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Dojo's, Player Tutorial & NPC Training

#1
So I recently posted an idea where we could construct facilities I call Dojo's where players can train and become better at the game. But searching for this sort of facility in search, I found that only I had ever referred to them. Looking under the search term "training" I also found no such idea... It seems a suggestion has appeared, and I had wrongly assumed someone like flatfinger, cornflakes, or thymine came up with it long ago :lol:

Anyways, Dojo's. Josh has already hinted at the idea of being able to train workers, by having them do certain tasks while they statistically increase their skill levels. I am suggesting that the same sort of function should be applied to NPC's and the human player.

I would suspect that all NPC skills and intelligence will have some sort of optimal state for decision making, such as perfect accuracy, safe and quick pathfinding, optimal price beliefs, formation rigidity, etc. Most NPC's will also have some sort of pollutant in their code which artificially skews their perfect accuracy or optimal price belief so that NPC's have a wide variety of skills, ranging down from perfect, to horrible decision making. Training at a Dojo would however remove that pollutant, allowing their accuracy to increase, to more closely follow a fleet formation, to have a more optimal price belief, to be better at frequency identification, or any skill that can be increased. Additionally, training at a dojo could have a small effect on your personality, shifting you slightly towards the personality of the owner every time you use it.

For workers, training is done simply by doing something for a random amount of time, but for the more complex NPC's, this could be done by completing "Dojo Tasks" that would take place in specially designed testbeds. For practical purposes, it's largely the same if an NPC uses a dojo: they are temporarily removed from the game, and come back with a statistical increase in whatever skill they paid for and a very slight personality shift.

If the human player enters the training testbed, the below happens.

Dojo Testbeds
This is a training simulation, so even if LT has a dead is dead approach, it would not apply here. Failure of a Dojo task should instead cost a certain amount of credits (unless otherwise deactivated), and each player would be only willing to spend so many credits on training. If so, this would partially account for the statistical nature of success, but wealthier players could afford more failures, and so perhaps account balance would shift the statistical probability of skill increase higher.

Josh is already working on testbeds to create the actual ingame AI, but such testbeds could equally serve as scalable, semi-scripted tutorials for the human player. For each aspect of the game which the player can learn, there would be an initial, basic setup. For combat, it might be "kill this one super easy target" for mining it might be "Successfully mine 100 units of ore" for trading it might be "Find the good with the highest price difference at station A vs station B, and make a profit" For exploring it might be "Use your scanner to find the wormhole and travel through it" for piracy it might be "immobilize this ship without destroying it"

From there, the simulations could grow ever more advanced, where combat simulations start to incorporate smarter enemies, more advanced formations, when to call in reinforcements, semi-random environmental obstacles, semi-random objectives, fleet command, when to send in reinforcements, semi-randomized combat positions/numbers, non-hostiles in the combat zone, etc until you are throwing pretty much any combat situation that you can come across in LT at the player.

Mining simulations may grow from being mine X units of ore to "Find and mine X credits worth of ore" or setting up remote mining operations, hiring out your own miners, setting up a mining operation in a virgin system, dealing with setbacks to your project such as broken equipment or pirates, new competition from smaller, equally sized, or larger competitors, etc.

For traders/manufacturers it might grow to making x credits of profit on a simplified market, making x credits of profit on a dynamic market, delivering x units of goods within a certain time, creating goods of a given quality, hiring employees, playing the markets, managing competition for resources or employees, building infrastructure, building a small commercial empire, dealing with setbacks such as pirates, rogue employees, damaged infrastructure, doing business in a warzone, vertical integration, etc

Explorers could grow from learning how to use their scanner, to being able to isolate particular frequencies from the noise, discovering the most valuable parts of a virgin system, gathering information about hazardous zones/natural dangers, have competition come in and start reporting on your finds, scouting out hostile territory, gathering information while in the middle of a battle, gathering information while under attack by pirates/hostile forces.

For pirates, it is much like combat, except you tend to play in the opposite role, and your goals are more to destroy ships like fighters while only immobilizing freighters/barges to get the goods. But it would also be partially business oriented, because a pirate needs to turn around and re-invest their ill gotten gains into their continued survival or expansion. Pirates also need to learn how to hide from those who are hunting them, and how to stalk their prey until it's safe to strike.

