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erdbernd

An Elite-like multiplayer game

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Hello@all, I think everyone remembers the game called ''Elite'', hours after hours of spaceflight, finding the best trade routes, shooting pirates or becoming one, the joy of advancement in the ranking, and finally becoming one of the most-feared, bad-ass spacecowboyz around, an ELITE fighter. This was even surpassed by Elite''s successor, Frontier, with several added game elements: two empires hostile to one another, added options to gain money (courier- and wetwork), additional honors to be gained and so on. (By the way: all that matched on one disk. Yes, floppy disk.) Both games took substantial amounts of my free time. Looking back, I miss just one element: other ''real people'' flying through space. Elements that are part of many games today. Another great game I like to remember and play is the the Discworld MUD. A text-based game where more than hundred players play characters of different occupations in the discworld setting, exploring the world, solving lots of quests and occasionally being sold CMOT Dibbler''s (in)famous hot sausages. This game, though text-based and simple, fascinates me because it has, most important, one element any single-player game misses: interaction with real people. Not in the way of trading bullets for rockets, which can be fun, too, but in the normal way. Speaking, trading, founding clubs and families, occasionally even at the point of the sword. Why do I mention both of these games in one post? Because the second has got what the first misses. Tackling Elite is a task in itself, but I had this idea of combining elements of both: a sci-fi-setting with lots of space to explore, different careers to be followed, interaction with real people, a 3-D user frontend, and many more. I want to implement this idea, but I''m lacking many things to do it on my own, most notably time. To be true, I''m still developing the idea, that''s why I posted here. I''d like to to start a discussion on this idea. Here''s what came into my mind: - It should be an online multiplayer game that incorporates concepts of Elite and MUDs - The player is presented a 3-D, real-time representation of the happenings in the game world - The characters abilities grow with experience, as in RPGs - Making a huge pile of money shouldn''t be the only possible goal: different careers are possible, for example miner, soldier, explorer (famous example for the last two: captain Kirk), pirate, the list goes on, without having the career written in stone - Different races that provide different sets of abilities and different hooks to start adventuring - Different playing areas, like the eight galaxies in Elite or the quadrants in Star Trek - If communicating in character, different species could experience language barriers - A gameworld with relics of lost races to discover, clashing empires, nasty trading corporations who want to sell weapons in wars they caused, extradimensional traders with obscure abilities (OK, I''m getting weird ... does anybody know the Phase World setting for Palladium Rifts?) I already made some thoughts about how to implement this, but it''s way too early to talk about that. As I said, this are just unsorted ideas that came into my mind. Any suggestions are welcome, critics are appreciated, and I apologize for any trademark violations above (hey, your product was mentioned somewhere). Thank you for any replies.

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quote:
Original post by erdbernd
I think everyone remembers the game called ''Elite'', hours after hours of spaceflight, finding the best trade routes, shooting pirates or becoming one, the joy of advancement in the ranking, and finally becoming one of the most-feared, bad-ass spacecowboyz around, an ELITE fighter.


Mmm, Elite.
quote:

This was even surpassed by Elite''s successor, Frontier, with several added game elements: two empires hostile to one another, added options to gain money (courier- and wetwork), additional honors to be gained and so on. (By the way: all that matched on one disk. Yes, floppy disk.)


Mmm, Frontier. There was also Frontier: First Encounters, which had improved graphics but was otherwise much the same as Frontier.
quote:

- It should be an online multiplayer game that incorporates concepts of Elite and MUDs
- The player is presented a 3-D, real-time representation of the happenings in the game world


Herein lies the problem. I''ve thought about a multiplayer Elite for some time, but you can''t do it without boring your players.

Basically, the problem is this: time. In Elite, you must obey the laws of physics. It takes you upwards of nine hours of game-time to get from Earth to Pluto because that''s how far away it is.

At normal speed, you would actually be staring at the screen for nine hours. Of course, you don''t do that: instead you speed up the clock. In a multiplayer game, you can''t speed up the clock, because the other players would be irritated.

Either you''d need a superdrive that allows a player to move from planet to planet in a few minutes (you might modify the hyperdrive nav system to allow intrasystem jumps), or you''d have a series of warp-gates between planets.

There are other strategic features of Elite that couldn''t be represented in multiplayer. For example, if you jump to another system, a pirate with a better drive can follow you - and arrive before you do - even though the jump is instantaneous from your perspective.
quote:

- The characters abilities grow with experience, as in RPGs


Cool. What would this translate to in space? Aim? Mechanical ability (fine tuning your engine for better acceleration)? Evasion tactics?
quote:

- Making a huge pile of money shouldn''t be the only possible goal: different careers are possible, for example miner, soldier, explorer (famous example for the last two: captain Kirk), pirate, the list goes on, without having the career written in stone


The lack of any storyline in Elite and Frontier is one of the things I find lacking in it.
quote:

- Different races that provide different sets of abilities and different hooks to start adventuring


For real. Beware, a lot of games just have Warrior/Researcher/Diplomat/Average races. It''s highly unlikely that a warrior race with no research or diplomacy abilities could become a space-faring empire, so you need to make sure that the differences are more subtle.
quote:

- Different playing areas, like the eight galaxies in Elite or the quadrants in Star Trek


Star Trek also has fluidic space, an idea I feel they didn''t explore sufficiently. If you''re going to have different playing areas, you might also consider space/nebulae/atmosphere distinctions: lasers might be okay in space, but in a nebulae they could ignite a fusion reaction, and in an atmosphere they would be refracted by the air (which would probably be ignited as well).
quote:

- If communicating in character, different species could experience language barriers


Possibly. Although it seems likely that your computer would be able to translate between well-known languages.
quote:

- A gameworld with relics of lost races to discover,


Mmm. Relics.
quote:

nasty trading corporations who want to sell weapons in wars they caused


Much like real-life, then?
quote:

extradimensional traders with obscure abilities (OK, I''m getting weird ... does anybody know the Phase World setting for Palladium Rifts?)


