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CharlesFXD

Leveling up for ones crew onboard a space vessel.

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Would like some opinions on leveling up for one’s crew onboard a space vessel. A few buddies and myself are working on a multiplayer space fleet combat game/simulation where you are in control of a single ship and are responsible for its systems, weapons, crew etc. This is in no way an MMO. The universe is not dynamic. All you have is a persistent ship and crew. Gameplay is multiplayer only. Join a server, battle, earn experience, log off, join again later as the same guy. I gotta stress this cause people ask a lot “so, this is an mmo?” The game is primarily intended to simulate space fleet combat from the captains perspective BUT I just cant get away from the idea that tooling around with your crew and watching them grow (and die) would be more than a little fun. One idea is to have your crew level up over time. Another idea is to allow the player to create a “command staff” of key officers who are in charge of specific ship stations and these key officers confer bonuses to their direct subordinates. For example there would be a Chief Engineer. He would be one of 3 levels. Cadet, Veteran, or Expert. (only 3 cause I want to keep it easy) The Cadet would confer no bonus, the vet would confer somewhat of a bonus and the expert would confer a greater bonus to his crew’s efficiency. Something like this: Chief Engineer - Responsible for maintenance and monitoring of ships systems including drives, life support. -Serves a specific function and modifies his engineering crew’s efficiency. -The higher his experience the more power he will squeeze out of the power plant for your ship to use. From the Chief Engineer to his Engineering Officers: As a Cadet · Confers no bonuses. As a Veteran Bonus from the Chief Engineer: · +4% power gleaned from the power plant · +6% efficiency to the engines · +5% more thrust from the engines As an Expert Bonus from the Chief Engineer: · +6% power gleaned from the power plant · +7% efficiency to the engines · +6% more thrust from the engines · -10 seconds to power up/power down to all systems · -4 seconds to charge all HVR cannons for firing So what we have here is a Chief Engineer (Gordi LaForge/Scotty etc) who, as his experience grows, confers better and better bonuses to the engineering section. Also, I want to have your Command Staff officers earn attributes over time as well. Chief Engineers Attributes– Duties – Responsible for maintenance and monitoring of ships systems including drives, life support, weapons etc. Abilities/Attributes – ”Feels” The Ship – Has an uncanny ability to know where there is wasted power on his ship and he takes care of the problem asap. +5% power from the power plant Known in the Fleet – Well known for his abilities through out the Fleet. Every Captain wants this Chief in Engineering. +5% power form power plant. +5% extra thrust to the engines Loves his Job – Could not imagine doing anything else in life than tooling on a starship. +10% power to the thrusters. Better handling. Good Leader – The people under his command perform better than expected. He is respected by his engineering staff and their performance gets a boost because of it. etc etc etc My question is this: What is the best way, in your opinions, to A)level up the chief engineer and B)to allow him to earn these Attributes over time? If I am being vague in any way I apologize. I am sooooooooo tired. :p

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- Distribute the experience earned during a battle evenly among all crews, with or without any difference between high level crew or low level crew.

- Depending on how well a particular section performed in a battle a crew assigned to it will gain experience accordingly. For example, weapons section performed very well in a battle having more hits then misses. The weapons officer may get some extra experience.

- You can allow players to equip certain equipment on the ship that helps crew gain experience.

- Crews may gain attributes through certain special situations. For example, in a particular battle you manage to do 5 critical hits to an enemy ship. Your weapons officer may gain a "Lucky Shot" attribute that increases his chance to critically hit other ships.


The crew system you were talking about sounds similar to another MMO game call Navyfield, you can check out their system. Though personally I don't really like the grind to level up crews.

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Something to consider is experience - fatigue - trauma.

In between battles, you can hire fresh crew experienced in various stations. The more stations and experience they have, the more it costs.

You can also debark crewmen for cross-training, therapy, and recreation. These crewmen are not available for the next battle. You'll always have more crew than you need for each battle, so if the ship is destroyed you aren't starting completely over with crappy crewmen.

Cross-training allows a crewman to gain experience in a new station. This helps later in battles because you will be able to move the crew around as others get fatigued, traumatized, injured, or killed.

Therapy wipes out all of a crewman's battle trauma. Recreation wipes out his fatigue.

During battle, each action by a station provides a little experience + fatigue. Non-use of a station reduces a little fatigue on it's members.
Each accident or hit near a station provides trauma, injury, or death to nearby personnel (by "hit" I mean on the ship itself, not deflected by shields). Crew can be moved from station to station as long as they have some experience with it. If a station's crew is disabled/eliminated and there aren't any available who have been there before, then that station is off-line for the rest of the battle.

Take or leave any of the above as you see fit...

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Did you ever play XCom: UFO defence or it's sequals?

