Sign in to follow this  
Wavinator

Text interrupts or "drop your cargo & I'll let you live!"

Recommended Posts

How would you recommend text interrupts being implemented for a real-time game? aka, how to do a "this is a stickup!"? In Freelancer when a pirate or police ship demands that you drop your cargo you get a pop-up dialog box telling you what they want and giving you the option to ignore or comply, but the game keeps running (and you keep moving). If you leave the dialog box up long enough (presummably to read the text) you can get so far ahead of them by the time the dialog box expires that their demands are pointless. What would have been a good way to avoid such an problem? Should pirates who detect juicy cargo or cops that scan contraband somehow disable you? If you're disabled, then there's really no point in them making a demand, is there? Or should the game grind to a halt so that you have time to read the text and click the dialog box? Maybe such sequences should be implemented as cutscenes where the foes position themselves around you and you get the option to talk your way through or abort? If so, how should multiplayer be handled? (I know some will propose an all speech option, but the more text and interesting conversation you'll want to have the less of a chance you'll have to do this.)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
How would you recommend text interrupts being implemented for a real-time game? aka, how to do a "this is a stickup!"?

In Freelancer when a pirate or police ship demands that you drop your cargo you get a pop-up dialog box telling you what they want and giving you the option to ignore or comply, but the game keeps running (and you keep moving). If you leave the dialog box up long enough (presummably to read the text) you can get so far ahead of them by the time the dialog box expires that their demands are pointless.

What would have been a good way to avoid such an problem? Should pirates who detect juicy cargo or cops that scan contraband somehow disable you? If you're disabled, then there's really no point in them making a demand, is there?

Or should the game grind to a halt so that you have time to read the text and click the dialog box? Maybe such sequences should be implemented as cutscenes where the foes position themselves around you and you get the option to talk your way through or abort? If so, how should multiplayer be handled?

(I know some will propose an all speech option, but the more text and interesting conversation you'll want to have the less of a chance you'll have to do this.)

Don't use modal dialogs. Instead, have some kind of a notification area. If you don't respond within X seconds, the pirates assume you're ignoring them and will open fire or perhaps merely reinforce their demands by firing a warning shot. Likewise, if you turn and flee, the pirates would give chase.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Hase
The actual how *very* much depends on what your game mechanics are like (i.e. how travel works). More info please.


The devil's in the details, as they say. :)

Interrupts would happen in these areas:

Flying
Using the mouse/joystick to actively steer or the AI in the form of autopilot or NPC pilot. If in space, there's a special "iFTL" (interplanetary FTL) mode that's basically a warp with some status bars to manage; a "jump" that has a "charging up" delay before jumping to another star system; or a dive into a wormhole, which happens with a "collision" with the point.

There's also the issue of getting an interrupt as you're attempting to dock and whether or not the enemy simply lets you escape into the station / capital ship / jumpgate.

You control throttle, vector and various other sensor / weapons settings. If you're running something larger than a fighter / shuttle, you may have an NPC at the helm, in which case it's simply the NPC reporting the demands.

Pirates or police trigger on a successful scan based on their personality, number and your threat value and reputation. If you're flying at iFTL velocities (multiples of light speed) you can be stopped with a missile or an "interdiction field" which is a huge wall (generated by another ship's inverted jump drive). A slower ship tries to fire a missile at you; a faster ship pulls in front and raises the wall.

Driving
You get comm messages similar to with flying. Probably a more simple case unless you consider the ability to ram into enemies or run them down with little damage (unlike with ships).

Mouse control again with keyboard handling throttle.

Walking
On foot you can be ambushed by enemies coming out of shadows or "decloaking" and sticking a gun in your face. This is really where an "I surrender" mechanism is needed (even if the surrender is temporary).

If you access anything other than options or talk, your enemy attacks or interrupts the move with a warning. Enemies adjacent to you can de-equip or even take your items.