Nothin'' weird about extradimensional traders. Although they needn''t necessarily have obscure abilities. You might have warring dimensions rather than warring parts of the galaxy. I''ll take this opportunity to plug Doctor Who (the greatest sci-fi series of all time) and say that in the books, his people are at war with beings from other ''quantum worlds'': a device was created which allowed the worlds to exist, and it''s basically a fight to become the ''most real'' world before destroying the device (its a quantum probablity thing).

All your bases belong to us

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Thank you for replying to my post.

You touched some of the issues that need to be addressed before work continues. Here are my suggestions on that issues:

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
Herein lies the problem. I''ve thought about a multiplayer Elite for some time, but you can''t do it without boring your players.

Basically, the problem is this: time. In Elite, you must obey the laws of physics. It takes you upwards of nine hours of game-time to get from Earth to Pluto because that''s how far away it is.

At normal speed, you would actually be staring at the screen for nine hours. Of course, you don''t do that: instead you speed up the clock. In a multiplayer game, you can''t speed up the clock, because the other players would be irritated.

Either you''d need a superdrive that allows a player to move from planet to planet in a few minutes (you might modify the hyperdrive nav system to allow intrasystem jumps), or you''d have a series of warp-gates between planets.



Actually, you''re already aware of the solution to this. We''re already in the realm of science fiction, so we don''t need to build a superdrive, we just need to believably explain and provide it. Let''s say there''s a jumppoint (taken from Battle Tech) 3 billion miles off the planet. This are roughly 16000 light seconds. We wish to span this distance in 5 minutes top, which are 300 seconds. To make that possible, we need an ftl factor of 16000/300=53.3. Allow your players to use a slow ftl drive in systems (as long as there''s no heavy object detected), and the boredom problem is solved.

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
There are other strategic features of Elite that couldn''t be represented in multiplayer. For example, if you jump to another system, a pirate with a better drive can follow you - and arrive before you do - even though the jump is instantaneous from your perspective.



Interstellar Travel needs not to be instantaneous. Do you know the Perry Rhodan series? Starting with no. 100, they used a ftl drive that''s cabable of ftl factors of 10 - 20 million. That gives a pirate with a stronger drive system time to overtake.

Another point on that: what happens in the game during interstellar travel? A new set of system informations is loaded (or at least invoked), new object are instantiated ... this limits the speed of ftl travel in a very mundane way and helps to create believable time gaps.

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
Cool. What would this translate to in space? Aim? Mechanical ability (fine tuning your engine for better acceleration)? Evasion tactics?



That''s already implemented numerous times in different RPG''s. Implenting it into a real-time 3-D world is another matter, of course, but that''s possible to solve.

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
The lack of any storyline in Elite and Frontier is one of the things I find lacking in it.



Oh, yes. A storyline has advantages and disadvantages. It binds things together and creates more atmosphere, on the other hand, it consumes disk space (not a prob today, but back in ''92 a great issue) and it ends at sime point, leaving great memories and a hole to be filled.

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
For real. Beware, a lot of games just have Warrior/Researcher/Diplomat/Average races. It''s highly unlikely that a warrior race with no research or diplomacy abilities could become a space-faring empire, so you need to make sure that the differences are more subtle.



Right you are. Every species evolving into space age must be assumed to have a history of trial and error, thereby developing a set of species skills that every member inherits to some degree. No species is to be displayed as one-dimensional. Of course, that doesn''t disallow differences.

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
Star Trek also has fluidic space, an idea I feel they didn''t explore sufficiently. If you''re going to have different playing areas, you might also consider space/nebulae/atmosphere distinctions: lasers might be okay in space, but in a nebulae they could ignite a fusion reaction, and in an atmosphere they would be refracted by the air (which would probably be ignited as well).



I rather meaned to create different ''game universes'' with different flavours, but this is an interesting point, too. Perhaps my point fits better with your last point.

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
Possibly. Although it seems likely that your computer would be able to translate between well-known languages.



Yes, right, but in this case, too much realism might be boring. By the way, translating languages is a major problem for computers (I''m not an expert on this, but sometimes I shake my head on the results from Altavista''s Babelfish.

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
Mmm. Relics.



Do you know Masters of Orion II?

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
Much like real-life, then?



Another fun part: if players can recognize parts of the world from their day-to-day-experience, they''ll be less alienated by it.

quote:
Original post by Mayrel
Nothin'' weird about extradimensional traders. Although they needn''t necessarily have obscure abilities. You might have warring dimensions rather than warring parts of the galaxy. I''ll take this opportunity to plug Doctor Who (the greatest sci-fi series of all time) and say that in the books, his people are at war with beings from other ''quantum worlds'': a device was created which allowed the worlds to exist, and it''s basically a fight to become the ''most real'' world before destroying the device (its a quantum probablity thing).



Simply a great idea. I think I''ll have to get my hands on that.

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Simply LOVE IT! I liked Elite a lot (have only played Elite 3 for a while though) and I really think it is possible to be played in multiplay.
Elite can be played for days on end and you can save.
In your game it would be cool if you''d have the possibility to save. On a planet for example. Then for all other players you''re just resting on that planet, leaving your ship in a hangar or so.
It would be quite cool to define your own galaxies so one server will radically differ from another. (Don''t know if it is possible or if you want this though)

Hmm I''m not too inspired right now (mind''s gone numb from listening colleges) but it sure has great potential!

---
Allow me to clear my head for once...
Stop polluting the air!

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Hi there,
You have read my mind. I have been thinking about getting some people together to have a go at designing a networked version of Elite for a few months. However, I''m a beginning programmer and decided to wait until the end of my course until I started.
I think my idea was slightly differnt though. The idea was to host the game on a local server, running it continiuosly for, I dunno, a month or so at a time. The problem with that is that players have to be free to enter and leave the game as and when they please, also, how many players can the game cope with? How ''close to home'' does the server need to be? When players leave the game should their ship/character be taken over by AI, or dissapear from the gaming area, or be considered to be in ''hyperspace'', or what? Where are character changes saved- should the character details be kept by the host, or by the game players'' computer (in which case no doubt some people will be able to fiddle their characters)?
In any case, there are an interesting set of problems associated with this that I was going to have a think about over the next few months, and try and come up with some ideas for.
Keep us posted on how youre doing..
Jon

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I think the game should just be saved on the server and only when the player''s visiting a planet.
The game knows the player is visiting the planet and nothing can happen to them.
The only problem is, when some players find longer time to play than others. But this might not be such a big problem if the players can set up their own servers. Then they can choose who can participate in the game.

