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Shadow
06-17-2011, 04:23 PM
Today I'm going to talk about attributes and crew because they overlap quite a bit.

Currently there are 6 "attributes" for your spaceship crew: Tactical, Helmsman, Structural, Engineering, Computers, and Captain. Each time you level up you get a few (right now 5) attribute points to allocate however you want. This essentially represents your generic, unnamed crew.

Tactical increases your damage and is the required attribute for weapons.
Helmsman increases your defense and is the required attribute for thrusters, engines, and defenses.
Structural increases your structure hit points and is the required attribute for armor, damage control, and structure related components.
Engineering increases your energy and is the required attribute for batteries, engines, power collectors, power plants, and shields.
Computers increases your attack and is the required attribute for computers, ECCM, jammers, radars, and sensors.
Captain unlocks hulls.

This is going to end up being different than fantasy games. In a fantasy game you usually have a specific class and then you focus on one or a few attributes that are best for that class and for the most part ignore the rest. For example a warrior would usually focus on strength, vitality, and dexterity while a mage would focus on intelligence. In this game while you might focus on a few attributes, you probably won't be able to ignore any of them.

You can also have named crew that further boost your "attributes". These crew are basically your officers. Since they are in addition to your normal crew you must have somewhere to put them so to be working they take up an equipment slot. You can have standby crew in your normal inventory but you won't be getting any active benefit from them. Also since these are actual beings not just cargo you can't just store them in a stash somewhere. They must be in your ship, so one way or another they are taking up a slot. This is going to make them a bit harder to get a hold of then ship components.

Another nice thing about named crew is that they will likely "level up" occasionally. This probably won't keep up with your leveling up pace, but will be a nice bonus here and there.

So how can you find new crew? You can recruit them by solving quests for them. You will be able to hire them. You will even be able to rescue them from life pods or crash landings on planets.

Unlike our previous games there probably won't be too many things that boost your attributes. Right now it is limited to your allocated attribute points, crew, and a few crew related ship components (artificial gravity, atmosphere, holo units, etc). This will likely make point allocation and crew fairly important.

As usual, do you guys have any thoughts?

DeathKnight1728
06-17-2011, 09:17 PM
Im interested in the game for the fact that this will not be like any space rpg game to play.

However, I am deeply concerned with making it a follow a set pattern type game when it comes to stats. You said that you probably wont be able to ignore any 1 stat. Will this make the game just a-do this at lvl 5, get this at lvl 10 type game, or will there be an actual variation. For example, can you just pick 3 or 4 main stats and focus on them, or will doing that be impossible? My thoughts are that i dont want everyone to say that they have the same stats, or close to the same make.

Foxfeeder
06-18-2011, 12:42 PM
Wow, a really interesting take on space RPGs! Grounding the various different attributes in clear and discrete ship functions and attributes should help set up a more nuanced game.

But with this crew system, I do have a few questions...

1) If ship components can be damaged, why not crew? Would the ship's functions be weakened temporarily if crew are injured (thus of course leading to a need for rescue/medical teams and probably a sick bay)? Could crew be killed, forcing a loss of the ship's attribute points until they are replaced? Or could the crew even be infected with disease or other harmful conditions?
If the crew are protected from this in your system, that would seem to me to be a rather awkward halfway house between realism and abstraction. Moreover, crew would be significant in any boarding actions or off-ship events that might occur, however abstracted, and not to model them more clearly rather shuts off these avenues which any number of sci-fi shows and stories have portrayed.

2) It seems strange that officers require a new space on the ship and thus detract from space for other functions. Realistically, surely all but the smallest ships would have some kind of bridge from which to assemble information and direct ship tactics. Wouldn't the officer simply use that space anyway? It just paints a rather confusing picture of what is going on aboard these ships.

3) From your previous piece, it seems that you are keen on players balancing shield strength with other forms of ship resilience, such as component redundancy. But will repairs or replacements to components (or crew, should crew loss be implemented) be affordable enough that players don't just reload if they suffer internal damage?

Anyway, I wish you all the best with working out the new project.

Roswitha
06-18-2011, 03:48 PM
This is pretty trivial, but, just to be consistent, you might use Helm and Command instead of Helmsman and Captain.

Bluddy
06-18-2011, 04:43 PM
I second FoxFeeder's 2nd comment. I think you need to find a good way in-game to explain why officers take up equipment slots. Perhaps instead of having them take up equipment slots directly, you could install crew cabins as equipment. Regular crew are peons and would be fine with just one cabin (or perhaps the built-in cabin on all ships) but officers set conditions, and one of those conditions is a spacious crew cabin component. Really high level officers might demand very fancy crew chamber 'components', which would be relatively expensive.

Foxfeeder
06-18-2011, 06:59 PM
Heh, as we all know, Captain Kirk loved his jacuzzi action;)

Yeah, if there's a good reason for it in-game, I would be fine with that, officers' perks and all...

