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Author Topic: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value  (Read 4071 times)

Morrokain

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Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« on: November 18, 2016, 03:25:17 PM »

Been meaning to suggest this for a bit, but now that everything is coming together and the world is expanding next update I wanted to get my thoughts out on campaign progression.

Right now, I feel the primary discussion of the campaign element of the game is that many players either feel the early game is difficult, or the late game mechanics and skills favor player controlled super ships or the highly trained officers and their related skills. To those who point out that losing ships (I'll update with post links later btw, feeling lazy atm ;P) hurts the bottom line too much and to have meaningful progression losses have to be minimized, I am not suggesting otherwise, as I would agree.

But, at the other end, the game can't be too easy if loses don't mean anything or supplies become trivial because everything is super cheap and accessible. So to rebalance around early game doesn't make sense either. In the blog post on procedural generation, Alex touched on early game progression and noted that though pirate skins and built-in debuff hullmods were meant to make the early combat encounters easier, automated defense encounters would be another level down too, and other exploration content would make early game easier. I think this is a good step, but I also think something else is needed before any of the above issues truly get solved.

What I am talking about is what a player finds of value in winning an encounter vs what they lose. Right now, the biggest medium of transaction in the game is credits. Credits buy supplies, fuel, weapons and ships. It is by far the most valuable "fun gaining" resource in the game. Think of reputation, for example. All that does at best is unlock new things that also cost credits. So credits are still in play there. Nothing gained in battle outweighs the value of pure credits, because they are more flexible than just a weapon, supplies or even the costly boarding of a new ship, unless that ship or weapon cannot be bought at a market for credits anywhere else.

Losses in battle in turn cost credits as well, both in terms of CR replenishment and supplies, and the loss of ships and weapons as a whole. Because deployment cannot be without cost (because it makes things too easy), it was balanced around careful supply considerations to make it undesirable to deploy overwhelming advantages. But! This also means that losses therefore always become a redline area that makes success of the mission no longer worth the investment cost per cost.

That is because the only thing of true value gained from combat right now is additional credits. Reputation, as stated earlier, is inferior as a reward because it is also linked to having credits. And since multiple areas of the campaign and combat are finely tuned around a "mistake = lost credits" scenario, it is no surprise that only the most conservative of playstyles are successful, and then quickly become boring because they have crossed the threshold of the difficulty barrier.

So, the only real way to solve these issues is to implement 2 things across multiple areas of the game:

1) More than one (preferable a couple) accessible, reliable, repeatable and sustainable ways to make credits outside of a combat encounter.

and more importantly:

2) The has to be another (again preferably many) currency that equals or is greater than credits in terms of potential content progression.


So maybe stations can act as one, the addition of the new resources I could see as being something you would want to throw ships away over. But that's really the idea here. Imo, the game will be at its most fun when an actual decision most players make will be something along the lines of "lets tell these 2 Lashers to escort this Hyperion, because the Lashers are expendable and the Hyperion isn't." I would even go so far to say as around 65% of your fleet at any given time should be mostly expendable and fairly easily replaced. The only things you should never want to lose is exceptionally rare or, your personal favorite, ships and weapons.

The big difference in this scenario, is that their loss would be as "payment" for something else that progresses the players goals, whatever that may be. It can be a buff to reputation's relevance as a resource, new research or tech potential, or even story. There are multiple paths to go I think.

Right now, all ships are equally important, because any losses equal lost progression because the only way to progress is more credits.

There hasn't been any details released (thankfully) on the exploration content, but it should hopefully give these new progression paths an equal relevance to just getting as rich as possible, because right now too many things are a necessary drain on credits for that to work well otherwise.

I also think these progression paths should be content rewarding rather than punitive. Since most mechanics introduced right now discourage things (hyperstorms, CR, supplies, fuel, reputation tech barriers) by costing credits, there has to be a balancing end that rewards the player for losing expendable ships by increasing their access to new fun things. Reputation was a start, but it effectiveness was limited since like I said the stuff unlocked from rep still costs credits, so still equates ship losses as "unacceptable" in a player's mind.

Anyone else care to respond or give their ideas on this? I just figured now is the time since this is the kind of stuff currently under development. :)
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Cik

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2016, 07:38:47 PM »

rep should allow you to buy ships up to a certain limit based on the production capabilities of the faction.

it should probably just be random. pick a weight class / role and they hand you a ship (assuming you are in their good graces and working for them) we can assume that this is essentially how the faction militaries work anyway; why would they bother using a credit system?

the credit-only system is a holdover from the player being a mercenary freecaptain only, and should be supplemented by rep-based systems.

oh also please add a system whereby it is possible to earmark ships from the faction's production, so you don't have to clean out markets which is completely silly and makes no sense.

also we really need a faction subsystem that keeps track of production and tie it to the economy. factions magicking dozens of military warships out of thin air without anything so much as production time, resource dependence etc. in a sector where this sort of thing is supposed to be increasingly difficult is v. silly
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Kaucukovnik

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #2 on: November 19, 2016, 05:01:03 AM »

First I have to admit I'm still playing on the Easy difficulty mode. I have also only played a bit of vanilla before diving into Nexerelin + faction mods.