It had a rather cool "peon experience" system.

Your peons (soldiers in that game) had names, stats, gear. You had to pay a hiring bonus (covering death benefits!) to get a new peon, and they had a weekly salary. Peons for hire where randomly generated, and your faction with various "NPC groups" could determine if you got more or fewer peons availiable.

Peons had a relatively high death rate, but gained experience. Higher experience peons where very valueable. You could also hire Androids who had higher base stats and skills, but never gained XP.

On missions, you picked which peons you would bring with you. It was generally a good idea to bring some high-XP, some newbies (to give them XP), and some androids (expendable, skilled troops).

Peons "back at base" had some utility -- sometimes the aliens would attack more than one place (so you needed backup), or they would sometimes attack your base. In general, "back at base" peons where less useful than peons on a mission, however (but they had their uses).

...

To translate this to your game:
You have a "crew pool" of employees. Each mission you can pick from your crew pool. All members of your crew pool need to be paid, even if you don't bring them along.

In this game, crew "back at base" can either be useless, or maybe they can do "research" and "go to school" etc.

Death from ship damage should be common. Chains of command (pre-set) determine who takes over when someone dies.

Your crew's effectiveness at a task (say, damage control) is determined by both the leadership for the task, and the skills of the damage control workers.

For DC, the leadership of the (captain, head engeneer, DC chief) might apply. The skills of (DC chief*1+ DC engeneers*2 + DC techs*1) * (leadership%) might determine your "crew DC skill".

When the blaster hits your ship and kills the DC chief and 2 DC techs, auto-promote kicks in (the sr DC engeneer is promoted to DC chief, and 2 grunts are recruited for DC), and your ships DC skill is refactored (and probably lowered!).

...

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I think you should check out Silent Hunter 3. I find submarine combat to be the most like space combat, and the game has a very good crew system similar to what you seem to have in mind. I think in the game people generally level up by working at their assigned task (whatever that happens to be, or what you assigned them to), and gain promotions from actually surviving. ;D

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Good suggestions all.

I think I’ll approach the other members with this suggestion. Tell me what you guys think.

Over time your command staff OiC’s (Officers in Charge like the chief engineer, damage control officer, Exec etc) will earn experience for every battle they take part in no matter how well the ship does. You learn from your mistakes too. It wont be a lot but over time it will accumulate.

If a section (engineering, tactical, medical, etc) performs exceptionally well, the OiC will earn a bit more experience.

If the OiC dies in battle all the experience is lost. You’ll have to requisition a new section leader and start from scratch.

If a high volume of an OiC’s crew dies in a single battle, the OiC will loose some experience.

The “experience” earned is not just his experience. It is an amalgamation of his and his section’s experience.

Throughout the game the player will earn what I’m calling requisition points. These points will allow the player to requisition more advanced sub systems, weapons, armor etc.

If the player wishes he can requisition a new OiC with a higher skill level if he wants to spend the points for it.

Attributes can be applied in 2 different ways.

Quote:
Si Hao
- Crews may gain attributes through certain special situations. For example, in a particular battle you manage to do 5 critical hits to an enemy ship. Your weapons officer may gain a "Lucky Shot" attribute that increases his chance to critically hit other ships.


Solid idea. These will make up a special set of Attributes that can be earned though exemplarity service.

The primary way your OiC’s will earn attributes is by the player spending requisition points on “upgrades”.

In my little sci-fi universe just about everyone onboard a fleet vessel is mechanically augmented according to their duty station. The player, as the Captain, would choose to upgrade his Exec’s profile and add “Advanced Leadership” or some such.

The player would simply requisition this upgrade as he would requisition more armor, weapons or sub systems.

Solid enough?

Si Hao, it’s funny that you bring up Navy Field man. That game and the HW2 Mod “Point Defense System” were my inspiration for this game.

Novaflex, trauma and fatigue are great modifiers. I didn’t think of it before. I wont be sending crew members to Dianna Troy though for therapy though ;) Thank you for the concept.

NotaYakk said
Quote:
Your crew's effectiveness at a task (say, damage control) is determined by both the leadership for the task, and the skills of the damage control workers.


This too is solid. I intended to leave the group skills of the 100 or so damage control personnel out of the equation and rely on just the OiC. I’ll think on it.

Gyrthok, I’ll give it a whirl. I enjoyed Enigma myself and we are trying to translate old wet navy tactics to space combat somewhat. Is it realistic? With reactionless drives I think it’ll apply.

