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Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

Is it feasible to do this?
I won't pretend to know the first thing about game design or coding, but games like Planetary Annihilation record the entire game, much like the Total War series, and allows you to rewind and review any point in the game, so storing large amounts of data about the movement and actions of thousands of objects in the game is hardly unprecedented, but I doubt the logs would include much beyond "entered system A", "fired at ship B", "traded C for D with E". In other words, anything that could be important to a players reputation. Obviously most ships won't be doing much more than a daily grind between an asteroid field and a station, or a station and a planet so they won't log much at all, it will be a minority of ships that log very much, and they will be piloted/commanded by "warlords" as Josh named them, because they will be the ones engaging in diplomacy, wars etc.

For an answer into how well the game could actually handle or incorporate a system like this you want someone with more expertise than me.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

I must admit my first reaction was similar to Anonymouse, which is to say: there just won't be that much data. A log for 25 minutes of gameplay may look something like:
  • 8.21 Left station Y
  • 8.29 Took fire from NPC X
  • 8.29 Fired upon NPC X
  • 8.31 Destroyed NPC X's ship
  • 8.32 Picked up NPC X lifeboat
  • 8.45 Docked at station X
  • 8.46 Turned in NPC X to law enforcement
  • 8.46 Received bounty for NPC X
Where the numbers are some form of in-game time keeping. I just don't see this getting out of control once compressed and stored in a binary format.

Perhaps this does raise an interesting point about statute of limitations though: perhaps after a certain period you log wipes itself? This would solve the problem as well as prevent you from being too worried about some long-forgotten bit of vigilantism.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

Perhaps the data could degrade over time so once a certain point is reached the gain and loss of data reaches an equilibrium, it could make an interesting mechanic of trying to reconstruct the data if you have the proper technology, and once the data has completely degraded, it is deleted in its entirety from the game. However as more ships are built, and I will assume that more ships will be built than destroyed for most of the game, this could only slow the problem, so similarly to how space engineers gives you the option of how much debris can be in the game before it de-spawns, a similar option could be available to people in the form of how much space they will allot for logs to be stored, allowing players with powerful computers to extend the amount of time the data will be around, although the time will degrade faster as more ships are built and therefore more data is stored. The option for what will be logged could also be added, e.g. some people may not want to see who traded with who, or who went where but are solely interested in who killed who, so the game can accommodate them as well.

Maybe systems which are not always in use but punch above their weight in terms of performance could be treated like things such as graphics, so even lower end computers can experience limit theory in a complete and working way, just with some optional features.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

McDuff wrote:you can't really take an "average" measurement of "committed an act of piracy against Faction A" "helped Faction B" "double crossed Faction C" "killed player X who worked for faction D."

To me, this seems like the constant logging of every action by every player might well start to create a pretty bloated database pretty early on. This would eventually start to impact on performance.

Is it feasible to do this?
It's a completely fair question, and a good one.

I would say you can't do an average, but you can do a count.

A set number of actions would be defined as "significant." Up to some cutoff period -- e.g., 7 days, or possibly a "statute of limitations" period that's different for different kinds of significant actions -- the timestamp/location for individual significant actions is retained. Beyond that, it turns into a count: "number of same-faction ships destroyed: 2".

Certainly you lose a lot of utility for getting the detailed dirt on someone, if you don't get it soon enough. But depending on the specificity of the significant actions tracked, a count would still provide useful information about past bad behaviors.

It's also apparent that you'd have to be pretty judicious about which things count as "significant actions" for which a count would be meaningful. Try to track too many very specific things, and you really do start hitting storage problems. That could be a serious implementation problem for this proposal.

But for now, regarding storage, let's bear in mind that even for market information, we're talking about tracking aggregated past ask/bid sell information for a large number of products at potentially a very large number of locations. That's not the same as maintaining past action data for many ships, but it's not peanuts.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

A count probably works for me.

From the AI's point of view, that's all they'll care about anyway. I doubt they'll be smart enough to bear specific grudges: that sort of information will change their disposition towards you and weight their trees a certain way.