Fuel and supplies become needless hassle when the regular salary just covers them and then some.
And if you level up your character faster than your fleet grows, it begins to feel like free money.

So far character level feels like the most overpowered resource there is.
- Your faction doesn't pay you based on what you have done for them (caught pirates, defeated enemy fleets), but based on what you did for yourself (improved your skills which are a powerful asset on their own).
- Even the best ships are hard to outfit when you have much less ordnance points than they are balanced for, some specialty ships have to be downright crappy with low OP or they would be unstoppable beasts on high player levels.
- Marine battles are huge money drain without the appropriate skill, you can lose 30 power-armored marines to 10 pirates in a tiny freighter.

Once you get to large high-tech ships and bigger fleets, this mostly evens out. Even if just your salary alone remains profitable, you are aiming for more big ships along with big guns and ~50k a month just doesn't cut it. A mistake in stormy nebula doesn't eat just dozens, but hundreds units of supplies...
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The2nd

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #3 on: November 19, 2016, 05:51:26 AM »

First off what Cik said. Getting supplied with ships from your faction makes a lot of sense. Implement something like requisition points, faction influence becomes a lot more important. A lot of ways to do this.


Second I always thought that industry will give a lot of resources importance. Maybe you will be able to turn all that metal and junk you loot into new ships. Blueprints for your production might be something valuable you want. Acquire a few new resources that enable you to built a fuel factory. The list goes on.
« Last Edit: November 19, 2016, 05:54:10 AM by The2nd »
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FooF

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #4 on: November 20, 2016, 08:51:28 AM »

I agree with the OP to a degree and really like Cik's idea.

As has been stated many, many, many, times, there is no endgame right now besides putting a perfect fleet together. As such, losses of almost any kind are simply deemed unacceptable to the player base because the fleet is the end, not just the means. Ideas regarding boarding and whatnot to replace losses have been floated around but Cik's idea is elegant in its simplicity.

Here's the drawback though: it puts the player at the mercy of the faction they align with. I would assume the faction wouldn't just lend you their ships for any reason whatsoever. They might give you ships to escort a high priority ship or for a cargo run but to just have? I don't think so. At least, not for an in-universe reason (except at the upper echelons of reputation). Early on, you'd only get "expendable" faction ships for running missions of some sort, which isn't bad in and of itself but limits play styles of players. I'd also wonder if you get to keep the ships on loan or not, or perhaps they'd be part of the reward for completing the mission (in addition to credits).

For pirates, credits would still be key, I suppose. Part of the pirate play style is having the freedom to get what you want. Perhaps selling ships to pirates would be more lucrative than on the open markets or even the black markets of faction worlds but the reputation hit would be severe.

Spending reputation, rather than credits, could also be good (though it doubles down on the necessity for being aligned with a faction). I don't know about earmarking/ordering ships from the faction, though. I see what you mean but if we're getting faction ships somewhere outside of the fleet market anyway, the fleet market itself is going to be minimized significantly in importance. If a system like is being suggested was put into place, the only ships you'd buy with credits would be ships unavailable to the faction or something needed in a pinch. Are you suggesting that ships have two price tags? One in credits that presumably anyone could buy and "reputation points?" I.e. a Brawler would be 20k credits or 10k Rep Points. Perhaps when you work for a faction you get Rep Points at some percentage of credits earned or perhaps wholly in rep points...kind of like company scrip from back in the coal mining days.

Before I get too far off on a tangent, I like the idea and see it as more attractive than current but it does have some drawbacks if it limits player choice or railroads them into a certain play style. If anything, its just expanding on what we have now for reputation but until there's an endgame where losing a good portion of your fleet will be deemed "worth it," no mechanic we devise will change our attitude on losing ships.
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Megas

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #5 on: November 20, 2016, 07:54:54 PM »

Since the advent of commissions, reputation for most factions has become almost worthless because everything you want from them is locked behind commission.  It makes no difference if I have cooperative or suspicious because lack of commission locks me out of stuff I want to buy.  (The internal news access gained at cooperative is usually useless news spam.)

Here is an idea:  Rather than have commission completely lock out merch, it merely increases the level of reputation required.  For example, a ship or weapon that would require welcoming relations and commission to unlock requires friendly relations instead without commission.  Friendly relations with commission requires cooperative relations.  Things that need cooperative relations and commission remain unavailable to those without commission (since there is no level beyond cooperative).  In short, no commission imposes a one tier penalty instead of locking out most merch.
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Morrokain

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #6 on: November 21, 2016, 02:41:41 PM »

until there's an endgame where losing a good portion of your fleet will be deemed "worth it," no mechanic we devise will change our attitude on losing ships.

Essentially my post in one sentence. ;)

I think my favorite option to solve this is tech unlocks/conversions/skins etc. It would require a little bit more content in the long run, but wow the payoff would be worth it to find/build unique weapons and ships through exploration and faction military campaigns.

