Rebalance - third go

FluffyFreak
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by FluffyFreak » Tue Nov 03, 2015 5:23 pm

Ok that's some interesting data, I doubt the summary will have changed with the switch in RNGs but the routes and best possible trades will have I guess since some star systems won't even exist now but others will.

My initial conclusions from your summary:
  • Local package deliveries are too low in value, I'm not sure you'd be able to make enough to get away from the starting shuttle in a reasonable length of gameplay time.
  • Visibility and knowledge of the reputation effect and the increasing value of missions (delivery/taxi) matter since you can read this from the data but you don't get any feel of it in the game itself.
  • The perfect trade problem: I suck at trading, it's just difficult to figure out the best routes etc so I'd expect that most other players are struggling to find good trades too.
I think some of the results could be overly optimistic about how players will be able to read what's happening and that exaggerates how good the distribution of rewards are.

Take the trading: You might find a great route but it's most likely that you'll find a barely profitable one and just be stuck with it for a while until you finally realise that one-star-to-the-left is 10x the profit per tonne. Likely you looked through all of the other 12 stars nearby and picked the best of those, star 13 would have been worth more but it's a rarity and people won't hunt *that* much for a perfect place.

Conversely it looks like the package deliveries and taxi runs are probably fine. They seem to fit and as long as you pick a profitable one each time then, as you say, on average it'll work out at ~100 credits. It might even work out better for players because they'll just set a lower limit and accelerate time until better offers come up.

Maybe it needs to be clearer, somehow, that this is how you should be starting out, shipping parcels and people? Buying passenger cabins to increase your rate of profit before other options become really viable.
It also makes me think that the "Barnard's Star" starting ship, a Xylophis, is... really, really harsh.

Trade seems far too nerfed to be useful right now, it's never been that much fun, especially without pirates to threaten, attack and steal from you. Just looking at the prices of things and there's not enough differentiation between places of high supply and demand, so a tonne of grain is 10 credits but a tonne of air processors / Mining Machinery is 12 credits. I'd guess that going from an industrial world too a farming one should have a much higher gradient in value but that's not possible when things have such tiny values in the first place.

This also makes me wonder about the supply and demand price differences between world "types", is it enough.

impaktor
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by impaktor » Thu Nov 05, 2015 7:25 pm

Reward / Trade balance
in answer to above posts

Local package Actually, for Barnards system, it's not as bad, since all local deliveries will be between the two stations, so you can earn a hyperdrive (700 credits) in 2-3 trade runs. Local trades should give you enough money to get out of a system, so if they typically give 100-300 credits that's OK I think, since you wouldn't do local trades to buy a new ship. For that you do other missions.

Trade: Yes, I think a "perfect trade" should yield 100-200%, not measly 10-40%. I've been thinking that I should/could also instead of finding "The Perfect Trade", gather data by doing as a player would: buy major exports and sell to major import systems. This is how the player would do, and they would expect to earn money this way. I suspect it will be even worse then.

It seems the price difference (modifier) between import and export commodities should be bigger.
Maybe it needs to be clearer, somehow, that this is how you should be starting out, shipping parcels
I think the player doesn't have much choice, since with 0 reputation, that will be what is offered.


Ship balance

and now for some more data

I've done a quick test for the sinonatrix ship in Sirius system, flying to the same station twice, one time with "normal" ship, the next with all thrusters cut in half (in the json file). I think there are way better ways to plot this, but I'll just dump the data I have here:

First panel: start at 16 AU distance, then fly into the station at 0 distance. On the left y-axis is in-game time (full lines), and on the right real time (dashed-lines), (I used max time accel). So to fly to within 0.0003 AU differs in 5-10 seconds (on my machine) real time, or half a day longer in game time.

Second panel: Shows velocity in AU/day. So on average 2 AU/day in both cases, giving about 8 days for 15 AU travel time.

Image

@FluffyFreak: Me and nozmajner thought he could play with this from now on. For that he needs a build of my branch, it's just two lines changed in src/LuaUtils.cpp, to allow os.time() and io.file() commands in Lua. The rest is done by lua script so I can support it once it is built.

nozmajner
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by nozmajner » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:30 pm

Really similar to the data I get, although without this handy way of uptputing data, I did it by recording each transfer then wrote down the times of accel and ecel stops, coast time, etc.
Here are my data:
Earth start to Pluto (33 AU), with the Stock starter Sinonatrix (about 7G main acceleration). It's from an older build, starting from London, and Pluto is behind the planet, so a lot of the initial time is for going around the planet on 2x 3x timeaccel.
I started timing at the press of autopilot: enter to low orbit. I instructed the autopilot to land after it entered orbit and ended timing upon landing. I had to do this because a direct dock with always crashed the ship onto the surface of the planet (ahem, dwarf planet).

