Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

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

Post by gilhad »

If I remember correctly, I soon adopted landing strategy opposite of what was recommended (approach station at around half speed, then slow down and synchronise rotation and than slowly and carefully fly ahed, maintaining rotation in sync) - I stopped somewhere between planet and station, carefully get into center line, then approached station without any rotation, just waiting for right angle of the dock to maximise speed ahead and hit the dock when it was horisontal.

It was much safer, as the phase, where the ship was part in the dock, but not docked yet was, when you can get big damage or be destroyed, if your rotation was not correct enought, so you touched the walls. Flying as fast as possible minimised the time of this phase and if you predict correctly the angle, you was just in before the rotation had chance put walls near your hull :D

And in Oolite it worked as well - if you where corectly aligned, it was easy to get the right moment just by manipulating the speed (especially with Fuel Injectors) and spend only a fraction of second in dangerous area inside dock.

---

About pirates and cargo I thing, that in Oolite, if you release some cargo, they will go to scoop it and fire on you only if you are accidetally in their crosshairs. But at the moment they have no cargo to hunt and scoop, they again will go after you - so it was critical to disengage faster, than they was able to finish scooping your cargo.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Disembodied »

Redspear wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 11:45 pm
Disembodied wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:14 pm
Rather than create a game where enemies start off easy and get slowly more fearsome as the player improves, the aim is to create roughly three games which overlap: the Easy game (Corporate States, Democracies, and Confederacies); the Medium game (Confederacies, Communists, Dictatorships); and the Hard game (Dictatorships, Multi-government, Feudal, and Anarchies). Experienced players with top-notch equipment can go anywhere they like; beginners, though, should stick to the paddling-pool, unless they feel lucky/desperate, and if they get caught then those are the breaks.
Fair enough but they overlap rather significantly at the moment from what I can tell.
Agreed. This is what the Population Control OXZ is intended to correct.
Redspear wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 11:45 pm
I think the point is that government type = danger is not obvious in game (i.e. you have to have read it somehere) and furthermore it's not obvious that a multi-government (for example) is less dangerous than a feudal system.

One might infer that if you can find a milk run you can work out all of the above. However, even if one does understand all of that, throw in influence from neigbouring systems (is that even in the manual?) and it's just become much more confusing.

How much influence? From all neighbours or just some?
Honestly, I don't know the answers to those questions.
I think there was too much effort put into allowing pirates to bleed over from adjacent "bad neighbourhoods" - a worthwhile aim, but it's probably produced too much homogeneity across what should be different systems. It would be better if it was simpler: safe systems are safe, dangerous systems are dangerous, and intermediate ones are a bit of a gamble.

Expecting players to RTFM is also a bit of a stretch. Things could be improved by placing a "piracy activity" warning on e.g. the F7 screen - even something like one, two, or three skulls-and-crossbones icons.

It *might* be worth considering splitting galaxies up into regions/sectors, which themselves could have lower or higher pirate densities. We made up some names for the vector maps; those could be given some sort of in-game force.
Redspear wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 11:45 pm
Genuine questions: do they always request cargo? If so, are they always true to their word?
From my relatively limited experience, yes. The best way to do it is to eject your cargo whilst travelling relatively fast, and perpendicular to the lie of travel to the station: that way, the pirates head off out of your hair, chasing down the cargo pods, and giving you time to get out of their range before they start sniffing around for more. It might be worth amending this, though - perhaps dumping cargo could grant the player some form of immunity from pirate attention in that system for a set amount of time. The amount of immunity could vary depending on how dangerous the system is: pirates in a Dictatorship might be prepared to give you ten minutes for your 5TCs; in an Anarchy, those same 5TCs might buy you only two.

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

Post by Cody »

Disembodied wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 12:50 pm
The best way to do it is to eject your cargo whilst travelling relatively fast, and perpendicular to the lie of travel to the station...
Ha! I slam the anchors on, drop the cargo, then put the pedal to the metal!

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

Post by Disembodied »

Cody wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 1:20 pm
Ha! I slam the anchors on, drop the cargo, then put the pedal to the metal!
That would also work, but I prefer to send the buggers off on a chase in the general direction of "away". I have heard pirates broadcast complaints about the fact that all they're getting is food, and I want them to realise that when they're as far away from me as possible.

