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How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#1
You!

Yes, you!

I have a theorycrafting challenge for you.

Let's say you're in charge of what Limit Theory features get shown off at the next PAX South, only this time, you want to highlight LT's non-combat features.

How would you do that?

In other words, to score maximum interest at PAX South (or any expo), what would you make LT look like if you couldn't use any combat features?

What would that demo look like? What features would you emphasize? How would you render them on-screen? What audio would you use? How would you let players access these features with a (ugh) controller? How much control over those features would you give random players? How long should the typical demo session last for a random PAX attendee?
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#2
I did get the impression from the small amount of information I gleaned from sources available to me that the attendees at PAX thought Limit Theory was just another pretty shooter. And I have no idea what's in the minds of attendees at such events, Flat. They seem to gravitate to the noisy, guns blazing, lots of action demos so I can imagine how hard it might be to come up with a demo which contained non-combat elements only.

A short but interesting story involving only the "special" NPC elements of the game could be possible. As I've said elsewhere I don't really understand what's available or will be available to players concerning the non-combat elements of the game.

A short mining demonstration or a simple trading demonstration perhaps. I could see them queuing three deep for those experiences. *chuckle* :angel:
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#3
A demo reel for an expo must be swift, and impactful.

The key selling point of LT would be "procedural generation"...
Thus a rolling demo of newly generated scenes and ships would be what sells this tech.

The camera could be randomly positioned near asteroids, behind planets - to see the star at the horizon, and automated large scale NPC battles from a distance (or from an NPCs ships perspective).
That would sell the technical aspect of the games foremost feature - creating content without manually editing it.
Also allowing to jump into the scene at any time and flying around with the controller, makes it believable (and not just being a staged presentation).
(also it makes people wait and see how the next system might look like)
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A demo showing how to trade futures on copper-ore in the market-screen would not really capture the attention of the audience in that environment.
And any longer term interaction with NPCs also cant be demoed within the minute a passing-by attendee is looking at it.
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#4
Personally I'd do a two-part demo - one showing the universe from strategically-picked positions with a real-time camera, weighted by:
  • Pretty views
  • Lots of ship activity (large-scale mining, trading, or combat - ideally some combination of two)
The second part of the demo would be showing essentially the same thing, only accelerated by many times, focusing on areas of development - so you can see things like stations being built, asteroid fields being mined dry, and fleets being assembled.

The mode would switch between the two (at the player's discretion) quickly enough that everyone that came to the booth would get to see both modes.


Player interaction would be, in both modes, mostly moving the camera. The player could also check stations and watch the trade market prices rise and fall on Josh's pretty graphs. The player could have "god mode" powers and spawn things like fleets of pirates, miners, or other into the world, or destroy stations, spawn new colonies, that sort of thing. Then they watch the results of their handiwork. You'd want to be sure you stressed that this isn't how the game is actually played, and it's just an accelerated/simplified form for the sake of the demo. The whole point of it is showing that the universe is alive. That's the thing that excited people the most and attracted them to Limit Theory - far, far more so than the combat - and I think it's the key to successfully marketing the game to its fullest potential.
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#5
Put the player in the middle of an escort mission, guarding a faction's research or mining convoy through an asteroid field. Have it come under attack by a "bandit" faction, only for the battle to be joined by a rival faction's strike force to disable and capture (but not destroy) the convoy, for a three-way skirmish. Present the player with an option to switch allegiances, or just kill everyone and take the resources/research for themselves. However the mission's resolution, direct the player to sell or invest the mission's rewards or spoils, and have it visibly affect the commodity market, or the research rankings of different factions.
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#6
Assuming the gameplay is all sorted for ALL these features.

Setup a single system, no way in or out.

Spawn in a whole bunch of NPCs put them in non-combat roles, and let them do their thing.

Spawn in a small group of pirate NPCs, and attach the camera to them.

Let the NPCs slowly gear up their own military by building new ships, and weapons.
While the pirates get reinforced back to their original numbers every few minutes.

