of victory, whereas few but competent foes provide real challenge and more realism (+ non-player-centric gameplay).

Of course there is a third possibility, many competent foes. I think your thesis is that we have that already, and should move away from it.

For the baseline, many incompetent foes might be the more "fun" choice, even though it goes away from the design goal of avoiding player-centricity. If we pick that, it would call for hamstringing the pirates' AI (and/or increasing police/bounty-hunter participation and effectiveness).

In that case, I would approach the questions of "realism" from the perspective that we should devise plausible explanations. Maybe there is an anti-GalCop "cooperative of Anarchy systems" that wants to bring down the old order and is (somehow) funding the vast fleets of pirates. Maybe most pirates are hired mercenaries tasked with making things difficult for traders in one system to improve the bargaining position of another system. (This possibility is in fact implemented as a mission type in phkb's excellent GalCop Missions OXP).

However, I personally favor the other extreme: piracy is the profession of the skilled sociopath, and while there may be many sociopaths, there are few skilled enough to survive as pirates (outside Anarchy systems). Hence, we should encounter less pirates outside Anarchy systems, mostly they should be in small groups (to not split profits too much), their leaders should be highly-skilled high-bounty fugitives (although those bounties may be hidden with phkb's excellent Bounty System OXP), and the majority of their escorts should be competent fighters and they should have at least one bulk hauler in their group (which need not be combat skilled)... and these should be a real threat to even Iron Assed players and police should steer clear of them unless they have numerical superiority, but they don't threaten a player unless there is cargo to be obtained, and they don't attack a player who complies with their demands. Hence, for the beginner, the few but dangerous pirates become a tax on trading profits [but only when the player reaches a point in trading where their cargo quantity is large enough to be "attractive" to pirates ... in a Cobra III, they probably aren't worth the risk unless the system is very poorly policed], while for the advanced combat-skilled player, they are a fun challenge. I caveat that Anarchy systems are the havens for pirates, and hence one would expect to find many pirates there, with varying levels of skill (low-skill fugitives who survive as escorts for experienced pirates).

One might also find a preponderance of pirates in Multi-Government systems, wherein the chaos of vying (non-pirate) local factions affords pirates more opportunities to target unprotected traders (I think that the current rankings of Feudal and Multi-Government are reversed. Feudal systems have stable governance and so their ability to police their space-lanes should exceed that of Multi-Government Systems of comparable economic level).

Moreover, the majority of pirate groups should mimic the behavior of legitimate traders, flying slowly towards the station escorting their "cargo" ship(s) (they might have multiple bulk haulers in their group), until they see an opportunity to waylay an unsuspecting trader on the way. And they should prioritize targeting bulk cargo haulers over smaller ships, with an threat assessment based on the escort strength of the bulk hauler. If they reach the planetary aegis without finding a "good" opportunity, they should head for the sun (to skim, since as fugitives they can't get fuel from the station) and then jump out to try their luck in another system. If they do succeed in stealing some goods, then based on whether they are satisfied with the value of the goods obtained, they should either switch to a "go home to sell the cargo" AI routine (which could involve sun skimming as well, depending on LY to the nearest anarchy) or a "seek additional targets" AI routine (i.e., leave the victim behind and continue flying the lane towards the station, if there was no combat before their victim complied -- laser fire is visible from several scanner ranges away, so any combat should attract police/bounty hunters, which would limit the pirates' window of opportunity). If police/bounty hunters do show up, both sides should assess their relative odds of success before engaging, and if the police/bounty hunters are outmatched, they should engage cautiously (they are obliged to do so), and flee if they are losing (I think they are not obliged to suicide). Meanwhile, if the pirates are outmatched, they should disengage by immediately jumping out (they may first scoop available cargo if they think they can hold off the police / bounty hunters long enough).

In general, I think that pirates should not behave like pirates in systems where the closest anarchy is too far for them to have sufficient fuel to jump directly out to it after presumably having jumped in from the closest nearby system (not necessarily from the anarchy itself; they could have first jumped to another system, done some pirating there, sun skimmed, then jumped to the current system). In systems where the nearest anarchy is too far away to be reached if we assume they jumped in from the nearest system, pirate groups spawning at the witchpoint should be assumed to be fleeing police or bounty hunters from a prior system and should head directly to the sun to skim and then jump to the closest anarchy, although they could take advantage of any piracy opportunities on the witchpoint - sun lane. And occasionally some bounty hunters should appear at the witchpoint "following" them from their previous system. And these pirate groups should randomly have some decent cargo in their bulk haulers already (sometimes they were successful in the previous system, sometimes they weren't).