Again, mouse-look and movement controlled by the keyboard.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
The Escape Velocity series is a set of top-down 2D space flight/trade/combat games. Communication in those games occurs in two ways - through dialogue boxes, which pause gameplay, and through one-line alert messages at the bottom of the screen, which don't. The former is really where any changes in the AI occur (e.g. answering incorrectly makes non-hostile ships become hostile, or giving a bribe buys off enemy ships), while the latter is used primarily for notification of intent ("You have entered a restricted area; leave now or be fired upon" where all ships in the area spawn as hostile, but since you warp in a distance away from everyone, you have time to react). It works quite well, though since it's a single-player game, it doesn't have to worry overmuch about pausing gameplay. For multiplayer, you of course can't pause gameplay at any point, really; the dialogue boxes should still work, but the player would need to process them more quickly because the universe keeps changing. There's nothing inherently wrong about that so long as the dialogues are simple. If you want to put plot in here, though, you should probably set up some system so that the people involved in plot can't be disturbed by other players.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I think just have a dialog box, and if you are 2 far away just make it disapear, otherwise if you are close and take too long, just have a timer showing until they will attack.


.....
wavinator have you made any parts of your game yet , so u could post screenshots?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by johnnyBravo
I think just have a dialog box, and if you are 2 far away just make it disapear, otherwise if you are close and take too long, just have a timer showing until they will attack.


Unfortunately, except for the timer, this is pretty much how Freelancer does it, and it's really easy to abuse to the point that you don't even respect someone who demands your cargo. This makes it so that you really only respect being shot at and would make situations like dramtic orders to stand down impossible.


Quote:

wavinator have you made any parts of your game yet , so u could post screenshots?


Hey, thanks for asking! Right now my priority is fundraising and networking. I've decided that my best chance for success is investing in people and licenses so that the team will be local, people will be committed, and it will have a much higher chance of being finished. I started on "internet team project" route, and although several good people were interested as I looked at the the fate of other projects I began to see a need to try and get more resources for this idea.

So basically no screenshots yet (unless you want some pretty awful examples of how I've been abusing the Torque engine [lol])

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
HAve a little chime go off when somebody tries to contact the player. The player must press a key to respond. Then bring-up the dialog box. This way the player can consciously choose to to ignore the communication.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
If your flying system has cruise speed or any sort of smooth navigation, you could have enemies spend some seconds locking in your speed / bearing, and have them consider any significant deviation from these values as an escape attempt.
you want these to be:

flying: small speed variation, bearing changes < 90º
driving: small speed variation (unless near a corner, should return to std speed after leaving corner), bearing changes < 180º
walking: no running (keep walking or stop is ok), bearing doesn't matter.

An interrupt should be aborted during docking *ONLY* if the base/ship you're docking to is safe. Say, a big station which is protected by the police. Or if the interrupt is from the police, it should proceed unless you're docking with a monster criminal capital ship, in which case the police should take off.
There should be no interrupts once you've started docking.

Hope this is what you needed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Kelly G
HAve a little chime go off when somebody tries to contact the player. The player must press a key to respond. Then bring-up the dialog box. This way the player can consciously choose to to ignore the communication.


now thats a good idea!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Kelly G
HAve a little chime go off when somebody tries to contact the player. The player must press a key to respond. Then bring-up the dialog box. This way the player can consciously choose to to ignore the communication.


This just may be what's needed. It's simple and straightforward (and reminds me of the Star Trek hail). It could even be accompanied by a faction glyph that pops up letting you know who's calling so you can ignore talking for encounters that you know are going to be all bad.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Madster
If your flying system has cruise speed or any sort of smooth navigation, you could have enemies spend some seconds locking in your speed / bearing, and have them consider any significant deviation from these values as an escape attempt.
you want these to be:


The speed part might work but I'm not sure about the bearing if there's any confusion with mousing around to get to the interface and turning (which there will be for newbies-- I still try to push buttons and end up turning in Freelancer). You could throw in the idea of range as well, that they attack if they see you getting out too far.

Quote:

An interrupt should be aborted during docking *ONLY* if the base/ship you're docking to is safe. Say, a big station which is protected by the police. Or if the interrupt is from the police, it should proceed unless you're docking with a monster criminal capital ship, in which case the police should take off.
There should be no interrupts once you've started docking.


So you're saying if you're docking with a friendly station and pirates acost you then any interrupt should be ignored? Just to be clear...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Quote:
Original post by Wavinator
So you're saying if you're docking with a friendly station and pirates acost you then any interrupt should be ignored? Just to be clear...


yeah, since you could assume that the station is enough to defend you.
If its not enough, then i guess you could have the pirates target the station instead, while you're in it.

I'ts like ringing a bell while you're being assaulted. If the thief feels that he can't stand up to whoever is in the house, he'll flee.

