Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

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Rekrul
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Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Rekrul »

Yes, I know there are other threads on this, but I wanted to add my two cents...

I spent a lot of time playing Elite on the C64. I also played the Amiga version quite a bit, which although the graphics were faster and nicer, felt kind of hollow next to the C64 version. In both versions, it was hard, but possible to fight off a group of pirates with just a pulse laser. I once even survived a misjump into witchspace with just a pulse laser.

In Oolite, it doesn't even seem possible to survive a pirate attack, no matter what type of weapons you have. Unless you spend the entire fight running away and firing with a rear military laser, which doesn't seem like much fun to me. Half the fun of the original Elite was in the dogfighting with other ships.

First, in Oolite you never get attacked by anything less than five pirates at a time, and 7-8 is more likely. Due to the improved and shaded graphics, ships are EXTREMELY hard to see at a distance, so much so that half the time I literally can't see a damn thing other than the lasers coming at me. Getting close enough to actually see any of the ships well enough to target them is guaranteed suicide because while I'm chasing one ship, the rest just pummel me into oblivion. I can barely get 1-2 hits on an enemy ship before the others destroy me. Even if I had a military laser it wouldn't make any difference, when I can't even survive long enough to fire at a single ship more than a couple times.

All the threads I've read suggest using an easier starting point, avoiding combat until you have better weapons, etc. My question is; What difference do better weapons make when a giant group of pirates can kill you before you can even target a single ship?

Maybe I just suck, but I don't see how you're meant to survive pirate encounters when your ship has about a 10 second life expectancy in a dogfight. Unless you're flying in a spiral pattern, a group of pirates will turn you into dust in about 10-20 seconds. Is there equipment available later in the game to dramatically increase the strength of your shields? Are you expected to trade in your Cobra mk3 for a heavily armored warship once you get enough money? Because those are the only ways I can see myself ever being able to survive an actual fight.

I love the graphics and the effects, but the pew-pew-pew, you're dead, kind of kills my enthusiasm for playing the game. I don't want the game to be super easy, but actually having a chance of surviving a fight would be nice.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Cody »

Welcome aboard, Commander!

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Disembodied »

Hi Rekrul, welcome to the boards! You might find the Population Control OXZ to be useful - see the thread here:

http://www.aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=20183

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by GearsNSuch »

Welcome aboard, Commander!

Combat in Oolite is no walk in the park, even for experienced commanders. The enemies hit hard, are capable pilots and, like you mentioned, tend to spawn in big groups.

Some things I have found helpful are:
• Equipment. The Advanced Targeting System will help you see where your enemies are and keep tracked on them. Fuel injectors also are a valuable combat tool, allowing you to dodge fire and hit your enemies from unexpected positions and, if the need arises, flee an engagement. They greatly increase your life expectancy. When you make enough credits, the Shield Boosters and Extra Energy Unit will greatly boost your chances of survival. The Beam Laser and Military Laser are also helpful for delivering more consistent damage.
• Route Planning. If you avoid the more dangerous systems, such as Anarchies, Multi-Government systems, and Feudal states, you should have less chance of getting jumped by pirates and be able to beef up your ship.
• Key Remapping. It helps to move some keys around in the keyconfig.plist. I personally moved the yaw keys to "a" and "d," injectors to "q" and fire weapons to "space." If you need help with this, I or many of the other fine fellows on the forum would be more than happy to help you.
• Practice. This is probably the most important part. Try creating a new save file, cheating to give yourself some extra credits and equipment, and heading in to combat situations you know you can't win. Try spiraling and looping, like you said, throwing enemies off your tail, and just experiment with surviving as long as you can.

Also, there are some add-ons available through the expansion pack manager that don't make the game too easy but help a lot with combat:
• Fast Target Selector allows you to visualize who you're targeting and not lose track of them as easily.
• Multiple lasers gives a bit more punch to your shots if you feel comfortable with aiming.
• N-Shields allows you to see what level your enemies' shields are at.
• Combat Simulator allows you to practice fighting in a controlled environment.

Sorry for the info dump. Combat takes a lot of time to get used to, but with the proper equipment and, most importantly, practice, you will be able to shoot your way to a top position. Good luck, and fly safely!