What you absolutely *don't* want to do is to eject the cargo at full clip along the same vector as your path to the station …

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

Post by Cody »

Disembodied wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 1:31 pm
What you absolutely *don't* want to do is to eject the cargo at full clip along the same vector as your path to the station …
Exactly!

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

Post by Astrobe »

I have been away from Oolite (and tbh just passing by) for a couple of years because I am into Minetest ("MT") now. Minetest and Oolite share a few traits. One of them is the ability to build your own game by piling up mods.

Actually, that's the theory. I am making my own game in MT and I can say that there's not a single mod I have not edited; sometimes a little (e.g. crafting recipes) sometimes a lot (I've done a few little from scratch too).

MT has the concept of what they used to call "subgames" (now "games", but that's confusing for outsiders) that are just that: a set of mods more-or-less edited to provide an hopefully consistent player experience.

My stance is that mods are nice and all, but probably the hardest part is the game design aspect. I have visited a few MT servers and was disappointed because they seem to be just piles of mods with very little logic or "personality".

It also became clear to me that a mod/idea taken in isolation can seem ridiculous or bad, but it often do make sense in the context of the right game. In the two years I have worked on my game I have added and removed a lot of mods. I have implemented and thrown away some mods/features because although I was satisfied with them for a while, a change in some other part of the game made to fix another problem have rendered them useless or inconsistent.

From this perspective my earlier statement that says we need this because that is, indeed, slightly wrong. A solution that seems good in one context can make solving other problems more difficult.

When I was distracted by MT (I won't say I left Oolite, because it sounds like I was done with it, which is not the case), I was considering the release of a meta-OXP (basically only dependencies) to do something similar. Actually probably two: one for the game mechanics, which is an atomic set of OXPs, and one for the optional enhancements (texture sets, etc.).

I would like to encourage the active modders of Oolite to do something like that.

For the curious: Minetest is a FOSS game/game engine similar to Minecraft.

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

Post by Cody »

Disembodied wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 1:31 pm
I have heard pirates broadcast complaints about the fact that all they're getting is food...
First pirate: "This one's toilet paper! We can fence that!"
Second pirate: "Result!"

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

Post by Malacandra »

I read this thread with interest because it reminded me of a similar complaint I made a while ago. I just fired up an old campaign of mine for old time's sake, I reviewed the objectives I had (just starting another pass across the galaxy with five passengers and a parcel to drop off), I made the first jump prompted by the navigation system, and the moment I drop out of Witchspace, I have about three groups of the buggers chasing after me.

Naturally I hit the injectors in the hopes of thinning them out a bit, but no, they've all got injectors themselves and they can target my fleeing Cobra III almost infinitely better than I would ever nail anything at injector speed, and pretty soon I'm having to start twisting and turning before I get too much equipment broken, but not before I start getting some of it broken anyway. It looks like they're mostly if not all Assassins so there's feck-all money to be made even if I do ventilate them, not that the bounty on a whole pack of pirates would cover the cost of getting even one piece of equipment repaired bar the Tea Maker (which has managed not to get destroyed no matter what else went).

In a turning fight it's really hard to get sights on for long enough to do enough damage even with the nifty Military Laser that I naturally had fitted ages ago, and when I do get someone down to "Weak" they promptly head for the horizon at injector speed. Between them they certainly have more fuel than I do - they quite likely started the fight with full tanks to my approximately 2.5ly - so I can't afford to chase them or stay running straight for long enough to hit them even if I could get quickly on target against a ship on injectors (which ain't a large window of opportunity). And then it's back into the turning fight trying to get on the tail of a rapidly-jinking ship, which is no treat even with the various targeting enhancements, and it won't be that long before the one I chased off is back in the fight again.

Ten to fifteen minutes later, with maybe one of the bad guys down and little sign that he's about to get any company, I get around to figuring that even at version 1.84 the bad guys were too much for me, and either I spend all my time on milk runs in safe systems and kiss goodbye to foolish ambitions like carrying passengers or parcels or trespassing in anything nastier than a Democracy, or else I say: to the Bad Place with this whole idea. I quit the game and here I am, venting just a little.

