Unidentified items; discuss

General discussion about anything related to Transcendence.
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pixelfck
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The discussion about unknown items comes along once in a while, the latest in Ideas for growing the community:
Autohummer wrote:(...) and its "Nethackness" making a great confusion when looking over unidentified items. (...)
and
PM wrote:Unidentified items as currently done is a major strike from me against Transcendence. The new analyzers sort of help, but since they can destroy items, I would rather not use them unless I am desperate. Alien items, fine. Commonwealth items, not so much. If shopkeeper does not know either, why should I reveal the good stuff I know so he can charge more?

I personally love the unidentified items.
Maybe shopkeepers could (at least up to a certain level*) know what they are selling and, in extension of this, shopkeepers could identify the items I sell them (up to said certain level), but for me, this is not necessary.

*) maybe based on some formula system level + X?

discus

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Atarlost
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From a story standpoint no corporate hierarchy or commonwealth shop should carry unidentified items. Doing so would be a huge liability issue.

My roguelike roots are in the Angband group. In them every item in a shop is identified. Any flavored item type (potions, scrolls, wands, etc.) that you sell to a shop becomes identified in the future (you now know that tin wands are wands of magic missile, though you don't know the charges of those you find in the dungeon). Identification is cheap and readily available with 2/7 shops almost always carrying large numbers of scrolls and a third often stocking staves. Many variants also have a store service that is always available. Town is always available through recall scrolls rather than requiring a slog to reach. Every class except fighter will eventually learn freely reusable identification magic and even fighters will eventually find reusable rods for identification.

ID is almost entirely for determining the individual stats of items, not knowing what they are. ID by use is a luxury for a handful of variants that give significant XP for it while not having any truly detrimental consumables.
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Buggy
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A functionality sortable like that could be nice, maybe more official stations, like corporations, would pretty much. know exactly what they are selling, and tell you what it is even if you don't buy it, while something like a black market would be more secretive or just less caring of if they know what something is or not. And if you see something in a store and they tell you what it is, even if you don't buy it you can identify identical items in the future, with exceptions(like two completely unmarked barrels, you can't tell if what's in one is also what's in another).

Also, perhaps you could partially identify new items if you've seen similar items in the past or know enough about certain sorts of items overall(potentially with the ability to learn more via a Rom or datacube of some sort). I.e., 'oh this looks like a laser on a mount of some sort, maybe its a omnidirectional laser', or 'oh that Rom told me plasma weapons have coils like this thing has, maybe its a plasma weapon'.
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It'd be nice if items weren't identified across the board (eg. It can be identified in a store, but unidentified when you loot the same item until you've learned what it looks like, possibly using an "examine" or "identify" skill similar to the repair skill). If looted items are unidentified but bought items are not (except in cases where it'd make sense, like a small station market or a junkyard), it feels a bit nicer. I agree that the Angband method is a bit nicer than the current system.

I'd also agree with Buggy. Having degrees of identification would make things far more interesting (and also reward players who learn a bit about the weapons on offer).
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pixelfck
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Just a quick note, when I wrote that I would maybe like to have shops identify items, I was thinking of devices. In my opinion barrels should not be identified other than by trial and error :twisted:

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Atarlost
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It makes no sense for a shop to sell unidentified barrels. The liability issues are huge.
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I think we can have stores that has no liability concerns or "bazaar-style" establishments sell unidentified items, while corporate/Commonwealth stations should sell identified items. For example, the Teratons (they do experiments with you and they rob you, I don't think they are going to have any qualms selling you radioactive waste barrels as "barrels with a barcode") and possibly the Ringers (though to a lesser degree, the Ringers are not malicious, but they do sell things so exotic that it is possible not even they know what exactly they are). BM stations may sell unidentified items as well (but perhaps not at the "main" Syndikat stations, after all, what is the point of selling your operative something potentially useless?)

Alternatively, we can add Bazaar stations where most/all of the items are unidentified, but these items are often cheaper than the base price and may be more powerful than the items that sector has. There is, of course, the risk of getting radioactive barrels applied to you for free with each purchase :shock: .
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pixelfck
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I don't see why stations could not sell unidentified Barrels or ROMs. (The liability thing is very American jurisdiction thinking. It is far less a problem in say Poland or even France, so I see no reason at all why liability should be of any concern in a space-opera setting.) I can totally imagine a somebody saying:

"I've got these barrels gathering dust here, I'm not sure what's in them, but the dented barrels in the corner have been there as long as I can remember. I got those ones with the strange markings on them something like a year ago. I tell you what, you can have them for 8 credits each."

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I feel that it's a mistake to compare the stores in transcendence to retail stores; they don't have standardized inventories and I see them as being more like junkyards or swap meets, where people will happily buy, store and sell equipment that is not readily identified. With so many mutually hostile sovereigns manufacturing stuff and hundred-year-old ships flying around everywhere, there is bound to be a lot of strange stuff out there that isn't guaranteed to be worth the time or effort that it would take to identify it.

Plus, there is a long tradition in every society of fleecing religious pilgrims :mrgreen:
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Well, Commonwealth law does exist and it would be unreasonable to think they would have done away with laws against selling radioactive waste in a public area....
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Awesome discussion.

