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Game scope #1265

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Luomu opened this Issue May 12, 2012 · 12 comments

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Luomu commented May 12, 2012

Hello!

This issue is inspired by some game design related writing from @SimonRinehart (originally from #1261): http://piratepad.ca/SLRAZL8iZf
Let's put to record what we want the scope of Pioneer to be. (If this is a duplicate, or there is already a wiki page defining all this and I somehow missed it, sorry). Ultimately it will come down to "will someone implement it?" but maybe we can produce a FAQ of things we would definitely like to see, and what features are definitely not going to happen. My own opinions in the next comment.

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Luomu commented May 12, 2012

This is about the only time I would like to invoke: "Frontier did it". I don't care about copying the Frontier story, art or the quirky UI. I would only keep the spirit: you are one person in a vast universe that does not care about you. You have a spaceship and free to travel the game world doing odd jobs. If you can afford it, you can buy a larger ship and hire crew to interact with.
So, some specific things I want to/don't want to see:

  • There will be no gripping story that you can play from start to finish. We just can't produce that.
  • There will be no multiplayer. You are alone.
  • The player is not important. The universe goes on without you, while you only look after yourself. You can do a mission for a faction, but you cannot join them.
  • Your hard-earned spaceship is your avatar, and also your home. A player should become attached to it. Spaceships should be very expensive to own and maintain.
  • Switching a spaceship will not happen frequently (except maybe ditching a cheapo starter ship), so there should be more possibilities for upgrading and customization.
  • You will not be able to exit your ship and go for a walk.
  • Ownership: you will not own and command a fleet. You will not own a starbase or run a colony.
  • That said, I wouldn't mind if a larger ship could house a shuttle or a remote drone so you can go explore planets.
  • Mining and Crafting (which seems to be oddly popular these days ;)) is still possible. Acquire raw materials and take them somewhere to be refined, etc. It just shouldn't be a large operation that will turn you into a millionaire.
  • Exploration as a mission category is good, but it would be odd if you would constantly come across rare alien artifacts and new unexplored worlds.

You will not pass go.
You will not collect 200.

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Ae-2222 commented May 12, 2012

@SimonRinehart : (in case you misconstrued) btw Luomu was stating his opinions on what could possibly be used as a scope, not outlining a set of rules. Which is why it appeared separately from the first post. The idea is for everyone (especially those not in regular contact through IRC) to post their version, and to discuss it afterwards.


This would feed into a vision statement which other FOSS games have but is currently lacking. A statement of position with respect to commonly occuring tricky subjects like position in game philosophy on subjects like like realism vs fun etc. would be useful too.


Some things from a similar exercise with the design goals piratepad (which contains a lot of stuff that was written to give an idea of the general direction and might be worth a look for anyone new and reading this.).

Spirit of Pioneer
The spirit of pioneer and it's inspiration by the procedural spirit of frontier (for new comers to understand)

  • Seamless universe

    • Scales ranging from meters to entire galaxy
    • Gameplay relevant entities like induvidual gun turrets impacting player through to multi-solar system empires
  • Time from seconds to years during one game

    • Accelerated time (paused to tens of thousands of times)
    • Raw gameplay material not limited by what can be depicted within space/time limits of [other] engines

    Emergent gameplay (to sumarise some things in the piratepad) - i.e. a lot of things/entities are simulated (i.e. dynamic) creating interesting situations (e.g. to use the RPS article author's example - assasination target' flies a known path leaving you free to pick how and where to assasinate him).


I think, to encourage thought, it might help to state what pioneer is not.

A common debate which is argued for both sides is that empire building is out of scope, people should not leave lasting impressions/have things named after them. Most recently this was discussed in #1213.

  • I think the general sentiment is that people want to avoid situations like in X series where:
    It's possible, with a handful of powerful craft the size of small sea vessels, to capture and control entire star systems.
    • This is not realistic as billions of people are unlikely to be subjugated just like that.
    • To do this with the same detail as the space adventuring it would require several more games worth of scope, i.e. Pioneer the political/tychoon sim, pioneer the military rts,pioneer the nation builder etc.

Scope of representable actions.

A statement of what actions are reasonable might be: if it's reasonable that an action can be done by:

  • someone whose profession can be described as a 'space adventurer'
  • and who might operate with a smallish crew
    then that action is within the scope of the game.

