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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 7:11 am 

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I no longer enjoy the influence game. It is very anti-sporadic right now. In order to contribute meaningfully (that is, with numbers comparable to the top runners and/or to the extent that my contribution has visible results) I must login multiple times a day, with the frequency varying widely depending on where I'm running. Alternative ways to earn influence might be nice, but I would like to see influence move much more into the realm of sporadic play. I like to be able to sit down at the computer and burn an hour or three on Skyrates (and have something to show for it), but I feel that a sub-game as persistent and important as influence is not the way to do that.

I very much enjoy the multiple-singleplayer aspect of Skyrates' plane progression, and I think that providing tangible results for such dedicated play (in the form of plane upgrades, skill perks, crew abilities, or any number of things) is better than the currently ambiguous influence.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:01 am 
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Sildar wrote:
I no longer enjoy the influence game. It is very anti-sporadic right now. In order to contribute meaningfully (that is, with numbers comparable to the top runners and/or to the extent that my contribution has visible results) I must login multiple times a day, with the frequency varying widely depending on where I'm running. Alternative ways to earn influence might be nice, but I would like to see influence move much more into the realm of sporadic play. I like to be able to sit down at the computer and burn an hour or three on Skyrates (and have something to show for it), but I feel that a sub-game as persistent and important as influence is not the way to do that.

I very much enjoy the multiple-singleplayer aspect of Skyrates' plane progression, and I think that providing tangible results for such dedicated play (in the form of plane upgrades, skill perks, crew abilities, or any number of things) is better than the currently ambiguous influence.


So let's chat about ways that influence could be more sporadic. Did you find this both in the running of combat and cargo?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:16 am 

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Maybe we can set AR to make the combats harder but have them count for missions.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:19 am 
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I prefer running long cargo missions in a slow plane. I don't make nearly as much influence that way of course, but then I don't have to log in every day. I'd like to see some high-payout missions for big, slow planes so that we can be competitive.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:28 am 

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Malantha wrote:
I prefer running long cargo missions in a slow plane. I don't make nearly as much influence that way of course, but then I don't have to log in every day. I'd like to see some high-payout missions for big, slow planes so that we can be competitive.


I'm still of the opinion that someone who checks in twice a day, makes maybe two decisions, and then leaves should not be able to get as much influence as someone who invests more time and makes more decisions. Does this encourage antisporadic play? Maybe. But the Kingfisher (I assume you're not trying to run inf in a blimp) can still make very respectable influence, I see no reason to give them any boost.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 10:37 am 

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One way to make influence more friendly for sporadic, casual, and occasional players would be to add goals that aren't competitive. Perhaps badges or positions for each skyland as you hit certain influence levels, regardless of other players' performance. These could give a small tax break or something, but would be fun even without an in-game benefit.

On the competitive side, there could be combat missions that allow AR victories and don't fail if you lose a combat, but require you to shoot down more pirates to compensate. I'm not sure how the AR part would be explained in-game, though.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:08 am 
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Now I remember what I was going to suggest. Make some kind of cargo that gives influence, or a mission that uses up all your remaining cargo (or has a variable cargo choice) and gives moderate influence. Basically, an "I don't want to reset and I have empty cargo" mission. Something so that you never have to leave with a half-empty hold. It should probably have high skill requirements so that it's worth more than the really terrible missions, but not a high enough payout people would just always take it.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:12 am 

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Chesterfield Taft wrote:
So let's chat about ways that influence could be more sporadic. Did you find this both in the running of combat and cargo?


Yes.

While combat is very clearly an activity for active players, and the lack of credit for AR kills towards missions reflects this, even cargo inf runners (the vast majority of players fall into this category, I suspect) are forced to check in very regularly in order to minimize downtime. Combat missions could be redesigned to require progressively higher numbers of kills (or levels) to complete, with increasing influence rewards, in order to reduce the benefits of constant grinding while still providing a reward for those who choose to do so. Alternately, combat missions that require certain plane types, or even specific pirates (special combats) to be shot down might offer more sporadic play for combat pilots.

Part of the problem with combat missions (and indeed combat in general) is the fact that you need to be at the computer before you land in order to fight your combats manually. If you log on and have already landed, your combat options are usually very limited. Hunting provides more frequent combats, but is still not an ideal solution, i.e. combat on demand. An interesting concept would be a 'Hunt' option on every skyland's mechanic: guaranteed combat every time you click it, but exponentially more difficult combats until you leave the skyland. Obviously some tweaking would have to be made to prevent 'abuse' by persistent players (vs. sporadic players).

