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 Post subject: [Beta] Space Crowds
PostPosted: Sat Sep 23, 2017 1:28 pm 
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Space Crowds (SC) is basically a heavy modification of Deep Space Pirates. The changes are:
- It is more focused on populating the "long lanes" than guarding the main lanes against "cheaters". SC is triggered by the use of the Torus drive rather than the location,
- It takes into account the base speed of your ship so the number of encounters is roughly function of the distance you travel with the Torus engaged,
- It is less player-centric: it doesn't increase the number of ships spawn depending on your kills, and it spawns equally pirates, hunters, police, traders and very rarely Thargoids ships.

Right now it spawns up to 10 ships taken randomly from the roles cited above. It needs to be more "structured" and choose randomly scenarios instead (a viper patrol vs pirates, a group of hunters vs a pack of pirates, a trader convoy vs a couple of Thargoids, miners in a field of boulders, a pack of space jellies, etc.) so the ships can be spawned in groups and exhibit a more cohesive behavior.

I need testers in order to tune the frequency of the encounters. I experience about half a dozen encounters in an Adder with KeeperSky installed (it modifies the planet-sun distance).
If you're willing to test it, please include in your report the ship you are using and the average distances you travel (should be available in F4, "in-system distances"), so I can have a better idea of what you mean by "too often" or "not often enough".

You can download Space Crowds from my Google drive (download icon on the top right). Just copy the OXZ in your AddOns folder. Don't forget to disable Deep Space Pirates.


Last edited by Astrobe on Thu Sep 28, 2017 11:48 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: [Beta] Space Crowds
PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 1:41 am 
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I have tested this oxz and find it to be just what the doctor ordered in the respect of long uneventful journeys to stations for extra planets in regards to in system trading, I am not a big fan of Deep Space Pirates because ostensibly they are designed solely to attack me. In this oxz I have found that Pirates are often involved in their own fights ...before turning their attention on me. .. I think this oxz comes very close to a more realistic populating of a system in moving away from the main lane having all the activity and catering for the possibility that some of us are in system traders. Thank you :)

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 Post subject: Re: [Beta] Space Crowds
PostPosted: Thu Sep 28, 2017 12:16 pm 
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Version 0.2 is out - I have updated the link in the first post.

Ships are spawned in groups, so they may adopt formation flight etc.

Encounter scenarios have been created. The default encounters are:
- small packs (up to 5 ships) of traders, pirates, hunters, police
- pirates versus police (up to 5vs5)
- pirates versus traders (up to 5vs5)
- pirates versus hunters (up to 5vs5)
- boulder fields (up to 20 boulders). Boulders were preferred to asteroids because it's less obvious they "pop" in front of your ship.
- rare: traders versus thargoids (up to 5vs5)
- rare: police versus thargoids (up to 5vs5)
- rare: tharmageddon (up to 10 thargoid ships)
- rare: pirate net (up to 10 spread-out ships, more difficult to avoid)

"Rare" encounters have together 1% chance to happen.

Internally, I have created a small interface to allow other OXPs to add more encounter scenarios (for instance, a flock of stellar serpents...). I have yet to test it is actually usable.
If one uses the default scenarios (or the internal spawning function) to build a new scenario, then the ships that have been spawned are automatically removed when they are not visible anymore (like DSP did), so one may spawn a large number of ships for an encounter without overloading Oolite in the long run.


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 Post subject: Re: [Beta] Space Crowds
PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:06 am 
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I've been playing with this pack for a decent amount of time, and on the whole I enjoy the flavour it adds to ship interactions. In my game I've extended the wp-planet and planet-sun distances, so I get a good lot of encounters on my journeys.

I would, though, suggest the following:
(1) As soon as you have an encounter, the overall chance for any other encounter in that system lessens. This will mean a general decreasing of the chance to have an encounter the longer you're in a system. The purpose being to avoid player's building up expectations of when their next encounter will happen.
(2) As soon as you have a particular type of encounter, it should be extremely unlikely to have the same one again in that system. So, if I stumble on a group of pirates beating up some traders, then inject around them and continue on my way, I shouldn't then run into another pack of pirates picking on another group of traders. Otherwise things start to get repetitive very quickly.
(3) Avoid pointing anything directly into the player's path. Kind of devastating if that something is a boulder! But also, it starts to look contrived if everything is appearing in a 5k radius of the player's current direction. I'd suggest expanding the default radius out to 22E3 to avoid this.

