Korolov and Charon mission path

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Song
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Wed Feb 11, 2015 8:48 pm

So this started out in the SM&M++ thread, with me trying to salvage the charon mission through application of superior firepower. My results there basically showed that, while numerically possible to save, the Korolov station in Charon is next to impossible to save in its present form. The main problem here is that the Korolov progression system is really old. So here's an ideas sounding-board for remaking it (either as a mod, extension, or part of a later patch to Part I. Doesn't really matter which.).


What I was thinking was:

-Korolov shipping missions are a 'hook'. They're linked to by the tutorial quest now, and they're a good source of early-game cash. However...
-They escalate quickly into encounters with frigates, which often attracts the Kronosaurus early
-Once you kill the Kronosaurus, you have no more missions
-Then you hit charon, with no warning, no setup, and it's virtually impossible.
-Also, the rewards suck. You can achieve the impossible and get an omni-particle cannon...which is generally a worse gun than you'd have by then anyway, by DPS. It should give the player guns they wished they had 5 minutes ago. :P



So the problem really is balancing that final battle, putting it into context, and making a proper questline, like so:


-First, the player does regular korolov missions. These should be a bit easier to get: Maybe even return to having a K base in Eridani to get things started?
-Once we've proven ourselves (Journeyman rank + X Fortress kills), we start getting the option of missions that give some background on the fact that the pirates are starting to push against the shipping companies. Maybe even raids against the stations themselves, where the player has to intercept and destroy 1-2 Drakes with Viking escorts.
-The Kronosaurus will have multiple reasons to appear: If we kill enough frigates, fortresses or drake assault parties (during missions), the ship will be sent to kill the player. If we're doing special missions, we will eventually receive a mission to lead a wing of Ronins to kill it, just in case it hasn't turned up already (obviously, we do not get this mission if we've already killed the Kronosaurus).
-"Legend" rank can be attained by beating the escort record, killing the Kronosaurus, or completing X "save our station!" missions.
-Killing the Kronosaurus nets you a bit more cash, as well as what you got for annoying it in the first place.
-Once you're at Legend, you don't get escort missions, but you can still get special missions.
-If the Kronosaurus dies, you can get a mission to escort an EI100M with a search team to the wreck. You automatically get this mission offered (with an option to "let me repair first") when you dock after killing the ship yourself, or completing the "kill the kronosaurus" mission. After fighting off pirates and other scavengers, the search team scours the wreck and uncovers the plans to the charon assault. We get some exposition, then a mission to take some wingmen and go and save it.


Modifiers to the Charon mission itself:

-The base itself should have some initial defenses. 4 turrets, and possibly some Quad titanium barricades. However, our actions earlier dictate whether these are still there.
-If we've destroyed charon fortresses, fewer attacks will have been mounted before we get there. The stations barricades are damaged, but still there, as well as 1 or more of the turrets still working. The station has 250HP (its maximum).

-If we have not done these missions, the station starts out effectively as it is now: the turrets are wrecked, the barricades are gone, and the station has been reduced to 150HP by a previous attack (yes, the station ingame right now has 100HP less than a regular K base).

-For each "intercept raid party" or "kill fortress" mission, the attacking force could be reduced in some way. Not sure how that'd work though.

-If we have not killed the Kronosaurus, it is commanding the attack. It turns up after the gunships, but before the Drakes. If it survives the attack, it raids the korolov base briefly then leave, it then docks at the main fortress with an escort of Corsair-IIs.

-Regardless of whether we save the korolov station or not, we should get a charon base map from them.

-If we've got a wing from the other korolov stations, they should be reasonably tough...possibly NPC wolfens....and accompany us until we've dealt with the fortress. They leave automatically (and give a bad mission ending) if we go past St. Katherines without killing the fortress first (INTO St.K's is fine. Just no further.).

-The korolov base itself should have fewer guards, but have them be of higher quality. Corsair-IIs in the gunship waves should focus on the guards, and not attack the station until the guards are destroyed.

-The charon sub-fortresses should be significantly harder to attack and kill.

-The fortress itself should also be a bit tougher.

-Finally, mission rewards should be good. A hefty credit reward (25,000-50,000) for dealing with the fortress, equipment (the Type V deflector, X-Ray Laser, or other similarly awesome gear) for saving the korolov station (no consolation equipment prize if you don't). And automatic promotion to "Legend" for doing either.

-------------

A bit of a messy post, but I'm running late this morning anyway. I'd like to hear other people's thoughts on Charon, since I know that it's been annoying for a lot of people for a long time.
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JohnBWatson
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Thu Feb 12, 2015 12:22 am

I like it. Persistent wingmen are a strange idea, and the rank system is unnecessarily complex(just use exp like Fleet ranks), but otherwise it's very well thought out.

