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Wavinator

Forcing the player to gamble (cursed items, etc)

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Wavinator    2017
I'm dusting off an old space game idea I haven't posted about in awhile (been busy ) There are lots of games, usually cRPGs, that have cursed items or items with unknown characteristics. Some apply the affects as soon as you pick them up, others when you "identify" them. I've got a debate going with a friend on whether this is actually fair, and how to implement this "gamble" that a game forces you to take. I'm applying the concept not just to items, but to people that can come aboard a starship you control. I've got two approaches, and wonder which you think at a glance would be better: Quick Basics, First People essentially are bonuses to your own ship's stats. They also have a wrinkle in the form of * Alliances - Who they're cool with, and who they hate * Quirks - Womanizer, gambler, smug and self-centered, etc. * Skills - These are the bonuses they add to stuff like Engineering, Navigation, etc. First Approach: Transparent Stats My first take is that all of these stats should be visible, and that when you hire someone, you should know what you're "buying." Part of the game, then, is travelling from station to station, trying to find the right people and get them for the right price (as they won't stick around at each base). Second Approach: Forced Gamble A friend thinks the first approach is too boring. He thinks that the player should have to take a risk when he hires someone, and part of the fun would be in dealing with people who turn out to have weird quirks. They'd claim certain skills, just like a real job candidate, but might have hidden drawbacks, or not even completely have the skills they claim to have. It's kind of an interesting approach, but I'm not sure it's entirely fair. Technically, when you force the player to gamble, aren't you removing intelligent play decisions? If they get screwed, it's more a matter of bad luck than bad play, right? Any thoughts? -------------------- Just waiting for the mothership... Edited by - Wavinator on February 7, 2002 9:09:58 PM

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bishop_pass    109
I think the ideal is a middle ground with some sophistication. If the graphics are excellent, it might offer hints (based on the character''s looks) as to how he might behave. For example, a self centered character might be vain with his looks.

Even better though, is how the character behaves. The program should model the bahavior of the character based on the stats of the character, and hopefully the player can pick up on these traits to better identify the traits of the character. Additionally, some type of resume might be in order for the character. As an example, what services did he offer before, was he fired, what has he accomplished, who has he worked with, what type of individual is the character with whom he worked with, etc. And then perhaps references could be checked: did he really complete such and such job or did he really work for so and so?

This type of procedural generation of a character''s history could be fun, not terribly difficult to code, and add interesting detail, interest and gameplay strategy.

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Wavinator    2017
Just a clarification...

I''m taking the absolute low cost approach to this... people will likely be represented by a range of picts or icons, and won''t even be animated (heh, unless procedural generation of head & shoulders busts becomes a possibility).

I''m aiming for the audience that''s comfortable with some level of stat mongering, and don''t expect detailed personal behavors. The idea is to add objects and people which modify percentages, which in turn generate a long serious of weird and quirky events.

For example:

Ned the Drunken Pilot (Example 1)

Occassionally, you get a notice that Ned''s drunk. The length of time that Ned is drunk is the length of time that you''re without your navigation bonus, which could be very bad during a fight.

You can theoretically take action against Ned to correct his behavior (drag & drop stimulants on him, drag & drop him into the brig, etc.).

Geordi the Overcurious Engineer (Example 2)

Every once in awhile, when you dock your ship, Geordi decides that its time to do some tinkering. This randomly improves or dis-improves your ship''s engines and systems when you next take off (or whatever).

The emphasis is on all of this being abstract. The goal is to have a sense of life, with the cheapest dev cost possible.

(Granted, not as satisfying, but hopefully satisfying enough and more likely to be completed.)

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

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bishop_pass    109
But couldn''t you procedurally generate some history for these characters based on their stats and then have the player make decisions based on that history (perhaps a spotty and suspicious history).

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Wavinator    2017
quote:
Original post by bishop_pass
But couldn''t you procedurally generate some history for these characters based on their stats and then have the player make decisions based on that history (perhaps a spotty and suspicious history).



Yes, definitely, you''re right. There are a couple of things I could use as indicators, like whether or not they''re "Certified" or have a legendary rep with some ship. Hmmm... and maybe why they left.

Good stuff to think about, and could add lots of atmosphere...