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Cody »

Yaw? <chortles>

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by GearsNSuch »

Cody wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:22 pm
Yaw? <chortles>
It's actually quite useful, yaw hear?

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Cody »

<grins> Yaw's more than useful, it's a real edge! Even the weasels at FD nerfed yaw (though I wonder if that's still the case).




Assuming NPCs haven't gained that ability.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Rekrul »

GearsNSuch wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:13 pm
Combat in Oolite is no walk in the park, even for experienced commanders. The enemies hit hard, are capable pilots and, like you mentioned, tend to spawn in big groups.
It just seems strange to me that the author(s) took the one thing that people complained about in the original game, the manual docking, and made it a piece of cake with the addition of navigation buoys, and then took the part of the game that most people were happy with, the combat balance and ramped up the difficulty by about a factor of ten.
GearsNSuch wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:13 pm
Some things I have found helpful are:
• Equipment. The Advanced Targeting System will help you see where your enemies are and keep tracked on them. Fuel injectors also are a valuable combat tool, allowing you to dodge fire and hit your enemies from unexpected positions and, if the need arises, flee an engagement. They greatly increase your life expectancy. When you make enough credits, the Shield Boosters and Extra Energy Unit will greatly boost your chances of survival. The Beam Laser and Military Laser are also helpful for delivering more consistent damage.
OK, so there is equipment that can allow your ship to survive more than a few seconds in combat. Your starting ship can't survive being hammered by multiple ships at once. Even closing the distance with a group of pirates usually reduces my shields to zero, then I lose my cargo and start taking damage. As it is, the more dangerous systems are completely off limits and if I get attacked in a "safe" system, I just quit the game and re-load my last save. I know I'll never survive the fight and running away can take 15-20 minutes.
GearsNSuch wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:13 pm
• Route Planning. If you avoid the more dangerous systems, such as Anarchies, Multi-Government systems, and Feudal states, you should have less chance of getting jumped by pirates and be able to beef up your ship.
I hadn't really started to seriously play the game yet, I'm still sort of experimenting and getting used to it. So far I've just been making runs between Leesti and Diso, but I've gotten attacked a couple times.
GearsNSuch wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:13 pm
Also, there are some add-ons available through the expansion pack manager that don't make the game too easy but help a lot with combat:
• Fast Target Selector allows you to visualize who you're targeting and not lose track of them as easily.
• Multiple lasers gives a bit more punch to your shots if you feel comfortable with aiming.
• N-Shields allows you to see what level your enemies' shields are at.
• Combat Simulator allows you to practice fighting in a controlled environment.
Thanks. So far I've only tried a couple expansions that just enhance the game, but don't change the gameplay. Other than convenience, is there any advantage to using the manager rather than just downloading them and installing them manually? Like does it give you any configuration options for individual expansions?
GearsNSuch wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 2:13 pm
Sorry for the info dump. Combat takes a lot of time to get used to, but with the proper equipment and, most importantly, practice, you will be able to shoot your way to a top position. Good luck, and fly safely!
A couple questions;

1. Is there any way to change the speed of the radar zoom function? Or maybe eliminate it entirely so that it instantly jumps from one magnification to the next? When I get close to something and suddenly realize that I want the scanner on 5:1, I have to press the z key, wait for it to zoom in, press the z key, wait for it to zoom in, etc. It would be nice if it just instantly changed to the next level as fast as I can press the key.

2. Is there any expansion to improve the message system, so that it differentiates between messages directed at other ships and messages aimed at me? There are ships on the radar, some are pirates, a messages pops up saying "Your cargo or your life" and I'm never sure if it's meant for me or another ship.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Nite Owl »

Try THIS PAGE from the OOLITE WIKI. Once on the Wiki you can type all sorts of stuff into the search box to find further informaton. There is a way of making your ship's scanner non-linear (quicker shift between levels) but it involves tweaking .plist files which you may or may not be ready for. The best suggestion is to NOT try and fly with the keyboard. Some Commanders swear by it but it can be difficult for others. Get yourself a good cheap joystick. My personal suggestion would be a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro; lots of buttons, realativly cheap (around $30.00 US), and it lasts forever. Mine has been good to go for close to 15 years. My other suggestion would be to find a H.U.D. (other than the default one) that works best for you. LOOK HERE for a H.U.D. that suits your desire. A well informed H.U.D. can make a world of difference to a new Commander trying to stay alive. The Oolite Wiki is your friend, use it well.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Rekrul »

