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Leechers vs. Nangineers. (nanotheft vs. repair)

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"Gee, that's a nice carbotanium strut, I think I'll leech it..." I'm exploring two possible forms of nanotech-based gameplay: Stripping molecules from a level (nanotheft) versus repairing the stripped portions of the level. Leechers would strip equipment, items and even the floor and walls; engineers would find these areas and repair them. This idea would support surviving in an orbitscraper (vertical city), space station or colonial habitat. The coolest direction to take this would be destructing the level and repairing it, from a physics standpoint. But that's too much to try right now, and would be far too destructive for the intended setting. Instead, what about this: Leechers vs. Nangineers Nanotech is limited by energy cost, computer control and licensing rights. Normal nangineers (nanotech engineers) pay for the nano they need to create the items they want. Leechers, however, get the material they need by stripping it from the habitat in which they live. To do so, they employ scanners and variants of a highly illegal nanotech called Deconstructors (so dangerous that they were once responsible for sandstorm-like city-dissolving clouds all over the Earth). Leecher Gameplay Wander the level looking for low-security areas where material can be siphoned. You employ a scanner (which is illegal to carry/activate outside of designated work areas) to find weaknesses in material. You're looking for either nanobots to steal, or valuable molecular structures that you haven't got the ability to replicate. The newer the material/bots (higher the level in an orbitscraper), the more valuable it is, but also better protected (by roving security, sensors and nanobots). Scanning has a risk in that the longer you scan, the better the chance of finding places to leech, but the more likely you are to attract security. When you find a weak spot, you place a siphon against it, and suck in the material you need. Siphoning has potential consequences: You can create toxic gases, hit powerlines, or create dangerous explosions in equipment. The scanner shows these areas, giving you a projected puzzle to solve in terms of where you want to siphon. Leechers, because they know they're destroying their own home, have a code that involves leaving critical areas alone. So leeching a reactor, or air tanks, or the outer dome of a colony will make you an enemy of both the leechers and the authorities. Nangineer Gameplay Nangineers are faced with a puzzle-like environment left by Leechers. They have to move around subsystems projected out of a piece of equipment or surface, effectively giving them repair puzzles. Some are timed, some have a limited number of tries before something worse happens. Nangineers, when traveling into lower levels of orbitscrapers, often face traps, guardbots, criminals and toxic environments. They are given a limited amount of nano to get the job done, and sometimes a time limit as well. Freeform For Both Nangineers sign up for jobs on a general job board (in the future, we're all temps). Leechers go where their stealth, hacking, and equipment operation skills allow. Jungle-gym For Everybody: Both leechers and nangineers have to navigate the level by climbing on, mantling and jumping over surfaces. They may find themselves in heating cores, drop shafts or other dangerous environments. Logically, the nangineer should get the equipment they need, but you have to bid for jobs in both credits and nano. What you bid controls the equipment you can rent, such as jetpacks or wallwalking boots. Leechers have these limits naturally, and both end up owning good sets of equipment as time progresses, allowing them to do tougher jobs.
I'm trying to strike a balance between logic and playability. Logically, it's suicidal for Leechers to attack their own environment; and you'd think Nangineers would be better equipped. But both would make this boring (unless you've got a better idea, which I'm always happy to hear[smile]).

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It does sound a bit dull :)
You would have to be very careful here, to get something that is even remotely enjoyable (especially for the nangineers).

The most interesting aspect of this seems to be the leecher's need for stealth, sneaking around, surveying a level. At this point in the future something better than CCTV will be available (camera drones? hidden sensor devices?) which would make the stealth and evasion even more important and interesting.

A leecher might have to set up a distraction for nangineers and camera drones in another sector to give him/her time to leech a particuarly useful looking stretch of corridor.

The nangineer's, as part of their job bid, might be able to offer to guard a sector after repairs have been made, watching for leechers and dispatching them. (Imagine a nanengineer with a phaser chasing a leecher through ventilation shafts and back alleys).

Faulty repairs causing problems? A fixed valve explodes in a busy marketplace, injuring or killing people. Then the blame would be on the nanengineer.

I dont like this idea of a puzzle in order to leech or fix things, sounds a little too static for my liking. The best method i can see would be to set up an environment where nanengineers or leechers have multiple tools and materials at their disposal (material cutters, mini teleport devices (to shift stuff you dont want to leech) patching nanobots, welding tools, scanners etc) each of these devices changes the environment in some way (whatever environment it might be). So the nanengineer/leecher would have to figure out a way of using their tools to solve a problem. That would make gameplay interesting. A nanengineer could even use his phaser in an emergency, to cut a peice of a door to patch a broken valve, as a quick fix until he can get his tools together (of course this patch would be of very low quality and likely to break).