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

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CaptainJester    523
Maybe you could also have an intuition stat for the player that will give him a hint as to the person he is about to hire. In real life when you get someones resume, you can read it over and prepare questions for the interview. The interview will allow you to get a sense of the persons real abilities by the way they react to the questions. In the game you could have the player's intuition give him a nudge saying something like "Your gut tells you that this guy is blatantly lying" "You get the sense that most of what he is saying is the truth, but he is still hiding something." Another way would be to use a percentage trust that your intuition tells you about the character. You would just have an intuition bar that fills the amount that you feel you can trust a person. And sometimes it would be wrong and you could hire someone you don't trust for his skills and he turns out to be really good.

To summarize, your intuition gives you a feeling, but you don't know if they are lying about their skills or about not being a criminal, etc...

EDIT: ps. I like the idea of not knowing exactly what you are getting, but I think it should be balanced by the player's experience within the game and he will get better at hiring the right people, eventually.

---
Make it work.
Make it fast.

"Commmmpuuuuterrrr.." --Scotty Star Trek IV:The Voyage Home

Edited by - CaptainJester on February 8, 2002 9:03:06 AM

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Silvermyst    113
Definitely go for the gamble approach.

I''ve always been a fan of the ''play with the hand you''re dealt'' approach.

Give the player some subtle hints that might give away part of an applicant''s character, but let part of the game be the discovery of the personalities of the crewmembers.

Like Bishop_pass mentioned, applicants could have licensed degrees, or maybe a recommendation from a renowned officer. Of course, licenses can be forged, recommendations could be false. You might be able to enlist the help of a specialize crewmember who has learned all about forgeries (useless trait while traveling through the galaxy, but priceless when trying to get new members on your team). You might have a crewmember who knows all the latest gossip, and who might just know that that new crewmember is lying when he says he flew with captain X.

And like CaptainJester said, perhaps you can use intuition to reveal part of an applicant''s background. Perhaps your setting allows for some alien being that can actually read minds to a certain degree. Again, this being would be valuable when scanning applicants, not so valuable when trying to fight off pirates in space.

In short: go for the gamble system and make that one of your game features (well, IMHO)

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Ronin_54    122
Hmmm... Question: how many crewmembers are we talking about? A nice ship with one main pilot, 2 fighter pilots, a navigator, some gunners, and an engineer or 2 max? Or are we talking battleships with a crew of 60 to 200?

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superpig    1825
Perhaps linking the histories into what the player has discovered. For example, if you come across a ship that has crashed due to (after inspection) engine failure, and later come across the person who claims to have served aboard that ship as chief engineer...

Superpig
- saving pigs from untimely fates
- sleeps in a ham-mock at www.thebinaryrefinery.cjb.net

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Guest Anonymous Poster   
Guest Anonymous Poster
I think Ronin_54''s question is key.

I''ll add to that: How much time and effort is the player going to spend on managing personnel as opposed to other activities?

How many choices will the player typically have when looking to hire someone?

How easy is it to remove or change crews? Are there any performance penalties for making a change (think shifting around members of a sports team - temporarily increased inefficiency)?

Does developing detailed info about each crew member fit with the overall vision of the game? Are the crew simple and disposable tokens or does the game include them in detailed interaction (speech, away missions, whatever)?

JSwing

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kseh    3840
Taking the risk isn't a bad way to go I think. There was this one game Fast Food Tycoon, basicly build a fast food chain empire sort of thing. You hire your chef and whoever and let them go about there business while you focus on other things. Eventually you notice sales have dropped in the one restraunt so you take a look and find the one chef has been steeling so you fire his ass and hire a new guy temporarily with awful stats. Turns out with a little training he's the most loyal, usefull employee you got. Later you find the first chef out on the street begging for work and with a profound hatred of you.

I thought it was pretty cool like this. Only thing is, after you have a pile of restraunts you feel like you're being micromanaged to death when things like this come up.

Just a few thoughts about a case that sounds similar.

Edited by - kseh on February 8, 2002 2:38:57 PM

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Wavinator    2017
quote:
Original post by CaptainJester
To summarize, your intuition gives you a feeling, but you don''t know if they are lying about their skills or about not being a criminal, etc...

EDIT: ps. I like the idea of not knowing exactly what you are getting, but I think it should be balanced by the player''s experience within the game and he will get better at hiring the right people, eventually.