Nite Owl wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:17 am
There is a way of making your ship's scanner non-linear (quicker shift between levels) but it involves tweaking .plist files which you may or may not be ready for.
You mean the "hud.plist" file? I tried setting "scanner_non_linear = yes", but I didn't see any change in speed when switching zoom levels. In fact, I couldn't really see any difference. What did seem to make it faster was setting "scanner_ultra_zoom = yes", although if non_linear was also set to yes, then the switching was just as slow as before. Also, I discovered that changing these settings doesn't always work. Sometimes I changed them, the game changed, I changed them back (with the game not running), and when I ran the game again, the changes were still there. Even when I restored the two hud plist files to original copies, the scanner would stay set for ultra-zoom. By doing a comparison of all the files in the Oolite directory, it seems that you have to delete "GNUstep\Library\Caches\org.aegidian.oolite\Oolite-cache.plist" to ensure that any changes you've made take effect.
Nite Owl wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:17 am
The best suggestion is to NOT try and fly with the keyboard. Some Commanders swear by it but it can be difficult for others. Get yourself a good cheap joystick. My personal suggestion would be a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro; lots of buttons, realativly cheap (around $30.00 US), and it lasts forever. Mine has been good to go for close to 15 years.
I have at least 3-4 different flightsticks, although I haven't yet set one up for use with Oolite. I know I have at least one Logitech stick, a Microsoft stick, one by Saitek, etc. A couple I bought at Goodwill and a couple I found in the trash (this area has bulk trash twice a year, where the city will haul away almost anything you put on the curb for free and people use it to get rid of all the stuff in their closets/attics/basements that they no longer want/need).

You'll laugh, but rather than dig out a flightstick and calibrate it, I wanted a quick solution just to play around with, so I plugged in an Atari Tac-2 joystick to my USB adapter and used JoyToKey to have it input the arrow and A keys. Not the best solution, but at least it was a little better than the keyboard and made it feel like Elite on the C64/Amiga. :)

I'll properly calibrate an analog joystick at some point.
Nite Owl wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 4:17 am
My other suggestion would be to find a H.U.D. (other than the default one) that works best for you. LOOK HERE for a H.U.D. that suits your desire. A well informed H.U.D. can make a world of difference to a new Commander trying to stay alive. The Oolite Wiki is your friend, use it well.
I looked at a few different HUDs. I'm not sure which one I like.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Cody »

Rekrul wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:02 am
... the one thing that people complained about in the original game, the manual docking...
People complained about the manual docking? Hmm... lemon drizzle comes to mind!

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by GearsNSuch »

Rekrul wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:02 am
Even closing the distance with a group of pirates usually reduces my shields to zero, then I lose my cargo and start taking damage.
I forgot to mention, fuel injectors are the key here. They allow you to close that distance really quickly, and, oddly enough, close quarters fighting is often a more survivable situation. Just... ah... make sure to not crash in to the enemy craft when approaching them... I... still need to work on that.
Rekrul wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:02 am
Thanks. So far I've only tried a couple expansions that just enhance the game, but don't change the gameplay. Other than convenience, is there any advantage to using the manager rather than just downloading them and installing them manually? Like does it give you any configuration options for individual expansions?
There's no particular advantage other than being able to browse, download, and update the packs quickly. It's just a matter of what you personally prefer.
Rekrul wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:02 am
Is there any expansion to improve the message system, so that it differentiates between messages directed at other ships and messages aimed at me? There are ships on the radar, some are pirates, a messages pops up saying "Your cargo or your life" and I'm never sure if it's meant for me or another ship.
I *think* that the Broadcast Comms MFD expansion makes it clearer who they're referring to. Not entirely certain there, though. It also allows you to communicate with other ships, which can be fun...

Oh, and holding down the shift key while launching the game automatically dumps the cache and allows any changes you made to the plists to take effect. Much easier than deleting that file every time.

Fly safely, commander!

