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Features of the Starting Star System

In starting a new thread about Strategic Procedural Content Generation, I wonder about how Limit Theory might use something like Left 4 Dead's AI Director to guide the procedural content generation of star systems adjacent to the player's starting star system.

But that got me thinking: what makes for a good starting star system?

What content does a starting star system need?

Should there be any rules placed on PCG for the starting star system to insure either that certain content is definitely there somewhere (such as at least one space station), or that certain content is excluded (such as a highly advanced and extremely antagonistic faction that controls every inch of that star system)?

How would this work with respect to the notion of "seeds" for PCG in new games?

Re: Features of the Starting Star System

I have two different answers depending on how the player is introduced into the game.

First, If the player assumes control of an AI or is an heir to an existing organization I don't think that particular items need to be mandatory for the player's start system. All relevant information should be accessible via something similar to a nodal tree (where assets are shown along with their purpose).

Second, if the player starts fresh with absolutely nothing other than a handful of credits, I'd like to see a station and some asteroid fields in the starting system.

I don't know how to answer the other questions so I hope the above is enough for a continued discussion.

Re: Features of the Starting Star System

BFett wrote:If the player assumes control of an AI or is an heir to an existing organization I don't think that particular items need to be mandatory for the player's start system.
Good point! You're right that I was only thinking about a "start from nothing" kind of game.

I like the idea of a "chaebol start," though in that case I'd think "manager of one of the largest factions" becomes a starting requirement. (Though not one that would guide any procedural content generation... or should it?)

Re: Features of the Starting Star System

Theres differences between the "goodness" of star systems depending on the players stage in the game, though.

When you are a lone wolf you'd want a system with big, well developed industry, easy to access resources and somewhat interestingly developed local pirate population.
To maximise the kinds of gameplay available and the amount you can do of each.
Industry to trade with and aquire equipment from, and pirates to fight for fun and profit.

when you are more established you'd want less established pirates (because now they only interfer and cost money), high resource availability and patchy industry integration (for easy insertion of yourself for money extraction).

In even larger stages of gameplay you'd probably want nobody in your system at all!

Re: Features of the Starting Star System

Hmm...I always like the approach in the X3 games. You started in different systems, with different ships and different reputation, where one of the hardest starting scenarios was, that you started with 0 Credits, everyone hating you except the pirates and you pissed someone off so occasionally they send some killers to destroy you.

Or the other start where you started "poisoned" and you needed to have several million Credits on your bank account within a defined timespan. This start wasn't "difficult" in the common sense. It was just a really difficult task that was hard to complete.

But in most starts, you started in a sector with at least a trading post, some asteroids (that you weren't able to mine without the proper equipment and ship, sooo...) and a few basic space-factories.
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Re: Features of the Starting Star System

I'd personally prefer a completely random system, with the only restriction that it has to be possible to progress from there. It may be cushy to start off with a trading post and a good asteroid field, but I like challenges being thrown at me, such as 'escape the Xenon sectors, gogogoooo'. The best idea is probably a 'custom start' and 'randomize' panel :3

Kinda like Minecraft - there is fun to be found in starting on an island with a single tree in the middle of the ocean. You can always mulligan and restart if you want something different. I would like starting in a garbage system, but I don't think a No Man's Sky has to be committed here to force exploration on the player.

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