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Re: Alternative mission system idea

#16
JoshParnell wrote:Welcome, Rhino! And congrats, you've just reinvented the LT mission system :D

My concept for mission generation is almost exactly what you've written here...so there's really nothing "alternate" about this idea! ;)
Bryce wrote:1) NPC using the HLAI decides on a long term goal (e.g. expand into area X)
2) this long term goal is split into smaller tasks
3) these tasks are handed out to individuals to perform - and these are the missions
Literally, this is exactly how it will work (assuming implementation goes well). I'm pretty sure I detailed this in an interview somewhere. But the system you've described is exactly what I am working towards!

So...that's that I suppose :)
I believe the interview mentioned can be found at:

http://www.vg247.com/2012/12/05/limit-t ... the-stars/

(Limited) Discussion here:

viewtopic.php?f=8&t=202

VG247 Article wrote:Within that space, the player is doled out missions that are also procedurally generated, including information gathering, resource mining and more. However, completing missions doesn’t just result in a small fee and a pat on the back – it actually changes the game world further. For example, if a faction wants information on an uncharted area of space, you could go mining there and scan new planets or zones to help that faction’s expansion there.

“After completing the mission, the player would, of course, obtain a reward in return for the scanned data. But what’s important to note is that this action doesn’t just represent a fleeting monetary transaction. In finding and providing the requested information, the player has actually affected the knowledge of that particular faction in a very real way.

“The sheer amount of learning, of brain-stretching, of hours of frustration but moments of revelation… it excites me now, just thinking about it. Learning is something that can’t be revoked. It’s like money that you get to keep forever.”
“In all likelihood, the faction will go on to set up an outpost in the observed system, and perhaps begin a new operation therein. If the player returns to the system later, they may find new stations, mining barges, and other factional assets roaming about the system, indicating that the knowledge transaction actually had a heavy impact on the universe.

“Had an NPC beaten the player to the job and provided information concerning a different system, the faction might have expanded into an entirely different area. In this manner, I hope to imbue missions with a certain level of meaning, despite the fact that they’re procedural.”

Complete enough missions to become an influential name across the cosmos, and you might just find yourself in command of a whole fleet of ships, adding RTS elements into the mix. Add to this limitless exploration, mining for resources, escorting ships through lawless space for a fee, hunting down bounties across the stars and building a respected fleet, and you have an incredibly ambitious project.
- The Snark Knight

"Look upward, and share the wonders I've seen."
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Re: Alternative mission system idea

#17
Since these missions are generated, it would be nice to know if you have rivals throughout the universe as well. Maybe there's another NPC that is building up their rep and taking these missions as well and you hear about them from time to time on the Space News Network.

"Damnit, that Captain Jack Harkness beat me to the job again. He always seems to be one step ahead of me!"
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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: Alternative mission system idea

#18
I would like to ask that one of two things happen regarding NPCs and conflicting interests.

Simple: Try and have factions/NPCs/mission-givers recognise your goals and not bother offering you missions that go against your pattern (Don't have your allies rush in with a colony ship to a planet you just cleared and colonize it, only to fail to defend it... SoaSE bots I'm looking at you!)

Complicated: As above, but have some slimeballs offer you missions that actively stymie your goals, and pretend that they're helping you or didn't know that they were acting contrary to you. Or Have Captain Jack offer you a mission he had taken for a quarter of the original pay, where he gets all the glory and reputation and a majority cut and you just get a little cash and a sore butt.
~天刃
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Re: Alternative mission system idea

#19
JoshParnell wrote:Welcome, Rhino! And congrats, you've just reinvented the LT mission system :D

My concept for mission generation is almost exactly what you've written here...so there's really nothing "alternate" about this idea! ;)
Bryce wrote:1) NPC using the HLAI decides on a long term goal (e.g. expand into area X)
2) this long term goal is split into smaller tasks
3) these tasks are handed out to individuals to perform - and these are the missions
Literally, this is exactly how it will work (assuming implementation goes well). I'm pretty sure I detailed this in an interview somewhere. But the system you've described is exactly what I am working towards!