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Song
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Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:07 am

JohnBWatson wrote:I like it. Persistent wingmen are a strange idea, and the rank system is unnecessarily complex(just use exp like Fleet ranks), but otherwise it's very well thought out.
They're not persistant as such: they're sent with you to protect Charon. That extends to dealing with the problem there, one way or another. Once you do that (or decide to abandon the problem), they're gone. It lets the player have some impact on the battle without making it 100% the player's guns doing the work (as it is now).

The problem with XP levels like the fleet is that the way the fleet does it is rubbish, and tends to group the least interesting missions at the end (like the Militia). But using XP to unlock missions would work if handled carefully: the game does track it for the purpose of awarding promotions. The "alter the end mission" stuff is not actually all that complex (I just speed-wrote it and it suffered a bit for it): it only needs to increment a counter by 1 every time we do something that hurts the charon pirates offensive abilities, then read that off later for the purpose of setting up the Korolov base. Handling the Kronosaur separately also makes sense: it's basically the boss of the first half of the game, depending on how you run into it. Plus the ship that shares the name of the studio (sort of) should probably be a bit special. :P
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Thu Feb 12, 2015 2:20 am

Also, to pull ideas from other threads, the wingmen should have a bit of randomization to make it realistic (self-upgrades) and the number of pirates sent after the player should change depending on what the player has done to them. Large amounts of weak ones at first, then the same numbers but stronger ships as the player begins torching Charon stuff. Then, by the end, the pirates would be viewing the player as a major threat and be sending really strong ships out, but a lot of their forces would have been taken out so there are not as many.

I would have to agree with Shrike about the mission orders. I don't want to go have to OHK another dozen Sandstorms. :( Maybe it would work better if the player earned X points for each ship, X points for each base, X points for each mission, etc; and then those points would only work towards what is sent after the player and Korolov. The point system for promotion would be entirely separate and possibly somewhere along the lines of "promotion every five successful runs."
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Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:49 am

The player is supposed to lose the Charon Korolov though, Kobayashi Maru style. That's what makes it so memorable.
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Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:13 am

What would be really cool is having multiple encounters with the Kronosaur. Kind of like a recurring baddie that can cause you some trouble when you're first starting out and pop in for a couple missions to harass you and make a couple missions unwinnable to underequipped players, with the Kronosaur retreating after looting the freighters - Then, when the Charon system is cleared, the final battle happens.

Maybe a bit ambitious but it would give a bit more depth to the pirates.
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Song
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Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:31 pm

TVR wrote:The player is supposed to lose the Charon Korolov though, Kobayashi Maru style. That's what makes it so memorable.
It has a success state, so it's not a KM scenario. And historically, it was more a test of skill than anything.....it just got nerfed into oblivion by other changes to the game.
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Fri Feb 13, 2015 2:42 am

george moromisato wrote: ...
1. Actually, you're not really supposed to save Korolov in Charon--it's a Kobayashi scenario. I didn't think it was that easy in unmodded games, but maybe I'm wrong--either way, I'm glad it's hard now. :)
...
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Song
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Fri Feb 13, 2015 4:04 am

Hmm. So it *is* supposed to be this bad. It's still not a good example: The idea of a Kobayashi Maru scenario is that you have to make a choice, and any choice will fail. It's used as a mechanism to show that defeat is sometimes inevitable. In charon, there's really no choice.....and there's no real lesson or consequence gained out of it, other than "Korolov Shipping are a bunch of idiots". If it's going to be impossible, there should at least be a decent follow-up. And it shouldn't be laughably easy to wipe out the entire pirate headquarters after facing an unstoppable armada.
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JohnBWatson
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Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:29 pm

Shrike wrote:Hmm. So it *is* supposed to be this bad. It's still not a good example: The idea of a Kobayashi Maru scenario is that you have to make a choice, and any choice will fail. It's used as a mechanism to show that defeat is sometimes inevitable. In charon, there's really no choice.....and there's no real lesson or consequence gained out of it, other than "Korolov Shipping are a bunch of idiots". If it's going to be impossible, there should at least be a decent follow-up. And it shouldn't be laughably easy to wipe out the entire pirate headquarters after facing an unstoppable armada.
I fully agree. At the very least, the entire armada shouldn't immediately gate out. Rather, have it be attached to various stations in the system, and return to them upon destroying the Korolov.

In addition, I agree with having the Kronosaurus lead the assault if it hasn't been killed yet.

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Fri Feb 13, 2015 8:35 pm

There's also the fact that this is the only unwinnable battle in the entire game. It feels out of place.*




*This could also be solved by adding more unwinnable battles, but they need to be indicated as such to some degree ingame, so the player doesn't just fight to the death over and over.
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