F'cryin'out loud, there is a limitless number of opponents, there is only one of me. They don't all need to be armed to the teeth, faster, more agile and better shots as well, and too darned smart. It wasn't always like this...
First pirate: "This one's toilet paper! We can fence that!"
Second pirate: "Result!"
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Redspear »

Disembodied wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 12:50 pm
I think there was too much effort put into allowing pirates to bleed over from adjacent "bad neighbourhoods" - a worthwhile aim, but it's probably produced too much homogeneity across what should be different systems. It would be better if it was simpler: safe systems are safe, dangerous systems are dangerous, and intermediate ones are a bit of a gamble.
You and I have discussed this before and agreed on much of it I think (in one of the threads I linked to above).

Astrobe wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 7:11 pm
It also became clear to me that a mod/idea taken in isolation can seem ridiculous or bad, but it often do make sense in the context of the right game. In the two years I have worked on my game I have added and removed a lot of mods. I have implemented and thrown away some mods/features because although I was satisfied with them for a while, a change in some other part of the game made to fix another problem have rendered them useless or inconsistent.
This is very true I think. It's easy to aquire relics from previous fixes or versions of the game (with or without particular mods attached) until you end up getting a fix for a fix that no longer tips things in the desired direction.

A reason why disembodied's earlier remark is probably wise:
Disembodied wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 6:37 pm
If it's too complicated, though, I'd just drop it...

As for this...
Disembodied wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 12:50 pm
From my relatively limited experience, yes. The best way to do it is to eject your cargo whilst travelling relatively fast...
and this...
Malacandra wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:28 pm
Naturally I hit the injectors in the hopes of thinning them out a bit, but no, they've all got injectors themselves and they can target my fleeing Cobra III almost infinitely better than I would ever nail anything at injector speed...
It highlights yet again that speed is so important in oolite.

I mentioned relics above and one of them is likely ship speed.



Consider:

In elite the mk III could manage a speed of 0.3 (slightly above average) and could escape from most ships. Exceptions being sidewinders and asps (military ships), vipers (police ships), mambas (racing ships) and thargoids (aliens).

In oolite the mk III is significantly faster (0.35) and so leaves mambas and vipers in the dust (but can't come close to the new interceptors). But many (not all) pirates have injectors (and the starting player certainly does not). Non player ships also head towards the station in oolite which (combined with the bigger scanner) now makes masslocks much more tedious.

Additionally one of the most common pirates is a sidewinder (0.37). Many times you can't run (almost never in something slower than a mk III) as a lone sidewinder will keep firing at you from range (yep, they can have beam lasers so they can hit the beginner harder as well) and it can be agony to try to dodge all the way to the station or even to the next police encounter. Try to take it on and you'sd better be quick as all his mates catch up and gang up on you. Asps can do this too but are less common.


I was thinking about this earlier today and as I've discussed before, being faster than your opponent gives you the control of the range at which you engage and therefore often the outcome of the conflict (run if outmatched, win if not). Laser combat reimagined attempts to deal with much of this. However (mentioning yet another of my oxps) perhaps a traffic redistributer type solution would be better.

Sidewinders make great pirates, so make them much more likely to appear in the dangerous systems than the safer ones. Asps are not as common anyway so they are less of an issue.


As for injectors, should a ship without a hyperdrive have quirium to burn anyway?
Malacandra wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 9:28 pm
Between them they certainly have more fuel than I do - they quite likely started the fight with full tanks to my approximately 2.5ly - so I can't afford to chase them or stay running straight for long enough to hit them even if I could get quickly on target against a ship on injectors (which ain't a large window of opportunity).

So if injectors were restricted to jump capable ships only then that means sidewinders, kraits, mambas (all fairly common pirates) can't chase you down so easily.

Even better:
  • there's now a good reason for sizeable pirate packs - they will often need a quick kill before the trader (with remaining fuel) injects away (larger pack than necessary would mean a smaller slice of the pie for each pirate)
  • the normally glacial anaconda, with injectors, could potentially escape most of the time! (at least until the fuel runs out)
  • player vessels (in the core game at least) are all jump capable and so could all equip injectors
  • danger remains with the relatively fast bounty hunter (fer de lance), ex navy vessels (asps) jump capable police (interceptors) and (when they've got more fuel left than you) other traders such as the python, cobras, boas etc.
Of course pirates don't always have injectors in the current game but then the player doesn't always have fuel.