Ugh, got a little excited there.

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There is something about this that I really like. Perhaps it’s the way it turns what would end up being a mundane job into a game. I liked puzzle pirates in a similar way but I got bored with the repetition before I ever got good. The minigames were good, but not to my liking for doing hours on end. I think if you turned this puzzle a little more abstract, it could be really fun.




For example: as a nangineer you hear the warning klaxon for a theft in progress. You flip on your info visor and find that yes indeed police have already been dispatched to the area, so you have one less worry. You notice that the bidding has already started. There were 2 comm ports and a blast door control that were affected. You think of the probable cost and realize that with travel to the area it will probably cost you around 12500 mecklars to fix. The initial offer put out was 16400, but it has already worked its way down to 15765. You wonder about the somewhat high price, but you put in an offer of 15580 just for kicks. The computer autobids the price down to 15579. Apparently, that bastard Thermo from crosstown thinks he can out bid you. You enter some lower bids and eventually get the job for 14644. This was much higher than you originally estimated so you should make a fair profit if you were right. On the otherhand, the high price makes you wonder if you missed an important detail, so you grab an extra pack of gold and copper nano just in case before you catch a ride to the site.

When you arrive on site, corridor is deserted. You have a sigh of relief and put away your blaster. You flip your info visor down and run all of the systems in the hallway through their systems checks. It takes a while, but since you are alone and have the time it is worth it. It doesn't look good for your record when a system you fail to check in order to save time later fails. Of course, in a crowded passage, your neck is worth more than a little dirt in your repair record. After running through all of the checks you focus on the most needed repair (your visor points it out by showing it as bright red.) The surroundings fall away as your concentration increases.

Long ago, someone figured out that presenting problem in an abstract form that could be played as a game, the performance of workers increased dramatically. It was also discovered that not every style of gameplay appealed to everyone. When you originally trained for the job, you selected RTS as the style you preferred. (the meaning of the letters has long since disappeared with age) From your vantage point, you can see your nanobots as they work to repair the machine. Since there are none of the leechers bots remaining there is relatively little work for you to do other than direct where to perform the fixes. Within minutes the first repair is done and you move on to the next. On the third repair you find a remaining leecher work colony that your defender bots quickly cleanup. Most of the bot's materials are deconstructed to add to your limited supply. You save a couple of the enemy bots in confinement for several reasons. It helps you collect bounty, you can sometimes pick up a new tech being used by the leechers, and rarely, you can convert a bot so it will work for you. On to the next trouble spot.

As you work you think about the training you have been through. If you preferred you could have been in FPS mode where you would have actually been shooting the trouble locations with your repair gun while keeping your eyes peeled for enemy bots to have fun with. You could also be in pure puzzle mode, but you don't recall much of that. You finish up the repairs and decide to run through a systems check one last time to see if a new problem crops up. Sure enough, a small subsystem that wasn't activated before due to the repairs shows up. You throw in a couple of repair bots and are fixing a small trouble spot when the first attack wave hits you. You throw in defense bot by the dozen and execute a fighting retreat to form some kind of base to fight from. You are fortunate to find a small conduit to tap power from. You quick form a bot base and start creating some better defenses. You realize you have three problems:

*limited material to work from. Although you are allowed some leeway, you cannot cause other systems to shut down.
*limited energy to use. The small conduit was enough to start you off but you will need more to win this battle. Which brings us to #3
*very intelligent enemy bots fighting you. This is either a rouge AI you are fighting or another person on the other end of the line.

As you ponder this last point and its implications, your new RL proximity sensor blares at you. You are back in the corridor as your sensors pull you back into real life. Your blaster is out if its holster by instinct alone. There at the other end of the hall is Thermo. "I thought you might need some help," he says.
"Yeah, got a live one here," you mumble. Just as you flip your visor back down to rejoin the battle, you notice a faint pink line running from Thermo to the comm port.
In a flash you realize that if Thermo is already connected, then he is the one you are fighting. You fire your blaster just as he is pulling his out. Since time is of the essence you quickly search his body with clinical detail. Ignoring the gaping blaster wound in the chest, his body is covered with gadgets that will help you. Back in the game, your defenses have taken a beating, but are holding. The enemy is notably easier to defeat now. You make sure to capture some bots as evidence.
With the repairs completed, your pack full, and your neck still attached to your head, you head back to the station. All told, with the original lump sum, the materials collected, bots converted, equipment from the body, and the sizable bounty you will receive from defeating a notoriously elusive leecher, you made an impressive profit.


Or something like that.

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Quote:
Original post by Wavinator


Logically, the nangineer should get the equipment they need, but you have to bid for jobs in both credits and nano. What you bid controls the equipment you can rent, such as jetpacks or wallwalking boots. Leechers have these limits naturally, and both end up owning good sets of equipment as time progresses, allowing them to do tougher jobs.