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It's hard to imagine all the necessary tasks on a space vessel. Obviously someone needs to man the helm. There are probably multiple weapons that can be controlled, and you mentioned an engineer so I wonder if things will be degrading over time (or is he stuck at the generator the whole time doing some puzzle as quick as possible to draw out power?) I'd probably want one or two little scout gunner ships who fly independantly of the main ship but get their energy from it (and they can dock with the main any time to assume a different position?) I might want a prison guard to control all the dangerous inmates we're hauling back on our mission from Remulak. (or a snake handler!) I'd probably opt to have a passenger position such that someone can go afk or can casually watch the rest of the crew and maybe use his/her bandwidth to stream music to the rest of the passengers. Since the ship is getting damaged in battle, there should probably be people running all over trying to fix it. Maybe the aliens you're battling will try to war drive your wifi, so you have hackers constantly h4xz0r1ng them! Like the engineer, however, I can't imagine playing a position that doesn't get to view the stunning visuals of space at least some of the time. Will you have robots running around doing stuff too? Will they require maintenence/attention? I'm sure there will be times when you have a few crew members jetpack down to the surface of a moon to collect a desperately needed sample while the rest of the crew fervently blasts away at the surrounding alien battlefleet in a whiteknuckle race against time... I'd also want one guy in a mech that's magnetically attached to the ship who stomps around shooting at enemies and repairing stuff.

As for how you level the crew members up, that's pretty much the entirety of the gameplay isn't it. It's going to all depend on what jobs you have the crew members do. These are design choices, and I don't want to make them for you, but I'll give it a go at what I'd do... (as if i haven't been already)

The captain's job is to steer the ship, so he gets points for time spent in the clear (without bumping into something). If he has to escape a situation, his grace in doing so (calculated by checking the momentum of the ship. If it's swinging around wildly the crew is getting tossed about (which would be cool) so the captain loses points)

speaking of losing points, you can either have everyone gradually gaining experience just for playing and dock them by slowing this rate of gain, or the more convential only-gain.

Anyway, the gunner's job is to shoot stuff, so his accuracy is therefore his method of enhancement. I think the gun will get more accurate with his level, and will gain secondary firing methods as well. The enemy ships are "weighted" or graded, such that the gunner who makes the smartest shots and takes out the primary threats first gets the most experience from a battle.

The engineer fixes things? You said something about drawing out power, I don't know about that, I think I'd just have the engine break down when the captain throttles it and the engineer has to fix it (or maybe you mean he has techniques where he and the captain collaborate to drive the ship into hyperdrive or something. yeah, that'd be cool, if you have a way of giving the engineer a feel of inertia so he too can see how fast the ship is going)

The janitor gets experience because the floors get dirty as the robots/engineers/passengers walk on it, and he has to clean them by literally swabbing a mop on top of the dirty tile. And he gets pager messages if a toilet clogs. The cleaner the janitor gets the ship, the cleaner the rendering of the universe gets (more stars, brighter/cleaner colors, etc). Ha.

that's how i feel about that

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Quote:
Original post by CharlesFXD
...
If the OiC dies in battle all the experience is lost. You’ll have to requisition a new section leader and start from scratch.
...


That seems abit harsh, nobody wants to see the OiC he has been using and training up for the past few months dying to some lucky shot or uncontrollable situation. If not implemented properly may cause some players to quit the game over the loss of one OiC.

You can make crew take experience penalty instead or maybe some upgrade loss. Players will then need to spend money and resources to "relife" this OiC (we are travelling among the stars, relife may not be impossible) which can take a few days in real life.

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What about promoting a member of the OiC's staff as a replacement - the 'heir' system around permadeath? The 'new' OiC has a different name (and perhaps a skill penalty) but from the player's point of view at least they're not totally green, and should be enough to get back to base and recruit or transfer a better OiC.

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Earlier I said that the “experience” is an amalgamation of your OiC’s experience and that of his section’s experience. Perhaps starting out at zero after death is a bit harsh. I can see a full 15% to 25% of the section experiencing disappearing and a % gone per crew member who dies in battle.

Or, perhaps this quote form NotaYakk would serve best of all.

Quote:
Your crew's effectiveness at a task (say, damage control) is determined by both the leadership for the task, and the skills of the damage control workers.


Funky, perhaps I should have said that the OiC’s aren’t players themselves. The Captain is. The OiC’s are simply game pieces that add a modifier to your crewmen so that over time your vessel will perform better.

We toyed around with the idea of multiple players all working together on the same bridge but that discussion lasted a day at most. It’s cool to think of a game like bridge commander where 5 or 6 people work together but…I don’t know. That’s just not what we’re going for. Sounds like fun though, eh?

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Quote:
Original post by CharlesFXD
For example there would be a Chief Engineer. He would be one of 3 levels. Cadet, Veteran, or Expert. (only 3 cause I want to keep it easy) The Cadet would confer no bonus, the vet would confer somewhat of a bonus and the expert would confer a greater bonus to his crew’s efficiency.