I can see detailed logging for hundreds, if not eventually thousands, of players in a long game of Limit Theory really slowing things down. It's not just the storing of the info, it's the searching for it and crunching the data as the AIs make their decisions.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

Josh's devlog today (May 15, 2014) on information as a physical commodity, to be used to reward exploration (among other uses), got me thinking again about the ideas in this thread.
Josh Parnell wrote:Consider what I did with technology this week. I turned it into a hard, tradeable item. I turned it into something that can be quantified, valued, created, destroyed, and, above all else, understood. But, I'm starting to believe that it was just one piece of a larger idea. The physicalization of information.
It's fascinating to me that this is the exact opposite of the process we've seen occurring with increasing frequency in the real world: the virtualization of concrete reality into a more easily distributable digital form.

What if anything does this suggest about why the future is about the concretization of data in the LT universe? (I'm talking about lore here, not game mechanics.) Why isn't reality (in LT) more digital when we can travel among the stars? (Note that this is very much in line with Thymine's thoughts on why we'd more likely be programs or robots in ships, not flesh-and-blood people any more.)
Josh Parnell wrote:You go out and destroy an asset from the enemy faction. In your ship's memory bank, you now have a file (or 'data') that logs all of the details of the occurrence.
[D]o we want to introduce an explicit 'memory bank' to ships and stations, exclusively for the purpose of storing information? Or do we want to simply use the existing cargo bays to store 'data cores'?
Well, if anyone else has read this thread, I think I'm on record with a definite "yes" on recording what characters do, and exposing (and retaining) that activity information for various kinds of gameplay. ;)

I'm on the fence about storing a character's activity log as a physical thing, though. Having that stolen or destroyed would be a complete game-over condition -- very not-fun, IMO.

So my personal preference would be for activity logs to be abstract systems that are an integral part of ships, stations, cities on planets, and formally-constituted organizations. Economic/market actions would be implemented as just one particular type of activity information among several that are tracked locally and queryable by players.
Josh Parnell wrote:Data copying. Hard problem. Do we allow it? Under what circumstances? In what way does copying impact the value of a piece of data?
As described earlier in this thread, I support log entry duplication through a mild hacking mechanic.

Extending that idea, the first instance of a knowledge entry (what should an atomic piece of economically valuable data be called, anyway?) would have full value; subsequent copies would have less. Time should also play a role -- the more time that passes between the initial piece of info's sale and subsequent sales, the lower the perceived value.
Josh Parnell wrote:With the information mechanic on the way, hacking and forgery have never seemed so viable
Hacking, yes; forgery... hmmm. Hadn't considered the other direction -- inserting log entries that are not true.

Could be an interesting way to frame someone you don't like. :) Assuming a forgery hack doesn't leave behind any digital fingerprints....
Josh Parnell wrote:It was always my intention to make exploration a first-class profession, such that discovering a previously-undiscovered wormhole could net the player a nice profit. Yes, it was always my intention to make information a tradeable thing in LT. But perhaps I didn't quite realize just how deeply that concept ties in with everything else.
You see, explicit data can solve so many problems. I can allow the AI to easily reason about more than just tangible commodities. It can allow the player to profit from more than just physical goods. Just as the physicalization of research introduced an array of new mechanics, so will the explicitization of information.
This is the one thing that gives me any concern: extrinsic rewards for exploring the world of Limit Theory.

I'm not sure I can say it better than I did here:
Flatfingers wrote:[G]iving tangible rewards for engaging in the kind of gameplay that's particularly enjoyable for people who enjoy discovering knowledge for its own sake cheapens that process for them. (There's literature in the psychology field that has been studied by game designers on how routinely providing extrinsic rewards for activities that could provide intrinsic gratification makes people less likely to want to engage in those activities.)

I'm for Limit Theory offering different kinds of gameplay that everyone can enjoy (as stated in the Kickstarter). But I'm not for providing the same kinds of rewards for doing different kinds of things in the game -- I think that will make the game less fun for the gamers for whom the discovery of lost lore is its own reward.