Then leave the game running on a second screen for people to watch, while everyone else plays with the dogfighting and mining on the other screen. (assuming two screens and two pcs)
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#7
I think there should be an overview of the large scale simulation. This could be visualized as a sort of strategy map.

Basically it would be a scenario where no player is active from the start of the game. Instead he is notified about some significant ongoings, like battles, forming of a new faction, big new buildings, or high-value trades.
Then he could zoom in to get a closer look through the notification.

At any point he should be able to replace an AI, do something and then return to the observer status at will. Thus, it should be possible to get a sense of some more aspects of the game whilst not being to forced to some specific situation.
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#8
I'm with Tal, for a >5 minutes experience with LT, whether for pax demo or not, I think if you had perhaps say a few large zones of asteroids and a couple planets, filled with NPCs going about their life, while you watch with the gods eye view over them, and the only thing you can do is move the camera, change the rate of time. Then because josh is such a showman, ask them if they want to leave the simulation going on as is, or activate the god powers like:

spawning hordes of enemies that attack, shoot asteroids and planets of any size at them and watch the chaos as a planet plows through the asteroids like a giant bowling ball, spawn super valuable asteroids, and also a reload for the next person.
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#9
I'm surprised no-one has mentioned the ship editor, which was my first thought. Obviously, that's not going to demonstrate the flying around part, but it will give a pretty good illustration of the type of game (i.e. very flexible) and also be a pretty sweet tech demo to boot. It would be the natural expansion to PAX demo that the team just gave, in my view at least.

For the flying bit, I'd just allow someone to explore the universe without adhering to the usual rules. For example, start at the largest scale of the map, and just keep zooming in until you reach an individual system, them jump into that system to have a look. At that point, a ship is randomly generated - or, for extra kudos, the ship the player just designed is imported! - and then fly around looking at the pretty nebulas etc. At any point, jumping back out of the system is allowed.

Clearly, this will all change once more gameplay options are understood. Trade and mining, which are obvious "mission" type options, are still rather nebulous for me since the last time we saw them was so long ago that I'm not sure it hasn't all changed...
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#10
Okay, so most folk know I play a lot of Elite Dangerous. I love the game, others don't but that's all good. My point is this, Elite Dangerous have released a number of very glitzy and well done promo videos and trailers that really don't bear much relation to the game (they aren't alone in this by the way). Unfortunately big guns and bigger bangs seem to sell games and so dev's take that route, it's a kind of sure fire way to get the maximum exposure for your bucks.

As to what I'd do that's tricky. What always drew me into LT was the living side of the galaxy, how things could alter and change, the endless possibilities, the oh so pretty planets and the fact you could do exactly what you wanted...but that is very difficult to convey in a short trailer.
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#12
I'd say start with the ship designer and build the most OP and ridiculous super-dreadnaught/deathstar. Give it infinity ammo and fuel (but not health) This would be to showcase 1) the procedural nature of technology in LT 2) the shinny ships and explosions 3) it's just fun. i think we all have the dream of building up a big mothership in LT and give the person playing the demo a real demonstration of ''late-game'' content.

Once you have this ship, which you designed, control it and go through a relatively unprotected star system. Maybe a colony system? Destroy it's fleets/infrastructure. Laugh evilly :lol:

That would be the goal of the demo: destroy the enemy's main space station.

Then make that same ship jump to the ''next'' star system, this one maybe the capital system of a small-ish confederation. This means it will have bigger fleets, but more importantly, but make it so 1) the art style of the ships/stations are completly different 2) it's technology preferences completly different ( is it fighter based? energy weapon based? does it use short ranged energy weapons or super long ranged missiles shot from larger missile frigates?) 3) change the identity of the people your attacking: are they an aggressive, fight to the death, warrior type people and come out to fight you, or are they more defensive, letting you destroy their outter systems and trying to bait you into attacking the defensive structures closer to the core?

Rinse and repeat, making the systems your attacking progressively better and better defended. Also, every time you warp into a system, give context on who your attacking. If they're an gigantic empire spanning hundreds of systems, the homeworld should be a bustling metropolis, with hundreds of freighters and non-military ships in addition to a much beefier defense fleet. this is to illustrate that LT is a living, breathing universe where economics and size have an impact on development and power.