So...that's that I suppose :)
:D! This is awesome news, I should have KS'd more! Using this process will hopefully mean that the main short fall of most freeform games (reliance on boring fetch/kill/deliver quests) is gone. This will probably be my game of the year all years when it is released. You can share with Star Citizen!
"Every vision is a joke until the first man accomplishes it; once realized, it becomes commonplace." ~ Dr. Robert H. Goddard
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Re: Alternative mission system idea

#20
Rhino_Aus wrote:Firstly, I know this already has a topic, but I feel my idea is too different to previous suggestions to be a reply (which is what it initially was).
I respectfully disagree as it makes it difficult to compare and discuss both systems, if one thread dissapear in the past and the other remains lively. Could I suggest to the Moderators to pre-pend the initial thread to this one?

We have two main system defined, that both rely on some "unit" mission genres.
  • One is so to say "top-down", where an existing AI has - as a consequence of the rest of the universe - a complex wish which gets split in several missions.
  • The other is bottom-up, where new missions are generated based on the availability of assets and the history of the player.
Note that both systems can work and both systems are compatible with the "independant A.I." and meaningful missions (because the availability of assets can cover the availability of the "need" of the contractor to get the mission done).

While the first one seems to be already decided by the Creator:
JoshParnell wrote:Literally, this is exactly how it will work (assuming implementation goes well). I'm pretty sure I detailed this in an interview somewhere. But the system you've described is exactly what I am working towards!

So...that's that I suppose
I still am of the opinion that a further discussion makes sense - as long as it's not shipped, it can be changed :-).

If we analyse the differences, the top-down option flows more naturally from the logic of the game. It will anyway be present as an emergent characteristic of the game if AI can be brought to a level of choosing between contractor or own ressources to get things done. Again, this system will be present in the game (as was mentioned in the first post of the other thread as well with regards to generic missions such as delivery, bounty, escort, exploration). The fact that complex objectives may result in a string of mission is a possible consequence.

This top-down emergent approach does not consider the player to be somebody special - he is one possible contractor for a certain mission, to be chosen based on cost, reputation, and so on...
Statistically, we all know how difficult it is to get a job in the real world, let alone to get promoted... The player will have competition from internal faction ressources and from all other NPC to get to a mission, and he will get enough (and critical, of key importance for the faction) missions only if he evolves to excell in a niche market. Otherwise he will only get boring missions where the client does not really care (e.g. "taxi drive" - you don't pick a driver, they are all "exchangeable").
But then he will get only mission in this niche market, logically, as he can't beat other specialists in everything (however good your carpenter, you won't call it to fix your broken computer). This is realistic. But somewhat.... boring.

This is a single player game. The player is somebody special. So you may tune the top-down approach with an unreasonable faction's love for using the same contractor always and use him for many different kind of jobs. Thus the player will be able to get the richness and avriety of missions he may expect of a game.
The alternative is to have in parallel with the emergent top-down approach another, user-centered, system that generates stories and mission chains. That will still fit in the universe (thanks to the searching for existing assets before proposing follow-up missions) while guarenteeing that (sometimes, a tunable parameter) as long as the player suceed in the missions and wants it, the story keeps going with diversity. This is not realistic, but heck, we are heros in a single player game!

This second approach, "bottom-up" consist in generating reasonable follow-up missions to build up a story using building blocks similar to the ones of the emergent top-down approach, but with a human generated procedural framework. because this is user-centered, it has good chances to make the use life more interesting.
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Re: Alternative mission system idea

#21
IMO, there isn't even any competition between the systems.

The whole emergent missions concept can be very useful for immersion because the missions don't feel tacked-on.
If missions occur because they make sense then there are no "scripted" multi-part mission. The next part of the mission or the follow-up is just the logical consequence.

