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Shipwrecked!

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Just looking for feedback on another area I''m finishing up... If you spend hours and hours customizing a starship, working hard to raise money to add parts, and handpick a crew you''ve probably got a significant emotional investment in your property. Anything that takes that away at the drop of a hat is probably suspect game design at best. That said, I''m thinking about the possibility of including crashlanding and would like to know what you guys think, or if you think it''s even wise. Any Landing You Can Walk Away From... Crashlandings can happen because of:
  • Poor piloting
  • Sabotage
  • Gail-force weather
  • Being shot down
  • Terrain or building collision
  • Interstellar jumps plotted too close to a planet
  • High speed flybys that are miscalculated
The damage, injuries and death caused by a crash are determined by the pilot''s skill modified by the travel speed (faster, worse) and the altitude (high is bad). However, the actual chance to crash on planets with atmospheres goes up the closer the ship is to the ground and the worse the weather is near the ground. If the player is the pilot, they play a "lunar lander" minigame to handle landing. Why Even Risk Crashing? Two reasons: Stealth and speed. In space, ships that fly by a planet to get a gravity whip boost can travel faster, beating other ships to missions or market. Opening a jump portal closer to a planet also means they can get in system more quickly, and even use the planet''s momentum if they''re just passing by. In space, the closer you are to a planet, the harder you are to detect. Planets foulup heat and mass detectors, and energy pattern and psi detectors if you''re near a civilized planet. You can also hide from lidar / radar. On the ground, flying low and slow over the terrain makes it harder for ground installations to detect you. On high density planets, this won''t help much, because they''ll be sophistocated satellites, but small colonies and bases may not have these. There''s another reason unique to some worlds rich in artifacts and many enemy worlds: Planetary defenses. Continental shields have to be flown under by skilled pilots, and some planets have swarms of mecha that attack ships. Once On The Ground Depending on internal damage, players may have to treat wounded, lift wreckage off of crew (strength test), fight fires and deal with pipes leaking corrosives, gas or toxics. They may be under a time pressure, as well, if the core of their ship can''t be shut down and is damaged enough to go critical. If the ship is intact, survivors can wait for a rescue. Rescues show up when called, or after a certain time limit (assume you filed a flight plan with somebody ). If players have to leave the ship, they''ll need to get survival gear such as spacesuits, weapons and thermal shelters. This equipment may be damaged or blocked, and there may not even be enough for everybody. In the event that there''s not enough, the player must designate by equipping who gets what. Crew in peril may volunteer to stay behind or break out into infighting, depending on their actual loyalty. Being Rescued The chance of being rescued after a crash is proportional to how settled the system is. A very settled system will have people looking for you within the hour, but an uninhabited world on the edge of space may require a month or more wait time. Some rescues cost money. Some rescuers are actually slavers and pirates, meaning the you''d have to fight for their ship. Insurance Settlement Most people I suspect would reload on a crash, but I''ve got a couple of incentives for sticking it out: One is an insurance mechanic, where if you pay your premiums, you get a new and possibly even slighlty better ship. But to discourage excess crashing just to level up (which would be dangerous anyhow), your premiums go up after every crash and your reputation among spacers goes down (you''re an inept captain). If you crash faction or government property, it''s not so bad as long as you were on a mission doing it. You''ll just get another ship, like in the military. Danger Is An Opportunity For Bonding The best method I have for dealing with a crash ties into crew. If you save lives and pull them out, their loyalty goes up. If you directly intervene to save an NPC, any barrier he has (loyalty cap) to becoming Devoted to you disappears. Devotion, just fyi, allows you to amp up the character into a super-NPC. Suggestions / feedback? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership...

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I like this idea a lot, especially the two elements of loyalty and insurance. Unique ideas, as far as I''ve seen.

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Sounds like a great feature. Insurance is a nice touch. You could even force players to own insurance for their ship, which would make them less likely to reload.

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I''ve sometimes thought that the wars of the future may be fought over insurance. Ex: Insurance company X hires the player to attack a space station that is underwritten by a rival company to force them into chapter 11.

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Don''t think of this as a specific system for crashing the ship on a planet''s surface. Build a system for landing on a planet and surviving there, and then you can use dozens of reasons to do it. Damage to the ship that can''t be repaired while in flight could warrant a landing. Landing and powering down your systems could hide you from scans. Maybe if you''re really beat up, you could land and transmit a general S.O.S. that people can respond to.

Pirates would be an issue, but it might be a good system for hunting them. A derelict ship, a distress call, and *bam!* a privateer gunship swings around the moon and nails them. Or pirates could use it to lure good samaritans and their valuable salvage gear into a trap. The possibilities are endless.

So really, once you have the "land on a planet and live there for a while" system, throwing in a special kind of landing that damages the ship would be child''s play. Don''t think of shipwrecks as being more than they are.

