[Concept]: Outlaw miner update

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Shrike
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Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:55 am

I originally put a version of this over in the suggestions board, but the approach was flawed and the old code I was copy-pasting wasn't up to it. Since we've got this nice patch forum that's never used, I'm gonna revive it for use as it was originally intended. I'm planning to write up a major upgrade and modest expansion to the outlaw miners (and possibly some stuff that can flow into the CW miners), get feedback from the community (and maybe George if he reads this forum), with an aim to eventually submitting it for inclusion into the base game. It'll be simple code, with no fancy bells and whistles unless someone else comes along and adds them.

NOTE: THIS IS A CONCEPT. There are things in here that won't make it into code. I will be coding from scratch, so I do not have sample code at this time (my old mod code has too much that needs fixing to be worth the time, so I'll modify the stock code from the beginning again when I have a route to take). As always, George can veto anything he doesn't like, and I'd be a fool not to ask him to chip in. After he's back from the eclipse I'll probably poke him for his feelings and revise this accordingly. At the moment I am throwing out pretty much everything I could do, with the aim of narrowing it down to what I should do later.

Anyway, time to get on with it.


The problem to be solved The outlaw miners are very, very old. They are also designed as a fairly early-game foe. This is fine, but they turn up long after their ships become obsolete. While the Moskva 33 turrets are a force of nature under the right conditions, the ships go beyond being laughable rather quickly. In short, they need enough ships and setups that they can have relatively suitable ships for their entire appearance in the game. They also need mining tools that can mine the ore in the systems they are found in. There's also opportunities for a fun little expansion of the faction without tying up core development time by having me do it instead. While I can do this as a mod (and have done so previously) I feel that the improvement to the core game justifies submitting it as a community patch.

Initial Concept for a solution The initial plan for fixing this problem is to expand the ship lineup, and add new ship varients that appear at higher levels. Outlaw miners will appear from levels 1-7, so can't just use the same ships at all levels. In no particular order, here is the plan:

Mining equipment

Mining laser: Change to use modern laser effect with red beam. This remains the primary weapon of the Borer
(Note: The reason to move away from the ancient current effect is to put it in line with the current color-coding of laser damage)

Heavy Mining Laser: New laser weapon at level 4. Repeating mining weapon based off the turbolaser beam with increased per-shot damage, reduced range. Weapon fires slightly slower than a mining laser (same percentage nerf as you get going from laser to turbolaser)

Advanced Mining Laser: New laser weapon at level 6. Repeating mining weapon based loosely on the X-ray laser beam. Fires slower than an advanced mining laser. Specialist weapon: Requires IMU membership to purchase if you've got CC installed (can always be looted).

-----

Ships

Borer-class gunship: Remains as it currently is, armed with the mining laser.

Borer II: Retains armor and shield setup, swaps its gun out for a heavy mining laser. Is moved to higher-level systems (cannot appear right at the start of the game) but appears for most of the spread of the outlaw miners.

Borer III: Improved armor (and shield?) over the Borer II. Uses same sprite because I'm not making a new one and most people wouldn't like it if I tried. Uses the advanced mining laser. Extremely dangerous at close-range, as such it only appears in high-level systems.

Hammerhead I and II: Remain in their current role as scouts. Stop appearing after the early game (they're obsolete). Replaced in later systems by Taikon Mining Auton in the scouting role, and by the Oromo and Oromo II in the combat role.

Taikon Mining Auton: Actually a mining scanner auton. I don't have the skills to make it functional, but an NPC mockup is easy: Use the TX3 graphics and set it as the lead ship in some encounters, with a couple of light escorts. Thus, the auton is scanning for new deposits and the escorts are protecting it. Name is placeholder (TX1 or 2?)

Zulu and Zulu II: Operate as lowest-level guards in addition to hammerheads? (Not strictly required)

Oromo: Operates as a low to mid-level guard as it does now. At higher levels, replaced by Oromo II

Oromo II: Enhanced Oromo with heavier armor (same sprite). Possibly uses ceralloy armor? Fits the Moskva 33 cannon (similar to the turrets in the current version).

Sotho: Operates as a guard as it does now. At higher levels, replaced by Sotho II

Sotho II: Enhanced Sotho with better armor and shield. Could use a Makayev howitzer such as the Mark I, or possibly the Heavy Slam cannon. The most advanced and probably the most dangerous combat platform in use for the faction, but not a match for a military vessel in a 1 on 1 (all-civilian tech).

T-31 and 55: Operate as transports to and from outlaw stations and allies.

-----

Stations

These mostly stay the same, but there's room to add some more, so I'm listing some options:

Outlaw Uranium mine: Possible new low-mid level station. Source of uranium ore and uranium fuel rods. Uses "U" as the prefix for its ID.