Wow! This is a great idea! Actually, rather than a seperate stat (unless I can use it for something else), the player’s "experience" level could more accurately tell them whether or not the person is a good bet. There would always be a margin for error, but it would go down the more experience the player had. (I also like the intuition stat, and may use that if I can find other uses in game for it, like with trade deals & such).

Another mutation of this idea: experience by society / culture. It might add flavor to modify experience at taking a risk based on whether or not you’ve interacted with the crewman’s culture. (Meaning you may not necessarily know if an alien is lying unless you’ve had experience).

quote:
Original post by Silvermyst
Definitely go for the gamble approach.

Like Bishop_pass mentioned, applicants could have licensed degrees, or maybe a recommendation from a renowned officer. Of course, licenses can be forged, recommendations could be false. You might be able to enlist the help of a specialize crewmember who has learned all about forgeries (useless trait while traveling through the galaxy, but priceless when trying to get new members on your team). You might have a crewmember who knows all the latest gossip, and who might just know that that new crewmember is lying when he says he flew with captain X.


Yes, these are good ideas, too, and could be applied to other things the player has to gamble on (like cargo, or parts, or information).

quote:

Perhaps your setting allows for some alien being that can actually read minds to a certain degree. Again, this being would be valuable when scanning applicants, not so valuable when trying to fight off pirates in space.


Hah, a “Captain, I sense something” Deanna Troi style empath! I like it, and it would add yet another cool character type, especially if the psi character could be used elsewhere.

So at one level or another, you’re basically buying resources that help minimize the risk...


quote:
Original post by Ronin_54
how many crewmembers are we talking about?


Not exactly sure, yet, but the idea is that you’re mostly worried about senior people that get promoted as you go up in rank. Junior crew are a bit more generic, so even if you have a crew of 1000 you only worry about n out of 1000.

I see n as anywhere from 15 to 50. But this is another area of debate, as my friend thinks you should be able to acquire as many as you desire to manage. Still not sure about this, yet, and a lot depends on how interesting it is to futz with them, and how many times you have to continuously do it. The more you do, the less crew you should have to manage.


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

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Wavinator    2017
quote:
Original post by Anonymous Poster
I think Ronin_54''s question is key.

I''ll add to that: How much time and effort is the player going to spend on managing personnel as opposed to other activities?


Hmmm... this is a toughie. Initial selection should be fast, say 2-10 minutes when you dock. The “interview” process should be lightening quick, because it’s not really interesting (in depth).

What will take more time is the quirks and events that arise from the crew you’ve acquired. This should be at least 20% of the gameplay. So that initial selection time has potentially serious effects.

quote:

How many choices will the player typically have when looking to hire someone?



I haven’t worked this out. Easiest approach is the “BBS” shopping list idea: Candidate name, contract cost, skills, and any special notes. Select and “buy,” just like equipment.

Each station might have different list boards, like “ex-military” or “academy” or “freelancers.”

Vague options I can think of per each candidate might be:
* history – generates a brief psuedo-history
* investigate – pay cash to verify candiate info
* put on retainer – pay to save a candidate that you like for X months

and (?)
* place an ad – pay to increase chance that someone with skills you want will pop up (probably by day, which is also a time cost that you pay to sit around doing nothing while waiting for someone to show up)


quote:

How easy is it to remove or change crews? Are there any performance penalties for making a change (think shifting around members of a sports team - temporarily increased inefficiency)?



Crewmembers can be dismissed at any time, but they still take up resources until you get to a suitable base / colony. There’s no penalty for swapping them.

quote:

Does developing detailed info about each crew member fit with the overall vision of the game? Are the crew simple and disposable tokens or does the game include them in detailed interaction (speech, away missions, whatever)?



I see them as relatively simple stat modifiers and resource users at one level. Interaction will probably be limited to placing them at stations; sending them on abstract assignments (away missions where they disappear and occassionally report); and dealing with the situations and events that they attract / generate / influence. No speech or character interaction, unfortunately.

Thanks JSwing, excellent clarifying questions!





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Just waiting for the mothership...

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Wavinator    2017
quote:
Original post by kseh
There was this one game Fast Food Tycoon...



Thanks for the example, it gives me some ideas. I like the idea that the quickest way to determine a character''s worth is to eventually look at your balance sheet.

quote:

Only thing is, after you have a pile of restraunts you feel like you''re being micromanaged to death when things like this come up.



