(Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

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phkb
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(Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by phkb »

OK, TL;DR starts here. Jump to "Start Point!" to avoid the preamble.

I started a new commander recently, partly for testing purposes and partly to recall what the early game feels like. I ship out of Lave, find a good milk run and start grinding. In my primary game my ship is fully kitted out, and I tend to stay on the lane so I can enjoy a few encounters with pirates or assassins. By default I stayed on the lane for this new start.

Unfortunately I had forgotten that a Confederacy is actually not that safe, and the likelihood of meeting at least one group of pirates is actually fairly high. Which is what happened about half-way to the station - I met a group of 6 pirates. So I start dog-fighting with them with my trusty laser-pointer Pulse laser, but I quickly realised that (a) it is going to take forever to splash this many pirates, and (b) I didn't have ECM, so I'd be super-vulnerable to missile attacks. So I give up on fighting and start fleeing. I probably should have given them a few tons of cargo, but I was flying a Cobra Mk I with only 10t of space so I wasn't packing any pirate-kibble, just my precious computers. The main station is a long way away, I have almost bingo fuel so I can't inject away, so I settle in for a long game of dodge-ball.

Sometime later, having made myself quite dizzy doing a "spiral" maneuver, another group of ships comes into range. Then I drop out of red alert - Yes! the new group of ships have started attacking the pirates! I'm saved.

I'm not sure what happened next, but suddenly I'm at red alert again. All the dots on my scanner are red. I'm hit multiple times with lasers from two directions, and my ship breaks apart around me, a few drifting tons of computers the only evidence of my demise.

This proved to me that (a) I need to find a safer milk run that leaves me with enough fuel to inject out of trouble, and (b) my ship, in it's current form, is not suited for dog-fighting. I need upgrades. Which means I need cash. Which means I need to trade-trade-trade.

So I started doing what a lot of new pilots end up doing - heading off the lane to avoid pirate interference. This lead to much faster transit times, and a much faster rate of trade. But it was rather dull. The only "scary" point was immediately after a jump, before I've cleared the witchpoint area, where ambitious pirates might be waiting. After that though it was a snooze.

"Start Point!"

All of that preamble was essentially to bring up the issue of going off-lane to avoid (potentially deadly) encounters on the lane where most of the traffic is spawned. Going off-lane effectively neuters the early game - sure, it might be fun to start with, but after the 30th iteration of the same milk run, not having met anyone or even needed to warm up the injectors, it starts to lose its appeal. I think everyone is in agreement that this is a shame - the fun and excitement of Oolite is being deliberately avoided during the early game.

My experience got me thinking about solutions to this problem. This has been discussed before and at some length (see here for one recent example) and some fixes have been attempted (eg Deep Space Pirates, VariableMassLock, Synchronised Torus). But then I thought, what if the game rewarded the player for flying along the lane? That way, going off-lane is still supported, but there would be gentle encouragement by way of a nice cash bonus for doing it the way the game is actually designed.

So I got my coding hat on and put together a simple solution I'm calling the "Space Lane Adherence Bonus", or SLAB for short. The OXP works out 10 key checkpoints along the lane, and then monitors the player's proximity to those checkpoints. If the player gets within 2 times scanner range of a checkpoint, it gets flagged. The more checkpoints that are flagged, the higher the bonus. I've taken the players Elite ranking and the system government into consideration for the calculations, so more dangerous systems will result in a higher award. Here's the details of the calculation:

Code: Select all

Credits per space lane checkpoint flagged
                    Anarchy      Feudal       Multi-Gov     Dictatorship  Communist    Confederacy  Democracy   Corp.State
Harmless            30           25           20            15            10           5            2           1
Mostly Harmless     30           25           20            15            10           5            2           1
Poor                25           20           15            10            5            2            1           1
Average             20           15           10            5             2            1            1           0
Above Average       15           10           5             2             1            1            0           0
Competent           10           5            2             1             0            0            0           0
Dangerous           5            2            1             0             0            0            0           0
Deadly              0            0            0             0             0            0            0           0
Elite               0            0            0             0             0            0            0           0
For example, a "Poor" rated player who passes 7 checkpoints in a Dictatorship system will get: 7 checkpoints x 10 cr per point = 70 credits. A "Harmless" player who enters an Anarchy system and by some miracle flags every checkpoint on the lane will get a 300 cr payout.

The bonuses aren't a lot, as I want to avoid the situation of just flying around for cash. The rewards drop as your rating goes up, and after you reach the level of "Deadly" they disappear altogether - a deadly pilot should be able to take on anyone, anywhere. And just tooling around democracy or corp states will barely cover the cost of fuel. I don't mean this to be a complete solution to the issue. In my example above, 6 pirates should have ignored a lowly Cobra Mk I as irrelevant, so maybe some AI logic could benefit from some tweaking. But maybe this idea can contribute something to the discussion.

So, here's a link to the Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXZ (version 1.2). This is open for discussion and feedback of course. Should the rewards be higher? Should they disappear sooner (eg for "Dangerous" or "Competent" commanders)? Let me know what you think. If someone else has suggested something like this method as a possible solution please let me know so I can add their name to the credits.

Note: The other issue noted about going off-lane - to just speed up the time it takes to get to the station - isn't directly addressed with this OXP, although my hope is that the cash bonus will encourage some players to stay the course.