These might involve slight forays into areas that would seem out of scope, such as some empire building by placing an order for a hideaway to be built on a deserted asteroid or placing something that self-assembles. This would serve to create a seamless area of gameplay centered around being in the shoes of a space adventurer without some activities seeming to be artificially blocked off.


EVAs/walking outside (since it popped up up)
Should occur when appropriate e.g. going for a EVA to repair life pod/get water/seek shelter/place a beacon etc. if marooned. Other things, assuming we go the reasonably easy makehuman route for faces/bodies and, provided someone bothers to implement it, might be walking around ships (coolhand posted a few examples), or visiting a small subset of stations/mission giving places.

There should definitely be the ability to walk outside just so they can 'feel' what it might be like to stand on their two feet on the surface of another planet:).


@Luomu wrote: Exploration as a mission category is good, but it would be odd if you would constantly come across rare alien artifacts and new unexplored worlds.

Is this more of a consistency/realism thing with the current setting rather than an issue of scope?

If people want constant unexplored worlds (and maybe slightly more common artifacts) I guess the setting could be changed. Lack of fast travel until recently (ignoring telescopic advances) could leave most worlds beyond a radius unexplored due to resolution issues. Sudden fast hyperspace travel could initiate a type of 'gold rush' and establish a new frontier, which would be consistent with the Pioneer theme.

Exploration and discovery, the desire to look over the hill, is one of the strongest game elements especially in the type of people interested in Pioneer. It's a pity to walk away from it, even a bit, if avoidable.

/off topic I suppose

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robn commented May 12, 2012

I agree with @Luomu on pretty much every point. I just read down the list and went "yep, yep, yep" so obviously my brain considered these to be truths already, even I didn't have words for them.

As @Ae-2222 noted (I think), two points that may be worth adding is 1. Procedural generation good and 2) Physics good.

EVA: no, never. You are your ship. The only time you can remove yourself from your ship is to put yourself in another ship. Anything else widens the scope far too much.

A constant stream of ruins and artifacts can be done in a mod if somebody wants it. The "official" universe is a boring place, empty place.

I understand the principles outlined here, but you've spent a page discussing things that aren't in the design like EVA, which was at no point mentioned, ever. I understand the need for a FAQ but it seems based on this feedback that you've skimmed the doc briefly, seen shadows of something you didn't like/have seen before and closed it, limited your discussion to this issue rather than putting it in the actual document. I expected relevant feedback, concensus then conclusion, not read for 1 minute, No No No, backburner, goodbye. I spent the better part of 5 hours this week mapping this stuff out and from some of the comments it's as if you haven't read them beyond their heading sentences. It's as if you decided what it was about without reading, made some comments, and now the entire discussion is based on those comments rather than what I wrote.

Furthermore I can see things that have been discussed positively in other threads being discouraged here, such as wingman behaviours and something to actually discover as you wander among 1 billion virtually identical solar bodies.

I am starting to find it difficult to understand how you want to reach a game (there was no document before this), which is something you've clearly stated, while also clearly stating that it can not be interesting, and must be shallow in scope, and boring. Personally I can find better things to do than play a boring game let alone waste effort trying to design it for a group who is seemingly resistant to the elaboration of anything from art style to design purpose leaving the 'game' in a state that is painful and loses user interest within minutes. When was the last time you played this game for fun? 'Frontier did it' ... In 1993. The year is now 2012, and we can fit the entire contents of the original game into an email attachment. Maybe it's time to think outside that very very small box.

AE:
"A statement of what actions are reasonable might be: if it's reasonable that an action can be done by:

someone whose profession can be described as a 'space adventurer'
and who might operate with a smallish crew then that action is within the scope of the game.

These might involve slight forays into areas that would seem out of scope, such as some empire building by placing an order for a hideaway to be built on a deserted asteroid or placing something that self-assembles. This would serve to create a seamless area of gameplay centered around being in the shoes of a space adventurer without some activities seeming to be artificially blocked off. "

This is more or less exactly what I had written in there as being the extent of building, which you seem to agree is fine, but when Luomou encountered the doc it took entirely 30 seconds to see the word 'building' and assume 'empire building' and say NO you are Not allwed to do this in MY game.