However, this is a single player game so the player is a special snowflake.
There need to be enough missions that the player can accept when he wants to.
If he chooses not to (or is nowhere near)... after a while some random AI ship may or may not take that mission offer.

By making it a point to design missions so that AI actors can complete them, you get a double benefit out of the mission design.
They do not only serve for player enfunment (okay, so I made that one up) but also add "artificial life" to the universe. The latter is always a sore point in space games.


I could imagine a way to embellish the multi-part mission thing, though.
So the player has responded to some distress call and helped the poor trader.
The trader does that not because the mission script directly leads to that but because he is quite scared and alone out here.
If his ship is heavily damaged, he might sell the player his current timed delivery contract so the player gets to complete the trading mission.

The mission system would only have to do a check at "completion time".
Now that the player has now outed himself a suc... helpful person, the mission engine checks if it would be logical for the player's current employer to give him another mission right here.
That creates a mission chain without actually having written one.
Such mission chains could generate increasing payouts although there may have to be a sanity check somewhere. =)

These "mission chains" could also grant achievements for certain chains. Combat Combo 4x! Sudden Death! (I don't understand achievements. =)
There is no "I" in Tea. That would be gross.
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#22
Yes, this is a bit what I had in mind, but with a progression.

It works like this:
For some emergent reason, you got a first delivery mission.

On successful delivery (or why not possibly on non-successful delivery), there is a given probability to get a follow-up mission proposal. The conditions are:
  • The follow-up have a probability. Not always you will have follow-ups. Beyond the range of simulated AI needs, you may show up at 5pm and your contact just want to go home.
  • The options for follow-up are based on scipts or templates (that may include a randominzation). Many templates can be chosen as follow-up of a "delivery" mission, but once a template is chosen, it is followed and another "starting" emergent mission is required to start along a new template.
  • The follow-up has a list of assests it requires. If those assests are not existing, the mission is not proposed. This ensures that the mission is compatible with the universe. Examples of assets are: "a ship of the same faction that need escort less than xxx Parsecs away", or "an ennemy faction that needs a delivery to this system".
  • Templates may set "titles" to the user. For example after 3 successful delivery of goods for Federal Express you have the title of "Federal Express favored subcontractor". These titles may be requirements to enable certain templates. This allow "not instantaneous" follow-ups. You got the cookie points and only later in the game, you have follow-ups emerging as consequence.
Templates may/should be crowdsourced. As they are not used to generate missions for AI (even if the missions may be fulfilled by AI once generated) they may repose on an interpreted template without being a worry on simulation performance.

So a primitive template may be:
on successful delivery, if another delivery is required, propose it to player. (no "progression", just a logical link)

A more complex may be:
on successful delivery, if another delivery is required, propose it to player.
if successful delivery, if another delivery is required, propose to player.
If successful delivery, set title "good deliverer of good for faction X".
If title "good deliverer of good for faction X" is set AND delivery of illegal good is required, propose mission to player.
Progression: now a new type of mission (higher risk / higher gain) is available by that faction, that would not propose such touchy mission to an unknown guy (question of trust).
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#23
Gazz, I see where you're coming from, but the proposal I put forth would be to specifically theme a set of missions. Doing a fetch quest more than once for a single employer right after another gets stale too fast.

While I don't want to specifically script these chains, or even bring up the idea of scripting, there needs to be enough depth to the NPC actors to generate the quests in a way so that they feel meaningful, deep, and full. The one I brought up may have been a bit grand, but if the mission generator is able to generate missions like that, or mini campaigns (or full-on campaigns for that matter!) then it expands the basic quest types into something much, much more.

In your case, you said that if the AI wants to give the player another mission, they should feel as though they need to. This should also mean that I should have a better chance than say 1 in 100 to get an add-on quest that makes sense.

