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 Post subject: The Influence Game
PostPosted: Tue Jul 28, 2009 9:13 pm 
Flight Master

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This is an area for blue sky ideas. It is a place intended for both those who play the Influence Game and those that don't.

The developers already have a number of ideas about this realm, but we open the floor to you all. We may reveal possible implementation plans in good time, but for now we want to hear you.

If you do play the Influence Game, why? What started you and why do you continue? If you stopped, what stopped you?

If you've never played it, why is that? What's stopping you and what would entice you to do so?

What do you want in the Influence Game, and to a lesser degree, the factions?

More formalized structures of government? Formal leadership? Alliances & Wars with other factions? Clearer goals? Power for the governor? More power in general for the top influence earners? Voting abilities? NPC enemy influence runners? Better communication between players? Alternative means of earning influence?

I would say that while we'll be happy to listen to calls for new mission types, I don't think that's where the work will be focused on for this downtime. New missions may be added later on, but they should not require a big reset.

First a foreword:
An in-game effect for Skyland Ownership is very much desired, and we would greatly like to do that. We plan to start building the hooks for that. However, this likely will not go live until we wrangle a few issues (more tightly balancing the other numbers of the game and setting up tools to constantly be monitoring alt-abuse). Additionally, following changes to the Influence Game, we want to make sure that it's behaving well before we start introducing actual in game effects to it.

Skyland Ownership effects are planned, and they are not a year away, but I don't think they'll be there immediately after the reset.


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 Post subject: Re: The Influence Game
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 12:44 am 
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Lord Gilbert wrote:
If you've never played it, why is that? What's stopping you and what would entice you to do so?

A thing that I really enjoy about Skyrates is the side-by-side single-player gameplay in the shared world. I can compare my progress to other people's, but really my progress isn't at their expense or theirs at mine.

The influence game doesn't have that. It sorts you into local winners and local not. But maybe the endgame has to be like that: the only challenge that can scale with the players indefinitely is the players themselves. Am I doomed to check out partway through every round?

Lord Gilbert wrote:
What do you want in the Influence Game, and to a lesser degree, the factions?

To be honest I'm pretty much down with the factions as social clubs and RP constructs. I don't ask much of them mechanically, but that leaves plenty of room in their mechanics for pleasing somebody else.

Er ideas. We could show the different decision-making styles of each faction if there were some simple policy question to decide, and each faction could decide it by their own rules. For the size and shape of a policy question I'm thinking like the trade bars in Civ II: how much trade goes to taxation, how much to entertainment, how much to science? But here I don't know what that would be, unless the factions could somehow impact tax rates on the Skylands and put that money into something that helps Skyrates.

Lord Gilbert wrote:
An in-game effect for Skyland Ownership

Please go on; I'm interested what this could look like. I've heard a lot of proposals but nothing that seemed to me quite like something you'd be ready to implement.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:37 am 

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Eskay, I'm not really sure how the Influence game is any different than the Fame or Fortune Boards. There, you're still the winner if you're in the top spot (or in the top 10), just like in Influence. Just a different set of numbers to compare. Factional Influence just extends that to the faction, which I think gives more opportunities for RP, not less. It enables you to tie in the influence running into your RP (or change the way you run to match an RP goal).

One thing I think I remember someone mentioning once is to have Mission descriptions be customized for your faction, at least some of them. For example, maybe Eltsina's Boon becomes Islo's Discovery or Fuseli's Battleplans (or something that doesn't sound quite as dumb) if you're in Blue or Red. This doesn't really add anything, but I think it'd be a neat way to polish the game a bit.

I think that the Factional Influence game is probably best without being able to affect the rest of the game too much. Make it so the top faction gets all the bonuses, and you put all the others at a disadvantage when a new player is trying to decide their faction.

Individual governorships, however, don't have this problem, and giving them some sort of benefits would be pretty cool. Common ideas I've heard included reduced prices for planes, guns, upgrades, more tax reduction on trades, or a daily "paycheck" (free money, pretty much).

Oh, and for the reason why I run influence: I enjoy the competition, and I'm not completely horrible at it like I am in more games than I'd like to admit. Also, running for a faction has a way to really build up camaraderie between its members.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:50 am 

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I agree with Eskay's sentiments. Even if there were the option to actually change the game world through influence, I'd still play it as a single-player game with a community. Some way to compete with the few people I know from real life would be fun, though.