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Redspear »

Rekrul wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 10:54 am
In Oolite, it doesn't even seem possible to survive a pirate attack, no matter what type of weapons you have. Unless you spend the entire fight running away and firing with a rear military laser, which doesn't seem like much fun to me. Half the fun of the original Elite was in the dogfighting with other ships.
Rekrul wrote:
Sat Mar 14, 2020 3:02 am
It just seems strange to me that the author(s) took the one thing that people complained about in the original game, the manual docking, and made it a piece of cake with the addition of navigation buoys, and then took the part of the game that most people were happy with, the combat balance and ramped up the difficulty by about a factor of ten.
Yeah. In short: non-player centricity.

Elite was heavily player centric. Other ships were weaker than you and were almost never armed with anything better than a pulse laser (which cut through their ships much faster than it did yours). There wasn't just the torus drive, there was also the energy bomb! :shock: It was much easier as I think I demonstrated here.
Frankly, it was a bit too easy...

Reducing that element (player centricity) changes the game considerably. For example, the player's cobra mk III should at least now be similar to all of the non-player mk IIIs in the game and so they now present a much greater challenge.

With the original elite I think the difficulty was generally set well for the beginning player: challenging but rewarding. Here however, we've got lots of old hands who've been playing oolite for years and so to keep it interesting the difficulty is (IMHO) set more in line to suit not only experienced players but experienced players in reasonably well equipped ships.

To be fair, I think there's some merit in that approach although inheriting some of the original design issues from elite and then making it more non-player centric has made oolite rather, let's say quirky.

Disembodied wrote:
Fri Mar 13, 2020 1:33 pm
Hi Rekrul, welcome to the boards! You might find the Population Control OXZ to be useful - see the thread here:

http://www.aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.php?f=4&t=20183
Highly recommended from what little I've seen of it.
"With our thoughts, we make the world" :-) - - - Game too slow for you? Masslock Compensators - - - Trouble getting out of trouble? Indestructible Injectors

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by SiriusCG »

First, in Oolite you never get attacked by anything less than five pirates at a time, and 7-8 is more likely. Due to the improved and shaded graphics, ships are EXTREMELY hard to see at a distance, so much so that half the time I literally can't see a damn thing other than the lasers coming at me.
This. By the time I get close enough to actually SEE my opponents, flying a stock "out of the box" Cobra Mark III, 2/3 or more of my shields are usually gone ... and so am I.

I "rediscover" oolite every couple of years, appreciate the new "eye candy", play a few days running "milk runs", run into a group of pirates, die ignominiously, realize that it's just as frustrating to get started as is it's always been, then erase it off my HD and move on. The rationale of needing to load custom oxp's to reduce the frustration level and increase the chances of surviving in a new ship, seems silly to me. A new player, or even some of us who aren't so new, could stand a better chance early on in our careers I would think.

Perhaps it's time to consider a game rebalance so new players don't have to dive headfirst in knowing ".plist arcana" or how to choose and load the right mods into the game to survive it?

Cheers.
Last edited by SiriusCG on Sun Mar 15, 2020 4:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Norby »

Welcome Rekrul in the Ooniverse!

I think you should check these:

HUDSelector
You can test and change your HUD during flight between all installed and compatible ones.
In addition this OXP allow you to change the non linear and ultra zoom state of your scanner by pressing mode key (b) when HUD Selector equipment is primed, then will save these settings when you save your game.

Trails
Reveal ships at distance, even more with Trail Detector.
If these are not enough then install Telescope, which is adjustable from a little visual aid up to a glass pocket solar system. Just a bit complicated to use, moreover you go against the "extend your game only in step-by-step" advice if you start with this.

Combat MFD
Can help to determine the target(s) power and decide to run or attack (well, mostly run in the early game).

Laser Cannons
Not only deliver more punch when you can afford these, but enemy pilots often ejects when energy is low to prevent the last fatal hit if you target them with a cannon.

I do not recommend Multiple Lasers, even you will have 3 instead of one, but facing with 6 pirates mean 18 lasers against you.


A few more, especially in the early game:
Auto eject is a life saver, just always buy an Escape pod.
Convoys to follow them to the main station in safety.
Variable masslock to avoid suspicious ship groups.


In general, you should not attack group of enemies. Better if you hit one, then run on injectors to separate it from others and turn back when there are no others on the scanner and win in a duel.

Before you attack a group consider to build up your fleet using some or all of the Escort options.

Happy hunting! :)

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