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Re: Hey, it's an LT related question! :o

#3
I think Josh has set it up the way Silverware has described, I would like there to be a system where individual NPCs could be targeted as well. So I can hunt the smugglers in general, or get extra pay for catching that Han Solo guy who has luck on his side.

I would like to also be able to hire help directly, or have payouts restricted to kills only. I don't care if someone damages his armor, I want the ship disabled or destroyed.

Speaking of which, will there be electronic warfare in LT? What about ways to trap or disable ships? Will there be cloaking or stealth ships?
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Re: Hey, it's an LT related question! :o

#6
I remember seeing in one of the demo videos a quest where you received money simply for dealing damage to ships of a particular faction or company. Can't remember which.
We noticed that this thread got a little side-tracked into a conversation about eating spaghetti with a spoon. We do enjoy our fair share of italian food, but please remember to keep discussion on-topic when posting on the forums.
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Re: Hey, it's an LT related question! :o

#7
Yes, I remember talk about this sort of thing in the dev logs as well. AI players could put bounties out on factions, such as a pirate faction hurting shipping, and you would get payment for destroying or damaging ships. If I recall correctly that dev log also talked about ideas for how the information regarding the act of damaging that faction would be stored, and then sort of devolved into a bunch of thoughts about data collection and use in general.
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Re: Hey, it's an LT related question! :o

#8
I've always wondered about those bounties for 'general' targets. There's the niggling doubt in the back of my mind that they don't make financial sense.

The idea that an entity would put up a bounty for a specific troublemaker is reasonable, but I wonder how the numbers stack up for a system such as exists in ED. Given ED's general disappointment in so many other areas of immersion (and to be fair, they are trying to produce a game that turns in a regular real-life profit), the bounty system seems to pay a little more than I would think would be sustainable.

My hope was that LT would somehow provide a more transparent view of how a bounty system would work - from memory an enterprise would manage multiple projects (just like a business). One of these projects would be the profit-making task (i.e. selling minerals mined). Other projects would handle defence such as paying for bounties, and paying guard NPCs.

Of course, if the defence projects demand more resources than the profit projects can deliver, the enterprise fails. Imagine the outrage on ED if bounty payouts stopped, but that is exactly what I would like to see happen (sometimes, the bad guys need to win too).
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Re: Hey, it's an LT related question! :o

#12
Bugbear wrote:My hope was that LT would somehow provide a more transparent view of how a bounty system would work - from memory an enterprise would manage multiple projects (just like a business).
I'm curious about what you mean by "transparent" -- do you mean in the game itself (to characters), or to us as players?
Bugbear wrote:One of these projects would be the profit-making task (i.e. selling minerals mined). Other projects would handle defence such as paying for bounties, and paying guard NPCs. Of course, if the defence projects demand more resources than the profit projects can deliver, the enterprise fails. Imagine the outrage on ED if bounty payouts stopped, but that is exactly what I would like to see happen (sometimes, the bad guys need to win too).
Shouldn't NPC organizations be able to fail?

One of the goals Josh stated for LT a while back was that NPCs, within reason, should be able to do anything in the game world that player characters can. Well -- if player-run organizations can fail, through mismanagement or bad luck, then shouldn't NPC organizations also be able to fail in similar ways?

So I'm interested in seeing under what conditions organizations -- including those run by NPCs -- can fail. What does "mismanagement" actually mean here?

Here's a very high-level checklist of actions required for organizational success:

1. Have a vision for an organization (e.g, profit from selling widgets).
2. Accurately perceive the controlling elements of the system (e.g., the marketplace) affected by that vision.
3. Develop a sound strategic plan for changing those elements to favor the organization's vision.
4. Effectively implement that strategy through successful tactical actions.
5. Return to step 2, and include the results of step 4.

To what extent will organizations in Limit Theory be capable of accomplishing any/all of these kinds of activity? What different kinds of visions can motivated NPC executives form? Can executive NPCs be good and poor at matching their vision to a system? (For example, a pirate's vision of "NPCs should give me all their money right now" may be a bad match for an environment patrolled by powerful police ships.)