Also, bounty hunters should behave rationally, filling in for police in poorer systems, but also flying in groups, flying anti-lane (station to witchpoint), doing threat assessment against pirates they find, and fleeing or jumping out if the fight doesn't go in their favor (they aren't obliged they fight, they are in it for the profit). By having both police and bounty hunters patrolling up and down the lane regularly, and pirates mostly flying down-lane, it would explain why most traders fly in the lane too. There's a higher likelihood of assistance if they get attacked, even though they are more predictable there.
Last edited by Milo on Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:33 pm, edited 6 times in total.

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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Milo »

It occurs to me also that anarchy systems should be some of the safest systems for well-escorted traders, out of sheer economic necessity. If pirates shoot down the very ships trading with their anarchy homes, then their anarchy homes won't have any credits to pay for their ill-gotten goods. On the other hand, a lone trader venturing into an anarchy system without escorts is just begging to be relieved of their cargo, as they are clearly not affiliated with an established trading outfit and won't be missed.

(Whether or not the player has a bounty, and what their reputation is, should play a role in the welcome they receive in anarchy systems. "Look, if it isn't Commander ___. Finally saw the light and joined the winning side?")

Meanwhile, Anarchy systems are of course a prime hunting ground for bounty hunters, so anarchy systems should have groups of high-bounty high-fugitive pirates loitering near the witchpoint to intercept anyone that isn't welcome, and to follow any groups of "peaceful traders" that might be bounty hunters in disguise. (In a sense, bounty hunters in Anarchy systems are actually pirates in reverse, although they are seeking kill bounties and escape pod captures more than cargo; logically, they would bring along their own cargo haulers for bonus cargo and to disguise their intentions.)

The net effect of all the changes I've laid out, I think, would be more realistic behavior for pirates, police and fugitives, fewer pirates outside Anarchy systems, and safety in numbers... a strong incentive not to fight or fly solo, but instead to tag along with police or bounty hunters or fellow traders, as the case may be.
Last edited by Milo on Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by montana05 »

Milo wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:13 pm
It occurs to me also that anarchy systems should be some of the safest systems
Sorry, Milo, I disagree. Anarchy systems are (most likely) run by various groups, probably criminal. Whatever deal you have with one group another will probably oppose. Safty might be possible if your cargo is valid enough for your business partner to send strong escorts on your arrival.
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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Milo »

I like the idea of pirate escorts waiting at the Anarchy witchpoint to join up with non-fugitive incoming traders, that would be great to see.

My point is that there has to be a way for non-fugitive traders to successfully and consistently trade between anarchies and non-anarchies, or else the anarchies' economies can't plausibly have a supply of GalCop credits with which to purchase illicit pirated goods. They would run out of credits. They could switch to Anarchy Credits or some other currency, if they really are sustaining their economy entirely through piracy. But I don't find that plausible. They have to trade with the rest of the galaxy.

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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by montana05 »

Milo wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:45 pm
My point is that there has to be a way for non-fugitive traders to successfully and consistently trade between anarchies and non-anarchies, or else the anarchies' economies can't plausibly have a supply of GalCop credits with which to purchase illicit pirated goods
Good point, unfortunately RL proofs otherwise. I had some experience in the past in countries which basically were controlled by warlords or crime syndicates. Without connections it was close to impossible to do (successfully) anything. But well, Oolite is a SF game, who knows how human nature will be in the future ? :wink:
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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Cholmondely »

(I think that the current rankings of Feudal and Multi-Government are reversed. Feudal systems have stable governance and so their ability to police their space-lanes should exceed that of Multi-Government Systems of comparable economic level).... Milo


My sainted Aunt Samantha, finally - finally (!) someone in the modern day and age who can recognise at least some of the inherent superiority of Feudalism!

I have instructed Thaddeus, our major-domo, that he should forthwith issue an invitation for you - and, of course, your most gracious wife - to the next masque ball at our main estates at the Ducal Manse (just to the south-west of the Dark Desert of Digebiti) on 2084030:18:00.

Dress will be Full Gala (I am sure that we can lend you a wig if necessary - what size do you take?) and I presume that you must obviously have the requisite expertise in the gavotte as a gentleman of discernment and evident quality (You really must let me know if not, so that I can ensure that Benedict will arrange tuition for both of you as required). Are there any gastronomic infelicities that I should instruct our chefs to avoid?