There may be some folks who don't like this, who feel it's somehow "taking something away" from them that the kinds of loot they can collect from combat and economic production aren't also provided through diplomacy and exploration. In which case I'd have to reply, "OK, then I expect that combat and economic play will be designed to be complex and deep enough that just doing it over and over again will never let you be really good at it. That way there are real rewards for exploration-oriented players in combat and production, just as there are rewards for action- and accumulation-oriented players in diplomacy and exploration." That seems only fair. ;)
In other words, I think we will find that the people who naturally enjoy discovery-oriented play will sometimes find it tiring in LT if what they would do purely for fun -- seeing the world and how it works -- has become a deeply monetized activity. When a discovery is treated by a game as though it's only as valuable as what you can sell it for, the intrinsic pleasure from exploration is lessened.

This isn't as strong a concern as I'd have if LT were a multiplayer game, where Achievers, who like extrinsic rewards, would push Explorers out of exploratory play so that they could collect those tangible benefits for themselves. On the other hand, maybe human-NPC parity means that there'll be Achiever-like NPCs competing with the player for every possible thing that can be discovered... in which case, commodifying exploration may indeed make it less appealing to Explorers, the very people who should enjoy it most.

I'm not sure what a good solution to this might be. Maybe it's not even as significant a problem as I suspect it will be -- maybe seeing a new vista or a surprising NPC behavior with no direct economic reward will be enough to satisfy the Explorer's itch to enjoy discovery for its own sake, because knowledge and understanding are fun even if no one else puts a price tag on them.

Or maybe Explorer gamers will show up after LT launches and complain that the game is trying to push them into being Achievers. :p We'll see.

In the meantime, I hope it's clear that there are ways in which I support the idea of rewarding exploration. I'm not freaking out here; this is just a gentle observation that not every gamer is equally motivated by phat lewt.

I'll be as interested as anyone to see how this "commodification of information" design is received by other Explorer players.
Last edited by Flatfingers on Thu May 15, 2014 5:12 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

Flatfingers wrote:What if anything does this suggest about why the future is about the concretization of data in the LT universe? (I'm talking about lore here, not game mechanics.) Why isn't reality (in LT) more digital when we can travel among the stars?
Because hacking technology advances faster than data security technology does, rendering digital storage of information much more unreliable than "crystallised" storage of that information in a more physical form.

This is the assumption I'm relying on for other proposals that I'm invested in.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

ThymineC wrote:Oh, and in case anyone is interested, Elite: Dangerous plans to have a "player log" system. So you may like to check that out and see if it provides any inspiration.
Nice. I wasn't aware of that thread, as my interest in ED (despite backing it) waned sharply after controlling ships proved unnecessarily complicated, and the developers were jerkish when multiple people commented that this design choice was severely limiting their fun.

That said, their player log system seems pretty close to what I imagined for LT at the top of this thread, so kudos to at least some members of the ED development team.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

Meh, I hear what you guys are saying about how it can 'cheapen' the experience to be paid for doing what you love, but I don't really feel that way.

I love exploration, enough that if I were to get into it in LT, the payment part would more or less be shoved to the back of my mind. I do it in Minecraft, and Minecraft rewards me with ore and goodies when I explore; I don't explore my Minecraft worlds to get goodies, but the goodies happen and that doesn't cheapen anything in my mind.

Hell, I even tried a game that had absolutely no interaction in it but exploration -- I forget the name but it was a hauntingly beautiful game. I actually feel more engaged in exploration in Minecraft, partly because it can serve purposes that haven't got anything to do with my love of knowledge and exploration. The two impulses sort-of feed off of each other.

I think LT will be similar for me. Explore the deep reaches of space, discover new things, come back to civilization and browse the copy-counts of my collected knowledge -- sell it off for profit, yaaaay! Both the work and the money will be rewarding, in different ways. Kinda like Minecraft.
A proud crafter of fruitless pseudointellectual theories
LT Dev Logs Project

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

Alcazabedabra wrote:I love exploration, enough that if I were to get into it in LT, the payment part would more or less be shoved to the back of my mind.
Explore the deep reaches of space, discover new things, come back to civilization and browse the copy-counts of my collected knowledge -- sell it off for profit, yaaaay! Both the work and the money will be rewarding, in different ways. Kinda like Minecraft.
I expect I'll happily play the same way. I'm going to explore no matter what; if doing so has monetary value that's nice but secondary to why I explore.