Mini-LT, The ultimate tutorial would in fact be a tiny contained LT universe, with maybe a dozen systems where a variety of semi-randomized situations could be called up, and various dojo-tasks issued, depending on the particulars of what form of training is being requested. Your simulation may require you to have an account balance of 1 billion credits for economic training, or it may require you to destroy an opposing faction, or it may require you to go and steal 50 million credits worth of cargo, or it may require you to discover every discoverable object in the contained universe (which may be easy, or extremely difficult) Such simulations don't really matter on what form of training you are looking for, they just present you with a goal, that might not even be possible to accomplish within those constraints.

Dojos in the Game World

Dojo's as presented would make for an interesting addition to the game imo ;) , but they raise some interesting issues and opportunities. Though the testbeds may be isolated from the unbroken game, their effects of increasing player skills are not. An idea to consider is how much of a net skill increase can a dojo provide to a region? This is important for LOD, as well as for the value/expense of creating and running a Dojo. If I can build and own Dojos, why not just build a dozen, and not charge my own subordinates to use them, so that I can have an army of highly skilled players working for me?
Should any random Dojo be able to teach any and all skills possible in LT, or should they have their own levels/required resources to train in a particular area? Should dojo's specialize in a specific form of training or be able to teach everything?

In reality, I would imagine such a place could teach anyone any skill they wanted, but for balance purposes, there needs to be some sort of limitation.

Should Dojo's require special resources to run a training simulation? If so, this special commodity which only dojo's consume will need a manufacturer, could dojos manufacture such simulations themselves? what are the required inputs? could specialized dojos sell this training simulation to other dojos? Would this resource have quality tiers?

As an initial thought, very open to criticism I would suggest

Dojo's cost money and resources to build
Dojos create specialized, consumable training resources(TR)*
Dojo's can sell their TR to anyone, but only dojos can use them to train players
TR costs resources and/or credits to produce
A Dojo owner can bite that production/purchase cost or they can charge for training as they so choose
If a Dojo has no TR, it cannot train NPC's
TR specialties focus on every aspect of LT where the AI is handicapped
NPC's with no handicap do not seek training in that area
...And lets just throw in there, that dojo's also train workers without TR, but it still costs credits (and maybe you could just pay it to upgrade your workers)

Conclusion

Perhaps I have a fundamentally flawed idea as to how the AI will be handicapped, and this wouldn't actually work. However, if the AI is being artificially handicapped with less effective algorithms, or lowered variables, this sort of mechanic could really add a lot to the game in that it could be a way the Skill of particular areas will be greater than those without. Perhaps Dojo's will be the sort of place only intellectual players/cultures will build, and will become icons of civilized space as apart from the wilds of space where skills are hard earned and not bought.

And on top of everything, it would offer an entirely optional tutorial for the player to use at their own discretion or ignore entirely.

So, thoughts? suggestions for improvement? alternatives?
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Re: Dojo's, Player Tutorial & NPC Training

#3
When I think of this, it reminds to an idea I threw out awhile ago about a testbed simulator for when you're building a ship. The idea was that if you're going to build a ship, you don't want to invest all this in-game capital only to find out it sucks. Thus, some sort of sandbox test bed to slap together your ship and see if it passes muster.

I was tossing around the name of 'Windtunnels' since that's pretty much what you're doing; putting things together and then seeing if they work. So if 'Dojo' doesn't work as a name, I opt for Wind Tunnel. :P
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Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.
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Re: Dojo's, Player Tutorial & NPC Training

#6
Great idea, although I'd handle the TRs a little bit different.
Instead of having the dojos themselves produce them let other structures like trade depots or miningstations allow to install modules to generate them. TRs can only be manufactured based on known information (e.g. bigger sets of scandata, blueprints, AI traits...) in this way, training can never be completely for free, avoiding an absurd skullboost, whilst allowing very special training.
Consumable information like blueprints are destroyed after the generation of a TR.
[hypes internälly]
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Re: Dojo's, Player Tutorial & NPC Training

#9
I love this idea, but the first thing I take issue with is the word "dojo". Dojos in real life are for training in martial arts - and not only that, the training area is a horizontal plane.