(did that once)

Edit: i got the question backwards.
If you're already docking and pirates acost you, you could argue that comm channels are busy with the station during docking, and so any comms other than the station are ignored. They should consider targeting the station instead (i mean, if you're already docking then you're not a lonely target)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Just an idea to add to the chime thing

In Rome:Total War (turn based) you get little notification icons that stack up on one side of the screen. Glancing at the image gives you an idea what the message refers to, mousing over it gives a summary of what the message is, clicking on it gives you the full details. So you can very quickly determine if you're interested in the message or not. You could have something similar, so for instance you would get a "High Priority" message (with menacing audio cues), glancing at it (or the equivalent of a mouse over) will show "Stand and Deliver!!!". Then selecting it will give the detailed threat.

Such a message shouldn't take you more than five second to glance through and maybe ten - twenty seconds at most to respond to. And the truth is if whoever was threatening you could not keep up with you for a mere 20 seconds then odds are you weren't going to stop anyway.
In most real life scenarios (and by real life I mean action movies, cartoons and comics :P ) whoever is demanding you stop and listen has to at least be able to chase you for a while, while they try to convince you, before they decide War is the best option.

Such a system also allows you to have icons like 'Request for trade', 'SOS' etc. and if it blends well with the game can allow you to deal with what would othewise be considered a ton of junk mail!

The issue with such a system will be the interface. If you have FPS controls (which sound like what you've described) interfacing with on-screen icons or messages becomes difficult. I guess you could have something like 'hold down middle mouse button to switch to mouse pointer mode' at whch time your movement goes into a sort of cruise control.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I imagine Wavinator using a control scheme very similar to Freelancer --- which IMHO has the best control scheme of any space sim ever made --- in which case on-screen buttons would fit perfectly with the rest of the interface. I, too, like the idea of an "incoming message" alert. It's very irritating in Freelancer when I'm trying to do something, like check out my inventory, and suddenly a threat pops up. I can't do anything else until I confirm it one way or the other. Ignorance should be treated as a hostile action.

Of course, if you're using actual voice instead of message windows, I have no problem with bad guys calling at any time, as long as I'm not already on the comm. The problem then is how to respond. (Voice recognition is possible, and would indeed be extremely cool, but not everyone has microphones.) Nevertheless, I prefer the idea of an incoming message queue. Startopia used this to great effect. If you weren't quick to respond, you could miss out on profitable cargo trades --- either because an opponent would pick them up first, or the vessel would simply get bored and leave.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Hmm.. As usual it takes a while before I notice your post Wavinator.. Anyway:

In my opinion it would be best to pop up the message on a visible spot on the screen. Not in the middle, but not so it can go unnoticed either. Perhaps with a chime to signify importance.

The "The ship is hailing us" thing from Star Trek only works when the ship has a communications officer. A normal radio broadcast on a standard channel would be audible in the headset of a fighter pilot for instance. It's only if you need special handshaking, such as with a telephone that you need to "connect". Long distance calls such as subspace transmissions, could require handshaking. You get caller-ID of course. With ship to ship communications I suggest that you use normal two way radio. The comm officer in your ship hears something like "Klingon Warbird K'Ragh calling Federation Starship. Come in!", then the comm officer tells the captain that the ship is trying to hail.

If it was a hold up the message would be "Federation Starship: Heave to and prepare to be boarded! If you try something we'll blow you out of the sky!". Since the message is a normal radio signal they know that the message has been recieved and if they don't get a reply they know the starship is stalling and they'll at the very least fire a shot across her bow (Yeah, they allways claim their equipment wasn't working, but we know better [smile]). As soon as the comm officer hears the hail he'll tell the captain their intention. This should be reflected in a game.

Since you're making a RPG, I assume the ship will have a communications officer and in that case a message cue would work. Just make sure that the hailer doesn't keep waiting for an answer, otherwise you'd have the same problem as in Freelancer. And make it easy to see the hail.

I suggest that you get a voice message or a text message that tells you the nature of the hail. Either the hail message in it's entirety or a summary if the message is long (store both in a script). If you have a mouse pointer you can hover over the message to see or hear the hail. By clicking you can choose a suitable response. If the mouse is used in controlling the ship, a keypress can do the same. When you choose a response that is the first time your ship transmits. "Hi. This is the Battlecruiser aZZK1kr. How can we help you?" is a suitable first response (but might not play well in a hold-up [smile]).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
How about->
1: incomming comms warning (you either ignore or accept), audiable bleep or comms officer voice warns of incomming message.
You have 20 seconds to respond to the hail.
You ignore or no responce past 20 secs.....: they open fire.
You accept: carry on

2:"Stop and prepare to be borded or we open fire" like message coms across the coms. You have 10 seconds to shut down your primary engines.
You dont shut down: They open fire.
You shut them down: Carry on.

