[George] What ships will the player swap into after part I?

General discussion about anything related to Transcendence.
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Will the player change into the alien versions of the three basic playerships only, or will the player be able to change into larger ships such as a battleship, cruiser, destroyer, or superfreighter?
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PM wrote:Will the player change into the alien versions of the three basic playerships only, or will the player be able to change into larger ships such as a battleship, cruiser, destroyer, or superfreighter?
I'd like to answer in two ways: for the Domina & Oracus campaign, and the for game engine in general.

For D&O: The short answer is that I don't know yet. My current plan is to allow the player to take their ship from Heretic and use it for the first few systems of the rest of the galaxy. But at some point (because it will become difficult to upgrade and refuel) the player will be expected to choose a new ship. My current plan is to allow the player to choose one of three ships types, though they are not bound to the original three ships (i.e., you are not forced to upgrade to a particular type just because you chose the Wolfen initially).

My current plan is to have those initial three types be single-person ships, like the current one. I'm leaning against capital ships for a couple of reasons:

1. Capital ships are difficult to balance against individual ships. What is the trade-off in choosing a capital ship? Isn't a capital ship always better than any individual ship?

2. One of the original themes of D&O is the accumulation of individual power via technology. When technology is evenly distributed, we don't notice how powerful we have become (because everyone has the same power). But when the distribution is unequal, things are different. At the extreme, individuals can be more powerful than nations (or worlds). In D&O, the player ultimately acquires individual technology far beyond the peak of Human Space tech.

Of course, for different adventures or extensions, #2 doesn't apply. Thus I would like to enable the engine to support player capital ships, hopefully before Part II is complete. I am currently working on improving weapons, so that player ships can fire more than one at a time. At first this will be very rudimentary, but hopefully we can improve it over time.

Another aspect to work on is ship crews. It seems to me that the major difference between a cap ship and the current player ships is the crew. We need to come up with some game mechanics for that. In fact, it might be that adding a crew will help with #1 (balancing a cap ship). A capital ship should have much more power than a single ship, but perhaps the player has other constraints. Perhaps the player needs to worry about crew morale, which forces him/her to divert resources to areas that the individual doesn't have to worry about. For instance, maybe the crew forces the player along certain conducts, depending on the kind of crew the ship has. Or perhaps the player needs to invest time and resources making sure that the crew doesn't mutiny.
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george moromisato wrote: Another aspect to work on is ship crews. It seems to me that the major difference between a cap ship and the current player ships is the crew. We need to come up with some game mechanics for that. In fact, it might be that adding a crew will help with #1 (balancing a cap ship). A capital ship should have much more power than a single ship, but perhaps the player has other constraints. Perhaps the player needs to worry about crew morale, which forces him/her to divert resources to areas that the individual doesn't have to worry about. For instance, maybe the crew forces the player along certain conducts, depending on the kind of crew the ship has. Or perhaps the player needs to invest time and resources making sure that the crew doesn't mutiny.
Perhaps when you're damaged some of your crew is killed, which reduces the ability of all your equipment (i.e. you reactor has less power, you weapons fire slower, your shields recharge slower, etc.) Certain devices like weapons that require a crew to work could then go inactive if too many crew are killed. Another difficulty could be crew distribution, so you have to choose if you focus more crew in the frontal weapons, in the reactor tuning (to get more power) or piloting, damage control, etc.

Not sure how hard any of these ideas would be to implement, but I'm just throwing them out there.
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george moromisato wrote: Another aspect to work on is ship crews. It seems to me that the major difference between a cap ship and the current player ships is the crew. We need to come up with some game mechanics for that. In fact, it might be that adding a crew will help with #1 (balancing a cap ship). A capital ship should have much more power than a single ship, but perhaps the player has other constraints. Perhaps the player needs to worry about crew morale, which forces him/her to divert resources to areas that the individual doesn't have to worry about. For instance, maybe the crew forces the player along certain conducts, depending on the kind of crew the ship has. Or perhaps the player needs to invest time and resources making sure that the crew doesn't mutiny.
If you want to keep the mechanics simple (as they are now) it would seem to me that the logical way to constrain cap ships would be through fuel and food. A cap ship would have much larger fuel costs, and maintaining a crew would require food. This means, the player needs to sink more money into fuel and would not be able to sell food for good credits. This in turn would mean that the player would not be able to upgrade equipment at the same pace.

I don't know if this should be the only mechanic, but it would seem to me to be a good place to start.
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Another way to balance capships is to make the sovereigns respond in an organized way against the player. Although they would underestimate a sapphire, would Part II sovereigns really disregard the player's capital ship? That would give the player a choice between low-suspicion Part I ships and highly conspicuous capital ships of Part II.