You can't escape for free and you can't escape all the time (even with remaining fuel). However, once you hit those injectors, your odds (with a bit of population management) would be much improved.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by phkb »

One important note about all of this: Oolite != Elite. As the Oolite home pages says, "Oolite is inspired by the 8-bit classic Elite" (emphasis added). It is not a point-for-point replication of Elite. If that's what you're after, then Elite: The New Kind is probably what you're after. Oolite at its core is a different game, with some similarities to Elite.

This is not to dismiss anything related to the starting difficulty of Oolite (which I am very keen to address), and I'm watching this thread with interest to see how it develops. I just wanted to clarify the difference between the two.

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

Post by Redspear »

phkb wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:43 pm
One important note about all of this: Oolite != Elite
And one clarification on my part at least: my point is that there are relics from Elite that are not especially compatible with the direction that Oolite has taken. Not relics in the sense of holy items but rather relics in the sense of outdated methods (I appreciate that my earlier 'sacred cows' remark might have muddied the waters somewhat).

In other words, there are things that worked great in Elite that don't sit so well with the new elements that make Oolite such an improvement upon the original IMHO. Let's see if we can change some of those old methods without losing the spirit of the game.

I'm advocating tweaking some of those those inherited 'Elite things' in order to iron out Oolite issues, not returning to 'the old ways'.


For example, Oolite has a bigger scanner that takes longer to cross and combined with inbound traffic makes crossing it a PITA. If I was of the opinion that Oolite should = Elite then I might say, "Simple! Shrink the scanner to it's old size and remove inbound traffic. Problem solved!", but I'm really not saying that at all. Keep the big scanner (it makes more sense IMHO) but make some adjustments elsewhere to reduce its side-effects.

What might appear to be pro-elite remarks are indeed so but only in the sense of "X worked great in Elite but I have serious doubts about X working so well in Oolite". My aforementioned traffic redistributer oxp is probably a good example of my attempts in this direction i.e. 'Masslock is causing problems that it didn't in Elite, are there any adjustments that we can make to improve things without going back to doing it the way that Elite did? Here's my attempt.' And that's not the only oxp I've made that tries to free Oolite up from sticking to Elites old methods... Pulse lasers with longer ranges than beam lases!? Military lasers that 'stutter'!? What kind of traditionalist am I? :D

I suppose that the apparent exception to the above realtes to the neighbouring systems change. I do think that was a mis-step but I have already suggested more than one possible way to move forward with it (in one of the thread links I provided above) rather than to simply revert to the old method.

To my mind that's trying to move forwards with Oolite, not backwards to Elite.

It's not all about me, I do realise that, but is anyone on this thread advocating that Oolite should = Elite? Or is it just that folks are saying that combat is a bit too tough in the early game?


Absolutely no offence taken (and I hope non given) but...
phkb wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:43 pm
It is not a point-for-point replication of Elite.
If anyone thinks I'm advocating anything even close to that then I really haven't explained myself adequately at all.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by phkb »

No offence taken. :D

And I'm all for trying out things to help (thus the Population Control OXP and Space Lane Adherence Bonus OXP).

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

Post by phkb »

And from the OP's first post:
I spent a lot of time playing Elite on the C64...
<snip>
In Oolite, it doesn't even seem possible... <snip>
That series of statements suggests to me that Elite/Oolite was being directly compared and something closer to the Elite experience was expected, so setting expectations can be a valuable thing.

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

Post by Redspear »

phkb wrote:
Wed Mar 18, 2020 5:45 am
And from the OP's first post:
I spent a lot of time playing Elite on the C64...
<snip>
In Oolite, it doesn't even seem possible... <snip>
That series of statements suggests to me that Elite/Oolite was being directly compared and something closer to the Elite experience was expected, so setting expectations can be a valuable thing.
Whilst it may be true that Oolite is not Elite, nor is it aiming to be such, I think it is an inevitable consequence that it be compared to Elite, the game it was named after and draws enormous inspiration from.

As Wikipedia puts it:
Oolite is a free and open source 3D space trading and combat simulator in the spirit of Elite. It is, as the name suggests, Object Oriented [E]lite,
And further,
Among Oolite's several similarities to its source, the gaming experience is enhanced by the context set in Elite's original manual, and the accompanying novella, The Dark Wheel.