As for cargo missions, the primary difficulty with sporadic play is the need to reduce/eliminate downtime. The devs have teased in-flight mission pick-up a couple of times and I think this is a spectacular idea, especially for cargo missions...except that once you're in flight you typically already have a cargo and a destination. One idea I've had is mission queuing, which would allow you to essentially 'radio ahead' to your next stop or ultimate destination, find out what's available, and schedule its pick-up. It's very rare that I actually schedule a full flight queue when running influence, because I simply don't need more than 4-6 legs to deliver all of my missions and return to my running location. (Being able to run influence for a skyland other than the one you're currently sitting on would add a lot more variety to the influence game, but I'm not sure how it would affect the sporadic play problem.)

Mission alternatives are probably the best solution to my complaints (and I really don't mean to be whining so much), provided that they encourage and/or reward sporadic play. Gaining influence for selling or buying specific goods at a skyland, total G-squig support of the economy on specific skylands, delivering specific goods to another skyland regardless of the source, these are all possibilities. Ultimately, I'd simply like to stay competitive if I can't log in for a day.

Acero wrote:
I'm still of the opinion that someone who checks in twice a day, makes maybe two decisions, and then leaves should not be able to get as much influence as someone who invests more time and makes more decisions. Does this encourage antisporadic play? Maybe.


Yes, it does encourage anti-sporadic play, which is where we differ. Part of my attraction to Skyrates initially was its billing as a sporadic game that is checked 'once or twice a day, like email'. Making the primary competitive aspect of such a game require regular, scheduled, constant attention flies in the face of its mission statement. I'd like to be rewarded for time spent playing, and see others rewarded as well, but not in influence, the ultimate aspect of this sporadic game.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 11:39 am 

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I'd just like to point out that there are 2 Spectres (Kippei and MaxSquirrel) and a Kingfisher (Flolle) in the top ten for the week on Katies. From my talks with Kip and Max, the Spectre only needs to be checked on twice a day, and the KF requires even less than that. They've proven that you can be sporadic and still be competitive.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:16 pm 
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Istatay wrote:
One way to make influence more friendly for sporadic, casual, and occasional players would be to add goals that aren't competitive. Perhaps badges or positions for each skyland as you hit certain influence levels, regardless of other players' performance. These could give a small tax break or something, but would be fun even without an in-game benefit.


Ooh. I would totally run missions towards becoming a hero of the Skyland, especially if I could show on the map which Skylands love me. Could be a fun early-game accomplishment for players to become heroes of Pisa or wherever, and a fun late-game adventure to go rounding up all the Skylands.

Sildar wrote:
Part of the problem with combat missions (and indeed combat in general) is the fact that you need to be at the computer before you land in order to fight your combats manually. If you log on and have already landed, your combat options are usually very limited.

Could we trade some realism for some gameplay and allow players to fight their combats any time after they land (but before interacting with the Skyland)? This would go a huge way towards allowing more sporadic combat play, since you wouldn't have the situation of "I have to be back to my computer by 3 to do my combats".


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 12:31 pm 

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Eskay wrote:
I have to be back to my computer by 3 to do my combats".

I like this idea, I like combats for the fun they give.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:00 pm 
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Sildar wrote:
Combat missions could be redesigned to require progressively higher numbers of kills (or levels) to complete, with increasing influence rewards, in order to reduce the benefits of constant grinding while still providing a reward for those who choose to do so. Alternately, combat missions that require certain plane types, or even specific pirates (special combats) to be shot down might offer more sporadic play for combat pilots.


Thank you very much for responding. I do so enjoy talking about this stuff.

Query:
How does more kills = more friendly to sporadic? Won't the grinder still do even better?

Certain plane types is interesting...but again, won't a grinder run into more of them than the sporadic player? If there's a 1/20th chance of seeing a plane, the guy who does 20 battles a day is going to finish more quickly than the guy who does 2 a day.

Quote:
An interesting concept would be a 'Hunt' option on every skyland's mechanic: guaranteed combat every time you click it, but exponentially more difficult combats until you leave the skyland. Obviously some tweaking would have to be made to prevent 'abuse' by persistent players (vs. sporadic players).


An interesting notion. The strange thing is that it's very difficult to make a system that favors sporadic players over attentive players if it involves any form of game play.

Even if you could only click Hunt a certain number of times, attentive players will do it more. Even if there's a cool down, attentive players will be there sooner and grinding it again faster.

It almost feels like that the only way a sporadic player can be rewarded (to be better than an attentive player) is to provide a reward...for not playing. Maybe for every hour you're off line, your Skyrate gets a little more focused and better at what they do, so that when you do break focus you get some form of reward. That'd be tricky to balance between the two styles however, and may require providing each player a different kind of reward.