See this document for a better understanding of what IMO is missing:
http://instructionaldesignfusions.wordpress.com/2011/08/20/a-taxonomy-of-motivation-and-game-design/
normally there is a constraint between 2 of these values and I feel that in this case the constraint is between having values at all and absolute 0.

Contributor

Ae-2222 commented May 13, 2012

@SimonRinehart wrote: I understand the principles outlined here, but you've spent a page discussing things that aren't in the design like EVA, which was at no point mentioned, ever. I understand the need for a FAQ but it seems based on this feedback that you've skimmed the doc briefly, seen shadows of something you didn't like/have seen before and closed it, limited your discussion to this issue rather than putting it in the actual document.

@Luomu: wrote: This issue is inspired by some game design related writing from @SimonRinehart

From what I understood, Luomu wanted a spinoff thread trying to build a consensus about scope. This would be on the merits of having a scope discussion alone. The comments are about various issues that have come up on IRC/the forum.

@SimonRinehart wrote: This is more or less exactly what I had written in there as being the extent of building, which you seem to agree is fine, but when Luomou encountered the doc it took entirely 30 seconds to see the word 'building' and assume 'empire building' and say NO you are Not allwed to do this in MY game.

I don't really see building mentioned prominently in your docs at all? The player colonisation/empire building issue is something a person on the forum, from what I gather,it is fair to say, has been nagging about for a while:).

@Luomu wrote in the old design piratepad : I am not interested in empire building, commanding armies or otherwise running the game world.

It has a context of it's own and nothing to do with what you wrote.

Even though Luomu's post might have come off as assertive in tone, no one person really has that type of claim in an opensource game. There are a lot of stakeholders (40-ish people in the authors list alone) and what you see are just 3 peoples initial responses. People have even made tech demos of things classed as outside scope, so there are a lot of differing opinions.

I removed building from the doc, so you won't find it there anymore.
Opinions are one thing, but an unequivocal statement of what is and what isn't - that's beyond assertion.
My attempt to clarify some game design was not meant to be nested within a scope discussion which seems like a discouragement of anything imaginative/original. The discussion of game design was to take place within the game design document. I have reached the conclusion that there won't really be a game design within this scope beyond what was being done in 1993 by something that fit on a floppy disk, or at least if there can be, noone really seems interested in it, given the amount of actual game design interest thus far.

You have a sand box, and the rules are the player is not allowed to get dirty. How is this supposed to make sense? Why should a player play this game?
There is no need for motivation in a simulator, yet you want to keep people playing something.
There is nothing for the player to accomplish, except amassing wealth and reputation, and upgrading to new ships, all of which are discouraged by this scope. There isn't much left to work with, and what's currently there is out of scope according to your own definitions. In addition there are art assets that clearly infinge on original designs, despite that being pointed to as a no-no in the discussions, is this or is this not acceptable?
The player should never become influential and rich, but there is trading and there are freighters, and there is reputation.
You see where I'm going? The more I look at this scope the less there is possible, and the more there is that seems redundant/self-contradictory.

Contributor

Ae-2222 commented May 13, 2012

@SimonRinehart Opinions are one thing, but an unequivocal statement of what is and what isn't - that's beyond assertion.

@Luomu wrote: Ultimately it will come down to "will someone implement it?" but maybe we can produce a FAQ of things we would definitely like to see, and what features are definitely not going to happen.
@Luomu wrote: My own opinions in the next comment.
@Luomu wrote: So, some specific things I want to/don't want to see:

I can see how you'd construe that:) It seems like laying out rules if you'd missed that and if you weren't around for a similar exercise we took in the old design pad. Also we have people from around the world, Luomu's native tongue is not English (although his English is excellent).


I think with regards to what you need with respect to the design pad, it might help if you opened another thread and explained it from the beginning. Or talk on IRC as realtime is good for clearing things up and avoiding misconceptions.


BTW: With regards to taking advantage of a sandbox there has been a lot of discussion about having factions play an RTS/4x game creating almost any scenario in sci-fi literature, procedural detailing of everything from laws/attitudes/cities/defenses/missions based on RTS state, intermediate organisations based on simpler probabilistic models, characters with realistic behaviour based on fuzzy weightings/personality/expert systems based on rule based inference etc. All of this is subject to research and implementation/up in the air so no timeframe or even a definite yes or no.