Shadow
06-20-2011, 10:48 AM
1) If ship components can be damaged, why not crew?

2) It seems strange that officers require a new space on the ship and thus detract from space for other functions.

3) From your previous piece, it seems that you are keen on players balancing shield strength with other forms of ship resilience, such as component redundancy. But will repairs or replacements to components (or crew, should crew loss be implemented) be affordable enough that players don't just reload if they suffer internal damage?

1) I didn't mention it but crew can be hurt. They will probably only die permanently in hardcore mode though.

2) It's probably going to be something along the line of bridge and officer crew quarters.

3) Considering we are most likely going to have save on exit, that's not likely to be a choice.

However, I am deeply concerned with making it a follow a set pattern type game when it comes to stats.

I really hope there won't be a set pattern that everyone follows.

This is pretty trivial, but, just to be consistent, you might use Helm and Command instead of Helmsman and Captain.

Yeah, I don't think the names are set in stone yet.

goodgimp
06-20-2011, 03:35 PM
To me the part that interests me most is the idea of having named crewmembers that can occasionally level up. I love this aspect of games, whether it be NPC party members/helpers in a RPG, or veteran/elite units in a strategy game. I feel like it gives a game character, and lets me develop an attachment to a particular game or playthrough.

You mention that crewmembers might be able to die, but only in hardcore. This is a bit of an aside, but I know from Din's Curse that you are awesome about giving a wide range of options. I'd love a semi-hardcore kind of setting where crew members die, but you yourself do not have permadeath, or something like that.

My biggest gripe/frustration with most ARPGs and the like is that while I love the challenge and adrenaline rush of playing hardcore, I oftentimes play with friends. And as these games oftentimes have near-instant accidental deaths from back luck or carelessness, permadeath can have too much of a sting and be awkward when you're playing with a group of friends, as now someone is a low-level chump.

From what little perspective I have of the game as you've described thus far, having an option to have crewmembers permanently die would give me lots of reasons to fear death, while not making me completely start over from scratch.

Shadow
06-20-2011, 06:30 PM
This is a bit of an aside, but I know from Din's Curse that you are awesome about giving a wide range of options. I'd love a semi-hardcore kind of setting where crew members die, but you yourself do not have permadeath, or something like that.

I am considering some kind of semi-hardcore mode.

Rathag
07-15-2011, 03:41 AM
I really agree with goodgimp's suggestions about named crew--in fact, I'd take it farther. Name all the crew (unless you're thinking about some kind of starship enterprise type behemoth), make them somewhat easy to come by, but find ways of making certain crew special, then build them to get better (but don't make me sell them, please). Then use this as the *only* mechanic, with the helm, command, engineering, etc., as specialties of individual characters with some being more specialized and some more jack-of-all-trades. The leveling up of the ship's generic crew feels somewhat artificial to me, and makes my ship seem more of a generic lump of metal than something I take personal ownership over. One reason I really liked DoP btw.

Also, I really *don't* like the idea of equipment slots and crew slots being somehow interchangeable. Equipment takes up one kind of space, the crew lives within and thus takes up another. Maybe habitation modules allow you to carry more crew? Though I'm not sure how I feel about limiting crew. Maybe specific equipment has specialist "consoles" or "chairs" or something that specialist crew can sit in to do their work and give a bigger bonus, whereas if they just sit in the generic barracks or habitation module, then they give less of a bonus.

Also, I like abandoning the idea of mass in the game. If I have timed action to worry about, then I don't want to worry about intricate resource management. I like intricate resource management, but only when I can pause the game (or at least the dangers in the game) long enough for me to figure out a good strategy for handling it.

Also, the permanence in DoP of ships, characteristics, etc., I really like. Galaxies are huge after all. Maybe each instance of the game is about control of a star cluster. or supercluster. or something...

Rathag
07-15-2011, 03:44 AM
Oh! Also, what if certain crew joined you out of loyalty (and stayed as long as you paid them and treated them well), whereas other crew joined you out of money, and only joined for limited-time-but-renewable contracts, and then after you leveled them up and cut them loose, joined rival mercenary captains whom you at times faced in battle...

I see this as personality/quest dependent, thus maybe having 5-10 archetypes of personality that a randomly generated crew could have would be useful, with certain quests limiting the kinds of acceptable archetype for the reward crew member...

Rathag
07-15-2011, 03:56 AM
Ok, last comment for the night (I really, really like this game idea in case you can't tell), and this one's more for fun and speculation than for actual serious consideration, but...