Now... To suggest a better name, I think we should have something... unique. Here are a few suggestions.
  • "Dojo", the word, means literally "place of the way", with "do", or "Dao"/"Tao" meaning "the way", and "jo" modifying it to "place of the way". Also, as the traditional dojo is on a horizontal plane, and fighters in space would need to learn more three-dimensional tactics, I would suggest of course that the "dojo" take the form of a sphere. So, how about something like way + sphere, or Waysphere - "sphere of the way".
  • I realize this suggestion probably won't take, so I'll offer a humorous alternative: Firedome. Of course it wouldn't actually be a true dome, but, you know... it sounds better. The "fire" part would be both indicative and ironic - there is no oxygen in space, yet it would be primarily used for combat training.
  • If that doesn't work for you, I have another suggestion: Arena. This is as simple as it gets, and it's immediately obvious what exactly it is you're building. Then you can pretty much do whatever the heck you want with it... but it doesn't really work for all the other methods of training. So, one final suggestion:
  • Bootcamp. It works for absolutely anything, and although "bootcamp" is a more terrestrial term, it comes across rather well and couldn't really be confused for much else. "Bootcamp", of course, means "a military training camp for new recruits, with strict discipline". However, this makes it sound more like multiple units could train at once... so it still may not be the best choice.
Personally I prefer "Waysphere" over everything else because it's obvious, functional, and descriptive. I'll be using that as I continue.

Pathfinding has nothing to do with training - that's a basic function of AI that can't really be fixed or altered without seriously screwing things up. (It's also a CPU-intensive area of AI.)

As to price beliefs, formations, trading skills, mining skills, combat skills, etc., those would work perfectly for a Waysphere. I imagine a Waysphere would take the form of a large sphere equipped with powerful hologram technology - and Mr. Parnell would get to make use of his gorgeous "hologram"-style shaders.

Dojo Testbeds
I don't like much. I don't think there should be total isolation from the gameworld.

Dojos in the Gameworld

Cost
I disagree with the cost of training in a Waysphere. I think the use of a waysphere should require a sum of credits to begin with - it therefore slowly collects credits for the owner of said waysphere. A player wouldn't feel punished if they failed, but the incentive for success would be the same - if they fail, they lose another sum of credits. The cost shift would be from "0% entry, 100% failure" to "33% entry, 67% failure". This makes it so that the waysphere would slowly collect money. OR, even better: The cost split could be defined by the waysphere's owner, to whatever they see fit. If they want more money overall, they simply raise the entry cost. If they want more success overall, they raise the failure fee.

Raising either fee would result in only richer NPCs applying, as well as lessening the use the waysphere gets. In addition:
  • Raising the entry price discourages NPCs with higher skill levels from applying, with a gain of income.
  • Raising the failure fee encourages a higher rate of success, but at the cost of income.
In setting the price you would have to be careful about what kind of "customer" you wanted to attract.

Construction
As we've seen in a number of updates, there are plenty of large expanses of empty space in LT. Utilizing these would be simple - the waysphere would literally be a large sphere constructed in space. As to building costs, I would suggest that the size of a waysphere is not fixed, but can vary. Increasing the size permits more complex simulations and higher levels of training overall, but at the cost of extra credits:
Cheap construction cost (small) <--------> High max training level (large)

I agree with Der Foe, in that Training Resources ought to be generated not by the waysphere itself, but by factories - in the form of energy. After all, you're fighting what amount to holograms in a waysphere, are you not?

With this in mind, however, training would still require use of live ammo unless we're okay with the ship's weapons capabilities being jammed and replaced with holographic projections - which actually seems like a decent idea.


On destroying wayspheres: Being such a large target, I imagine wayspheres would be incredibly easy to destroy - unless there sphere itself is a hologram, created by - and entered through - a small building on one side. This would decrease the amount of area you would have to protect, while the area inside remains completely safe from enemies. Enemies would not be able to enter the waysphere in much the same way as you wouldn't be able to dock at a hostile base... but destroying the waysphere creation structure would cause the entire holographic sphere to vanish instantly, leaving the ships within wherever they were.


An interesting tactic: Because ships within a waysphere are safe and undetectable by outside forces (they have to be, otherwise enemies would be targeting through the sphere's walls), this introduces an interesting tactic: a "bomb" of sorts. Simply get a large number of NPCs training, and when the enemy destroys the waysphere (or renders it inoperable), you suddenly have a horde of NPCs fresh from training that can attack the nearby enemy units.






Purpose
As Mr. Parnell has said before, NPCs will "level up" after a random period of time. Therefore, actual training will have almost no effect on how quickly they level up... unless the waysphere tweaks that in some way. A free-to-use waysphere should have absolutely no training bonuses, but simply provide a safe haven for NPCs to train - basically, they can't get killed, nor can they earn money. An NPC would have to weigh the benefits of this - would it be smarter to risk taking damage and take on real missions, or would it be smarter to play it safe and train in the waysphere, but not earn any extra cash?



