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Messages - contingencyplan

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Precursors / Money
« on: June 17, 2005, 11:36:58 am »
As far as having to "file" taxes...  I think we should definitely leave that out.  By that time, technology will be advanced to the point that the gov't will know most of the info about law-abiding citizens.  Thus, they can tax people correctly, according to whatever rules are in place, without any user intervention.  In any event, if we add a bunch of bookkeeping to a player's responsibilities, people will get bored / frustrated / torqued off, and leave.  Not good.  At most, we should simply send them the bill or something, and have them click a button to pay it.  This gives people the option of not paying.

Also, instead of income tax, we could have a sales tax.  Texas, for instance, doesn't have a state income tax; rather, we do sales taxes (and property taxes and a bunch of others at the varying levels of gov't that I haven't taken the time to research yet...).  So we could have things in the game have an additional tax on them (that should be clearly evident when purchasing something  - that way, we don't get someone going "But it says $80k, and I have $80k?!").  Or, we could do property taxes - you can do the real-estate thing, but you have to be able to pay the taxes on the land you own.  Or docking fees.  These ideas sound good.

Or, we could have the Terrans do an income tax, and the League do property or other kinds of taxes.  Or vice versa, or some combination.  Makes working with one group or another more interesting.

I'm not sure taxes are such a good idea, though.  On the one hand, it does add to the realism of the game - we have governments, and those governments must be sustained.  However, I'm not sure people will enjoy playing the game if there's an added burden of paying taxes, regardless of the type.  

If we do end up doing taxes, it MUST be for a purpose other than "realism" - the money must actually go somewhere, to someone, to do something that the players can see.  Otherwise, people will resent paying them (much like many do in real life...).  So before we decide HOW to collect taxes, we must decide WHAT that money will be used for.  And if the ideas don't knock our socks off, I think we should consider dropping the tax idea.  I don't think we should just create "money sinks."  We should do something that the players will find worthwhile.


Precursors / Experience system
« on: June 15, 2005, 03:08:37 pm »

As the character's accuracy improved, the radius of where it might actually hit (instead of where the crosshairs are) would diminish.

This is exactly what I had in mind.  


I'd almost think that the diminishing returns would provide enough of a ceiling that we wouldn't need to add hard ceilings... but that depends on how we build our equations.

The reason for a hard-coded ceiling is that regardless of how much we do a "law of diminishing returns," the function will still go towards infinity.  The player, given enough time, will be able to have 100% precisely accurate aim.

[Precision = reprodibility; accuracy = correctness.  They are mutually independent - if you throw 5 darts and they all hit in the same area on the board, then you are precise, even if none hit the bull's eye.  On the other hand, if all 5 land at random points on the board, but one hits in the middle of the bull's eye, then you are accurate.]

Thus, given enough time, the player can eliminate the whole reason for having skills - to introduce the character's effect on gameplay.  Then, we have the l337s going around and headshotting everybody.


My biggest problem with the simulators is the fact that in this day in age, simulators would be pretty damn advanced. (pretty close to real life) We have to have an excuse for _why_ they aren't as effective as real-life combat for gaining experience.

It's not that they aren't effective - they're as effective as real-life is.  However, as advanced as they are, they still are no match for a combat situation.  I would still say there's a diff between firing a weapon when you know you can't be hurt and firing that weapon knowing that if you do something wrong, you're dead.  The simulator will give you experience (using the term loosely) in the general use of a weapon, while the real life experience will teach you the art of actually using it.


Another way to do this would be allow one character to "teach" another, passing on knowledge. They of course wouldn't be able to teach the other character more than they know themselves, but it's a way to learn new things that involves no real risk to life or health.

I very much like this idea, especially in conjunction with the simulator.  I think that we could award more experience when you are trained by a person, rather than by a computer / NPC.


Precursors / Experience system
« on: June 15, 2005, 10:42:50 am »
Well, I'm not familiar with the GURPS system, since I never really got into the D&D style of RPGs.  I have a passing familiarity with the D20 system from playing Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic, but that's neither here nor there.

However, from a game standpoint, I was kinda thinking of experience as a continuous function, rather than a discrete one.  By "continuous" I mean that you notice yourself gradually getting better, rather than having to wait until you "level up" to see a difference.  This will especially work with things like aiming weapons - the more you fire your weapon, the better you get at aiming it, and the more accurate you are (e.g., less recoil, etc.).  Naturally, there's still a hard ceiling (likely weapon-specific) to keep people from being dead-accurate with a pistol at 1000 yards.  Also, there is a system of diminishing returns; you won't keep getting the same advancement in skill each time you fire your weapon and kill somebody.  

A problem with this system: it is potentially fairly easy to abuse.  If we make firing the weapon the basis for advancement in skill with the weapon, then people will simply stand around firing their guns into the air until they have the desired expertise with the weapon.  Thus, advancement in skill would be dependent upon reaching a goal.  To continue with accuracy with a weapon, then you have to be aiming at something (e.g., a simulated target or an opponent) to gain skill when you fire your weapon - you only gain skill with successful hits.  Better hits (headshots, for instance) net larger gains.