Quote:
As for cargo missions, the primary difficulty with sporadic play is the need to reduce/eliminate downtime. The devs have teased in-flight mission pick-up a couple of times and I think this is a spectacular idea, especially for cargo missions...except that once you're in flight you typically already have a cargo and a destination. One idea I've had is mission queuing, which would allow you to essentially 'radio ahead' to your next stop or ultimate destination, find out what's available, and schedule its pick-up. It's very rare that I actually schedule a full flight queue when running influence, because I simply don't need more than 4-6 legs to deliver all of my missions and return to my running location. (Being able to run influence for a skyland other than the one you're currently sitting on would add a lot more variety to the influence game, but I'm not sure how it would affect the sporadic play problem.)


Being able to pick up missions while you're in flight would be quite a pleasant bonus. Granted, per the above conversation, attentive players will still be able to do better, but perhaps something like this may narrow the gap slightly.

Quote:
Mission alternatives are probably the best solution to my complaints (and I really don't mean to be whining so much), provided that they encourage and/or reward sporadic play. Gaining influence for selling or buying specific goods at a skyland, total G-squig support of the economy on specific skylands, delivering specific goods to another skyland regardless of the source, these are all possibilities. Ultimately, I'd simply like to stay competitive if I can't log in for a day.


Hmm...is it at all the fact that combat guys can really direct their influence, whereas right now the more sporadic can't? Is that a major crux?


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:04 pm 
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Eskay wrote:
Could we trade some realism for some gameplay and allow players to fight their combats any time after they land (but before interacting with the Skyland)? This would go a huge way towards allowing more sporadic combat play, since you wouldn't have the situation of "I have to be back to my computer by 3 to do my combats".


We've thought about stuff like this, where actions and the like are cued up and then taken care of.

It would require some fundamental changes to a few things. Combat could no longer cause lost cargo, and we'd need to keep in mind concepts of when you repaired. We'd also have the cases of a person realizing they had to take care of 30 combats.

Now, what if it were more a case that combat didn't happen quite so randomly, but more whenever you had time for them. What if combats weren't random, but basically the player would get a 'looking for trouble' budget of points that they could spend anywhere at anytime to fight a combat. The points would accrue just whenever the player was flying around.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:29 pm 
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Chesterfield Taft wrote:
It almost feels like that the only way a sporadic player can be rewarded (to be better than an attentive player) is to provide a reward...for not playing. Maybe for every hour you're off line, your Skyrate gets a little more focused and better at what they do, so that when you do break focus you get some form of reward. That'd be tricky to balance between the two styles however, and may require providing each player a different kind of reward.

No, bad dev! No donuts for you! Actually, I just wanted to point out that this would unfairly impact people who wanted to be on to RP or just use the radio. Also people who log in to check their queue but don't actually make any changes. It would have to break when your queue was changed in order to really separate "playing" from "not playing but still here".

Then the problem becomes people in a Levi setting up lots of hunts and not logging in for two weeks, or depending on how it's coded just sitting on a skyland and not logging in for a long time. I suppose it all depends on what the bonus is.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:37 pm 
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KarHallarn wrote:
No, bad dev! No donuts for you! Actually, I just wanted to point out that this would unfairly impact people who wanted to be on to RP or just use the radio. Also people who log in to check their queue but don't actually make any changes. It would have to break when your queue was changed in order to really separate "playing" from "not playing but still here".


Yes, that's what I intended. Your Skyrate would remain focused so long as you weren't updating your queue and (potentially) doing combats.

Quote:
Then the problem becomes people in a Levi setting up lots of hunts and not logging in for two weeks, or depending on how it's coded just sitting on a skyland and not logging in for a long time. I suppose it all depends on what the bonus is.


There would, naturally, be an upper sanity limit (perhaps such that logging in once or twice a day was the optimal means of getting that value up), and you would need to be in flight.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:49 pm 
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I'd like to see combats be available to play through when the sporadic player logs in once a day, rather than lost to the autoresolver. Air combat is part of Skyrates's unique identity.

I'm not sure that cargo loss is really an important factor, but you could get around it by having combats lose money equal to the amount of the cargo that the pirates would have stolen, based on its purchase price, but never able to lower the player's cash below 0. This is now more punishing because of the way that purchase price was tweaked.