3:Do your back and forth with enemy then(maybe) your borded by enemy thang right here.

They wont miss an incomming message as they will have 20 seconds of BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP BLEEP or
the coms officer saying: "(some ship) is trying to hail us captain, shall i respond"
a few seconds later you tacticle officer is warnirng you: "Thier charging weapons and raising thier sheilds captain"
Coms officer again:"Thier still trying to hail us captain"
Tatical again:"This looks like a stick up sir i recomend we either respond of hightail it out of here"

To stop this becoming repetative you could give the player a "Quiet on the bridge" command or "That will be enough thank you...[coms,tactical, etc] drop down list"

Now your sure the player as definatley got the message start moving through the stages of the encounter giving them a set time for each part a full emergancy engine shutdown should be available at a key press or menu choice.

so its Contact:(20 seconds to respond if you run they fire)->Showdown:(10 seconds to emegency engine shut down or they fire, run and they fire)-> Point of No Return: your either borded or fighting them by now.

This way your not locked into an encounter you always have the option to run, but running will cause them to open fire, you have set times to respond so no "freelancing" out of it.
Once your engine is down, assuming you cant go from a stand still to warp 9 in .02 of a second THEN dialog between ships can commence .
It can be as long winded as you like with multiple text options coz as soon as the player starts to try and iniate his engines they will detect it and open fire it so while your stationary and they have the upper hand you can com chat as long as you like.

Not sure if thats what your after?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
My ideas:

Definately use icons on-screen to alert you of being hijacked by pirates or police trying to stop you. Instead of using the mouse to hover over the icon, you could use hotkeys(F1, F2, F3, F4 etc). So basically you would get a maximum of 12 messages before the first one gets bumped off the screen(possibly put into a memory bank to check later).

The icons could have different colors to represent they're urgency:

Green: Friendly( example: an allied unit giving you a message)

Yellow: Neutral (example: a trade between you and a neutral NPC or PC)

Red: Enemy (example: a pirate attempting to take your cargo)

Priority order:

Red: Highest priority

Green: Mid priority

Yellow: Lowest priority

Maybe, after 20 seconds or so, red icons will make an additional noise to make sure you are aware of whats happening.
When a new icon appears, maybe it should go to the center of the screen for 1 to 2 seconds before going to the corner. This way, you don't have to be listening to know you've gotten a new message.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Instead of waiting to attack, maybe cops/pirates/whoever should just open fire while simultaneously a non-modal messagebox pops up with "dump X or you're toast." This could activate a sort of context-sensitive "give in to their demands" button or something that would quickly dump the offending cargo and stop the attack (of course it would be wise to make sure that button isn't something they're likely to be pressing accidentally at the time). This way there's no possibility of waiting the threat out, and it's still possible to give in with little or no damage. Also it strikes me as a little more realistic. Unless you have one-shot-kill ship-to-ship-weapons it gives the cops/pirates/whoever a real advantage to open with the first volley and put themselves in the confrontation's position of power, eg by wiping out half your shields with concentrated fire (concentrated fire/shield overloading is a feature of your game right? you've made so many posts about this game I forget half of them) before you even realize what's happening.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Thanks again for the feedback, folks. I've had to sit with this for awhile, especially considering multiplayer, but in synthesizing the ideas here I like the idea of "warning shots" that don't fully disable you combined with a tone and context-sensitive "surrender the goods" pop up icon. It would probably be smart to swap out parts of the screen for comms or cargo surrender rather than pop ups, as well. Since everything's mouse driven (joystick with menu selection via hat optional) it should be quick and intuitive if such icons always appear in the same place.

With people walking around I still don't have a good resolution. One thing I'm thinking about is a "Caught Flatfooted" status effect that ties in with stats like Perception and stealth. If your character is so surprised that they're not able to instinctively react, they raise their hands in surrender. Maybe this doesn't occur if your character has a weapon in hand unless the enemy either has a weapon or tactical position (gun to your head) that would instantly kill you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

Sign in to follow this