The accumulation of powers is indeed a major theme in Transcendence, yet it seems so natural... It only comes into effect when you stop to think about it. For me, after I killed the ICS for the first time, I realized I was so powerful in the transcendence universe, able to do anything without impunity... the sheer though of it really made me think about everyhing I've killed to get to this position. That brings me to my next point. Accumulation of power is so natural to Transcendence that commanding a capitalship seems so natural after Part I. If there were no balance issues to deal with, aquiring a playership would easily fit into the theme of the accumulation of power and the consequences of concentrating that power all into one person--- the one person who has the ability to smite untold amounts of life at a whim.
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In addition to fuel and food costs as noted above, a capital ship would have crap maneuverability, low acceleration and probably a low top speed. As a result, travel would take much longer unless using a jump drive, which could reasonably come standard on all cap ships. Low maneuverability would also allow smaller fighters to focus on particular sections of the ship more easily, and depending on the player's weapons could allow for blind spots in the capital ship's firing arc. The AI could possibly be aware of these limitations and attack accordingly, thus putting the focus more on player tactics than sheer firepower.

I think the idea of recruiting crew members, promoting them, and losing them in combat is well worth discussing. At a capital ship level, it could replace a lot of the fiddling with ROMs and devices that would come standard on a ship that size. They could come with a limited number of crew slots for the player to fill by going to friendly stations and flipping through available crew members similar to choosing an opponent in Rigel Aurelius. Different crew members might contribute to vague attributes of the ship (+2 Tactical, +3 Navigation, for instance, which would apply general enhancements to weapon damage/speed/fuel consumption and maneuverability, jump drive distance and charge speed, or maneuverability), or they could each have specific enhancements like "+10% Fuel Efficiency, +15% Turret Accuracy, -10% Blind Spot Size"

Another possibility would be for capital ships to interact with planets and space objects, since they're big enough to really be affected. Asteroid fields might have a potential for damage unless the player navigates carefully, and interacting with stations/planets might require launching a landing craft so that the capital ship can stay out of the gravity well.
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I'm in the "select crewmembers (a limited number depending on the size of your ship) that give bonuses based on how good they are" format. With the caveat that they should be able to grow (so there aren't any crap crewmembers who you avoid, or absolutely best crew you buy no matter what) to the same maximum threshold. Perhaps balance that with a quicker growth but lower base stats on some, or higher base and lower growth on others- thus if you need good skill -now-, you can, but they won't grow as well, while taking the time to level a crewmember (Say, time + experience from fighting?) would get someone who levels faster and isn't so hot to start, but ends up getting to the end result a little faster. Making them random instead of pregenerated crewmembers would be useful as well, as that means that there are no distinct "you want to get him" people ever, just qualities that you want to look for, or avoid.

For how to have them level, perhaps assign each ship an xp factor, that counts towards a hidden ticker for each crewmember based on their type? Say, *1.10% for faster levellers, but *0.80% for the slower ones (Number obv. to be adjusted as needed for balance, these are just examples)? Could start with a base Hornet = 5 XP and go from there; And if a straight XP system would be unbalanced on its own, then perhaps a modifier that reduces or increases the amount gotten depending on the level difference between the ship and the crewmember, factoring in the average of your own ship's equipment?

Morale/Food idea: Nutrapaste or some such common food item would need to be available like a refuel option, or there would be finite food in the game, which is silly. finite luxury food, sure, but not finite food, period. Make it a constant consumption bar beneath energy; Turning off stuff should minimize, but never remove, the cost of crew (maybe 1/2 consumption?).

Possibility of a Morale bar? Some crew give Morale + which decreases consumption rate; Morale officer could even be a given special ability? Morale goes up as you defeat enemies, lowers as you take hits to armor at 75% and lower? Morale gives a slight bonus to effects (say a 10% bonus at 80% morale and higher?) that stacks with other bonuses?

Just a few thoughts.
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Maybe just make a Wolven V2, Sapphire V2 thingy?

Then Wolven V3?

Make it look the same, only upgraded?
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I would avoid letting crews get to be too big of a game mechanic - keep the emphasis on the action. Let the crews be something that players can deal with and will give them an advantage but don't have to interact with to complete the game (similar to how the Huari/Sung are part of the storyline now, but can be skipped entirely with little to no loss.) Therefore, you can choose to upgrade to a cap ship and deal with crews, or stay on a single ship and not deal with them. Kind of like mining - let it be a choice with tradeoffs.

My brief proposal would be that you have three types of crews - slave, free, robotic. Slave crews are cheaper per person, require less food, are less efficient, but efficiency doesn't change and they won't mutiny no matter what you do. Free crews have an average per person cost, require more food, and are more efficient if you do 'good things', less efficient if you do 'bad' things to the point of mutiny. (I think we should probably ignore piratical crews at this stage, but they could be implemented as a fourth path) Robotic crews are more expensive per person, draw power not food, are very efficient, don't care what you do, but can be affected by hacks (Like the current ROM attacks) or they can grow self-aware and then be more efficient but have some of the same issues that free crews do [or perhaps they can be influenced by the Transcendent intelligences and provide a storyline path like the Huari do currently]. Crew counts can be affected by damage randomly (relatively randomly, at least) when armor is hit, and a crew's ability would be efficiency * count.