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quote:
Original post by Iron Chef Carnage
Don''t think of this as a specific system for crashing the ship on a planet''s surface. Build a system for landing on a planet and surviving there, and then you can use dozens of reasons to do it.


Hmmm... you know what, you''re right.

If you have a system for surviving anywhere then you cover this specific scenario AND many others. You could be setting up a colony that works just like a ship in space, and dealing with automatic survival issues. You could be the sole survivor of a devasting attack against a space station, and have to deal with these issues.

The automatic rescue and insurance recovery systems are what I was most concerned about, but again it looks like people might be okay (in principle) with the challenge of losing game progress if it gives them interesting, dramatic situations to deal with.

Thanks, this helps focus this in my mind.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator
If the ship is intact, survivors can wait for a rescue. Rescues show up when called, or after a certain time limit (assume you filed a flight plan with somebody ).



Perhaps the player should have to be the memeber of an organization or faction in order for someone to come looking for them. If your a rouge ship of pirates and slavers, on the run from half the goverments in the galaxy, then its doubtful anyone will even go looking for you if something goes wrong.

You could have could have various organization that if your a member of will send a ship out to look for you if you don''t arrive at your destination on time. For instance if the player is a member of the Traders Guild and is making transport mission from form the ice mines of of Kal, to the desert planet of Araksis. Then when they plot their couse they could select trade mission from the a little drop down menu and their flight plan is automatically logged with the Traders guild. If the player doesn''t arrive at their destination on schedual, then the Traders guild will look for them depending on the players status in guild will determine how many ships and and how soon the guild starts looking for you. If you an insignficant member who still owes a few months back dues, then the Traders guild search for you only consists of asking the next member in travel from Kal to Araksis to keep an eye out for your ship. On the other hand if your a rising star in the organization and thought to be the next head of the Traders Guild then they would send a fleet of ships to scour the region should the loss contact with you.


quote:

Insurance Settlement
Most people I suspect would reload on a crash, but I''ve got a couple of incentives for sticking it out: One is an insurance mechanic, where if you pay your premiums, you get a new and possibly even slighlty better ship. But to discourage excess crashing just to level up (which would be dangerous anyhow), your premiums go up after every crash and your reputation among spacers goes down (you''re an inept captain).



Does my spaceship insurance cover ship to ship collosions? If A drunken frieghter captain flys into me and scratches my new paint job will my insurance provide pay for a new paint job? If so will my premimus go up?

What if the crash was my fault? Say I was in a star destroyer race through an asteroid belt and my ship got destroyed. Will they still provided a new one?

If they always provide a new ship then whats to stop me from prerforming fraud? Say my ship is old and out of date but my insurence would provide me a nice brand new model why wouldn''t I just crash my ship, or say hid in on asteroid and then return to port in an escape pod and claim that it was stolen pirates?


-----------------------------------------------------
"Fate and Destiny only give you the opportunity the rest you have to do on your own."
Current Design project: Ambitions Slave

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so give the insurance companies investigator guys who try to track down any appropriate evidence, just like they do in real life (only on a larger, more sci-fi scale). they can search the area you claimed to have lost your ship in, maybe scan ships in the area to see if they are your stolen-by-pirates ship, or whatever. instead of the fines and jail time you get for real-life insurance fraud, though, they can just jam a couple photon torpedoes up your tailpipe.

EDIT: in other words, make it possible, but a pretty big risk to try. sure you can get a free ship outta faking it, but if they find out you can bet the Galactic Insurance Company will be able to afford the absolute best bounty hunters.

[edited by - krez on May 9, 2004 2:47:42 PM]

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This is really getting extreemly detailed, not that its bad, but its probably going to take away from what your game orignaly was intended to be. It reminds me of those weekly, virtual-earth evolving MMORPG plans.

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Paulcesar - to little detail is what breaks games, I think mucho detail is a great thing :D LOVELY THING :D

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I think that when Wavinator actually gets toward the finish line, he''ll decide which features should be left in and which should be cut. This one is fairly peripheral, and I don''t think it''s indispensible. We can discuss the theory to our hearts'' content, and then in the eleventh hour Wavinator might say, "Nah. I''ll think about that in version 2, but it''s too much noise for this one." I trust him to balance the game properly, so I''m taking each of these threads as a hypothetical, and only relating it to his other ideas when it seems they would touch.

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quote:
Original post by TechnoGoth
Perhaps the player should have to be the memeber of an organization or faction in order for someone to come looking for them. If your a rouge ship of pirates and slavers, on the run from half the goverments in the galaxy, then its doubtful anyone will even go looking for you if something goes wrong.


True, but I''m thinking of fudging this one just for gameplay''s sake. Maybe you have a buyer, or maybe in pirate honor it''s great to blast a man with guns but shameful to let him die stranded. I am very concerned that you may end up somewhere with no way out, and a fudge might be preferrable to fidelity here.