I really hope you don't mind, but I was so blown away by the profound and enduring insight of your missive that I simply had to share it with cousin Cuthbert. He was most deeply impressed, and I harbour a strong suspicion that yet another invitation will be following on the heels of ours. His dynastic pile is on the other side of the planet - I am in hope that that should not present you with any problems.

Will you require an escort to our glorious planet? Please advise.

I beg to remain, Sir, your most obedient servant,

Cholmondeley.
Sir Cody of El Viejo (Bart), Portcullis Pursuivant of the Galactic College of Heralds has finally extirpated the blot on our family eschutcheon!
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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Redspear »

montana05 wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 3:55 pm
Good point, unfortunately RL proofs otherwise. I had some experience in the past in countries which basically were controlled by warlords or crime syndicates. Without connections it was close to impossible to do (successfully) anything. But well, Oolite is a SF game, who knows how human nature will be in the future ?
The original Elite manual (which was largely responsible for my interest in the game) hinted at an in-game solution which was AFAIK never implemented: greater rewards for trading with dangerous systems. Less supply therefore more demand and the opposite for outgoing goods. This could also contribute to a vicious circle of paying more and getting less thereby contributing to a tendency for piracy.

Oolite can be very hard for beginners and perhaps a little too easy for veterans. That's a problem that appears hard to fix but it needn't be. Government used to be translateable to 'difficulty' or 'danger level' and that's still (mostly true), so why no increase the range of difficulty rather than the average?

So corporates and democracies could be made considerably easier whilst also making feudals and anarchies considerably more difficult. Problem then of course is that the rewards are essentialy equal regardless of which systems you trade to but there are oxps to address this (e.g. my own Weapon Laws). But right away contrats would be affected: 'do I really need to go through that anarchy system?'

Obvious point to make is that such a solution is both overly simplistic and predictable. Well, I've been here before but simplistic is often good game design and predictable is what makes it useful. Want another complication? then use something like population size. If an anarchy creates or attracts more pirates then why not a larger one create/attract more?
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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Milo »

Good point, unfortunately RL proofs otherwise.
RL has multiple currencies and the costs of driving or walking goods around on foot and paying bribes in RL must be far less than the costs of equipping a space ship in Oolite. No one would trade with anarchies if they couldn't have a reasonable expectation of safety or a huge profit opportunity. Arguably, from the profit side, anarchies should have buy goods at higher prices than other systems to reflect increased demand due to fewer traders willing to take the risk, and to balance that increased profit opportunity, the risk of being attacked as a lone un-escorted trader who doesn't have a mission to deliver goods to the system should be higher.
Redspear wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:04 pm
The original Elite manual (which was largely responsible for my interest in the game) hinted at an in-game solution which was AFAIK never implemented: greater rewards for trading with dangerous systems. Less supply therefore more demand and the opposite for outgoing goods. This could also contribute to a vicious circle of paying more and getting less thereby contributing to a tendency for piracy.
Exactly so.

I like the idea that if you have a contract to deliver goods to an anarchy system, an escort group may be waiting for you at the witchpoint to ensure your safe arrival to the station.

Currently we have GalCop stations in all anarchy systems (Anarchies OXP introduces Renegade Stations in some systems within the lane, but still the main station is GalCop), reflecting that pirates have not fully taken over these systems, but at the same time GalCop doesn't manage to police these systems beyond a token effort. I suppose my idea of pirate groups just loitering always at the witchpoint might be taking it too far, though.

I suppose the Galactic Navy is busy fighting the thargoids and can't (or won't) spare resources to help GalCop police the anarchy systems; it's the responsibility of the planets to pay for security in their space lanes, and if the planet is in a state of anarchy, that's their problem, not GalCop's - even if it creates a problem for nearby systems by providing a safe(r) haven for pirates.