In terms of setting expectations, whilst the Oolite wiki distances Oolite perhaps a little further...

Oolite is a space sim game, available for Mac OS X, Linux and Windows.
... comparisons quickly become inevitable as a heritage soon emerges...

It was written by Giles Williams as a response to the withdrawal of Elite: The New Kind from the internet. Although inspired by the work of Christian Pinder, following David Braben and Ian Bell, the work is an independent interpretation and expansion of the original game.
In all cases, this is page 1 stuff. If it's inaccurate then someone should edit it but I would suggest that both sources provide an adequate summary.

The new star wars films are not the same as the old star wars films (although arguably one of them tried so hard to be that it was all the worse for it :) ) but by God are they going to be compared to them.

This is almost entirely inescapable for Oolite with regards to those who have played Elite. Given that so many here appear to have done so, it's an inevitable source of comparison.

I remember being chastened (along with others) that "Oolite <> Frontier". Again, it's true, but it's also true that comparisons and even inspiration will be drawn when you have a game in which you can take a contract in a cobra mk 3 or trade it in to buy a python, because Frontier did all that first.

So yes, Oolite != Elite but it remains an unofficial sequel of a sort.

Some may balk at that statement but I think it's true both in terms of drawing inspiration from the original and also in terms of outright lifting of names, designs and even 'plot' (e.g. missions). If it's not true then rather unfortunate, long words beginning with p or short ones beginning with t, both having legal connotations, begin to suggest themselves, and I think they would both be grossly unfair.

The retro appeal of flying a Cobra mk III to Zaonce, combined with the new features and possibilities provided, is why many here love Oolite: a game that is almost defined by this balance of old and new - both figuratively and (as quoted above) literally.

So another hearty thanks to phkb and all the devs for all the work they do to keep the good ship Oolite afloat! :D

I'm off to Leesti to test out some new fangled (yet retro-styled) gizmo in the old mk III.
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Re: Why was the difficulty of pirates set so high?

Post by Rekrul »

Disembodied wrote:
Mon Mar 16, 2020 3:14 pm
Plus beginners can (and should) stick to safe systems, where they shouldn't meet many/any pirates.
The problem with that is that it basically forces new players to stay in the same general area that they start from. No matter which direction you try to go, within just a few jumps you hit a point where you can't go any further without jumping to a system that's on the lower half of the danger scale, which is suicide for someone in an unexpanded ship. I located two safe systems of exactly the types recommended for building up your cash, a rich agricultural and a poor industrial, both with fairly safe government, but there's no safe way to get there. I tried multiple routes and no matter which way I went, i hit a dead end.

So the advice to new players really should be: When starting the game, your only viable trading choices are Leesti and Diso. Stay there until you have your ship fully tricked out. Going anywhere else will either get you killed, or won't be worth it for trading.
phkb wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:43 pm
One important note about all of this: Oolite != Elite. As the Oolite home pages says, "Oolite is inspired by the 8-bit classic Elite" (emphasis added). It is not a point-for-point replication of Elite.
And yet it uses all of Elite's system names, ship and station names, equipment names, cargo names, ship and station designs (as a base), basic controls, basic play mechanics (how many other space games let you scoop up cargo canisters or asteroid fragments?) same mechanic of accidentally getting stuck in "Witchspace" due to a malfunction of the drive, etc. You can see how people mistake it for a dedicated remake of Elite.
phkb wrote:
Tue Mar 17, 2020 11:43 pm
If that's what you're after, then Elite: The New Kind is probably what you're after.
I liked Elite: The New Kind, but I encountered a rather annoying bug; When jumping toward the planet ("J"), and then stopping to fight off pirates, I'd end up noticeably farther away from the planet than when I started. I'd jump toward the planet again, get close, fight off some pirates and I'd again be twice as far from the planet. I couldn't seem to make any headway because fighting pirates always seemed to move me farther away from the planet. I once contacted the author and he admitted that he may have made a mistake in the math, but as this was already the "final" version, he never released any fix for it.

I'm pretty sure it wasn't just my imagination. Stopping to dogfight pirates shouldn't move you any noticeable distance farther from the planet. I mean If you're near the planet and try to fly away from it without using the jump drive, you're going to be there a long time.

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