As I said, though, Limit Theory is a single-player game. Mismatched rewards have their most serious effects in multiplayer games where people who have very different motivations for playing can affect the game the other gets to experience.
Alcazabedabra wrote:Hell, I even tried a game that had absolutely no interaction in it but exploration -- I forget the name but it was a hauntingly beautiful game.
Might that have been Ed Key's Proteus?

...we're starting to range a bit far afield here, so to bring it back to Information Warfare I will just say for now that I'm really looking forward to hearing/seeing more about how Josh is thinking about implementing the idea of knowledge logs. As I described in the original post in this thread, I think there's massive room for gameplay in treating knowledge -- information -- as a valued element of the world. That's an extremely powerful way to enable exploration gameplay beyond just mapping physical space.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

Speaking of how knowledge will be treated for gameplay, here's part of what Josh had to say recently in continuing to work on his new "properties" concept for objects:
Josh Parnell wrote:Unlike a variable, a property, if treated as a first-class object (again, living 'externally' to the data), can have context. For any given property, we can say how we'd like this property to be displayed in interfaces, what its sensible values are, how it influences valuation, etc.
I'd like to explore that. What kinds of gameplay mechanics and dynamics are suggested by the ability to define properties on objects?

Properties can be useful in a couple of ways. In their simplest form, they're just a tag -- they let you do categorization. A cargo module has the Container property; a railgun has properties such as Weapon, Kinetic, Uncommon; a document could have the Ancient property; and so on.

Properties can also be defined as ID:value pairs. (Actually they can be multidimensional, but let's keep this simple. ;)) A cargo module might have the property Volume:50 (meaning 50 units of cargo space); a railgun could have properties like ROF:150, Reload:3; a log entry could have Timestamp:63257928457; etc.

So: how could this idea of objects having functional property descriptors help support information-based gameplay in Limit Theory? What could some typical -- or unusual -- properties be for different kinds of information?

Should characters be able to apply their own custom properties to objects?

How could properties interact with each other, creating enjoyable gameplay effects that Josh didn't have to hand-code?

Any other possibilities?

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

I have come up with a list of properties that may be useful for UI, AI, and other features in LT, it's long, so I hid it.
Spoiler:      SHOW
General Properties
Health (Health is just current state as compared to maximum capable state)
Age (Where in lifetime)
Capacity (Mass, Energy, ammo size, etc)
Surface Area
Visible Surface Area
Local Origin (Where did it just leave from)
Ultimate Origin (Where did it spawn)
Destination (Where is it going; if ballistic than infinitely in front of local origin)
Emission Intensity (How visible is this by a scanner)
Emission Frequency (Where does this show up on the Scanner)
Destroyed @ X (Position and Time of object turned into "destroyed" state)
Destroyed by X (Whom)
Destroyed by X (What)

Material Properties
Value @ X (How many credits for this material at a given location) (Composit of Material Properties, Generative Properties, Social Properties)
Durability (How much energy can be absorbed at once)
Δ Durability (How quickly material will recover from Damage, maximum self-recovery limit) (There can be some self-healing materials)
Light Diffusion/Scattering
Energy Content (Explosives, Energy Supply, Weapons Charge, warheads, ballistic projectiles, etc.)
Appears in X (Ice, Asteroids, Planets)
Used in X (Manufacturing)
Luminence (How much light it emits)
Appeals to X (Player/Faction) (Does anyone particularly like this just because?)
# Owners, Serial (How many times has this product changed hands)
# Owners Consecutively

ΔReflectivity (Here, I am imagining materials that can take on a mirror cloak)
ΔLuminence (Has an object gone dark or grown brighter)
ΔTemperature (If an object is rapidly heating or cooling, that might trigger AI or UI actions)
ΔAppeal (For fashion trends)