Code: Select all

Real time:
Acceleration phase: 00:01:23
Coasting phase: 00:02:50
Deceleration and docking: 00:01:17
Total: 00:05:30

In-game:
Acc: 11.41 hours
Coast: 422.86 hours (about 17 days)
Decel: 12.9 hours
Total: 447.18 hours (about 18 days)
Starting Sinonatrix edited to half thrust on all thrusters (about 3.5G):

Code: Select all

Real time: 
Acc: 00:02:51
Coast: 00:02:47
Decel: 00:03:13
Total: 00:08:51

In-game:
Acc: 23.18 hours
Coast: 411.2 hours (about 17 days)
Decel: 25.56 hours
Total: 459.95 hours (about 19 days)
Half accel (3.5G), double EV (about double deltaV, 20,000 km/s) Sinonatrix:
The double deltaV did cut about one and a half minute real time from the coast period, but also that amount was about the cut from the total travel time, since the parts where acceleration matters more were mostly on the low time-accel parts of the journey.

Code: Select all

Real time:
Accel: 00.03:04
Coast: 00:01:05
Decel: 00:03:04
Total: 00:07:13

In-game:
Acc: 45.86 hours
Coast: 168.76 hours (about 7 days)
Decel: 50.8 hours
Total: 266.43 hours (about 11 days)
I did similar to this by traveling to Itzalean after I jumped to Epsilon Eridani from Sol. About 13 AU Same measuring method, starting at autopilot command, stopping at landing.
Stock Sinonatrix, which had a fortunate Starport alignment. It was possible to aim for it on arrival, no need for orbital capture and maneuvers:

Code: Select all

Real time:
Acc: 00:00:09
Coast: 00:00:58
Decel to planet: 00:00:36
Decel with landing: 00:01:19
Total: 00:04:15

In-game:
Acc: 11.56 hours
Coast: 155.46 hours (about 6 days)
Decel: 12 hours
Decel with landing +1min
Total: 179.45 hours (about 7 days)

Coast velocity: 3357.35 km/s
Half thrust Sinonatrix. It had an unfortunate spaceport position, it had to go around the planet which take about four times (real time) than the previous one just to capture, orbit and land.

Code: Select all

Real time:
Acc: 00:00:08
Coast: 00:00:54
Decel: 00:01:13
Decel with landing: 00:05:17
Total: 00:05:30

In-game:
Acc: 23.1 hours
Coast: 146.15 hours (about 6 days)
Decel: 25.03 hours
Decel with landing: +1 and a half hour
Total: 194 hours (about 8 days)

Coast velocity: 3357.89 km/s

It mostly seems that reducing thrust doesn't really affect travel times for the most boring "here's a starfield" coasting part of any journey, especially for typical after-hyperspace case. You still travel at about the same speed for most of the high time-accel parts of the trip. The difference in the end was 45 seconds in the Itzalean case.
Actually, the lower thrust on the second case reduced acceleration and coasting phase by a whopping one second, while only adding about 15 in-game hours to it, which was right enough for the planet to rotate, so the port is on the other side.

I still want to do some measurements/experiments with that nice data output module of impaktor to find a sweet spot.

And I also did some combat tests with the half-thrust (3.5G) Sinonatrix against similarly nerfed Kanaras. The combat test (ctrl+F12) was easy and nicely paced that way, but the problem with it was that it didn't fired back, just tried to maintain distance. I was able to shoot it out in minutes. The police easily wasted me in the atmosphere, where the combat/flight also felt harder, but I'm not sure about that.

A Mig-29 can pull about 6Gs from it's engines without afterburner, so that range might be a better spot for combat ship. But on the other hand fighter planes get their maneuverability from the atmosphere/aerodynamics, and can pull quite high G maneuvers from a simple turn, so it's not as relevant to space-only combat I guess.

nozmajner
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by nozmajner » Thu Nov 05, 2015 9:30 pm

Bit of addendum: the data might not be exactly exact, because I did a lot of copying around/typing in, and the video timing method aren't that punctual either. This might be the case for the half thrust travle time ingame being a bit shorter, although that might be because some more fortunate alignment of the starport too.

Image
Left is real time, right is in-game time, same order than in the previous post.