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quote:
Original post by Airhead Zoom
I think the game should just be saved on the server and only when the player''s visiting a planet.
The game knows the player is visiting the planet and nothing can happen to them.


Yeah, this makes sense. Possibly, in frontier systems, there could be the danger of a port being captured by pirates. You may be charged randsom for the release of your ship, or not get your ship at all. In civilised systems, this danger wouldn''t exist.

Also, if you can fit suitable defences to your ship, it may be reasonable to let the player disconnect when they aren''t in a port. (Of course, if your ship is a port, you shouldn''t ever need to worry.)

All your bases belong to us (I know. It''s irony.)

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Hi there,

thank you for all the inspiring posts. This positive response to my post makes me want to continue.

I believe I was unclear about the state of the project: I''m trying to get the 50K feet view of the project. Here we can be creative; let''s do so. Discussing details of handling is a task for all those guys who commit to implementing the ideas (nothing personal, Airhead: zoom out .)

quote:
Original post by jonpolly99
Hi there,
You have read my mind. I have been thinking about getting some people together to have a go at designing a networked version of Elite for a few months. However, I''m a beginning programmer and decided to wait until the end of my course until I started.
I think my idea was slightly different though.



A project like this could be a great possibility for you: after all, errors won''t hurt . I had a look at your profile and found you''re learning C++, XML and Java in a master''s degree, that''s better education than most people I personally know have.

quote:
Original post by NewDeal
Didnt read your entire post, but you might wanna take a look at Jumpgate. Its a MMORPG based in an Elite-like universe.



For all who want to check out: a good URL to start is
http://jg.stratics.com/
but you''ll still have to search a little. I''ll have a look at that.

quote:
Original post by Ingenu
I''m also working on a similar game called : hypernovae.



Could you point out the main concepts? Pure sci-fi or science fantasy? How far are you? Can I have a look at it? Are you working alone or in a team? How big? Could we coordinate our work? All in all, could you elaborate on your project? I''ll not be mad at you if you do it here.

quote:
Original post by DeltaVee
I can''t remember the link, but there is a group out there that is ''cloning'' the original Elite for DirectX.

Have you talked to them?



No, I haven''t. I didn''t even know of them until I read your post. Anyway, I had a bigger, or at least different picture in mind. With all those great games written entirely in Java, I made planned to write the game, server as well as client, in Java, but this is, of course, still open to discussion. A discussion that should take place when the game is defined and the requirements on it are stated.

Nevertheless, if you can remember the link, we could have some inspiring talks.

Of course, you are invited to continue the discussion.

Again: at this point, I''d like to create a clear 50K feet view of the project, with as much input from everyone of you as possible. With major parameters fixed in the genre (3-D universe, major part of the action takes place in space err... ships, client-server based multiplayer game), now questions like this should be addressed:

1. Story-driven vs. "Status-driven" (like Elite): what are advantages/disadvantages of both? Could it mix well?
2. Are quests (like those in MUDs) possible in a game like this?
3. What other MAJOR questions/problems are there to be considered? Remember, this is about a 50K feet view, so creative ways of disposing nosy players'' ships aren''t interesting at the moment (although all suggestions will be retained for later consideration.)
4. Please consider my first post and Mayrels'' excellent reply to it. That''s about the level of discussion that furthers this project at the moment.

Thank you all. Keep up posting ideas!

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Ive gone over this with many many many... many people... Timing in mmorpgs can change. I could be driving a car in a mmorpg and time could double for me and stay the same for another guy and that would be just fine. Now after you ignore that part I can tell you why it is ok. In frontier(the one I played the most) it stopped you from going in 8x clock mode(or whatever it was) when you were attacked. All you have to do now is if there arent any non-players in the game, just check to see if he is in a battle, if he isnt, and there is no ship within a certain distance, then let him speed up his clock. When he comes within a distance of a ship it goes back to 1x. The second thing you want to do is make traveling a little faster, as someone said, since most people are impatient then I would say take no longer than 5 minutes to ever get out of the way of anyone.

It is weird though. I would play frontier online if it had a couple more features, even if it didnt have the clock speed up feature. Say when we left it just ran us on an ai. I''ve played strategy games that take days to play, only playing 2 hours a day at most(that was actually a rule)Anyhow that is just me, other people are impatient and backstabbing little thieves by the way(not all of you of course). If you can kill other players I predict one of the following.
1. There will be protected zones which most people will usually stay in(other than inside a base that is).
2. Everytime you turn your back you are getting lazerbeamed. The instant you leave a base you are hit.
3. Unbalancing leads to unnecessary deaths/not enough deaths.
Try to avoid these. Besides killing games where you can''t kill, killing games where you are overkilled by anyone with a weapon, and killing games where people can walk out of a fight while getting hit constantly and live safely, only a game I play that has killing in it and one of these is more annoying.
In addition, I would like to state another portion of balancing that flees everyones mind, money. I play infantry. I got about 300k cash in just a couple hours of play. The most expensive thing in the game is 20k. And don''t water it down the one allpowerful expensive item, make a couple and make them EXPENSIVE!!! I wanna play a game where I must save for a year to buy an item I want.
There are other things that I wanna say but my show is on and I have to go, plus I forgot what this post was about.

"Practice means good, Perfect Practice means Perfect"

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quote:
Airhead: zoom out

Cute OK often I just can''t help jumping into details deeper and deeper.

But what you''d like to know:
Quests: I would like it if people could create their own quests.
For example: You could have traders who give rewards to people for finding a particular relic or such, weaker people who reward tougher people for killing off pirates who have been hurting them etc.
Of course the game could also create random quests (kill player X or get relic Y) and maybe not so random like huge rewards for killing players who are cheating or backstabbing (there is your camping problem solved) or when a weaker player enters a port giving him an easy quest which gives more money.
This way, the game could help weaker players and giving the better players a fair challenge.