(If I don't get any bug reports I'll upload this to the manager shortly)
Last edited by phkb on Sun Nov 06, 2016 1:47 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by Cody »

I'd be more inclined to fine the player for leaving the spacelane - but that's just me!
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by Norby »

Looks good, in addition I think the source of the money need background. Imho the local authority could pay a few credits for reconnaissance. Assuming a common distress signal channel is usable to forward "nothing here" messges also then this could worth a credit from not too dense locations.

No local authority in Anarchy so I think the payment always 0 there. Even novice players could easily memorize that Anarchies are too dangerous.
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by Norby »

Cody wrote:fine the player for leaving the spacelane
Sounds good to me at the good end of the government scale, where there are enough people who accepts to pay fines to keep up safety and not always circumvent it and rendering worthless. So imho in Democracy and Corp.State could be some additional fine.
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by Astrobe »

Cody wrote:I'd be more inclined to fine the player for leaving the spacelane - but that's just me!
I don't like free money either, but fines would definitely be against one of the goals (make money a bit faster at the beginning).

A more "acceptable" option in my view would be to let the ship refuel over time while on the lane (or refuel a small quantity near each checkpoint). The explanation for it is easier to find, it makes the player safer but not too much, and if one doesn't burn it you get a small money bonus because you don't have to refuel at the station.
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by Redspear »

Sounds very similar to this idea (about half way down my post) although you've added a variable for player combat rating and offered rewards rather than fines.

Astrobe's idea of fuel as the bonus rather than cash is interesting but the beginner being jumped by six pirates at once remains an issue. Should the player have a 'target rating' based on value of cargo and legal status? Pirate packs hunt for big rewards whilst the smaller groups tackle smaller fish.
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by Astrobe »

Redspear wrote:the beginner being jumped by six pirates at once remains an issue. Should the player have a 'target rating' based on value of cargo and legal status? Pirate packs hunt for big rewards whilst the smaller groups tackle smaller fish.
True, but I think it's beyond the scope of this OXP. Briefly, I see two leads: teach the AI when to give up (because in my experience what happens quite often is that a bunch of pirates follow you forever while being unable to kill you), and provide more ways to escape those situations (e.g. single-use cloak device, boosters, mine clusters,...). I don't want to hijack this thread so I won't elaborate on this here.
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by phkb »

Cody wrote:I'd be more inclined to fine the player for leaving the spacelane
That's certainly another option - I was going for the touchy-feely-encouragement sort of thing. You know, the carrot, rather than the stick.
Redspear wrote:Sounds very similar to this idea (about half way down my post) although you've added a variable for player combat rating and offered rewards rather than fines.
It is, and it's perhaps in thinking about the issue that your suggestion fed this one, so thanks!
Norby wrote:Sounds good to me at the good end of the government scale
Possibly the "Space Lane Adherence Penalty" OXP, (ie SLAP. You'd get slapped with a fine! Ha! Gosh I'm so funny...)

Ahem.
Norby wrote:I think the source of the money need background.
I did put something of an explanation in the readme file. It says:
GalCop has noted a disturbing trend among commanders to leave the space-lane at the witchpoint, and stay off it altogether until they arrive at the main station. This is disturbing because much of GalCop's resources are directed into policing the space lane, and if pilots are actively avoiding it then all those resources are effectively wasted. The space lanes were created to aid in the task of keeping commanders safe, and if they are avoiding it there could be tragic repercussions.

So, to partially address this issue, GalCop has, with the assistance of the Elite Federation and various pilot groups, funded a monetary bonus that can be awarded to pilots who fly along the space lane. This bonus, known as the "Space Lane Adherence Bonus", will be paid to pilots upon docking at the main station, and will be calculated based on the pilot's Elite Federation rating, and the understood danger level of the system. It is hoped this bonus will encourage commanders to stay on the space lane and thereby assist GalCop with the task of keeping the spacelanes safe.
Norby wrote:no local authority in Anarchy so I think the payment always 0 there.
I guess my current logic is kind of reversed to this - going the full length of the space lane in an Anarchy gives the greatest return. Doing that in a Corp State only pays trifles. (Mmm, trifle...wait, sorry, distracted for a moment there).
Astrobe wrote:A more "acceptable" option in my view would be to let the ship refuel over time while on the lane (or refuel a small quantity near each checkpoint).
This could work if there was some form of visible entity at which ships could draw up to and pick up their 1ly (or 0.5ly) quota of fuel. Just awarding fuel without doing anything but fly along the lane would be a bit harder to explain, I think.
phkb wrote:I don't mean this to be a complete solution
It's worth repeating. The issue is complex, with a lot of possibilities and implications. If this can contribute something to the conversation then it was worth sharing.
Last edited by phkb on Sat Oct 15, 2016 6:32 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by Astrobe »

One could use a lottery game instead of a direct reward: a checkpoint gives a lottery ticket, and the player could win CR rewards.
For instance, a ticket would have:
1/10 chances to win 10Cr
1/100 chances to win 200Cr
1/1000 chances to win 4000Cr
etc.
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Re: (Release) Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP

Post by Redspear »

phkb wrote:
Redspear wrote: Sounds very similar to this idea (about half way down my post) although you've added a variable for player combat rating and offered rewards rather than fines.
It is, and it's perhaps in thinking about the issue that your suggestion fed this one, so thanks!
You're welcome :)
phkb wrote:
phkb wrote: I don't mean this to be a complete solution
It's worth repeating. The issue is complex, with a lot of possibilities and implications. If this can contribute something to the conversation then it was worth sharing.
Very true I think and it does contribute, so thanks.
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