Social Properties
AEGIS (The basic personality variables)
Aspiration (What do they ultimately want)
Goal (What are they presently seeking to do)
Success Rate (How often do they achieve their goals)
Attitude (How well does one player like another player/system/faction)
ΔAttitude (How has an attitude changed over time, is it getting worse, better)
Affinity (Predisposition for the familiar, allows cultures to appear; negative values have a propensity for rebellion or change)
ΔAEGIS (Personality change over time, low Δ is a stable personality, high Δ is an erratic individual)
ΔAffinity (Cultural Changes)
Connectivity (the social networks of various individuals, the larger the network the more influential they are)
Loyalty/Integrity (Are they likely to deceive you or keep to their word?)
Hostility (Likelihood to Initiate Immediate Combat)
ΔHostility (did you piss them off or calm them down?)
Protectivity (at what point will they defend another. Can have thresholds for Protecting client, Protecting Ally, Protecting Acquaintence, Protecting Stranger, Protecting Enemy)
Altruism (Likelihood of giving assets away for no credits, should have high chance for happiness, small chance for anger and hostility towards player they gave asset to)
Confidence (If engaged in combat, will they call for help?)
ΔConfidence (Are they losing morale or gaining it?)
Permissiveness (Is this player/faction a stickler for rules, or are they merely suggestions?)
Acceptability of X (Activity/State of being) to Y (Player/Faction) (simply being from the wrong planet may be a death sentence in some places)

Generation Properties
Rate of X* (production, firing, repairing, thrust, etc)
Frequency (How often it occurs, rarity)
ΔFrequency (May be useful in the case of gold rushes)
Persistence (How long will an object last)
Level (For things that come in discreet levels)

ΔRate of X (Is it speeding up or wearing down, may be great for indicating an engine is wearing out and needs repair)

*My idea here is that all production is a single variable, a gun creates its projectile at its tip with a given velocity and destination in the same way a production module or assembler creates a part.

Calculated Properties (other than change)
Visibility (A function of size, distance, reflectivity, opacity, emissions
Distance to X
Distance to X vs. Distance to Y,Z,A,B (Which is closer, which is closest)
Avg Value of X
Value of X to Avg Value of X
Value of X to Value of Y
Expected Value of X @ time Y (Snapshot of expectations)
Actual Value of X to Expected Value of X (useful for mangerial decisions)
Rate of X: Rate of Y
Δ Rate of X: ΔRate of Y
Avg Rate of X
Rate of X: Avg Rate of X
Its certainly an unfinished list, But it's what I have for now. I will add more later, and answer the rest of your questions at another time.
If you're trying to fill the multiverse, and you're not willing to consider the entire creative output of humanity as a starting point, you're wasting your time.

Re: Unethical Behavior and Information Warfare

Now THAT is a list. :)

Very nice! I hope people will take a look at that and see how they think it could be improved.

In the meantime, it occurs to me that if we're going to talk about properties on objects, it might be nice to consider what kinds of objects there are. Object type should determine the default applicable properties.

So, another list, this one of proposed high-level object types (most of these would have sub-types):
Spoiler:      SHOW
  • Physical Objects
    • Natural Objects
      • Star
      • Planet
      • Asteroid
      • Nebula dust
      • Wormhole entry/exit point
      • City
    • Constructed Objects
      • Jumpgate
      • Station
      • Ship
      • Drone
      • Torpedo
      • Mine (?)
      • Engine module
      • Shield module
      • Armor module
      • Sensor module
      • Weapon module
      • Research module
      • Blueprint (top-level research output that defines objects)
      • Assembler (next-level research output that builds actual objects)
      • Ore packet
      • Information packet
  • Abstract Objects
    • Person
    • Faction
    • Fleet
    • Task
    • Project
    • Metaproject
    • Data log (attached to persons/ships, factions, stations, cities, planets)
(Note: Physical objects would be items that are rendered visibly in the game world; abstract objects would be "things" that aren't rendered visibly in the world, but which still do exist and can have properties with gameplay effects.)

Any obvious high-level object types I missed?

Does this list suggest any additional property information that might have gameplay value?

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