Story or status driven: I think status driven would be a better approach since players can then generate their own stories (check the recent article about ''Low level stories'' here on Gamedev) by roleplaying. Also as noted before: a story is finite so it has to end and when there''s still time to play (consider servers which run for months) the game''s fun factor would drop considerably.
You could initialise the game with quests which are created at random so all players can get a starting capital (is that a correct English phrase ''starting capital''?) and become (in)famous and then the game and players can start to generate quests and the REAL fun starts

---
Allow me to clear my head for once...
Stop polluting the air!

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quote:
Original post by erdbernd
Again: at this point, I'd like to create a clear 50K feet view of the project, with as much input from everyone of you as possible. With major parameters fixed in the genre (3-D universe, major part of the action takes place in space err... ships, client-server based multiplayer game), now questions like this should be addressed:

1. Story-driven vs. "Status-driven" (like Elite): what are advantages/disadvantages of both? Could it mix well?


I don't know about MMORPGs, but a lot of MUDs use what they sometimes call an 'arc' system. An 'arc' is a general storyline that is about what's happening the the world at that time. It would effect the behaviour of NPCs, and random evenst related to the arc would be more likely.

For example, lets say a planet has an 'invasion' arc. A nearby planet is invading this one. An invasion would no doubt consist of taking over ports and stealing cargo. When all ports are taken over, the invaders now control that planet. They may now be able to charge a levy on import/export, or even set the prices of goods.

When the invasion is settled either way, the arc is over. There may be many arcs running at the same time: some will be limited to a system or cluster, and some may apply across the entire galaxy.

The good thing about arcs is that the end of the arc isn't the end of the game: it's a storyline with a definite end (or several definite ends), so it has the advantages of a conventional storyline, but it also has the advantage of a more RPG-based system, because new arcs can be created by the players themselves, rather than being forced upon them by the game.

In my experience, it's quite acceptable to mix story-based and status-based games. RPGs do it all the time. It's just important to remember that you don't need to give each player a fixed role in a story. With well-planned control of NPCs and other random elements, you can force players into going along with a particular arc without them realising that they're being manipulated.
quote:

2. Are quests (like those in MUDs) possible in a game like this?


Certainly. Frontier had quests - transfering passengers/goods to other planets, assassinating people, looking for people.

Clearly the quests could do with more. For example, if somebody hires you to assassinate a person, you could instead warn the person about the contract for a bribe (naturally, this would effect your reputation as an assassin, but might make you popular with the police).

In a multiplayer game, players could easily assign their own quests. I might buy something too big to carry myself that I need to transfer to another system (perhaps because somebody else wants one) - so I'd post an advert on the bulletin board. I might want to threaten a port manager with assassination if he doesn't sell me stuff on the cheap.

We should have ranks in different organisations (you might be able to earn an Elite Organisation, Police, Union of Merchants, or United Pirates rank, for example). I'd refer to these organisations to guilds; it sounds a bit medieval/Dune, but I don't know of a better word.
quote:

3. What other MAJOR questions/problems are there to be considered? Remember, this is about a 50K feet view, so creative ways of disposing nosy players' ships aren't interesting at the moment (although all suggestions will be retained for later consideration.)


Timing is an issue. Scale is an issue (you can control a single ship, but can you lead a fleet, or control a port, planet, system, 'guild', or even an entire empire).

There's an interesting post about p-killing and jerkiness in general, and I'm sure there's a lot more articles around.

quote:
Orginal post by King Russ
Ive gone over this with many many many... many people... Timing in mmorpgs can change. I could be driving a car in a mmorpg and time could double for me and stay the same for another guy and that would be just fine. Now after you ignore that part I can tell you why it is ok. In Frontier(the one I played the most) it stopped you from going in 8x clock mode(or whatever it was) when you were attacked. All you have to do now is if there arent any non-players in the game, just check to see if he is in a battle, if he isnt, and there is no ship within a certain distance, then let him speed up his clock. When he comes within a distance of a ship it goes back to 1x.


You can't do this, you really can't.

Firstly, any Elite-clone should obey the laws of physics. If I'm moving 8x whilst you're moving 1x, then I might be moving faster than the speed of light.

Secondly, speed isn't only important when you're fighting. The reason you can't go at 8x when you're in a fight is that you couldn't possibly win. Lets say you have a race from one planet to another. You might get caught in a fight and have go to 1x and then back to 8x when you win. The other player, who isn't slowed down, might finish the race first even though according to your clocks you arrived before he did.

Thirdly, not every one will agree about what time it is. Although that is exactly the situation in reality, it isn't because people can speed up their clocks at will.

A simple rule: no time compression, except as an expensive piece of equipment. Frontier time compression isn't impossible because it isn't real. In a multiplayer game, time compression would have to be real.
quote:

It is weird though. I would play frontier online if it had a couple more features, even if it didnt have the clock speed up feature. Say when we left it just ran us on an ai.


The AI would have to be incredibly good. It'd have to figure out what to attack, what to protect, what to buy and what to sell: all based upon what you would do, so when you come back you think 'yes, I would have done that '. The other option is just to dock somewhere when you disconnect, in which case you don't need an AI.

Now, having an automatic fighting system as well as the autonav would be a good idea. Reasonably, you could leave your ship in deep space and put the autofighter on defensive mode and hope that nothing too powerful came along when you were away. Of course, if you ran out of fuel when defending, you'd need to have an autonav that could get you to a friendly port. Sophisticated autonavs and autofighters would cost much more than normal ones.
quote:

I've played strategy games that take days to play, only playing 2 hours a day at most(that was actually a rule)Anyhow that is just me, other people are impatient and backstabbing little thieves by the way(not all of you of course). If you can kill other players I predict one of the following.
1. There will be protected zones which most people will usually stay in(other than inside a base that is).