Like I said, you could get deep into crews, where you have an engine crew, a weapons crew, etc etc etc, but I think treating them more like a reactor keeps the game mechanic relatively simple while still providing depth and player choice by varying crew styles. So if you do upgrade to a capship, you have to deal with crews, they will always be a factor, but with the right balancing, I think they could be done as an added mechanic that won't make one feel like they are playing a spreadsheet.

I additionally think that capships should be insanely expensive vs individual ships and while they may have huge cargo holds and huge profit potential, they have to require a ton of capital. I think it would be easy enough to have the awareness that one can upgrade to a capital ship but that it's really expensive to do so, and that could reveal the capship goal for most players while keeping the general Transcendence vibe.

The other issues with moving to a cap are interface related, stemming mostly from how to deal with more armor segments, weapons, etc, but I think George, you seem to have a plan on that, and you are the expert so I'll not comment there.

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re more armor segments: playership drones already handles that quite well on a multi-ship basis; A few modships also feature more than just the basic four segments (that I've seen anyways). And that's just on the player-side; There are already multiple segment ships in the vanilla game. I don't think multiple armor segments is really an issue.

As for the crews, I was thinking of them more as devices that operate like the spiders; They don't require a slot to equip, but give a bonus in some way (maneuverability, weapons, reactor capability, etc. etc. etc.) basically turning them into a long-time swappable ship ROM/Enhancer. I already assume that the ship is basically run by you and maybe a few robotic drones (all that heavy lifting), while extra crewmembers could provide a little more. It'd even provide opportunities for helping someone out to equal obtaining them as crew- Mr. Katami, for example?
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Introducing an entirely new mechanic (crews) just for the benefit of adding a new ship class seems a bit weird. Is the Wolfen really that small that it does not require a crew as well. Adding crew to all ships is a very drastic change, and one that can bring with it a lot of issues. That makes me think that focusing so much on crews is not the right idea. We should be looking at the mechanics that are already in game, and see how they would work with something like capships (like mentioned, fuel, maneuverability etc...).
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Crews don't really fit D&O, given the player is running off to the core.
Also capships are not actually necessarily better than a small ship in terms of gameplay mechanics: they already have huge amounts of armor to worry about, are slower, bigger targets, and don't even get me started on how managing the weapons and UI for them is impossible to do without serious gimmicks in the current UI.
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Agreed about actual crew management not fitting in the Ideal of the Pilot chasing a dream.
However: the suggestion of the crew relating to the ship's equipment directly is pretty much like the effects of field crystals :
crews live and die....the crystals expire
.........oh heck, I gave away my secret stuff again......Darn keyboard works for the Sung!!.
But , yes, that's the ideal way to code it in and the least intrusive on the Mission Ideal of the Pilot chasing their dream:
Crew Resume's ( roms ) selected at the dock services ( to code them to ONLY show up at populated stations (?) otherwise you will have crew roms all over the galaxy ).....unless seperated by level but thats ALOT of Roms!!!!....so It might be easier to simply switch the current game Roms images with a few Crystals and rename those few for future versions
EXAMPLE:
( This is incomplete code thrown together out of Useful Items , If you complete it, it WILL work and I am sure of this because I did not write it :) LOL )
<ItemType UNID="&itWeaponExpertResume;"
name= "weapon expert resume"
level= "3"
value= "750"
mass= "1"
frequency= "uncommon"
unknownType= "&itUnknownROM;"
attributes= "Info; MinorItem"

description= "This Crew member is applying for a position on your ship."
>

<Image imageID="&rsItems1;" imageX="192" imageY="96" imageWidth="96" imageHeight="96"/>

<Invoke>
(setq intEnhanceWeaponUse (lambda (newMods damageType successText)
(block (notFound)
; Install
(setq notFound True)
(objEnumItems gSource "w~lI" theItem
(block (weaponItem)
(setq weaponItem theItem)
(if (and
notFound
(leq (itmGetLevel weaponItem) 10)
(or (not damageType) (eq (itmGetDamageType weaponItem) damageType))
(eq (shpGetItemDeviceName gSource weaponItem) 0)
)
(block Nil
(switch
; If the item is damaged, we repair it
(and (itmIsDamaged weaponItem) (ls newMods 0x8000))
(block Nil
(shpRepairItem gSource theItem)
(objSendMessage gSource Nil (cat (itmGetName weaponItem 33) " has been repaired"))
)

; Enhance the weapon
(block (result)
(setq result (shpEnhanceItem gSource theItem newMods))
(objSendMessage gSource Nil (intItemEnhanceStatus result (cat "Your " (itmGetName weaponItem 32) " " successText) (cat "your " (itmGetName weaponItem 32))))
)
)
(setq notFound Nil)
)
)
)
)
</Invoke>
</ItemType>
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shanejfilomena, for code, can you please use the code tags

Code: Select all

 [code] 
[/code]
or a pastebin http://www.paste.neurohack.com
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george moromisato wrote:Thus I would like to enable the engine to support player capital ships, hopefully before Part II is complete.
O_o

Ok, I just saw this...

TSB is going to need to take this into account down the line... X3
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