Similarly, can different NPCs in organizations be good and bad at perceiving the controlling elements of environmental systems? At formulating plans? At breaking down plans into action-projects that will accomplish the given strategic goal? At capably accomplishing those projects through smart, adaptable tactical actions? At accurately learning from the results of these actions and applying their lessons to create better plans? (A lot of real-world organizations fail that last test, as when successful companies fail because they settle for cranking out their one product and get bypassed by new-tech competitors.)

Bonus question: what about organizations that have been so successful that they have become factions? (I'm defining "faction" as "an organization so big that it controls one or more worlds and functions as a government.") Does it change the definition of "success" when deficit spending (if factions can print their own money as governments do) allows more spending on defense projects than current factional income can pay for?

Limit Theory: come for the space shoot-em-up, stay for the multi-layered economic simulation. :D
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Re: Hey, it's an LT related question! :o

#13
Such a response deserves a prompt reply from this self-confessed lurker.

By 'transparent' I guess I mean that I can trust the underlying code to be internally consistent. I don't necessarily need to be able to look at the books of my employer (i.e. the entity employing my services or paying the bounty). To go back to the ED example - I'm not sure whether the bounties being paid are 'real' or whether they have been programmed in to maximise the player's Pavlovian response to a reward. I don't like being 'gamed', and once I'm aware of that, immersion goes out the window - that's one of the reasons why my Cobra III is under a dustcloth somewhere in the galaxy.

Totally agree that NPC organisations should be able to fail. The manner in which an enterprise fails could take on different appearances - from a strategic withdrawl that minimises losses to an all-out rout where the opponent obliterates all assets on the board. Perhaps both would be happening at the same time.

You do bring up an interesting point of what happens when an enterprise becomes so big it can simply print money like a government. That's a whole next level of project management. To be implemented in LT2 perhaps.

Having lost my pew-pew reflexes long ago, this slower, longer term game would be where my interest would lie. Yes, this economic modelling is of interest to me!!! Sad to say, but I found the implementation of the stock market fascinating, especially since it was underpinned by in game events. Having dabbled in stock market technical analysis myself, the inclusion of market indicators (seriously, the market video showed a real-time MACD chart!!!!) got my internal finance nerd all frothy!
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Re: Hey, it's an LT related question! :o

#14
Bugbear wrote:By 'transparent' I guess I mean that I can trust the underlying code to be internally consistent. I don't necessarily need to be able to look at the books of my employer (i.e. the entity employing my services or paying the bounty). To go back to the ED example - I'm not sure whether the bounties being paid are 'real' or whether they have been programmed in to maximise the player's Pavlovian response to a reward. I don't like being 'gamed', and once I'm aware of that, immersion goes out the window - that's one of the reasons why my Cobra III is under a dustcloth somewhere in the galaxy.
Ah, OK. I understand this very well. Not too much makes me angry, but feeling manipulated is near the top of the list of things that rile me.

Except... while I have little tolerance for that in real life, it's actually necessary to some degree in a game. If the point of a game is to allow the player to be entertained, then some manipulation of results may be justified if it supports the intended gameplay experience.

But -- and I think this is what you're saying -- it's possible to take that too far. Results that are too obviously fixed, for the player or opponents, make a game less fun. The trick is to find the sweet spot between overly-simple "death by RNG" and obvious rubberbanding.

I brought up something like this in "The Macro Economy" thread started by McDuff in 2014. In this thread, I mentioned the "faucet/drain" economic simulation used by MMOGs. This is the practice of simply generating game resources dynamically and deleting those resources by any means possible, rather than trying to design and implement (and keep running without inflation/deflation) a true closed economy. This practice freaks out new players who have some knowledge of economics, but it's used because it actually works well enough (i.e., it accomplishes most of the goals of a game) without requiring the designers to have PhDs in Economics, to spend three extra years of development just on the economy, and to have a dedicated team of game economists constantly monitoring and tweaking the amount of wealth in the game. (Although the larger MMORPGs actually DO need such a team to prevent massive cheating, e.g., "dupe exploits" where someone discovers a bug in the code that allows the infinite easy generation of some valuable resource.)