Also I think both Megas and Cik's ideas make a lot of sense. Getting free ships from a faction would have to be closely considered, though. It has to hit that sweet spot where you don't get everything too fast but aren't locked out of 75% of the content for most of the game either. I like it a lot otherwise.
« Last Edit: November 21, 2016, 02:44:21 PM by Morrokain »
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FooF

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #7 on: November 21, 2016, 04:34:05 PM »

If I recall correctly, commissions were introduced to have a steady (albeit meager) income source in the very brutal beginning and to give you a definitive choice with opportunity costs attached. If I take a commission with the Hegemony, I'm going to anger Tri-Tach, etc. While good, I think we're at the point that it could be re-evaluated instead of a somewhat knee-jerk reaction to the initial difficulty of the start (I think it was patched in shortly after reputation was put in).

Megas' idea is pretty good, to me. It keeps commissions valuable but not entirely exclusive. I get that a commission is, essentially, pledging allegiance to a faction but the way it is implemented, even mid-level ships are hard to get. I don't know if I'd go so far as making a commission a "+1" to reputation level (in regards to purchasing ships/weapons) but it's on the right track. Without a commission, I think it is necessary to put some exclusive tech/weapons behind a wall but the having high reputation without a commission should still have some perks. At present, it's a bit too all-or-none.
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Megas

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #8 on: November 21, 2016, 06:42:03 PM »

Commissions put a stop to the player of being friendly with everyone and buying all of the best toys.  All you need to do to win in 0.6.5 is do food runs and beat up bounty fleets on the side.

Extra income from commission is not much unless you fight a lot.  The main reason to get commission is access to more ships and weapons.  Without it, access to quality stuff is very limited.


To add on lack of commission being a penalty instead of locking out everything, there could be additional price markup such that an Enforcer would cost even more for those without commission than the same Enforcer bought from Independents or the faction you are commissioned with.

Similarly, it would be nice if commission lowered or even removed the tariffs of the faction you are aligned with, at least for the few items that do not require commission to purchase.
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Megas

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #9 on: November 21, 2016, 07:39:57 PM »

I may have a better idea than tier penalty for no commission.  For factions that offer commissions, limit maximum relations to welcoming (or maybe friendly), and abolish commission requirements for merch.  In other words, maximum relations cannot exceed 50 (or 75) unless you have commission (or faction does not offer commission).  If you are not willing to pledge your allegiance to a faction that offers commission, then why should they ever trust you enough to buy the best stuff or provide (useless) internal intel?  Also, it means player has less of a buffer of reputation loss caused by smuggling or other bad behavior.
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Morrokain

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #10 on: November 21, 2016, 10:51:44 PM »

I may have a better idea than tier penalty for no commission.  For factions that offer commissions, limit maximum relations to welcoming (or maybe friendly), and abolish commission requirements for merch.  In other words, maximum relations cannot exceed 50 (or 75) unless you have commission (or faction does not offer commission).  If you are not willing to pledge your allegiance to a faction that offers commission, then why should they ever trust you enough to buy the best stuff or provide (useless) internal intel?  Also, it means player has less of a buffer of reputation loss caused by smuggling or other bad behavior.

Hmm, yes I like this more. It stands to reason anyway, that someone who has accepted a commission of a powerful faction would only be treated, at best, with a friendly acknowledgement of aligned goals in times of an alliance against a common enemy. No polity would divulge sensitive intelligence or premium weaponry to an ally that could at any time become an enemy.
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intrinsic_parity

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Re: Design Discussion: Player value vs credit value
« Reply #11 on: December 13, 2016, 08:58:16 PM »

It seems like most of the problems being discussed could be fixed with an expansion of end game mechanics. The idea that comes to mind is allowing the player to control their own faction/corporation. This would hopefully give you a dependable source of income (from mining/trade fleets that you own/protect) that would make it so the player does not have to make money in every engagement in order to survive in the game, but its not an easy way out (like a fixed salary from a faction) because the player has to establish/protect whatever income they are getting. It also gives the player more long term goals, and reasons to keep playing. I think the biggest problem with the game is that there are not really rewards for taking risks. Losing ships right now is basically unacceptable in the early game and still very inconvenient in the late game. Having other things in the game that are worth losing your fleet over would make it much more interesting. For instance, it would be worth losing your fleet to capture an outpost with valuable resources that would net you a big income in the long run, or to fight your way into a research facility to steal blueprints for advanced technology/ships. That leads me to another interesting idea. The ability to manufacture ships cheaply once you obtain blueprints/raw resources would make losing and replacing them a lot more palatable. Blueprints could also make a more interesting middle ground in faction relations where a good status might let you buy ships and tech, but a commission lets you get blueprints so you can manufacture them en masse, that way you could get valuable ships in small numbers from non-affiliated factions, but the bulk of your fleet would be from whatever faction you have a commission with since you can manufacture those ships cheaply and in large numbers.
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