Outlaw Plasteel mine: Would also be nice, but dunno how to do the naming code since plasteel is actually just fancy titanium. GEORGE!

Outlaw defensive turret: I like these, but I feel it might be a good idea to make them longer-ranged, but less powerful. Swapping them over to the Slam Cannon or Heavy Slam Cannon would give much better range, but less ability to wipe out shields at close range. There would still be the problem of annoying rocks getting in the way. This is tentative.

-----

Reinforcements and guard spawns

All stations should have level-appropriate reinforcements and guards. This should be done via a levelfrequency table. This prevents a lucky spawn from having excessively easy or difficult guards (and thus, devices to loot).

-----
Advanced future stuff & possible extras

-It may be possible to add additional types of ore to the game to allow for mods and future additions to play with more materials (eg. copper, iron, RE elements, lithium, etc). Whether this is needed is debatable, but I'm throwing it out there. These could include specific mines that extract them.

-Coding borers to carry mining charges and occasionally drop a live one when killed (note: Outlaw miners use NoFriendlyFire) would be beyond my skills, but very entertaining.

-If the Taikon auton goes in as an NPC, working with folks making auton updates and changes to create a player-usable version would potentially be worthwhile. As stated above though, my own version will be entirely non-functional and lack a corresponding item.

-Adding the Borer II and III to commonwealth use would also be good.


//END//


Ok, so there's my initial concept. I'll edit as I go along, and I'm interested to hear thoughts on what I might alter or improve from this initial plan. I'm not an advanced coder, so I'm aiming for an evolution of the current system, rather than something new, exciting, and advanced. I'm also not touching missions or "spawn when the player mines" stuff.
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giantcabbage
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Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:25 pm

Looks like a good plan.

Assuming you do this via git you don't have to do everything at once. In fact it's often easier to split large changes into smaller incremental alterations, that way each change is also easier to review and if George doesn't like a particular change you can just revert the commit rather than having to manually change it back. If I was doing this I might:
  • Tidy existing code (i.e. update to use current standards, but don't make any in-game changes)
  • Minor fixes e.g. change mining laser to use standard hit effect
  • Enable reinforcements (e.g. via challenge or standingCount)
  • Revise ship and encounter tables (using existing ships)
  • New equipment/ship and add to ship tables
  • More new equipment/ship..
Depending on how far you go with the new equipment/ships you could put the first four in one pull request of fixes / improvements, then have a second PR for the additions

It looks like every station has an identical ImageVariants and DockingPorts section, so they could be moved to the base class (this removes nearly 200 lines of code making it easier to read!)
Outlaw Uranium mine: Possible new low-mid level station. Source of uranium ore and uranium fuel rods. Uses "U" as the prefix for its ID.

-It may be possible to add additional types of ore to the game to allow for mods and future additions to play with more materials (eg. copper, iron, RE elements, lithium, etc). Whether this is needed is debatable, but I'm throwing it out there. These could include specific mines that extract them.
Instead we could simply select a system appropriate ore type (using similar code to the MiningColony/IMU/UAS which get ore randomly selected from asteroids in system). That way it'll automatically pick up the full range of ore and any added via mods.

This would mean that a "Titanium" mine won't necessarily have titanium ore, but I don't think that would matter too much as you never see the name in game - just the prefix in the ID.

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Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:08 pm

As far as equipment goes, I'm fine with keeping it as-is until we see a proper mining update. Updating ship tables is a good idea though, maybe integrating them more tightly with the other outlaw factions.

It might be good if outlaw mines had a more unique look, because its easy to confuse them with commonwealth mines at a glance. Also, mines should carry appropriate mining equipment such as scanner pods.
giantcabbage wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 7:25 pm
This would mean that a "Titanium" mine won't necessarily have titanium ore, but I don't think that would matter too much as you never see the name in game - just the prefix in the ID.
Actually you can see it in your game record, under "enemy stations destroyed". Not that its particularly useful to do so though.
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Fri Aug 18, 2017 5:54 am

Xephyr wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 8:08 pm
As far as equipment goes, I'm fine with keeping it as-is until we see a proper mining update.
Problem is, I can't really do that and upgrade the ship table. There aren't enough mining weapons. I'm also dubious about us getting a mining update before 2020, so I'll do my bit while I can.

@GiantCabbage: I may take a mix of my original idea and yours: Have mines focus on the ore they're "supposed" to have, but also have a chance to generate some less common ores as well. A little like Ferians only less so. I'm loathe to go for levelled ore entirely because ore is a useful crafting ingredient, and the levelling of the stations keeps them at..roughly...the right place anyway.