How would that fit into reality? The Doctor's TARDIS has a Temporal Grace field that prevents death within it. Conceivably there could be fields of a similar kind dotted around the galaxy, erected by an ancient race. In Simon Greene's (I think) books, there are diluted forms of these called Sanctuaries. Such a place would be a good location for newbie players to start out in.
quote:

2. Everytime you turn your back you are getting lazerbeamed. The instant you leave a base you are hit.


The article referenced above uses a bounty system: if you are attacked without provocation by somebody then you can put a bounty on them. If you don't have enough money to pay for the bounty, if your reputation is relatively good it might be paid for by the planet on which you claim it, but that would effect your reputation - that might help prevent players from inciting others into attacking them just to place a bounty on them.
quote:

3. Unbalancing leads to unnecessary deaths/not enough deaths.


The bounty system aught to solve this kind of thing. You may feel free to kill pirates in civilised systems, because they won't be putting bounty up in that system (because they're pirates and will be arrested when try to register with the bounty people). On the hand, killing pirates in pirate-controlled systems is a recipe for death.
quote:

In addition, I would like to state another portion of balancing that flees everyone's mind, money. I play infantry. I got about 300k cash in just a couple hours of play. The most expensive thing in the game is 20k. And don't water it down the one allpowerful expensive item, make a couple and make them EXPENSIVE!!! I wanna play a game where I must save for a year to buy an item I want.


I don't want to save for a year. A couple of months, maybe.

It's also worth noting that the penalty for buying a powerful weapon shouldn't just be that it costs a lot. It should adversely your reputation to use the most powerful weapon. The police guild will want to arrest you for using what is probably contraband, the pirate guild will want your weapon, and the merchant guild will aid the police because they're scared that the pirates will get to your weapon. It should emit intense, hard-to-shield radiation, damaging the rest of your ship and making you stand out like a sore thumb on the radar. It should use some exotic fuel that can only be bought on a handful of planets for almost as much as the weapon itself costs.

All your bases belong to us (I know. It's irony.)

Edit: Evil [ quote] got it wrong.

Edited by - Mayrel on November 14, 2001 1:32:48 PM

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the theory of relativity covers time dilation with respect to high velicoties:
the closer you get to the speed of light, the slower time goes for you. so, if you are travelling at 50% the speed of light, and you travel for 1 hour (from your perspective), everyone else in the universe will see it as you having traveled for 2 hours.
so, a solution to your time probelm could go as follows:
only allow the speeding up of time when travelling faster-than-light (and even then, you do not control it, it is just a function of your speed). i am no physicist, but i AM a big sci-fi fan, and since this is a game you can tweak theoretical physics for your own purposes. let''s assume that once you reach the speed of light, and pass it, the time-dilation function flips signs (untestable, but why not? Isaac Asimov did it with gravity in Nemesis!) so, when a player travels at twice light-speed, their personal time perspective doubles (rather than halves at sub-light speeds). players can travel at 10x light-speed (if they get a good enough engine), and it will only take them a few moments of the player''s time... but the character will age more than if they flew slower.
for example: player 1 flies to a planet far far away at 5x light-speed, it takes him a minute, and his character ages 5 minutes. player 2 is just sitting around enjoying the scenery. he sits there for a minute, and the character ages a minute. now, both players spent one minute in real-life time, both characters are again sitting at one minute later in game-time, and the only difference is that the first character''s age has increased abnormally (which WILL matter if you allow natural death at an old age, which you should anyway).
this is counterintuitive, and most likely not a good model of real-life physics, but hey! it''s for a game!
the only important parts are (a) time-dilation only occurs when flying at extremely high speeds (not during normal gameplay), and (b) you explain this sci-fi version of physics to the players somehow, just in case they care (some will, because they are physics geeks who want immersion, and others won''t because they just want to play; for this second type of player, the only important thing they have to remember is that going faster = faster aging).
if you don''t like my idea, oh well, i was just trying to help. you could always make up some other reasoning for it (as long as it is explained, whether with my method or with some super-expensive device, it will work fine in the game).

--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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Hi there,

thank you for all these high quality posts. There were some major points addressed:

1. Temporal scaling

I think this issue can best be coped with by avoiding it. Say you have three drives: an interstellar ftl drive that brings you from jumppoint to jumppoint, an interplanetary ftl drive that can''t work if there''s a heavy object around, and a tactical sublight drive that can achieve top speeds of ~6000 miles/sec. Result: two drives with parameters entirely in our hand and one drive with negligible relativistic effects. Don''t make it too complicated.

Thanks to krez nevertheless.

2. Handling storylines

The article Airhead zoom referred to was educating, really. I think this concept combines favorably with the story arc concept. Player-generated quests are a great idea, too.

3. Pking

I don''t think this is a problem. In Elite, you know you risk your life (sort of) whenever you leave the station. Flying through a harmless universe would be boring. In Elite are systems where that is tolerated and systems where the police will hunt you down relentlessly. I think that''s a good solution in multiplayer, too. Plus, pirates are always worth great bounties.

With all the opinions, I think the "great scale" aspects could be fixed soon. I''ll read some articles on the necessary game documents, all your posts again and start working on the game docs. As until now, all help is greatly appreciated. One more personal word: I do this for the fun of it and to build up some experience.

I have an image in mind, of a game with a background taken from Mayrels'' first post, where several universes coexist and, in long term, only one can "survive" (not during the server''s existence.) The players are pirates and policemen, merchants and miners, traders and soldiers, try to live their lives, achieve there goals and sometimes get a glimpse at the background, opening roads to new adventures.

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quote:
Original post by krez
the theory of relativity covers time dilation with respect to high velicoties:


It does, but not in a way that''s useful.
quote:

the closer you get to the speed of light, the slower time goes for you.


A common misconception. In fact, time moves at the normal speed for you regardless of what speed you move at: what changes is your apparent ''speed'' through time from another observer''s point of view.
quote:

so, if you are travelling at 50% the speed of light, and you travel for 1 hour (from your perspective), everyone else in the universe will see it as you having traveled for 2 hours.


