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
[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.