Edit: The way I'm thinking about structuring this in terms of stages is basically
1. Revise the old mining laser, add the two new ones. Get them balanced by testing and running transdata a bunch.
2. Add the new ships (Borer III, gunships and 'auton')
4. Revise the encounter and guard tables so they level correctly with the new ships.
5. Set up reinforcements on the stations. (Admittedly reinforcement rates are a bit excessive in the current version, but that's a George problem, and I can't do anything about it)
6. Revise the Borer II
7. Add any new items or ores
8. Set up stations and ships to carry said items/ores.

This means that all the stuff can sit there inactive until it's in place, so that partial changes don't throw the balance out of whack (hence not putting the revised Borer II in before the game knows not to put it into minimum-level systems). The downside is that it is hard to test until it's all ready to go live.
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Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:22 am

This is a great idea. I'm interested to see better system level scaling for this faction. And since this already involves changing the code, why not letting the station choose the ore ?
Let's have 1 single outlaw miners station, when it spawns , depending on system environment and level, it chooses the station graphics, ore to fill (and rename the station appropriately). This should be not hard to code and would semplify outlaw miners code greatly by having 1 station with appropriate events.

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Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:09 am

digdug wrote:
Fri Aug 18, 2017 9:22 am
This is a great idea. I'm interested to see better system level scaling for this faction. And since this already involves changing the code, why not letting the station choose the ore ?
Let's have 1 single outlaw miners station, when it spawns , depending on system environment and level, it chooses the station graphics, ore to fill (and rename the station appropriately). This should be not hard to code and would semplify outlaw miners code greatly by having 1 station with appropriate events.
Personally my coding skill flat out doesn't go that far. If I've got the time to look through resources and maybe get some handholding then we'll see (I genuinely do keep meaning to learn, but coding languages are difficult for me and I rarely have the time to spend). For now I'll plan for separate stations (this also makes it easier with regards to the turret defenses). Once my work is done, it shouldn't be too hard to roll it all into one station later on if I'm not able to do it now.
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Fri Aug 18, 2017 3:17 pm

What I mean is we don't neccesarily need more mining equipment. Mining ships are built for mining, there's no reason to outfit them like battleships if you can have a supporting fleet. Even Ferians only have plasteel, and its acceptable because they have Warriors to defend them.

I think the supporting outlaw ships, like the oromo or zulu or whatever can be upgraded instead. Maybe we could even add in more outlaw ship classes for high level systems.
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Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:17 pm

For info, tbAsteroidOre is both level AND location scaled (i.e. different ore for metallic / organic / rocky asteroids). It is used for:
  • ore found in asteroids
  • Ferian station treasure
  • ore carried by outlaw miner T31s
sysAddRandomOreByValue selects random ore appropriate to the system using a probabilty table proportional to the ore actually found in the system. I have not tested this yet, but I would expect it to be pretty similar distribution to tbAsteroidOre. It is used for:
  • Mining Colony
  • UAS
  • IMU
  • Ferian Miners
If you like I can look at changing the mines over to system dependent ore (similar code could be reused for other enemy mines.) That way you don't need to add new stations for uranium/plasteel, and we automatically get mines for any new ores added via mods...
You'll still want separate stations as they also get different: armor, hit points, regen, guards, and satellites (turrets).

If so, should Outlaw mines have:
  • A single ore type (as they do currently, but system appropriate)
  • A number of system appropriate ores (same as Ferian mines)
  • A number of system appropriate ores to match a specified value (same as friendly mines)

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Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:38 pm

giantcabbage wrote:
Fri Aug 18, 2017 4:17 pm

If you like I can look at changing the mines over to system dependent ore (similar code could be reused for other enemy mines.) That way you don't need to add new stations for uranium/plasteel, and we automatically get mines for any new ores added via mods...
You'll still want separate stations as they also get different: armor, hit points, regen, guards, and satellites (turrets).

If so, should Outlaw mines have:
  • A single ore type (as they do currently, but system appropriate)
  • A number of system appropriate ores (same as Ferian mines)
  • A number of system appropriate ores to match a specified value (same as friendly mines)
exactly what I meant :D

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Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:56 pm

To elaborate a bit more on what I mean: the plasma torch also had the same function as your advanced mining laser - high damage, close range, high level. Functionally there would be no difference between the two, but it could make sense to have multiple high level mining devices if they served different purposes. The New Beyond has lots of cold systems with icy asteroids, where a laser makes lots of sense because it produces a lot of heat; ice can be cut away to get the ore. The Outer Realm is rich in metallic asteroids, where perhaps a plasma torch is better suited.

I think rather than just add in more lasers, i think we could differentiate between asteroid types a bit more. There could be blast weapons that send charges into rocky asteroids, for example. I don't think we need many level variants if we take this route, instead the player can optimize their ship for mining a few types of ore over the course of the game.
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Fri Aug 18, 2017 10:31 pm

Xephyr wrote:
Fri Aug 18, 2017 7:56 pm
To elaborate a bit more on what I mean: the plasma torch also had the same function as your advanced mining laser - high damage, close range, high level. Functionally there would be no difference between the two, but it could make sense to have multiple high level mining devices if they served different purposes. The New Beyond has lots of cold systems with icy asteroids, where a laser makes lots of sense because it produces a lot of heat; ice can be cut away to get the ore. The Outer Realm is rich in metallic asteroids, where perhaps a plasma torch is better suited.