As I mentioned in the death topic, some skills can be advanced by spending time in the simulator.  The above rules (ceilings and diminishing returns) are especially evident in the simulator, since nothing beats using a real weapon in a real combat situation.  However, for gaining an initial skill with a weapon, the simulator gives the ability to learn without a potential for dying because your skill is too low.

As far as how this affects things, we could have the recoil skill, for instance, be a percentage.  The player fires a weapon with a certain amount of recoil, and the skill is then applied to that recoil force as a percentage: If a weapon has a recoil force of 10 (whatever "10" means), and the player has a recoil skill of 20 (or .20, or 20%, or whatever desired representation), then the final recoil force will be 8 (10 - (.20 * 10) = 8 ).

Personally, I think that this will make the game more realistic.  After all, in real life, we don't gain skill as levels, but as a continuous improvement over time.


Precursors / Gameplay... and Death
« on: June 15, 2005, 12:01:15 am »
Re. weapons and such: I've tinkered with Planeshift some, haven't played it a whole lot.  However, they have magic in their game (since theirs is a fantasy MMORPG).  They plan to have a deal where if you're inexperienced, the spell can backfire on you, damaging you or whatever.  We could have something like that - if your skill level with a particular weapon is too low, you could injure yourself with it.  Thus, we should have training booths, where you can pay to learn to use a weapon or other system without having to worry about killing yourself by launching a REAL mini-nuke grenade half an inch in front of you.  It's all simulated, so no real chance of harm.  However, simulation can only take you so far, so we should have both a hard ceiling on the amount of skill you can gain through training combined with a law of diminishing returns (i.e., harder to advance in skill through simulation).  I'll post my views on experience and skills in the appropriate thread.

Cross-topic question, though: should we make skills weapon-specific, or have classes of weapons?  I would advocate as wep-specific as possible, since two kinds of pistols won't always fire the same way.  

Re. death: I would say a good possibility that I was thinking about putting in my game (and y'all are welcome to use now) is teleportation - everyone has a "personal emergency teleport device" or something.  All it does is pull the person back to a friendly point.  However, if this occurs, it just pulls you back - you leave all the stuff you're carrying there on the ground.  This still allows for looting, without having the victim die.

Another possibility is cloning.  If you're part of an organization (e.g., the Terrans or whoever), then you're automatically cloned and put back in, though for a cost (perhaps a standard tax or something).  If you're independent (e.g., merc.), and die, then you have to pay someone to cloning you.  Perhaps a black-market cloning / revival system?  You could say that the cloned body, being manufactured, is weaker, and not all the information in one's brain can be transferred.  So, this would explain why you lose levels / skills / money / stats when you are returned to the game.

Death is one aspect of MMORPGs that is difficult to figure out, mainly because permanent death, IMO, is not particularly an option, esp. if people are paying to play this game.  (Seem to remember something on Gamasutra about this; I'll see if I can find it.)  People won't want to invest money and a lot of time building up a character, only to have that investment be turned to bupkis when your idiot teammate (or, insert another term here) decides it'd be fun to try firing this new rocket launcher he found... except, he doesn't have the skill, so it blows up.  And, of course, you're standing right next to him.

Take it easy,

Precursors / What is important to the users?
« on: June 08, 2005, 10:06:26 pm »
In short, here's how I would prioritize these aspects of the game:

  • Stability
  • Polish up the flightsim interface some, at least till we're really happy with it.
  • Have an initial combat / damage system, even without the Systems thing.  We could just do a "unit system" - the ship is one system, and damage anywhere damages the ship as a whole.
  • Systems
  • AI - develop in tandem with the combat system
  • GUI
  • Planets
  • FPS
  • Fleet View
  • Networking
  • [/list:o]

    In long:

    Personally, for me, I'm all about the
stability - I think that what we have should work as well as it can, given time.  As you said, it's not as much fun, but I think is better software development policy to debug as you go along, rather than save everything for the end.  That way, when a new bug comes in, you have a better idea of where to start looking (i.e., the most recent code you've added), rather than having the whole program (and all prior-known bugs) be the potential offender(s).

The same goes with the interfaces.  If there's obvious ways we can clean up, optimize, or polish the flightsim interface we have already, we should do that now, while it's fresh on our minds (well, yours anyways... ;-) ).  I'm not saying that we have to code to sqeeze every possible frame out of the interface at this point, but if there's something obvious we can do NOW, we should.  

In short, let's make sure what we have works as well as it can, then move on to bigger and better things.

Combat and Damage: No real ideas yet on that, at least not concrete enough to really start discussing.  However, this might be something we should work on as soon as possible, since combat will be a major part of the game.  I agree that damage should be as System-local as possible (especially, e.g., that a hit to the front doesn't take out the engines for no reason - make it as realistic as possible).  