The reason I mention this is because, whenever people with economics knowledge suddenly realize just how widespread the simplified faucet/drain economic model is in MMOGs, some of them invariably declare, "That's bogus! I could design a game with a working closed economy!" From his comments in past threads -- and he did have some interesting remarks in "The Macro Economy" thread -- I suspect Josh may have become one of those people.

As evidence of this, Josh has expressed a dislike for the magically spawning NPCs (and their wealth) in other games. In LT, wealth would be created (or not) by NPCs, who themselves would have "grown" during the pre-game history generation phase. But as I implied, Josh is not the first person to try to create a working closed economy in a game... and I would not be at all surprised if the effort to make this work in LT was contributing to the time required to complete the game. It's not that it's hard to generate a working closed economy when the game starts -- it's that the more time that passes, the harder it is to keep a closed economy working, where "working" is defined roughly as not suffering from severe deflation or hyperinflation.

But now I'm speculating on what the heck is going on with Limit Theory. :)

Side note: for more on game economies, I very happily refer you to some great discussion on this subject from Brian "Psychochild" Green, who's both experienced in and articulate on this subject:
Bugbear wrote:Having lost my pew-pew reflexes long ago, this slower, longer term game would be where my interest would lie. Yes, this economic modelling is of interest to me!!! Sad to say, but I found the implementation of the stock market fascinating, especially since it was underpinned by in game events. Having dabbled in stock market technical analysis myself, the inclusion of market indicators (seriously, the market video showed a real-time MACD chart!!!!) got my internal finance nerd all frothy!
You are not the only person whose jaw dropped at the economic UI stuff Josh showed off a couple of years ago. :) This gave hope to all of us whose fast-twitch muscles are not what they once were!

It was the advertisement in the Kickstarter that Limit Theory would be deep enough to allow for many kinds of interesting "conflict resolution" gameplay activities beyond the arcade that got my interest. I still look forward to playing that game... including a dynamic-but-fair economic game.
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Re: Hey, it's an LT related question! :o

#15
I've talked about the subject of balance in many places before. I'll use the example of a racing game, because it's the easiest to demonstrate.

In a typical generic racing game, you will be one of many cars on a track with the aim to be the first one to reach the finish. Your performance relative to other cars is entirely transparent and can be seen simply by looking at how far in front or behind they are.

Let's say we have a track that can be completed (on average) in five minutes. The best players complete it in four minutes, and the worst players complete it in six minutes. How well should the AI drive?

If the AI plays at the worst standard, most players will simply drive off, watch the AI cars disappear in their rear-view mirror, and then lose interest in the game because the result is a foregone conclusion and the rest of the game is simply a road trip. If the AI plays at the best standard, most players will despair as the AI cars break so far ahead of them that they're no longer visible, and then lose interest in the game because all hope of winning is gone and the rest of the game is simply a road trip.

Even if you set the AI in the middle, you're only encapsulating a small amount of players - tiny differences in skill magnify over time. As a result, you need to make the AI adjust to the player's performance in some way. The most typical way is through rubberbanding - when behind the player, AI cars will speed up, and when ahead they will slow down.

However, there's a problem; when this is obvious, when players can see this balancing happening, they feel as though their skill had nothing to do with their win/loss, and this loss of agency removes their level of investment with the game. So to make it fun for all players, you need to have a method of balancing the game that works, but is invisible to the player... or do you?

This applies equally to multiplayer games as it does to single player games. If all your opponents are far ahead of you or far behind you, it ceases to be a multiplayer game. If, in an FPS or other games, your score is much higher or much lower than everyone else's, continuing to play the game is just a matter of going through the motions, and loses all fun.

Jensen and Grønbæk have a good paper on this subject, with the focus being on exertion games. Interestingly, they found that the players felt less cheated when they were informed about the balancing, especially when they knew it applied to all players equally. They conclude that the best course of action is to give the player the choice about how the game is balanced.
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