As it happens, it''d be 1.15 hours.
quote:

i am no physicist, but i AM a big sci-fi fan, and since this is a game you can tweak theoretical physics for your own purposes. let''s assume that once you reach the speed of light, and pass it, the time-dilation function flips signs (untestable, but why not?


Einstein equations predit that if one travels faster than light speed (which is, of course, impossible), then one should begin to travel through ''imaginary'' time. This is unquestionably not time speeding up, but could, for example, be a way to move from one universe to another (assuming the universes are situated in different positions in imaginary time).
quote:

so, when a player travels at twice light-speed, their personal time perspective doubles (rather than halves at sub-light speeds). players can travel at 10x light-speed (if they get a good enough engine), and it will only take them a few moments of the player''s time... but the character will age more than if they flew slower.


With imaginary time, you''d travel roughly 10 ''imaginary seconds'' for each real second of your time at 10x light-speed. Exactly what that distance would mean is unknown.
quote:

for example: player 1 flies to a planet far far away at 5x light-speed, it takes him a minute, and his character ages 5 minutes. player 2 is just sitting around ... and the character ages a minute. now, both players spent one minute in real-life time, both characters are again sitting at one minute later in game-time, and the only difference is that the first character''s age has increased abnormally


If dilation was reversed at 5c, then the moving player would have aged only 0.2 minutes - you''d have to travelling at 0.97c to age 5 minutes.
quote:

this is counterintuitive, and most likely not a good model of real-life physics, but hey! it''s for a game!


IMHO, one of the main things that made Elite great was that it obeyed the laws of physics. Any game that claims to be space-based should, as far as I am concerned, also obey the laws of physics. If it doesn''t (like it has a maximum speed), it should be marketed as a submarine-sim, because that''s basically what it is.

We should avoid relavistic effects: they don''t make sense in the real world and cannot be correctly simulated in a multipayer game: if I travel at 0.86c, things outside will appear to moving twice as fast; but, from the point of view of somebody on the outside, it is me that is moving twice as fast. Clearly, it isn''t possible for that to happen in a multiplayer game.

All your bases belong to us (I know. It''s irony.)

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Ok, this might be one example where time might make a difference. In any other game I''ve talked about, it would have been fine. Now you have to go and get all technical on me... Well in real life as you wanna define it, people have different equipment. One of two thing could happen. You could either let players travel from one place to another fast and come up with an explanation, or let us travel at the speed of your physics, even though this is a space game, and we aren''t that advanced in that area here on Earth. I know physics are supposed to apply everywhere in the universe, and they are true until proven false, but like I said, we haven''t traveled that far in space. What if beyond our system objects that are not in motion tend to go into motion without an outside force? Enough of my lies, time to get to the game.

And whoever was talking about speed of light travel got it backwards(I think). They take an hour out of their day and its 2 hours in ours. They age less then the rest of the universe because they cheated. That would mean that When I warp in space, I am at my destination, now I just have to wait in real-life for that time to go by, so the server can have correct time. Although I do question your need for time. In frontier you had to deliver stuff by a certain time, yes, but If I had to deliver them in one week, My one week would be my one week. Besides that of a race, in which you could still check the times to see who got there first, and having a race in space is pretty ridiculous at 1x speed(several reasons) there would be no reason to keep time other than to hold the story together. Those arcs if I understand what you are saying, sound nice, I planned on having those, I just wasn''t calling them arcs, in my game. Having NPC''s attack another planet with their own directives in mind and having an actual outcome is nice. The next step was mentioned(I think) that people could then interfere with those directives by attack them and thus affecting the outcome of the war.

While frontier/Elite would be a nice multiplayer game, it would have to be overhauled quite a bit in order for it to be a game. The story aspect... if you have a big story, it becomes a little less of the game it once was. Oh, Mayrel most of my posts are overexaggerated. I just wanna get the point across. About saving up for a year, while a couple months would be acceptable, my problem with games that have money is that I always get the money way too fast and get that item, then I have nothing left to work for in the monetary system(usually). I meant for the average player anyhow. Average players meaning that they only play for 1-3 hours a day at that game. You playing about 5-8 hours a day would have the item much fast(in your months). After conquering the monetary system I am forced to move on.

About the AI, I was just suggesting it control us if we have to leave while in space. It should then take us to a docking port(if there are different costs, we could define one)and basically log us off, pending if any actions could be taken against us. While the bounty system is a nice idea, once again it is within my game, it is not a solution. Their whole solution(the article above) mentions that even if this bounty system is intact that powerful people, the ones with the ''big guns'' will be able to take down all the bounty hunters and live. They suggest you weaken him if he is attacked by several small people. While in my game you don''t gain relative xp by fighting smaller people, to say that you would lose xp by doing so leaves another loophole for those ddi''s he was speaking of. My and a group of friends could thereby create level 1 characters with no powers whatsoever. By continually attacking the strongest people there are, we weaken them. For someone who has no control over who attacks them, it would be a pity to lose xp just because you were attacked. Which leads to another part of my discussion. How are you supposed to ''weaken'' the character in a space mmorpg. His spaceship could take damage, but he could pay to have that fixed. If he lost some sort of skills, that wouldn''t seem right, depending on how you raise you skills. Skills like haggling won''t go down from fighting people weaker than you. However your aiming skills(Ha like we will aim weapons ourselves in space wars, games now even have aimbots). But as long as they don''t stand still then you are still practicing aiming. And unless you deter those powerful people in some way, the system loses its affect.

Speaking of the issue of newbies. Since you plan on having interaction with npc''s in the game, You can have newbies start at the same place others have before(don''t get confused here). If you don''t then you have to do something else. Anyhow, newbies so to speak, should no longer be newbies after a certain amount of time. Thus, they would have to leave their protective area after a while, and be restricted to areas outside of it. Also, this is a sci-fi game. Who says everything has to be explained in a serious matter. The field of protection could be caused by an ancient race that evolved beyond bodies and now protect new potential around the universe, or perhaps an advanced race that left that field as their gift to the galaxy. That reminds me of space cowboy, a genius left warp-gate technology to the space federation and then got into an accident without ever revealing how it worked, he is now insane or brain-damaged and the federation uses the gates, without knowing how they work, to travel from place to place and it doesn''t even take much time(just time enough to get in line and warp).