I'm trying to strike a balance between logic and playability. Logically, it's suicidal for Leechers to attack their own environment; and you'd think Nangineers would be better equipped. But both would make this boring (unless you've got a better idea, which I'm always happy to hear[smile]).



Taking something apart is always easier than putting it together (easier to destroy than create....).

The Leechers have the easier job (can marshal resources at an attack point)
and the Nangineers have to spend resources defensively -- spread out ( they get more resources because they are supported by the 'establishment', but they also need more....).

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Just thought of another aspect you could use -- infiltration by both sides.


Also:

Each side can also be organized (not all leeching is done by freelancers)

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Original post by toipot
The most interesting aspect of this seems to be the leecher's need for stealth, sneaking around, surveying a level. At this point in the future something better than CCTV will be available (camera drones? hidden sensor devices?) which would make the stealth and evasion even more important and interesting.


What about commanding small flyers and drones through subtunnels and access ducts via telepresence? There could be obstacles and enemy robots to overcome in this environment, which might be based off of the need to fix or access something behind walls.

Quote:

A leecher might have to set up a distraction for nangineers and camera drones in another sector to give him/her time to leech a particuarly useful looking stretch of corridor.


Hmmmm... setting up distractions is a good idea. But it needs some sort of process. Actually, maybe the bot idea might work... maybe you use some sort of remote to start trouble elsewhere?

Quote:

The nangineer's, as part of their job bid, might be able to offer to guard a sector after repairs have been made, watching for leechers and dispatching them. (Imagine a nanengineer with a phaser chasing a leecher through ventilation shafts and back alleys).


Maybe chasing could work a bit like Driv3r. If the one being chased gets far enough ahead of the pursuer, then he gets away. So you could be either.

Quote:

Faulty repairs causing problems? A fixed valve explodes in a busy marketplace, injuring or killing people. Then the blame would be on the nanengineer.


When you finish something, what's a good way to tell you the quality that you've achieved? A straight percentage chance of failure?

Quote:

I dont like this idea of a puzzle in order to leech or fix things, sounds a little too static for my liking. The best method i can see would be to set up an environment where nanengineers or leechers have multiple tools and materials at their disposal (material cutters, mini teleport devices (to shift stuff you dont want to leech) patching nanobots, welding tools, scanners etc) each of these devices changes the environment in some way (whatever environment it might be). So the nanengineer/leecher would have to figure out a way of using their tools to solve a problem. That would make gameplay interesting.


Let me clarify and see if you still feel the same way: The puzzles would be randomized and "projected holographically" (or whatever) out of objects. There would be a variety of them, some a bit like Bejeweled or Pipes, others involving timing. The different equipment you'd buy would have both an initial cost and resource per use costs (in types of nano), and would dictate which type of puzzle / minigame you want to play.

Also, I imagine some environments, like an old corridoor with exposed electrical lines below the floor, would be environmental puzzles themselves, which would require either different equipment to navigate or some way of deactivating.

Quote:

A nanengineer could even use his phaser in an emergency, to cut a peice of a door to patch a broken valve, as a quick fix until he can get his tools together (of course this patch would be of very low quality and likely to break).


I'd like to be able to do something like this but it requires a good constructive solid geometry system, which I won't have access to. What I'd LOVE to be able to do is let you cut up a level and use it to solve environmental and combat challenges, but that'll have to wait for v2.0. [wink]

Quote:

Ugh, got a little excited there.


Unfortunately, engineering is not the most exciting topic around (just look at the dearth of responses [smile]). So I appreciate every little bit!

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Original post by Thermodynamics
There is something about this that I really like. Perhaps it’s the way it turns what would end up being a mundane job into a game. I liked puzzle pirates in a similar way but I got bored with the repetition before I ever got good. The minigames were good, but not to my liking for doing hours on end. I think if you turned this puzzle a little more abstract, it could be really fun.


Just a quick question about Puzzle Pirates: What was your drive to solve the puzzles? Did that game have any sort of economic pressure, or did you just wander from puzzle to puzzle?





Quote:

For example: as a nangineer you hear the warning klaxon for a theft in progress.


You know, if I can pull this game off, I swear there will be some Thermodynamics statue somewhere in the game! [lol] Dude, thanks for a great example! It suggests gameplay in a way that I didn't quite see.


Quote:

Apparently, that bastard Thermo from crosstown thinks he can out bid you.


Specific characters that keep doing stuff like this are a GREAT way of creating emotional investment. I also like the E-bay style timed bidding as yet another minigame to round this out, which I've been thinking of applying across the board.