I see one problem with this kind of design, and I see it often. Progress in developing your crew is (roughly) linear. You aren't making any tradeoffs, so over time all crews come to resemble each other. The crew has no "personality" that you can breed to suit your tastes, and every player's crew is essentially the same.

Of course this may not be relevant, if for example the ship itself is very customizable.

edit: I somehow completely missed the bit about Attributes. If attributes are mutually exclusive somehow then they could satisfy the need for variety among crews.

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I'd really like to see a team management game where team members had more personality, and you have to deal with their quirks and interpersonal issues while trying to maintain both their morale and their respect for you. And that's actually the focus of the gameplay, not whatever tasks the team is actually performing. As far as I can tell, nobody's doing anything like this. (Please tell me if I'm missing something.)

Unfortunately, I have the feeling that most of the people who'd be interested in this sort of thing are not-so-interested in spaceships... and vice versa.

(I say "unfortunately" because I'd really like to see it in the "spaceship" flavor, and I'd probably develop it myself if I didn't think the potential market was so small. Not particularly relevant to your post -- sorry. My only actual input would be: I'm kind of tired of "levelling" in general, and I'm probably not the only one. I think there's some serious untapped market for a multiplayer game that's fun to play without that particular brand of carrot-on-a-stick. Just a thought.)

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@ Dobbs.
The ships are very highly customizable so far. I’m rushing through it ‘cause we’re prototyping in 2d to see if the concept is even fun. I have a few reservations right now that I’m hoping will disappear with the prototype and a little work.

I believe the earned and applied attributes, if there are enough of them, should suffice.

But how many can one have without a good portion of them being redundant? The game is a combat simulation and only so many personality types, attributes, and character traits can possibly apply.

@Logodae said,
Quote:
I'd really like to see a team management game where team members had more personality, and you have to deal with their quirks and interpersonal issues while trying to maintain both their morale and their respect for you.

Hehe. On one hand my partner suggested that the OiC’s have negative traits like “likes to drink” or “tries to impress” and this would impact his positive traits like “punctual” or would effect earned attributes as in “command class graduate” or some such but then the game would take on a bit to much. The Sims: SpaceShip anyone? :D

Over time if I have the energy I’d love to develop this more and more though. It’s so much design for one man to do part time though. So yeah, I think I agree that it would be nice to get into the meat of your crew (ewwww?) so to speak but I think it would have to be an optional feature for modifying your vessels performance.

Hey, if anyone wants to weigh in some more: www.screwtape-studios.com/phpBB always looking to bounce ideas off other heads…and need a 3d artist too ;)

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Guest Anonymous Poster
Quote:
Original post by Dobbs
I see one problem with this kind of design, and I see it often. Progress in developing your crew is (roughly) linear. You aren't making any tradeoffs, so over time all crews come to resemble each other. The crew has no "personality" that you can breed to suit your tastes, and every player's crew is essentially the same.


I think this is a very good point. A possible way to combat this is to make the skills an officer can earn dependent on how the ship is customized.

For example: The engineer could have the small(fission), medium(fusion) and big(anti-matter) reactor handling skills. The weapons officer could have separate skills for the mass driver, laser and missile weapons. The navigation officer could have agile (for small) and capitol ship (for large) manouvering as well as tactical teleportation skills. The tactical officer could have expertise in raiding or capturing other ships.
Hmmm... I am getting a bit carried away here.

This would also mean there is a certain (small) cost for customizing your ship. Your officers would need to retrain when you change your weapons layout or other aspects.

It will also make the hiring more interesting. There is no universal 'best' officer, you would have to make his/her skills match your ships customization.

Anonymous Lurker

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Guest Anonymous Poster
This is a great idea, and is something ive been looking for in a multiplayer game for a few years now. A game play where a group of players work together as a crew of a space ship, like a crew from star trek, say like the maquie ship at the beginning of star trek voyager. The crew would have to work together, as without the engineer keeping the ship together, bits will break down like the shields, weapons & engins, effecting other members of the crew. The helms man will control the ship, the weapons officer or gunner will be incharge of destroying other ships or objects before they destroy the ship, and the captain would be the commander of the ship and tactics officer, and will be able to see all the status's of the ships systems, along with a complete view the sensors with in and out side of the ship, making the commander able for see actions needed to be taken.

Maybe make it possible to have small crew work together by voice communication like on xbox live. Crews will work together like a clan, or be destroyed.

I hope you make it with a 3D enviroment, like imperial commando.

Good luck, sounds great.

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Guest Anonymous Poster
I would like to see this game. We need new games out there that is like the Star Trek Series, but with a more detailed life view.
Can't wait to see the game.

Rediculous Speed Now....
Whoa! They went Plaid!

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