As much as you want it to be this game isn''t gonna be out soon, even that guy said so. But to say that a game that takes place in the future must adhere to the rules of today isn''t exactly right. It can follow the rules to a ''T'' but don''t say it must. Sometimes a game should be a game, not a true realistic version of life, because even in life we have cheaters. Of course, these big posts sort of let me go barreling off point. I have done that once again. Can someone retreave me from the forest?

"Practice means good, Perfect Practice means Perfect"

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quote:
Original post by KingRuss
One of two thing could happen. You could either let players travel from one place to another fast and come up with an explanation, or let us travel at the speed of your physics, even though this is a space game, and we aren''t that advanced in that area here on Earth.


Well, it isn''t my physics. There''s a FTL FAQ somewhere ( I found it here) that describes a few ways in which one can avoid breaking the laws of logic when travelling FTL. For our purposes the useful one is the ''Special Frame Of Reference''. This special frame prevents relativistic effects from occuring even if you travel FTL. In shows like Star Trek or Babylon 5, we can imagine that subspace or hyperspace have this special frame of reference. We could also have a subspace that was used for FTL travel.
quote:

I know physics are supposed to apply everywhere in the universe, and they are true until proven false, but like I said, we haven''t traveled that far in space. What if beyond our system objects that are not in motion tend to go into motion without an outside force?


I think players would be bemused if we decided to change the laws of physics for no reason. Besides, we know that objects obey our physical laws outside of our system because stars don''t move without cause.
quote:

That would mean that when I warp in space, I am at my destination, now I just have to wait in real-life for that time to go by, so the server can have correct time.


I think we can agree that this would be a bad thing.
quote:

In frontier you had to deliver stuff by a certain time, yes, but if I had to deliver them in one week, my one week would be my one week.


Sure, it would. But chances are that the week that your client is talking about is his week, I would certainly be talking about one of my weeks.
quote:

Besides that of a race, in which you could still check the times to see who got there first, and having a race in space is pretty ridiculous at 1x speed(several reasons) there would be no reason to keep time other than to hold the story together.


Holding the story together isn''t a bad thing. If the story collapses, then belief is not longer suspended, and the player may not feel that the game''s universe will do what he expects it to do, which would be a bad thing.
quote:

While frontier/Elite would be a nice multiplayer game, it would have to be overhauled quite a bit in order for it to be a game. The story aspect... if you have a big story, it becomes a little less of the game it once was.


Of course, but that''s why this thread was started, right? Because erdbernd wanted to know what overhauling we thought needed to be done. A multiplayer Elite isn''t ever going to be the game is once was, and a storyline can help to bring players together into interesting situations.
quote:

I meant for the average player anyhow. Average players meaning that they only play for 1-3 hours a day at that game. You playing about 5-8 hours a day would have the item much fast(in your months). After conquering the monetary system I am forced to move on.


One way to solve this would be for the best way to earn money to be joining a guild, which would pay you a salary (every real day/week whatever). Just getting money from trading and/or pirating might not be the most profitable option. For many things, like mining, the money you make won''t be dependant upon how often you are online, anyway.
quote:

While the bounty system is a nice idea, once again it is within my game, it is not a solution. They suggest you weaken him if he is attacked by several small people. While in my game you don''t gain relative xp by fighting smaller people, to say that you would lose xp by doing so leaves another loophole for those ddi''s he was speaking of.


My understanding is that he says that you should always be weak, not that you are weakened just because you are attacked by weak people. That makes sense because in reality, humans don''t get more resistant to swords or bullets when their combat skills are increased. The same would apply in space: simply being good at fighting wouldn''t make you resistant to attack: having strong shields would make you resistant to attack.
quote:

My and a group of friends could thereby create level 1 characters with no powers whatsoever. By continually attacking the strongest people there are, we weaken them. For someone who has no control over who attacks them, it would be a pity to lose xp just because you were attacked. Which leads to another part of my discussion. How are you supposed to ''weaken'' the character in a space mmorpg. His spaceship could take damage, but he could pay to have that fixed. If he lost some sort of skills, that wouldn''t seem right, depending on how you raise you skills. Skills like haggling won''t go down from fighting people weaker than you.


Firstly, regardless of the power level of your characters, I could take out a bounty against them. If they don''t actually kill me, it might be that I can put out a police warrant on them, so they''d be charged but not killed. If they couldn''t afford to pay their ship would be impounded and they''d be out of the game.

Secondly, there''s no need to lose xp from being attacked. Assuming your xp isn''t related to your ship''s integrity, there wouldn''t be any point reducing xp if you wanted to weaken a powerful ship when it is attacked by weaker ships.
quote:

However your aiming skills(Ha like we will aim weapons ourselves in space wars, games now even have aimbots). But as long as they don''t stand still then you are still practicing aiming. And unless you deter those powerful people in some way, the system loses its affect.


I''d assume that most twinks wouldn''t hack it long enough to become really powerful. But bearing in mind the use of bounties and/or warrants, I don''t see an issue with this.

We could have AI-controlled police drones that automatically attack bounty targets that happen upon a civilised system. If we have a bounty issued on a ship that doesn''t pay a warrant after a certain number of warnings, then we can pretty much ensure that twinks are kept out of civilised systems. Outside of civilised systems, on the other hand, you''ll still have problems, but you expect trouble there, as erdbend said.

We can assume that a twink, no matter how power, would eventually run out of money. A twink''s reputation would probably make it hard for him to make money with any of the guilds, things like mines might be impounded until warrants he owes are paid for.
quote:

Speaking of the issue of newbies. Since you plan on having interaction with npc''s in the game, You can have newbies start at the same place others have before(don''t get confused here). If you don''t then you have to do something else. Anyhow, newbies so to speak, should no longer be newbies after a certain amount of time. Thus, they would have to leave their protective area after a while, and be restricted to areas outside of it.