I think rather than just add in more lasers, i think we could differentiate between asteroid types a bit more. There could be blast weapons that send charges into rocky asteroids, for example. I don't think we need many level variants if we take this route, instead the player can optimize their ship for mining a few types of ore over the course of the game.
The problem with the plasma torch is the per-hit damage. It doesn't ramp up enough to overcome damage thresholds effectively. It's also a ferian weapon (and I want differentiation between Ferian and Outlaw mining tech) and is more efficient (destroys less ore when it does work) than a laser.

Personally I feel the plasma torch could also use some upgrades, but I'm not overly fussed about doing it myself. My concern is having levelled equipment with logical progression for the outlaw miners, and a high-damage mining laser is part of that.
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Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:32 pm

Well like I said, I feel like this should go along with an update to mining in general. There's room for more variety than just lasers.

That aside, I think the mining auton shouldn't be Taikon; Taikon seems to be more of a cutting edge tech company, while mining autons would be common, industrial tech more suited to Earth Industries or another industry based company.
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Sat Aug 19, 2017 11:23 am

Xephyr wrote:
Fri Aug 18, 2017 11:32 pm
That aside, I think the mining auton shouldn't be Taikon; Taikon seems to be more of a cutting edge tech company, while mining autons would be common, industrial tech more suited to Earth Industries or another industry based company.
Company that seems closer to mining activities is UAS or Tenhove.

I want to suggest add an events to spawn borer (and its escort) and send them to mine asteroid. After his cargo nearly full, he then gate out from the system. But, it is more related to a mod rather than patch upgrade.
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Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:14 am

Shrike wrote:
Thu Aug 17, 2017 5:55 am

Mining laser: Change to use modern laser effect with red beam. This remains the primary weapon of the Borer
(Note: The reason to move away from the ancient current effect is to put it in line with the current color-coding of laser damage)
The mining beam needs to be visibly distinct from other laser weapons. The current effect is definitely outdated, but if we're changing its color, I'm for making it yellow. Adds visual consistency with high - end mining weapons, and clarifies that only special weapons can get ore from asteroids. Less confusing for new players.
Taikon Mining Auton: Actually a mining scanner auton. I don't have the skills to make it functional, but an NPC mockup is easy: Use the TX3 graphics and set it as the lead ship in some encounters, with a couple of light escorts. Thus, the auton is scanning for new deposits and the escorts are protecting it. Name is placeholder (TX1 or 2?)
The outlaw miners are poor criminals. I doubt they'd have the money for high end autons. It'd be like bushmeat poachers walking around with thousands of dollars in mallninja gear. In addition, an auton that scans asteroids automatically would make scanner pods obsolete.
All stations should have level-appropriate reinforcements and guards. This should be done via a levelfrequency table. This prevents a lucky spawn from having excessively easy or difficult guards (and thus, devices to loot).
I like that some stations don't call for reinforcements - it shows that different factions react differently to being under seige. Outlaws and local warlords wouldn't throw an infinite number of people at one guy who really wants one of their outposts dead. Only militaries belonging to nation - states and other highly organized entities would do this.
-Coding borers to carry mining charges and occasionally drop a live one when killed (note: Outlaw miners use NoFriendlyFire) would be beyond my skills, but very entertaining.
First, add the charges to the loot table. Then, it's just a matter of <OnDestroy>, a check of the inventory(to make sure a charge is present), and <sysCreateWeaponsFire>.

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Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:14 am

The colour differentiation for mining lasers is a good point. I'll see what gaps in the spectrum we've got to work with. I"m not sure a uniform colour would work (although intensity variation might do the trick)...but you have a good point there.


Reinforcements reduce the kiting problem, but yes, there's an issue there. However,that's just that George never coded a way to limit reinforcements. Either you have nothing (which has some significant issues) or you have a constant, never-ending stream (except when the game detects camping and freezes respawn for a while, which isn't very consistent. The solution is for George to give more options for respawn intervals and how many "waves" can turn up before it goes on cooldown for a while. I'm not holding my breath for it though.

Finally I accept the reasoning over the Taikon auton. Since that was speculative, I'll remove it from consideration for now and maybe think about a slightly up-armored hammerhead or just using Oromos as scout craft. That being said, while these guys are reasonably poor (using UAS ships as a "cheap and cheerful" solution is a bit of a giveaway) they can still afford some pretty significant resources so...I'm mixed on that part. But the point is valid, all the same.
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