I do have faith in Josh's abilities, but being able to create it so that the missions don't feel stale, tacked on, or few and far between would be a LOT of work. You're analyzing chess moves many turns in advance, and something tells me when you're dealing with many more factors in the universe that LT exists in and not something as 2D as chess, that would take a massive amount of time and investment. Something I don't know if we'll see.
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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: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#24
DWMagus wrote:In your case, you said that if the AI wants to give the player another mission, they should feel as though they need to. This should also mean that I should have a better chance than say 1 in 100 to get an add-on quest that makes sense.
Just saying that after a "defend the passing convoy" mission there shouldn't be always an "escort the convoy mission".
It would just be very likely seeing how the convoy was under attack, y'know. =)

How follow-up missions are selected is more a matter of design philosophy.
It could be mission-dependent where "defend the passing convoy" can lead to 3 or 4 different other mission types.
It could depend on the AI actor and it's faction policies. Maybe that convoy was owned by the space Yakuza and a punitive expedition to the pirate's home base is the first thing that occurs to them...

The end result and the variables used for getting there are the same - the only difference is which part of the game / mission AI is making the decision.
There is no "I" in Tea. That would be gross.
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#26
After reading Josh's dev log posted: Saturday, April 19, 2014, it gave me an idea. I searched the forums and found this old thread from way back in 2013.

Basically, this thread seems to match what Josh is now trying to do with regards to a "project" style objective system.

At the main menu you select "single player open world" where the universe is the 100 billion star systems and you are free to do what ever you want to pick your own missions or "projects" during the game to help you achieve certain tasks in game and in turn to help build your empire.

How about we expand on that idea and at the start menu Josh could implement a "single player campaign", where in you have a random campaign objective at the start like: take five star systems scattered around the universe (not too too far out) say within 1000 star jumps and you could select how many other AI players have the same campaign goal or leave it for a free for all. Then select AI difficulty (obviously you'd leave it on the impossible setting :think: ). You can select 1 or more final objectives from a multitude of different final objectives for each game.

You could also select: Size of the universe (100/1000/10,000/100,000/1,000,000 star systems etc), asteroid fields: many/sparse - density: high/low, planets: lots/sparse and so on.

This could automatically generate a random "single player story line" based on "projects" on the initial objective/s.

For example, when you start the game a mission box appears with:

Campaign objective: take the five "named" star systems

Next objective: mine "delta prime asteroid field" for 1000 ore.

When you complete it a screen pops up and you are awarded say 5,000 credits.

Screen pops up with Next objective: Sell ore, buy weapons upgrade, buy ship, spy on station (like in the X series), destroy ship/station/planet population, jump to system, research this or that etc etc and so on.

The beginning say 10 "objectives" or "projects" would also implement a tutorial for noob beginner players on how the basic functions of the game work so they can quickly get into the game. Lets face it in each game we will all be noobs :D . After these 10 or so tutorial objectives are completed, you are given the real "projects" to complete.

You all start relatively close in proximity (say within 1000 jumps) as you all get more powerful it would guarantee some skirmishes, battles and then all out war as you all try to meet the same said goals.

With the data editor there are unlimited possibilities with this idea and I can't see a problem with it being implemented just the problem of testing the mechanics to see if it all works as it should.

When you complete the campaign there is a choice to either start another game or carry on. The player/AI character advances can also be saved and be included in other games so to make things harder when you reset eventually making a game with huge empires from the go like in massive budget titles. Although, I don't know if this would be possible to implement or not.
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Re: Emergent multi-part missions, quests and epic stories

#30
At its core what is any "quest" or epic arc? It is a description of interaction between various forces. The difference between a simple repeatable quest and an epic arc is the complexity of the forces. If Josh can make the forces sufficiently complex, then the quests will naturally evolve into epic arcs.

I wonder what sort of things might be possible? What are the limits? Can we have the cliched epic betrayal? Fight on the front lines in a long factional war, then suddenly off one of our overseers and take command of the faction for ourselves? Will our closest friend/ally NPCs be specifically targeted by the enemy to weaken our resolve?

That would be my question.
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