Also, another idea really could work here: The game is set in a post-apocalyptic environment on the rise. Maybe every planet has a beacon system somewhere on it, sort of like how the Forestry deparment sprinkles survival cabins throughout the mountains (uh, I think the do, anyway...). Or this could be like call boxes on the side of the road, but they''re really just cheap satellites with ground-based call-boxes.



quote:

Does my spaceship insurance cover ship to ship collosions? If A drunken frieghter captain flys into me and scratches my new paint job will my insurance provide pay for a new paint job? If so will my premimus go up?



The most simple way to handle this (in terms of code & player knowledge) is every time there''s damage, the premiums go up, no matter who caused it. Why? Because even though you can detect who caused what effect (what object initiated what collision) you can''t tell WHY it was caused. Did you ram a ship to protect the President? Did you crash into an asteroid because your engines were disabled? Too many variable cases.

Since these are emerging businesses, I don''t think they have to be bound by insurance rules as we know them. If your ship gets damaged or destroyed, it takes points off your reputation, and the lower your rep, the more expensive it is to get coverage (works against new pilots with bigger ships, too).

quote:

What if the crash was my fault? Say I was in a star destroyer race through an asteroid belt and my ship got destroyed. Will they still provided a new one?



I''m thinking that ship loss, as opposed to damage, reduces your insurance rep by 50%. At that point, you wouldn''t be able to get coverage for another ship of equal value, but one of lesser value. It''s a balancing gimmick that reduces complexity (lord knows there''s enough already with your crew and the missions you can take... that''s where I think it should be, not here).

quote:

If they always provide a new ship then whats to stop me from prerforming fraud? Say my ship is old and out of date but my insurence would provide me a nice brand new model why wouldn''t I just crash my ship, or say hid in on asteroid and then return to port in an escape pod and claim that it was stolen pirates?



The insurance claim thingy will be either totally controlled by some game object (maybe your transponder) or some conversation option. IOW, it''s hard to lie when the game doesn''t give you the option to do so.

Now, OTOH, join up with a syndicate, and maybe you''ll get the option to scam as part of a mission...


--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by krez
so give the insurance companies investigator guys who try to track down any appropriate evidence, just like they do in real life (only on a larger, more sci-fi scale). they can search the area you claimed to have lost your ship in, maybe scan ships in the area to see if they are your stolen-by-pirates ship, or whatever. instead of the fines and jail time you get for real-life insurance fraud, though, they can just jam a couple photon torpedoes up your tailpipe.




Hahaha!!! Now THIS would be the most unique reason to die in a video game, ever! "Dude, I scammed Galactic Mutual and they sent psionic mercenaries after me!!!"


quote:

EDIT: in other words, make it possible, but a pretty big risk to try. sure you can get a free ship outta faking it, but if they find out you can bet the Galactic Insurance Company will be able to afford the absolute best bounty hunters.



Like ICC says, maybe save this for v2.0. I like the idea, but I want you more concerned with dealing with mutinies, deadly boarding encounters, intense space battles and exploring strange new worlds than filling out paperwork in triplicate.

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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quote:
Original post by Wavinator
Hahaha!!! Now THIS would be the most unique reason to die in a video game, ever! "Dude, I scammed Galactic Mutual and they sent psionic mercenaries after me!!!"


Well, there's another minigame for you - editing your ship's black box recordings. And you'd better make sure you leave no traces. And ... "Hmm... Captain Wavinator's past three ships all had faulty black boxes..." or "No black box, no insurance claim. Have a nice day getting it back from the Tentacled Vlurbs" or (more a loan thingy) "Since your new ship is in fact 95% ours, Bob, out chief auditor will join your crew. He'll make sure you take good care of our investment. Heed his advice, or else." (Auditor vetoes mission - [B]ribe, [M]aroon, [C]omply?). "Yes, we will help you in your hour of need and get you a starship, but remember - You owe the Family."

See, there are other options than just filling forms (though, you could still have them try to forge some documents, no? )

[edited by - Fruny on May 10, 2004 8:31:47 PM]

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quote:
Original post by Fruny
Well, there''s another minigame for you - editing your ship''s black box recordings.



Hey, this works. For players who go from dock to dock committing grand theft starship it''s also a nice supplimental.

quote:

"No black box, no insurance claim. Have a nice day getting it back from the Tentacled Vlurbs" or (more a loan thingy)



Now here''s a mission to make you angry and motivated! Maybe Galactic Mutual gives you a ride so that you can reclaim your stuff.

Just read a book called Ventus which had an AI ship who''s sole purpose was to escape a trap so that she could report back on her owner''s insurance claim.

quote:

"Since your new ship is in fact 95% ours, Bob, out chief auditor will join your crew. He''ll make sure you take good care of our investment. Heed his advice, or else." (Auditor vetoes mission - [B]ribe, [M]aroon, [C]omply?). "Yes, we will help you in your hour of need and get you a starship, but remember - You owe the Family ."



Haha, I like this, it''s like having a political officer aboard a military ship.

Great ideas!

--------------------
Just waiting for the mothership...

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