Yeah, I think the way to do this and keep it viable is a management pyramid. You start out managing everybody, then promoting people who automatically add their own staff, from say "local, regional, divisional" levels on up. But you''re always only managing the same number of people, hiring or replacing them as needed.


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

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Wavinator    2017
quote:
Original post by superpig
Perhaps linking the histories into what the player has discovered. For example, if you come across a ship that has crashed due to (after inspection) engine failure, and later come across the person who claims to have served aboard that ship as chief engineer...


LOL! I like this, though I think it''s a bit more intricate than I was going for. Although, maybe I could tie the generation of certain major events (like a rousing success or disaster) to events. Let me think about this!


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

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Ronin_54    122
Gangsters anyone...? You hired your own lieutenants (and they got their own people). You only "control" the lieutenants (sending them on missions) and they will send the right people ^_^

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jRaskell    220
I like the idea of not being entirely sure of what you''re getting. I also don''t think it''s considered ''unfair'' if the player is given opportunities to discover exactly what they''ve hired over time, the ability to remove rotten apples is always available, and the impact any rotten apples have on gameplay is substantial but not unbalancing.

Expansions on given ideas that would make things even more interesting...

Intuition, detect forgery, investigation... as skills are wonderful, even more wonderful is when opposing skills are available, like lying ability (it''s well known some people are better liars then others), create forged documents, covert abilities (skill at performing actions without leaving compromising evidence) A psi ability would require a resistance against psi ability type of stat.

The ability to rehabilitate bad apples would be nice too, though some apples would be tougher (or impossible) to rehab then others, and it''s not necessarily based on the severity of their negative traits. A drunken pilot could be next to impossible to rehab, while a thieving cook may need to just be shown the error of his ways.

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ShadeStorm    122
I wasn't going to post anything here, because I figured I wouldn't be able to really add anything. Well, I've been thinking and I may have come up with something. In the RPG's, cursed items suck, and hurt the player for a bit, but they aren't permanent. On top of this, they are a penalty for the player having done something stupid, i.e. using a magic item without finding out what it is, first.

In the example for the spacer crew, I would give the clues as has been suggested already, but for each one, allow the player to fire/relieve from duty/whatever the crewman and take over themselves in that position. Think of a naval vessel in present day. If the Captain decides the guy at the helm is drunk, and no one else is available, what's he going to do? He's going to kick the hell out of the guy and drive the boat himself.

To keep this from being "abused", you could hard code a limit to what the player could do themselves and actually make the player put forth effort to do it. I could see (for example) a player being able to work helm and communications at the same time, barring problems reaching consoles and such. You might decide this is too much. Maybe to be effective, they can only do one. Whatever. It's your game.

Anyway, the reason I bring this up is it presents a way for the player who PAYS ATTENTION to see the problem early and correct it before something bad happens. By making it more effort you will make sure they want to hire someone as soon as possible.

Edited by - ShadeStorm on February 12, 2002 7:02:25 AM

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TechnoHydra    122
Woohoo, glad to see a thread that actually gets my imagination going. Wish I had something to add, I''m still thinking about everything thats already been brought up.

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DrMol    122
This is some good stuff. Ive been working on a political type game for the last few months and I have come up with some stuff regarding NPC''s...

I have about 250 politicians.
Their stats include personaility, goal, temperment, ideology, and a few other grey stats.

I set up a process when a player begins a new game:
I take a politician and generate his personality (Hedonist, Traditionalist, Idealogist, Rationalist) partially based on randomness and partially on what his close associations (family) are.
From this a few stats are derived or modified. I try to keep away from randomness as much as possible after personality.

Anyways, at the end, all the factors are taken into accout to generate a matrix of all the NPC''s and their relations to each other.
Say 5 politicians...

0 7 6 5 9 2
9 0 8 2 4 2
6 8 0 3 5 7
9 2 4 0 5 9
1 2 8 4 0 6
3 5 2 8 9 0

There is my matrix. I also somehow have a way to predict and control interaction (havent figured that part out yet, mostly a resources problem), and whenever the people interact, then their relation ship, ideology, personality, etc are figured to find out what they are talking about, and what they will come away thinking of each other.

For the PC, if he wants to scheck out one of these, he sees a few things, like Apparent loyalty, Apparent trust Apparent skills, which are not actual loyalty, just what the PC thinks they are at the time


M2C, hope it helps.

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