Systems: I'm learning Python at the moment, and I'm gonna try making some sort of Systems system in Python so we can see how that's going to work.  I don't know how much of a neural network problem it would be - seems like a standard graph connectivity problem, at least to me.  **dusts off data structures textbook**  I personally would put it further down on the list (get some more of the programming aspects of the game up and running), but it seems pretty important to you.  And pretty interesting to me, so I'm up for it.

Artificial Intelligence: We would have to have something worth that intelligence (or at least be working towards it).  I have not seen your code, so I do not know for certain whether an AI at this point is worthwhile / feasible based solely off the demo.  As I said earlier, I would like to try coding an AI, at least a simple one.  We can start making this now, or after we make a combat system, depending on how tightly you want the AI integrated into the game.  Also, I would make it as separate as possible from the main game logic - the NPCs will more than likely running their own separate client-like programs and connecting to the server that way.

GUI: GUI programming is something that I have admittedly have no real experience in.  We might want to get started on that one, if nothing else than to have a menu to select paramaters and options for the game.

Planets: I think Vegastrike's interface to planet landing is fairly good - when you get close enough to a planet, you receive the option to land on it.  If you so choose, then it immediately cuts to after you have landed.  We could also do something where you actually land on the planet, but that's up to y'all.

First-person and Fleet Modes: Since it sounds like y'all have already started on the FPS part, I would say let's do more with that interface first, then move onto the Fleet Mode.  It all depends on what would be easiest to do, and what direction you want the game to go next.

Networking: Admittedly, networking is a weak suit of mine.  I did find that Raknet networking library you metioned.  However, I noticed that the license for the code is shareware / commercial if the project is not released under the GPL.  Since whitelynx said the project is not open-source, then that would require that we purchase a commercial license.  Until we have something a lot more concrete (i.e., we're ready to talk to publishers and get some real money to fund this thing), I don't think we should be looking at commercial licenses for anything.  I know I'm a developer on the game now, but I'm not ready to pay for any libraries this early in development.

There are some alternate projects we could use.  The VOS project is supposed to be using Crystal Space or something like that, so we might could look at them.  I was considering using them for the networking in my game.  However, I'm not up on network programming like y'all probably are, so I'll leave that up to you.  Or we could just add a networking plugin to CS / CEL... :-)

So there you have it.

Precursors / Looking for a developer?
« on: June 06, 2005, 03:11:16 pm »
** looks over reply
** becomes elated
** is intrigued at the ideas for the PDN and the DDN

All in all, I'm very excited.  Let me know when I can start working.

Just please bear in mind one thing: I will not be able to work on the game "full time" - I am working a job 8-5 at my uni's Law School, and that keeps me pretty busy most of the day.  But I will be very glad to work on it when I'm able, which should be most of the remainder from work.

Please let me know what area you are considering the most important, programming-wise.  I do not have experience with writing CS / CEL plugins, but I would be glad to help out with the development on the mechanics plugin.  As I told whitelynx, I am still very unfamiliar with the CEL.  

Presuming you already have code for ship control, I could also start writing a simple AI for that as well.  I am reading (in spare time) about game AI, and I am anxious to be able to apply those techniques to a real-world situation.

All in all, I'm glad you think so highly of me.  Let me know when and how I can start working.  Thanks.

Precursors / Looking for a developer?
« on: June 05, 2005, 11:25:40 pm »
I was talking with whitelynx on #crystalspace earlier tonight about the game y'all are working on.  With the discussion, I was surprised and excited at how closely the ideas for your game resembled one I was planning on making in the future.  Thus, I was wondering if y'all would be interested in another developer.

I am a computer science student at a Texas university, just finished the first semester of my junior year (I'm a semester ahead).  My uni allows me to get a B.S. and a M.S. in Computer Science in 5 years, so I'm planning on taking advantage of that while getting a Philosophy minor.

I have been programming since 5th grade, and have a very firm grasp on general C++ (5 years experience, self-taught).  I am a fast learner if I have the resources available to learn with.  I am currently working on my own Crystal Space-based game, available on SourceForge at .  You can download the code from the CVS to get an idea of my coding style.

At the present, I am interested in working on any aspect of the game.  However, my passions lie with artificial intelligence - machine learning, non-hard-coded logic (e.g., genetic algorithms, neural nets, etc.).  I am hoping to work on AIs that behave almost like humans - purposefully imperfect, but smarter than a lot of the ones out there now.   AI should be an asset, not a cause for aggravation.

Additionally, I recently took a class on Concepts of Programming Languages, during which I learned HOW you go about creating programming langauges.  I loved the class, so I would list that as another area of Computer Science that I am passionate about.  (Dunno how much that would help out in game development, but I figured I'd throw that in anyways... :-) )

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to ask.  I am very excited about working on your game, and I believe I could be a strong asset to your development team.

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