Rather than build tools to monitor alt-abuse, I recommend modifying the client so it's alt-aware. Players could select their main character, and only that character can gain factional mission influence. There would be details to figure out, but that make it easier for the players as well: alts could be in whatever faction makes sense for RP, and they could run missions without the player having to worry about abuse.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 2:52 am 

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I started running influence after I hit t-9 with 65 mil. I really wanted to see what it was all about. Now I'm back to trading and this is why:

Playing the inf game doesn't give you ANY advantage at all. It would be different if it did and there would be more people playing it. The advantage could be different tax levels for the factions at an island - the highest would get the biggest tax break, the lowest would get nothing.

Basically - it doesn't matter what the reward for the inf game would be - if there was one I'd play it.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:06 am 

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If the influence game were not changed except to add some kind of incentive - such as tax levels - I would probably just join the 'winning' faction and not run missions.

As long as influence running is mostly dependent on time rather than skill, I feel there's little point in trying to compete. Because I'd lose? Well, in some sense, that's undeniably true.

I personally think the current faction/team setup encourages clickish-ness and asshole behavior, as well as creating obvious balance issues. My idea for a solution would be to either have rewards based on individual contributions, rather than aggregate achievement, or else to make teams/factions assigned, rather than selected.

Or else have competition take place not between everybody in the whole game, but only small pools. ForumWarz does this (kind of) for their competition - players are put into a pool for competition with only a small, randomly chosen set of players involved. Results are determined within that pool, and the pools are shuffled every week.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:47 am 

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so how about the rewards for inf running are single-player too?
let's say, for every 250k of influence, you get 1% off taxes on that skyland?

factional influence, on the other hand, does nothing for you - or maybe every 1M you run for the faction gets you a 1% off on all faction skylands


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:53 am 

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Since this is for blue-sky ideas, here's one: let factions control some aspects of how Skytopia runs and operates. There would be a formal decision-making process, so it's clearly stated exactly how each faction wants things to run, and the game world would change to reflect this based on skyland control.

Faction-controlled aspects could include combat bounties, trade tax levels, queued servicing duration, and costs of planes/guns/upgrades/fuel. This could represent how taxes are used, and factions would choose how they'd like perks to be balanced. So, the benefits are exactly the same for everyone regardless of faction, but factional politics determines exactly which benefits everyone receives.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:07 am 

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Istatay wrote:
Since this is for blue-sky ideas, here's one: let factions control some aspects of how Skytopia runs and operates. There would be a formal decision-making process, so it's clearly stated exactly how each faction wants things to run, and the game world would change to reflect this based on skyland control.

Faction-controlled aspects could include combat bounties, trade tax levels, queued servicing duration, and costs of planes/guns/upgrades/fuel. This could represent how taxes are used, and factions would choose how they'd like perks to be balanced. So, the benefits are exactly the same for everyone regardless of faction, but factional politics determines exactly which benefits everyone receives.


Who in the faction gets to set those things? Why wouldn't they set all those costs to zero? What happens when no skylands want to sell nomads, because they're all selling ingersols and t-bolts? Who gets the money that others pay for fuel, etc.? If a player gets it, who? And why doesn't the money go to the citizen that sold the fuel in the first place? "Control" of a skyland shouldn't be considered OWNING THE ENTIRE SKYLAND - that's completely ridiculous. These ideas are crazy for the same reason letting players set the price of commodities would be crazy - First, it's supposed to be governed by supply and demand, but also, these prices are supposed to be balanced, and letting players change them by whim would harm that balance. Also, what happens when the Plaid Faction takes over the core, and starts charging enough money for fuel that new players actually CAN'T make a profit? There are tons of problems with this, and I'm not sure they have any good solutions.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:24 am 

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I wonder if perhaps raising the tax level on goods or increasing the price of fuel could be linked into to the lowering the cost of planes and upgrades kind of like the extra money is being used as a subsidy? And that perhaps it would have to be voted on once over a 48 hour period by anyone that logged on similar to the honour / inf system? Just a thought as to how that sort of thing could be managed.

The other is again that the controlling faction maybe votes on what should be produced at a given skyland, representing subsidies being handed out to, for example, the oil industry to get them to produce more.

As Grant pointed out, there has to be both an up and a down side to any decisions that are taken, otherwise there will just be one optimal route.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:30 am 

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Grant wrote:
"Control" of a skyland shouldn't be considered OWNING THE ENTIRE SKYLAND - that's completely ridiculous. These ideas are crazy for the same reason letting players set the price of commodities would be crazy

Total agreement here. A system where factions have complete control without limits would of course be ludicrous, and bears very little resemblance to what I was thinking. Let me clarify.