This would be, first of all, a really fun mini-game. Also, If you build your ship in a dumb manner you'll invariably run into a defense fleet that will be best suited to take care of you. (e.g. death star with a size 73 railgun being it's only weapon can, yes, one shot the whole frakking planet planet but won't be able to do much against a swarm of fighters or long range missiles) so it incentives you to build smart and use the tools to their fullest potential. (maybe even rate each run (based of kills/damage dealt and received/ etc) and each day at the expo, the person with the highest score gets a free version of LT? Make it a fun semi-competitive game that means people will try and get better, getting their friends to play, getting people talking about the game)

if you really want to go balls to the wall, also include research. If you know you want to make an all zappping borg cube but dont invest in proper generator research and therefore end up having not enough power to supply all your lasers, you'll be in a bit of a pickle. Or if you want to create a mothership that can create it's own corvettes but has abismall resource efficiency or construction rate, you won't make it as far.

Secondly all these features are needed in the final game so josh wouldn't be wasting development time by making this demo.

And third, and the last part of the demo, once your ships is destoyed, going to a third person and letting a high level simulation play out, making it so the player can see the impacts of his rampage. (E.G: If you managed to destroy the homeworld and government of the aforementioned gigantic empire, who also happens to be tyrannical, the whole system crumbles and all the planets it had invaded and pillaged declare independence and create new governements whilst what's left of the Empire's fleet fight it out to decide who will become the next emperor (sounds familiar? lol))

I think this showcases a lot of the really important tech, will be visually pleasing cause im sure josh would make sure to crank the nebula/asteroid/eyegoodie creation nob to 11, showcases the impact of trade and cultures and is, at the end of the day, really fun.

Anyways, just my .2$
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#13
So I spent an hour writing my opus on this subject. Lost internet, had to login again, wall of text gone. Shaking my head. Toothache, ibuprofen, antibiotics, and a bottle of good vino.
Anyway, here's the TL;DR (kinda just turned into another TL)

So PAX. You've probably got less than 5 minutes with each moderately interested person. Substantially less for those with little or no interest. Shiny stuff will get people to stop at the booth. As impressive as Universe Wide Responsive Economic Model sounds (and I'm just using this as an example, you could sub in many other non-combat features), it's very hard to visualize or represent with impact in a short amount of time. We all have read the dev logs know the amount of research and time and thought that went into it. I still chuckle about the dev-log where Josh was all "so I went out and bought Economics and Finance 5th edition, read it, and then developed a responsive multi-faction economic model, it should work fine." Paraphrased of course. But, back to the point, mention for goodness sakes all the cool stuff you can, but the demos should still stick to the polished, shiny stuff. That is the stuff that will get the masses to give LT more than a cursory "oh look another indie game" look. The mining mechanic looks awesome and fun, the exploration bit is compelling (hell, just let them load new procedural nebulae, I could do that for hours), or using the wavelength radioscope thing to find some salvage. I think you still gotta fly to get them to buy...or at least drum up some more interest.
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#14
thesleeve wrote:
Sat Feb 03, 2018 4:50 pm
So I spent an hour writing my opus on this subject. Lost internet, had to login again, wall of text gone. Shaking my head. Toothache, ibuprofen, antibiotics, and a bottle of good vino.
Anyway, here's the TL;DR (kinda just turned into another TL)
((using the "Back" function of your browser tends to rescue posts lost to unstable internet connections, because its buffered locally. if you lose connection just go back and save/retry your post))
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Re: How Should Non-Combat Features Be Promoted?

#15
Have the universe simulating away, allowing to speed up or slow down the process, showing the most beautiful and/or busy parts of the given universe. On the side / a second screen is a list of different roles an ai agent can assume (or what the demo thinks what role ai agents play based on their equipment and activity). When a player selects one of the roles, he instantly takes control over an to that point ai controlled ship.
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