Also it might not be that problematic, that the end part of a travel takes that much time compared to the coasting part, because forced time acceleration is still available to shorten that part if needed.

DraQ
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by DraQ » Fri Nov 06, 2015 5:40 pm

Barnard's Star is currently not a very interesting system, but I think swapping starting ships between Sol and BS start locations would go a long way.
Sol is a large and well developed place so even with a tiny shuttle you can find a lot to do there, while in BS pretty much the only interesting thing you can do is hyperspacing away and that's what Sinonatrix is good at.

impaktor
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by impaktor » Fri Nov 06, 2015 8:11 pm

@DraQ the idea with starting at Barnard's is just that you work your way to buying a hyperengine. Doing that in Sol would be way worse, where you have more stations, thus (as I said before) fewer missions to the same station.

I imagine Barnard's as "the real starting place" for pioneer, perhaps with a back story of getting out of prison for a crime you didn't commit, or perhpas you're breaking out, and stealing a ship?

nozmajner
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by nozmajner » Fri Nov 06, 2015 10:45 pm

I imagined the Barnard's start a bit similar to what impaktor said. You get out from jail, with a bit of penal labor credit, just enough for a rusty old Xylophis.
A bit like the opening of the Blues Brothers. (can't find a good vidoe about it)
It's just a couple of runs to scrape together the money for a hyperdrive. Or you can just sell your Scanner and Atmo Shielding and bamm, get out of jail card.

I was thinking about making the Barnard's system a bit more lived-in a while ago. Adding a couple of asteroids, and possibly a surface base too, like a labor camp/mine or similar. It could be a good starting point with relativaly short distances to practice flying around and getting used to the game.

DraQ
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by DraQ » Sat Nov 07, 2015 12:01 pm

My problem with current BS start is that it's boring and ultimately pointless busywork. You spend time mindlessly flying back and forth the only route that exists in the system and clicking all the not too outdated parcel ads you can find.
There is no player involvement possible, nothing clever that could cut down on the busywork, just pure tedium.

How about making it a jailbreak instead?

You start already launching from one of the stations, in Sinonatrix (possibly a battered one and in need of service) with hyperdrive, basic weapon, some hydrogen fuel, hefty bounty and criminal record. Police interceptors launch right after you initiating combat and then it's all up to you.
It would even be analogous to Lave start in Frontier, where you could also get a relatively powerful ship - Cobra Mk.III - right off the bat by starting in the most boring system possible (a single planet with station), but accompanied by hefty bounties in both factions - just without the added excitement of immediate police action.

Meanwhile Sol is one of the better systems to start with lowly shuttle - while there are fewer missions to the same station, filtering ads and plotting the course that would deliver as many parcels as possible makes it more involved gameplay-wise. Gauging travel times and feasibility of taking deliveries to multiple different places at once is a helpful learning experience and I would wager that familiar environment helps mapping the distances and times involved in Pioneer onto more familiar context.
Ability to visit different places (especially 'real' locations) and do some sightseeing before the universe opens up to you does make this kind of gameplay more bearable too.

I agree that puny, slow ship would be better suited for an M-dwarf system, but one with actual planets (or a moon system of a gas giant - and we have those here in Sol)
If Xylophis is too slow, then either give it more delta-v (in general I think that OPLI ships should have good delta-v budgets at the expense of acceleration, being built as spacer ships, but that's another thread I'll start soon) or give player a Varada.

FluffyFreak
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by FluffyFreak » Thu Nov 12, 2015 9:55 pm

I like the idea of a *something-illegal* difficulty option replacing, or in addition too, the Barnards Star which feels really dull because it's not difficult, it's just tedious, like go out and kill ten rats... only it's do 20 courier runs... in a bathtub.

nozmajner
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Re: Rebalance - third go

Post by nozmajner » Thu Nov 12, 2015 10:14 pm

How about a Barnard's Star system like this?
(note: starting point is screwed, it should be #16 or so to be the same as before.)

Image
Image


Quite small system, with a few starports. All surface ports are OPLI plants. I kept the two orbital in the same orbit, but like if they were an L4 and L5 base to a small gas giant. That gas giant has a bunch of small moons on almost the same plane of orbit, so distances are quite low, so there's an opportunity manual flight and Hohmann transfers too.
I think I was able to make a quite gloomy system, thanks to the light from the already present Barnard's star.

Planets names after the twelve causes of suffering from Buddhism. (with their English names, because some characters are missing from the fonts)

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