You could work this as follows:

* Player purchases cargo: his total 'cash value' is set to cargo * purchase price
* Player gets into combat and loses, where pirates would have stolen 10% of his cargo before, they now take 10% of his 'cash value'
* Pirates continue to take a percentage of the remaining 'cash value' - thus it is not possible to lose more than 100% of the purchase price of cargo, and if you're buying low, selling high, you can always make money
* Player sells remaining cargo, 'cash value' is reduced by cargo units sold * original purchase price

Anyway, I'd like to see more ways to earn influence than just doing missions. I already mentioned 'dumping goods that are scarce' as a method, and going to attack pirate fleets that are threatening skylands.

I'd like to see storyline missions. Right now missions are one-shot and blatantly obviously one-shots, even though the writing attempts to make them feel like continuations. Instead, what if when you took a mission, a new NPC appeared in the bar to allow you to continue the story from the next skyland, like the 'rescue my family from a pirate lord' bit? You might only be able to follow one storyline mission at a time, and each storyline mission might have a different NPC that'd appear in the bar.


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:13 pm 

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Chesterfield Taft wrote:
It would require some fundamental changes to a few things. Combat could no longer cause lost cargo, and we'd need to keep in mind concepts of when you repaired. We'd also have the cases of a person realizing they had to take care of 30 combats.


I understand the idea a bit differently, and I like it. Basically, what I interpret would work like this. In flight you'd rack up your combat icons. When you landed, those combats wouldn't go away -- but you wouldn't really land, either. As a player you'd return to the game and the skyland, you'd see those yellow icons, plus you'd see another button to autoresolve all those combats and actually land. You couldn't repair or sell or interact with the skyland in any way until either the combats are cleared or the new button's been pressed.

If the player doesn't have a queue, it could sit like that indefinitely. If the player does have a queue, then those combats go away as soon as the first part of the queue expires. Say there's a trade then a service queued, once that trade is about to take place (at the end of its block of time, 7 to 2 minutes depending on skills) then all those combats get AR'd and the trade is completed. This way all your cargo, ammo, and armor are lost just before your skyrate visits the trade and service shops.

I also like the idea Taft mentioned, of building up points of combats to spend later on. The game would need some way to let players AR those away.

And a really, really important thing would be to make the AR work exactly like the player. It should count kills toward missions, it should win and lose the same level combats, it should get the same cash reward instead of 1/3rd. If non-sporadic players get an influence/money advantage in manual combat, then make auto combat just as rewarding. Let us pick up a Craze or Crusade, queue two hunts for an hour and a half each, and return a few hours later with the missions completed and our guy ready to go again.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 2:21 pm 
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Navvy wrote:
I understand the idea a bit differently, and I like it. Basically, what I interpret would work like this. In flight you'd rack up your combat icons. When you landed, those combats wouldn't go away -- but you wouldn't really land, either. As a player you'd return to the game and the skyland, you'd see those yellow icons, plus you'd see another button to autoresolve all those combats and actually land. You couldn't repair or sell or interact with the skyland in any way until either the combats are cleared or the new button's been pressed.

If the player doesn't have a queue, it could sit like that indefinitely. If the player does have a queue, then those combats go away as soon as the first part of the queue expires. Say there's a trade then a service queued, once that trade is about to take place (at the end of its block of time, 7 to 2 minutes depending on skills) then all those combats get AR'd and the trade is completed. This way all your cargo, ammo, and armor are lost just before your skyrate visits the trade and service shops.

I would also suggest a button called "pause queue" so that if you were at the computer and wanted to fight all those combats before the queue triggered an autoresolve, you could.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:38 pm 
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Lynx Adorienne wrote:
I'd like to see storyline missions. Right now missions are one-shot and blatantly obviously one-shots, even though the writing attempts to make them feel like continuations. Instead, what if when you took a mission, a new NPC appeared in the bar to allow you to continue the story from the next skyland, like the 'rescue my family from a pirate lord' bit? You might only be able to follow one storyline mission at a time, and each storyline mission might have a different NPC that'd appear in the bar.


And would you need to be at the Skyland to continue the story? One thing to always be very careful of is when events resolve (especially considering some things happen when the player isn't there).


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PostPosted: Thu Jul 30, 2009 3:49 pm 

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I don't play the influence game because I don't see the point.
I mean, if there were player-owned skylands (or maybe even the fuel skylets, or other skylets?) that'd be awesome. You know, if you land at your own little place you could get free repairs and set the prices for repairs and such, and you'd have to bring in supplies to it to keep it working. That could have massive and dynamic repercussions across the entire game. Red blockades of trade routes by charging other factions a ton, etc etc.
I think if there was much more customizability and factional benefits and abilities to control skylands with an actual ingame benefit it'd be great!


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