I'm looking forward to see this OXP develop!

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 Post subject: Re: [Beta] Space Crowds
PostPosted: Wed Oct 04, 2017 6:07 pm 
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Quote:
(1) As soon as you have an encounter, the overall chance for any other encounter in that system lessens. This will mean a general decreasing of the chance to have an encounter the longer you're in a system. The purpose being to avoid player's building up expectations of when their next encounter will happen.
I agree on the purpose but not on the solution, because this solution will let the player know that, say, after 4 encounters there are 4 times less chances to have an encounter. Worst case is someone who reads the code or this thread, but it would certainly be deduced from experience as well. I was sort of bitten by "hidden mechanisms" recently with my lucky charm, so I'd prefer to avoid that. A somewhat weaker argument is that there's no "natural" reason for the decrease.
I see two possible ways to break patterns:
- I can introduce a couple of "empty" encounters scenarios. Space Crowds would "trigger" but nothing would happen, which could "break" a bit the distribution of the encounters over time which is probably some sort of bell curve.
- Currently I do not take into consideration the safety/population/... of the system. I can introduce this parameter in the encounter scenarios, and this could also lead to "empty" encounters.
Quote:
(2) As soon as you have a particular type of encounter, it should be extremely unlikely to have the same one again in that system. So, if I stumble on a group of pirates beating up some traders, then inject around them and continue on my way, I shouldn't then run into another pack of pirates picking on another group of traders. Otherwise things start to get repetitive very quickly.
I can make it so that an encounter that just happened is inactive for the next round, but it introduces a rather strong predictability. Introducing counters and weighing probabilities with them is the kind of complication I wanted to avoid, and has the same problem but less noticeable though.

I was hoping to fight this issue with just more encounter scenarios. The problem is that the choices are pretty limited, unless you go for somewhat extraordinary encounters which are currently in the "rare" category (thargoids mainly but I also have a stellar serpent encounter as a demo extension in my bag). There's also the problem that not too many of them can be "just boring masslocks" (some players are quite short-tempered with masslocks :-)).

I can imagine (or dream about) normal encounters scenario like a pirate ambush in an asteroid field (which would indirectly increase the value of the "just boulders" encounter) , but that would require masslocking boulders (as a general rule) and a special AI (which would appear as rocks on the scanner as long as it doesn't move). Or some sort of encounter with ships neither hostile nor neutral that would require some sort of negotiation to pass safely. There's probably more nice ideas that have been implemented in other OXPs (I'm thinking about one OXP that introduce exclusion zones) and could be stolen - I mean reused.

Right now I can add "a couple of cargo canisters or metal fragments" as an encounter. They should be uncommon - somewhere between normal and rare - so I can implement it as as common encounter with an extra dice roll (would help with point 1 too)

I should just release the OXZ so that more people can install it easily from the manager and get more feedback and encounter ideas.
Quote:
(3) Avoid pointing anything directly into the player's path. Kind of devastating if that something is a boulder! But also, it starts to look contrived if everything is appearing in a 5k radius of the player's current direction. I'd suggest expanding the default radius out to 22E3 to avoid this.
You're totally right on this. The small spawn radius is a residual of the first version in which ships had the tendency to ignore each other because they were not spawned in groups (I believe). I was also probably influenced by the fact that I play with Shaky Drive which require me to constantly correct the trajectory (should update that one too - the constant stirring in a certain direction is unnecessary and should be used as a damaged thrusters effect instead) and sort of moves the spawned ships slightly out of my way, so I didn't notice that they were spawned right ahead with no randomization.

For the boulders it was deliberate though, I see them as a natural danger in space to be avoided. I'm fine with moving them to a more cosmetic role (though they are there also for miner-players), knowing that the randomization make them still a threat (only less "right in your face, ha!").

Thanks for the feedback and suggestions.


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