I personally still like unidentified objects; but I'm sure there are a bunch of ways to make them more fun. The improvements I'd like in the system are:

1. Unknown enhancements: Right now all enhancements on an item are always revealed. It would be cool if these had their own unidentified bit. [Item is known, but enhancements are not.] This shouldn't be too hard to add.
2. More even distribution across levels: Right now there are more unknown-type items in the early levels and not as many in the mid- and high-levels. [Please suggest some.]
3. More methods for identification. All should come with a trade-off (even if just fuel use) but there should be more interested (i.e., fun) ways to identify items. [Please suggest some.]
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3. More methods for identification. All should come with a trade-off (even if just fuel use) but there should be more interested (i.e., fun) ways to identify items. [Please suggest some.]
The immediate method that occurs to me is time combined with fuel use

I'm not sure whether this should/could include weps enhancer devices when those weps aren't installed, but how about:

Device installed. Fuel use increases by 10% for a 1% chance of discovering <device> over a maximum period (or next lvl/system).
Optional: 0.1% chance of discovering device passively with +5% fuel use (this may be player-directed: the "research" option toggles on/off.

Perhaps combine this with wingmen/NPCs to give an added incentive not to get them killed?)
"Hey I'm Jenna! I'm really interested in the structure of pre-<current date> power systems - I'm an archeologist! I'd love to go exploring with you!"
"My name is Korolov. I was a respected research scientist before <enemy> took my wife as <hostage/slave/kidnappee>.." you get the idea

Obviously the numbers can be played with: this is simply a 5-minute example
Last edited by snafu on Sat Jan 04, 2014 6:45 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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OK, this idea builds off snafu's. We know from CC that there are in-system networks of some sort that allow communication between individuals and groups in stations. Maybe there could be some sort of deployable (like missile pods) external device that adds a gigantic, high-power-consumption antenna.

There is some futuristic equivalent to tech enthusiasts' forums that you are querying. While your antenna is deployed, it draws a lot of power while you are waiting for a response. After some period of time- maybe this time is a factor of how many friendly populated entities (docked ships, capital ships, populated stations) there are in the system- some person responds: "an anonymous user from Taikon Outfitters has identified your pulsating device as a pteracnium megadrive", or "user 2ndengr.g.moromisato from superfreighter St. Mikeno has, etc."

The disadvantages are threefold. As snafu says, there is a power draw, and it could be a long wait if the system is sparsely populated (or the attempt could fail entirely after a certain period of time, especially if the system isn't of a high enough level.). Second, the antenna is fragile and can be damaged or interrupted if you are attacked- maybe your combat capability is also diminished while it is transmitting/receiving. Finally, bad guys who like cool swag (Collectors, Omnithor, Sung?) are alerted to your presence; if they have stations in the system, they will deploy a couple of gunships to chase you down.
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[quote=george moromisato]2. More even distribution across levels: Right now there are more unknown-type items in the early levels and not as many in the mid- and high-levels. [Please suggest some.][/quote]I think this is an unavoidable consequence of deterministic items, because in mid levels you can see some high levels, but eventually you can't see any higher because that's all there is.

But items don't have to be deterministic: like abandoned cargo crates, an item could be made with undetermined contents. To make it desirable/worthwhile it would have to have a higher ceiling than determined items (e.g. 80% for armor, super-fast weapons, etc.), and at high levels IME resources far outpace costs so burning an armor segment / weapon is usually not the problem it is in mid levels.

We also have multiple storyline-plausible sources for these unknowable items:
Ares Shipyards (because Ares-Commonwealth trade appears nonexistent and making ships takes a lot of resources)
Teraton Nests (because they like to tinker)
Iocrym ships/stations (because they're Outsider type)

.

On the other hand, the problem could also be solved by having higher than high level items that are still deterministic, just not available in stores or any other means of production. In addition to the above:
stacking +x% to armor (diamond nanotube paste?)
stacking +x% to generic weapon
upgrading weapon damage type / armor level (omnidirectional TeV 9 + two alchemical shards = omnidirectional plasma cannon :D)
self-replicating ammo nanos (it works for armor, why not a bomb or a machine gun or something?)
self-replicating fuel nanos (!)
parallel upgrades (so shields can be efficient and +x%, weapons can be fast and +x%)
external device mount (allows another device requiring a slot but makes it vulnerable to damage)

Power creep doesn't strike me as an issue because these would be (1) drops rather than off the shelf and (2) difficult/impossible to identify.

.

Regarding the general principle of identification, what about this: having an unidentified item in cargo and docking with a friendly station will allow the player to purchase/barter/earn-via-mission the coordinates of a deep space Tinker station. This reduces the RNG's reign of terror on providing identifier items, but between time spent going to the station & cost of coordinates (or search) & having the same cost as whatever the rate is for identifier item use, obtaining an identifier item will still be a worthwhile choice.
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robotarozum wrote: Regarding the general principle of identification, what about this: having an unidentified item in cargo and docking with a friendly station will allow the player to purchase/barter/earn-via-mission the coordinates of a deep space Tinker station. This reduces the RNG's reign of terror on providing identifier items, but between time spent going to the station & cost of coordinates (or search) & having the same cost as whatever the rate is for identifier item use, obtaining an identifier item will still be a worthwhile choice.
I would like to extand this idea:
You got yourself an unknown device. On a station, maybe a Pub or in a Hotel, you talk to someone about said device and they answer "I heard about a tinker station deep in the system which specialises in things like that. Maybe they can tell you what it is.".You pay a fee to find them. This special tinker identifies only this device and does so while docking possible for free "because they are curious".

The same could be done with the luxury items provided by the curators. You could find an archeologist on any station, maybe there is a low chance to encounter one with the items on board.

I'd like to see more side quests.
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