And that's about all I can think of at the moment.
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Re: Dojo's, Player Tutorial & NPC Training

#10
You know, I'm reading more of these and there is something that isn't sitting well with me.

If I don't train my pilots, will I penalized? Or, will I just not gain the same advantages?

An AI doesn't need to worry about 'forgetting' to train their pilots. For me, if I have a massive fleet, I don't want to have to do all the micromanagement to get all my pilots trained to the point where I could possibly forget. Introducing micromanagement for benefits is okay, as long as you're not penalizing people who don't because the AI doesn't have a problem or doesn't forget when it comes to micromanagement.
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Early Spring - 1055: Well, I made it to Boatmurdered, and my initial impressions can be set forth in three words: What. The. F*ck.
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Re: Dojo's, Player Tutorial & NPC Training

#11
DWMagus wrote: An AI doesn't need to worry about 'forgetting' to train their pilots. For me, if I have a massive fleet, I don't want to have to do all the micromanagement to get all my pilots trained to the point where I could possibly forget. Introducing micromanagement for benefits is okay, as long as you're not penalizing people who don't because the AI doesn't have a problem or doesn't forget when it comes to micromanagement.
set up a pipeline :roll:

;)
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Re: Dojo's, Player Tutorial & NPC Training

#12
DWMagus wrote:You know, I'm reading more of these and there is something that isn't sitting well with me.

If I don't train my pilots, will I penalized? Or, will I just not gain the same advantages?

An AI doesn't need to worry about 'forgetting' to train their pilots. For me, if I have a massive fleet, I don't want to have to do all the micromanagement to get all my pilots trained to the point where I could possibly forget. Introducing micromanagement for benefits is okay, as long as you're not penalizing people who don't because the AI doesn't have a problem or doesn't forget when it comes to micromanagement.
No, I rather think of it as an "If you build it, they will come" kind of thing. All you'd have to do is simply build a training structure. If you don't "train" your pilots, they learn just as well on their own, it's just safer. (apart from the failure fee, which would provide an extra "incentive" to complete the training successfully.) I also think you'd be able to train at allied (or even neutral) factions' training structures as well - as can your AI. You simply wouldn't get paid for it if it belongs to someone else, that's all. Think of it as a gym.

The micromanagement deal is the primary reason I'm concerned about "training resources", though... but I don't think anything else would require micromanagement.
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Re: Dojo's, Player Tutorial & NPC Training

#13
Huh, I didn't think the name would be so problematic... Whatever works I guess, more importantly, it is a training center for NPCs. It is not just for combat, it is for all skills, and to simply create a combat area is in my opinion insufficient, because LT is about much more than just combat.

I thought about having training take place in the unbroken universe, but thought it would be a bit too limited in the variety of scenarios that could be rendered. As I said, it needs to be more than just a combat simulator, it would need to create training markets that the rest of the game ignores, dummy beacons for Explorer training, and much more.

I admit, I hadn't considered using holograms, but don't think they completely overcome the issues of "real space" training. Sure, there could be holograms or weapons that fire pseudoammo that merely disable rather than destroy, and holographic asteroids to mine, but how would you simulate interstellar strategic play? or how about businesses competing for market dominance? Also, a "wayshpere" sounds like a zone... can artifacts in the game create zones out of nothing, or are naturally occurring zones just utilized?

As to cost/income for operation, having the training resource created elsewhere seems a bit like an unnecessary compilation, certainly Dojos or wayshperes should need an input resource to create TR, but why not just a generic energy/material?

As to consuming data and blueprints for the construction of a unit of TR, I am not sure how that would work in the case of statistical failure... I would hate to give up a blueprint or valuable data just to have the training fail.

I think you misunderstood my idea on cost for use Talvieno. A customer goes to a Dojo and then buys a quantity of consumable TR, each unit of which represents/opens up a simulation, for NPCs it creates a statistical success chance, whether they pass or fail, they bought the TR, they can buy more TR for additional tries.

A Dojo/waysphere is indeed a business, but it is more a way of converting credits and resources into skills. Certainly an independent Dojo would treat it as a source of income and may sell training at a profit, while a faction owned one would give members training at no personal expense, TR production/purchases being taken care of by the faction account.
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