Hmm. I''m not so sure about this. newbies should be allowed to leave at any time, and should be allowed to return at any time. If ''sanctuaries'' existed in reality, it is likely that space ports and the like would be bult inside them, and almost every player would want to visit a space port.
quote:

to say that a game that takes place in the future must adhere to the rules of today isn''t exactly right. It can follow the rules to a ''T'' but don''t say it must.


It should follow rules that we know are almost certainly true. This, IMO, will make the game more enjoyable, and different from other similar games.

With our limited experience in testing physics, we know that the only top speed is that of light, but almost every space-based game imposes an arbitary top speed far lower than c, which is usually dependant upon the mass of the ship. That directly violates the laws of physics, and shouldn''t be part of a realistic game.

Following the laws of physics also introduces effects that might have seemed contrived if we''d introduced them without any theoretical backing. For example, lets say we want to be able to detect a ship moving FTL. We would like to be able to tell how fast and in which direction is is moving.

Physics, as it happens, provides an answer. An object moving faster than light in a particular medium emits Cherenkov radiation, which is kinda like a sonic boom for light. This gives us a reasonable way to allow a radar to detect a ship moving FTL. However, it also introduces extra tactical elements. A ship moving at 0.9c, say, wouldn''t emit Cherenkov radiation, and wouldn''t show up on radar because of it. However, the same ship moving through a nebulae, or some artificially constructed field in which the speed of light was lowered, would such emit radiation.

This is at least partly reasonable. It is possible, as documented here, to create a gas in which light is slowed to 15 metes/second. So, unlike a system of FTL detection which isn''t grounded in currently understood physics (like something using graviational waves, for example), the Cherenkov solution not only explains how to detect a FTL ship, but also provides for futher strategic elements that can be added to the game: in that case a special field that can be erected to help detect stealthy ships.

All your bases belong to us (I know. It''s irony.)

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Mayrel: If you read properly, I said I was no physicist You have your sci-fi, I''ll have mine...
KingRuss: I was talking about FASTER than light speed... "tweaked" the theory, so as to account for my explanation...

Geez, I outright said I was just BSing, to make this stuff acceptable in the game. Nowhere in my post did I say anything I said was based on reality!


--- krez (krezisback@aol.com)

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Going through the posts, a single questions comes into my mind:

Why are all of you bothered about what happens when flying at 0.9 c?

I want to put in what I remember from my physics course, entirely leaving out time dilation on intent. Sorry if I use wrong english expressions.

The mass of an object increases the same rate as the time dilates:

m
0
m =_________________
v ( 2)
sqrt(1-(v/c) )

Thus, the mass becomes infinite at light speed. It doubles about at 0.86 c.

The inertial energy of an object is its mass, multiplied by the square of its speed:


2
W = m * v

This energy needs to be converted to speed 100% to accelerate an object of mass m to the speed v.

The total energy stored in mass, that is the maximum energy that can be won from matter at 0% loss, is, as everybody knows, its mass times c square:

2
e = m * c

Question: If I use up the total energy of a 1 pound stone to accelerate another stone, how fast is it?

Ok, if you guess it will reach light speed, you''re wrong. The solution is roughly 0.78 c. That means accelerating beyond a certain speed is simply uneconomic because you''d have to burn up half your ship just to accelerate. Remember you have to break down again, too. Besides, all this excludes friction as well. Which brings me to another point. Say you accelerated to 0.5 c and enter a nebula with an average matter density of 30 molecules/cubic inch. What happens? Easy: you could as well have hit a solid metal block. It''s about like falling into an ocean from the height of the moon, just worse. This are the predictions of known physics. I''d like to have this backed up by a physicist providing the necessary calculations for all of the above.

This means a tempo limit of 60 mph ... sorry, about 6000 mps in space is quite reasonable, maybe even too high. To travel at greater speed, we''d have to fiddle with known reality. The universal tempo limit is to be waived. The auditors of reality are to be made look the other way. The ship needs to be intangible, because a crash would result in a nice flash ending a career. Science fiction, stressing the "science" in it, found numerous solutions to the question "how to get from a to b without getting old in the meantime": subspace travel, warp travel, hyperspace travel, spacegates (a wonderful way of keeping communities together - basically they all go the same way), linear travel, wormholes, unlimited improbability fields - all of these methods inherently provide easy ways to prevent crashes.

What all this means: we don''t need to worry about how to explain long time spans away - we just have to provide a way or two or three to be fast without causing dilation: a kind of warp drive that makes for comfortable interplanetary trips.

Sorry if I lost myself. If anybody experiences flashbacks from his time at high school or college, lots of sleep help. I know. Perhaps a greater focus on solvable problems could help the thread

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Sorry the formatting is buggy above.
Krez: no problem. Anyway, I''d like to get the discussion away from "how to best travel at unbelievable speed" to "how to best deliver to the player (or reader) that we are just flying at unbelievable speed, while in truth just saving him from some time of boredom and at the same time keeping the players together."

Thanks for your continued participation here.

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Interesting thread, because it''s similar to conversations I have with many colleages in the industry over many nights in pubs...

but, it seems the thread is digressing too much - Elite wasn''t about physics, nor having believable engines that exist in accordance to Einstein and Newton''s laws - certainly not when I played it for hours on end as a kid anyway.

I played it because of the gameplay, the key elements of it being..

The Trading - a proven gameplay mechanic - the amassing of personal wealth, most online RPGs today rely on this, and...

Gaining Experience - each kill, each trip, each mission giving you a little more experience to climb a bit further up on that ladder...

The setting was largely secondary to the game , hell, it could have taken place on the high seas on pirate ships with exactly the same key elements. I think most of us prefer the Sci-Fi version, but you get the point - real-physics aren''t a USP.

This is why I think everyone in this thread should drop the talk of hyperdrive systems - go back to that 50 foot view of it - the details aren''t important at this point.

And yes, I''m also planning my own version of this game, and will hopefully get time to do it in the next year or so.... and if you think I''m giving up my secrets here...

Just my 2 cents...

Starboy

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