Quote:

Long ago, someone figured out that presenting problem in an abstract form that could be played as a game, the performance of workers increased dramatically. It was also discovered that not every style of gameplay appealed to everyone. When you originally trained for the job, you selected RTS as the style you preferred. (the meaning of the letters has long since disappeared with age) From your vantage point, you can see your nanobots as they work to repair the machine. Since there are none of the leechers bots remaining there is relatively little work for you to do other than direct where to perform the fixes. Within minutes the first repair is done and you move on to the next. On the third repair you find a remaining leecher work colony that your defender bots quickly cleanup. Most of the bot's materials are deconstructed to add to your limited supply. You save a couple of the enemy bots in confinement for several reasons. It helps you collect bounty, you can sometimes pick up a new tech being used by the leechers, and rarely, you can convert a bot so it will work for you. On to the next trouble spot.


Great, this suggests some interesting depth. But can you see continuously doing this, or would the gameplay need to radically vary?

I'm thinking this needs to scale in some direction. Maybe it's longer, more tricky environmental puzzles? Or maybe it's more challenging minigames, the lower you go? Or maybe more threats from the outside world?

Quote:

If you preferred you could have been in FPS mode where you would have actually been shooting the trouble locations with your repair gun while keeping your eyes peeled for enemy bots to have fun with. You could also be in pure puzzle mode, but you don't recall much of that.


If it were possible to implement different modes just like this, do you think each would have to give a different payoff?

Let's assume you have 3 minigame types: Two are 2D, one being a kind of "rotate pieces" powerflow puzzle, another the nanobots puzzle; the third uses the game's engine to simulate flying a small nanoprobe through the wires, riding powerflows and "attacking" powerspots.

Now, you buy the tool that matches the minigame you want to play. But what if you like playing them all? It would be a waste for you to buy all three.


Quote:

"Yeah, got a live one here," you mumble. Just as you flip your visor back down to rejoin the battle, you notice a faint pink line running from Thermo to the comm port.


Espionage, subterfuge and sabotage. LOVE it!

I also like that there's some clue that you get that makes this so. I'm going to have to think of ways to improve clue dropping, I really like that aspect.


Quote:

Back in the game, your defenses have taken a beating, but are holding.


Cool. How would you represent disengaging but still monitoring progress? Would you use some sort of status bar, like in Dynasty Warriors, which has a marker that drifts from one side to the other to tell who is winning?

Quote:

The enemy is notably easier to defeat now. You make sure to capture some bots as evidence.


The evidence thing really intrigues me. In this example you just killed someone, but they're not marked as an enemey.

Programmatically speaking, I'm trying to figure out how this might work. If you find illegal material in a system do you simply match it with someone? There needs to be some sort of fingerprinting mechanism, because you're not going to be able to program "circumstantial evidence."

Quote:

All told, with the original lump sum, the materials collected, bots converted, equipment from the body, and the sizable bounty you will receive from defeating a notoriously elusive leecher, you made an impressive profit.


Bravo! You've made ME want to play this! [lol] (Now all I have to do is adapt this gameplay to being a starship engineer, where there are no Leechers, and you'll be able to get into some really cool careers... but that's another post.)

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Original post by Anonymous Poster

Taking something apart is always easier than putting it together (easier to destroy than create....).


Good point. Maybe to help balance this, taking things apart without setting off alarms or causes danger to yourself should be as hard as creating?

Quote:

The Leechers have the easier job (can marshal resources at an attack point)
and the Nangineers have to spend resources defensively -- spread out ( they get more resources because they are supported by the 'establishment', but they also need more....).


These guys aren't supposed to be pitted against each other in multiplayer, so I'm a bit okay with a bit of imbalance. The Leechers theoretically have less backing from society, whereas the Nangineers can call in the cops.




Quote:

Just thought of another aspect you could use -- infiltration by both sides.


Hey, what could be interesting is infiltrating enemy factions and deconstructing different parts of an enemy base. Or maybe Nangineers infiltrate and set up traps and weapons inside an enemy base? Hmmm... not sure...


Quote:

Each side can also be organized (not all leeching is done by freelancers)


This is true, but while I can see doing missions for a faction, I'm not exactly sure how you would be rewarded by being part of an organization. If you get rank in some sort of guild, what does that give you? You need to be able to do something that's as fun as working for yourself.

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Quick throwaway idea: an engineer in one locale could then work as a leech in another locale - using captured tech and knowledge of defensive procedures to give himself an edge...

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Original post by rmsgrey
Quick throwaway idea: an engineer in one locale could then work as a leech in another locale - using captured tech and knowledge of defensive procedures to give himself an edge...


Oh, good point. Maybe factions might work well here in some sort of limited construction/deconstruction war with each other, regulated by the authorities.

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