@SimonRinehart wrote: There is no need for motivation in a simulator, yet you want to keep people playing something.
There is nothing for the player to accomplish, except amassing wealth and reputation, and upgrading to new ships, all of which are discouraged by this scope.

It's a game but one that is open ended. The front page description runs "When Pioneer is finished there will be many ways to make ends meet: piracy, smuggling, bounty-hunting, mining, doing missions for the various factions fighting for power, freedom or self-determination."

So there would be lots of causes and different military/economic/social scenarios thrown up by faction RTS to use/exploit as well as their associated procedurally generated missions.

@SimonRinehart : There isn't much left to work with, and what's currently there is out of scope according to your own definitions
The player should never become influential and rich, but there is trading and there are freighters, and there is reputation

As I pointed out, I think people (Luomu, robn, and others in various places) were concerned about being disproportionately influential (despite their wording). i.e. where it requires a game beyond space adventuring and more into an RTS/management sim.

Things like peoples/organisations reactions, ability to ask for favours etc. would depend heavily on reputation. The old design pad goes into more detail.

Quotes of exact things help ("> text" quotes).

Owner

robn commented May 13, 2012

Just a couple of points:

  • It was not clear to me at all that this issue might have been intended as a commentary on #1261 (the words "inspired by" suggests that it could stand alone). I have deliberately not commented on that issue yet because, as you say, you've spent hours on it and I simply do not have the time or the energy right now to give it the attention it deserves.
  • Because I consider that everyone in this project has equal influence and speaks for themselves, I do not bother to preface anything I write with "in my opinion" because it can never be anything else. And while I am the one who merges the code and so theoretically could block things, I've said numerous times that I will merge anything that the interested parties believe to be good, even if I don't agree. So my opinion counts for the same amount as everyone elses.

So we're clear: In my opinion, the list of things @Luomu wrote seem like good guidelines for Pioneer's design, and more or less match the way I've approached design for my own contributions. I'm happy for you or anyone to try and convince me otherwise, but convincing me is not necessary to take the game in a different direction. In the end, code & assets are the thing that will get the game to wherever its going.

Owner

Luomu commented May 13, 2012

Oh god, I'm sorry for opening this issue :D @SimonRinehart this was not commentary on your ideas directly, I just thought it would be polite to give a shout-out.
I just wanted to collect some FAQ-worthy things about the game scope. We have been doing this such a long time it's about time we have the game scope written down even with just a couple of sentences.
Every now and then new people show up, with new (or often old) ideas, and I want to be able to point at something official and say "yes, we want this too" or "this is not going to happen".

Maybe I took this the wrong way. You've probably seen 100s of feature requests about similar things, so I apologize for assuming this was something other than clarification for future contribution. Given what happened here you're right, a concrete scope vision is absolutely needed. I can see that there is/was one, I've tried avoiding the obvious pitfalls.

(IMO)
Player progression from features is to be encouraged in the form of better equipment and ship upgrades, bonuses that affect ship or equipment performance and NOT in the form of amassing a fat wallet. Try to avoid the fat wallet result for any new feature ideas.

I have been on the IRC quite a bit lately, yesterday a person came in for a game design discussion in which some things were proposed for additional professions. I would say, in my opinion, professions are great, they just need to logically tie in to other professions and be supported by some in game medium, and there must be a fairly limited number, with diversity in sub-professions(asteroid or strip mining)- this way we can encourage players to stay in one ship type for longer. With regards to features and professions in the don't get rich scope:

Example, Mining
medium: compounds
associated actions: asteroid mining, mining rig/drone, cargo scooping, manufacturing
purpose: manufacturing

This one is a clear necessity in the game world for anyone doing any manufacturing. It could not be seen as useless and ties in with 2 existing features. Also needs to be clearly understood that while it is a great method for keeping players feeling a sense of progression and achievement manufacturing is not intended to make players rich but extend the availability of useful equipment.

Owner

Luomu commented May 23, 2012

The game scope is now outlined on the wiki at: https://github.com/pioneerspacesim/pioneer/wiki/Design-scope

Closing.

@Luomu Luomu closed this May 23, 2012

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