You could use this to implement a variant on Heinlein's Starship Trooper's Paradox (this is the correct reference, right?), where the speed of light actually limits your travel, so you end up attacking the enemy 10-75 years after you leave your point of origin, thus making resolution and "winning" and peace and diplomacy that much more difficult. So, basically, every time you jump in your ship to a new star system, time slows down for you, but they have different news, have sent off different expeditions with different aims, etc. On some pieces of news they're lagging behind, on some they're ahead. And then just when a peace treaty is signed a massive planetary invasion force arrives, doesn't believe the treaty is anything but a hoax, and attacks. Now imagine you're in that position--you surprised them, they're claiming a peace treaty has been signed. Do you attack and keep the benefit of surprise but destroy the last hope of peace, or do you refrain from attacking and find out you've been duped?

Roswitha
07-15-2011, 12:31 PM
You could use this to implement a variant on Heinlein's Starship Trooper's Paradox (this is the correct reference, right?), where the speed of light actually limits your travel, so you end up attacking the enemy 10-75 years after you leave your point of origin, thus making resolution and "winning" and peace and diplomacy that much more difficult. So, basically, every time you jump in your ship to a new star system, time slows down for you, but they have different news, have sent off different expeditions with different aims, etc. On some pieces of news they're lagging behind, on some they're ahead. And then just when a peace treaty is signed a massive planetary invasion force arrives, doesn't believe the treaty is anything but a hoax, and attacks. Now imagine you're in that position--you surprised them, they're claiming a peace treaty has been signed. Do you attack and keep the benefit of surprise but destroy the last hope of peace, or do you refrain from attacking and find out you've been duped?

That is just fascinating.
It's not from Starship Troopers, nor is it from Heinlein's juvenile books (I've read just about all of them.) However, I haven't read any of the adult books, so maybe it's from one of them. Anybody know?

Unless it's Time for the Stars, with the telepathic identical twins; one stays on earth and the other goes out in space and the earth-bound one ages much more rapidly. But that doesn't sound quite right.

Shrike
07-16-2011, 03:53 AM
I think it was mentioned in another post but I would highly recommend that you take a look at Sentinel Worlds 1: Future Magic for it's Space Combat. It was created in 1988 so obviously the visuals are highly dated, however like a lot of older games the actual gameplay was incredible.

The space combat used crew that were specific to their task but increased in their ability as they leveled. The game did a good job of making you feel more powerful as your crew progressed and faced more difficult challenges.

Here is a link to the Gamefaq if you have not played it, hopefully it will give you an idea of the games model to see how they compare to your vision. Best of luck I will defiantly be on board.

http://www.gamefaqs.com/pc/565865-sentinel-worlds-i-future-magic/faqs/14070

Antigrav
08-12-2011, 11:07 AM
I really, really enjoyed Star Command (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mCCuW0yXwCE) (1988). Played it obsessively back in the day. The graphics were rudimentary but the gameplay itself was very engaging.

What I would take from it to recommend in the upcoming Soldak game:
No crew "levels" but ranks, earned not through experience points but mission completion, as well as some potential for advancement in the initial training stage. Also the ability to pay for crew training.
Ship-to-ship(s) combat using various weapon types and potential for boarding the last remaining enemy ship for hand-to-hand combat, salvaging the enemy ship. This meant not only equipping your ship well but also your crew, who would also run into enemies planetside.
Various crew abilities like recon, codebreaking, medic, piloting and gunnery besides of course energy weapons, rocket launchers, grenades, etc.

Crisses
09-25-2011, 07:46 PM
I like your ideas. I have a comment:

I see this as personality/quest dependent, thus maybe having 5-10 archetypes of personality that a randomly generated crew could have would be useful, with certain quests limiting the kinds of acceptable archetype for the reward crew member...

If there were say 3 or 4 factors of 5-10 archetypes each (i.e. Race, Training, Temperament) then you'd have a good number of mixes of overall "personality" of crew members. Race is obvious, but each race could have advantages/disadvantages. Training would be which technical track they're in: Computers, Helm, Engineering, etc. Temperament would be the personality "types". There's some simple personality array typing that work for basic personality types in real life that could be helpful, like the Meyers-Briggs archetypes (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Myers-Briggs_Type_Indicator) or the DiSC profile types. These factors measure external personality traits (how people act towards each other), and would help make crew more like "people" without having to come up with traits/factors/types on one's own.

These factors could guide dialogue (if any), quests that certain crew get involved in, which crew might be bought-out, spies, mutineers, etc. for quests in the future (or add-on packs...).

I guess the key decision is how in-ship-politics-heavy you want the game. Goodness knows Star Trek (any generation) is steeped in internal politicking mixed with liberal external circumstances/incidents. I think that may be what some Soldak groupies are hungering for. I know the Trekkie sitting behind me in his captain's chair console perked up when I mentioned Soldak is working on a space game... :) The AI in the other games is really rather good, and seeing it go to work on a space game environment will turn heads.

Besides, what good is barking orders as a captain if there's no crew to suck up to you or tell you off? :)