Also, since fugitive pirates can't trade with main stations even in anarchies, pirates must have fences -- pilots who are offenders or less -- to sell their goods at GalCop stations. Perhaps the cargo ships that are part of the pirates' escort groups try to avoid themselves engaging in combat or scooping up stolen cargo in view of police, thereby keeping their legal slate technically clean even though they are obviously "with" the pirates. But when that goes wrong and their team "cargo" ship gets a bounty, pirates must arrange to meet other "clean" traders (perhaps outside the lane) to pass over ill-gotten goods to be sold on their behalf ... or the pirates must sell them at non-GalCop markets.
Redspear wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:04 pm
Oolite can be very hard for beginners and perhaps a little too easy for veterans. That's a problem that appears hard to fix but it needn't be. Government used to be translateable to 'difficulty' or 'danger level' and that's still (mostly true), so why no increase the range of difficulty rather than the average?
I like this approach, but it stills leave the question of whether the more dangerous systems have many-pirates-as-cannon-fodder or few-sophisticated-pirates.
Last edited by Milo on Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:35 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Milo »

Cholmondely wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 5:59 pm
gavotte
My dear Cholmondeley, surely you cannot seriously mean that the cultured English colonials of Digebiti have adopted so gauche and plebian a manner of cotillion as the gavotte?

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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Redspear »

Milo wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:20 pm
Redspear wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 6:04 pm
Oolite can be very hard for beginners and perhaps a little too easy for veterans. That's a problem that appears hard to fix but it needn't be. Government used to be translateable to 'difficulty' or 'danger level' and that's still (mostly true), so why no increase the range of difficulty rather than the average?
I like this approach, but it stills leave the question of whether the more dangerous systems have many-pirates-as-cannon-fodder or few-sophisticated-pirates.
Why not both?

As long as 'cannon-fodder' in greter numbers equates to greater danger. So that would be greater pack size rather than just greater encounter rate. Your smaller pack sizes in such systems would suit more dangerous pilots/vessels and then of course you could combine the two extremes.

Three obvious factors:
  • Pirate numbers
  • Police presence
  • Pirate capability (skill + equipment)
There are a few others you could add to that list but these three could all reasonably by directly affected by government type/stability.
There are nearly always complicating factors that could be added but, at least when it comes to gameplay, I think adding complexity usually results in dimininshing returns.
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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by Cholmondely »

Sir Milo,

it is quite obvious that a gentleman of your exquisite taste and superior breeding must possess at least membership in one of the orders of knighthood if not a baronetcy itself. Might I enquire if you are - as Cuthbert indeed suspects - that Sir Milo of Maregeis, Grand Knight Commander of the Beatific Order of the Besters of the Barbaric Bots? If so, you may recall that he and you met briefly some four years ago at the Betrothal of one of the Barons of Bedierat in the Second Galaxy. Cuthbert was attired in puce pantaloons partnered with a crimson cravat. Or is he confused?

As my betrothed, Araminta feared might transpire, you are sadly acquainted solely with the Geisgezan Gavotte - a vulgar display of animality and aminadversion requiring the lifting of the left foot on the second beat, in a sort of stunted canter, accompanied by a tremulous twitch of the thumbs and left earlobe. The Geisgezans, who suffer under a grinding gynarchy, apparently developed this most bizarre display of gymnastics in an symbolic attempt to re-assert their individuality. Under the influence of some of the most notorious narcotics and a metallic musical cadenza, this gruesome and ghastly concatenation of contortions spread from the surface of their planet to a number of the surrounding systems, where you doubtless encountered some of its erstwhile proponents.

Nay, Sir Milo, I must perforce educate you. I refer - of course - to the gracious and gleeful Galaedian Gavotte, which currently is much in vogue here on Digebiti. On the third beat, one raises ones head to larboard, and holding one's lady gently by the waist, leads her with great delicacy and determination into a widdershins weave of some 13 steps, whilst wandering westwards with great aplomb. Please inspect the relevant Entry in Theramoan's Terpsichorean Treatise of Tentative Two-steps. You might also care to peruse the brief sketch in the Smivian Synopsis of Steps of Sovereignty.

Enough! We must off to hunt the Snark.

Araminta and I look forwards with ardent anticipation to making your acquaintance at the apposite instant.

Yours sincerely,

Cholmondeley.
Sir Cody of El Viejo (Bart), Portcullis Pursuivant of the Galactic College of Heralds has finally extirpated the blot on our family eschutcheon!
Cousin Digby, Duke of the Dismal Deserts, has granted him Officership of the Order of the Opulent Ooniverse.

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Re: The First Amphiboly of the Architectonic of Oolite

Post by phkb »

Cholmondely wrote:
Sun Jul 26, 2020 11:50 pm
Cuthbert was attired in puce pantaloons partnered with a crimson cravat
That is just brilliant! Thank for you a laugh out loud moment today.

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