There would be a limited amount of "benefit points" that factions could choose how to distribute. The devs would choose how much this can affect the game, how many benefit points each benefit costs, and what limits there are. It would be rather like skill points. How the distribution is chosen would be up to each factional government: maybe a faction forms a council to decide, or maybe there's a poll and all members get to vote. It just needs to be formalized and unambiguous.

There are different ways this could be implemented, but I was thinking that the actual distribution of benefits would be dependent on ALL the factions. Say Crimson Armada has 40% control in a skyland, and the others 15% each. The skyland's actual policy would be a weighted average of all the policies, skewed towards Crimson Armada.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:32 am 

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Istatay wrote:
Total agreement here. A system where factions have complete control without limits would of course be ludicrous, and bears very little resemblance to what I was thinking. Let me clarify.

There would be a limited amount of "benefit points" that factions could choose how to distribute. The devs would choose how much this can affect the game, how many benefit points each benefit costs, and what limits there are. It would be rather like skill points. How the distribution is chosen would be up to each factional government: maybe a faction forms a council to decide, or maybe there's a poll and all members get to vote. It just needs to be formalized and unambiguous.

There are different ways this could be implemented, but I was thinking that the actual distribution of benefits would be dependent on ALL the factions. Say Crimson Armada has 40% control in a skyland, and the others 15% each. The skyland's actual policy would be a weighted average of all the policies, skewed towards Crimson Armada.


Fair enough! That sounds much more reasonable.

I personally wonder how interesting this would be if it were subject to reasonable constraints. Honestly, I think nobody worries about fuel prices to begin with, it's a complete non-issue once you've moved out of a CRAP. If they're set at half or at double, it'll still be the auto-pilot buying fuel regardless, and you're likely to not even notice.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 4:45 am 

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Yeah, fuel prices wouldn't be interesting enough to warrant a benefit. I was just throwing out some ideas. If enough people are interested, I'll start a benefit brainstorming thread.

The problem I'm trying to solve is that we want some in-game effect from the influence game, but don't want people to join whichever faction gives the best bonus. Joining a faction because you like its policy and want to spread it is quite different from joining the largest faction just to get the biggest tax break.


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 Post subject: Re: The Influence Game
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 5:00 am 

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Lord Gilbert wrote:
If you do play the Influence Game, why? What started you and why do you continue?


Personally, I hit a wall when I maxed out all my skills and had $100M+ in the bank with nothing to spend it on. The Influence Game represented a new- and constantly shifting- set of goals to pursue.

What I like about it most is that it gives an opportunity to interact with other members of my faction, and to work as a team to achieve a goal. I don't really RP, so Influence gives me a social outlet, and I've always loved games that encourage teamwork and communication.

One idea would be to give more of a role to Wings. Influence could be tracked for each Wing, both in total and per skyland. Maybe a title could be given to a skyland's leading Wing-- for example, if the highest-inf individual is the Governor, maybe the highest Wing could be the legislative branch (Senate, Parliament, etc)? Or maybe some executive-checking body (Tribunes, High Council, etc.)? There could even be different titles on each skyland, representing regional variations in government. Seems like this could open up some RP opportunities, in addition to the extra competition.

Another idea would be to allow Skyrates to declare citizenship to a particular skyland. Citizenship could grant some small boon, say a 10% inf increase or access to special high-level missions. This would give a slight boost to Skyrates seeking governorship (after all, you have to be a citizen before you can run for office), but would limit their advantage to one skyland. Obviously there would have to be some incentive to keep people from switching citizenship all the time-- maybe the application could cost a decent bit of money and take a few days to "process". Or, switching would wipe out all your influence on the previous skyland, similar to changing your faction.

Just a couple ideas, feel free to tear them up...


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:06 am 

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It all sounds good to me. Citizenship in particular is neat, and I don't think I've seen that idea before.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:14 am 

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The only problem I have with citizenship is how it limits governorships. First, nobody would be able to become governor for quite some time, depending on how expensive the cost is to be granted citizenship. Second, you'd be arbitrarily limited to exactly one governorship. I don't mind the influence boost, but governorships should be wholly separate, I think. I would suggest that maybe you can become dual/triple/...-citizen at multiple skylands, but the cost for citizenship would double after each one.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:25 am 

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Oh I agree, sorry I think I worded that poorly. I didn't meant to imply that you have to be a citizen to earn a governorship, only that it would help a little on that skyland. You could still earn governorships on multiple skylands, but you'd have a slight advantage on your 'home' skyland.

Also I like your idea about multiple citizenships and laddered costs.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 6:35 am 

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Istatay wrote:
The problem I'm trying to solve is that we want some in-game effect from the influence game, but don't want people to join whichever faction gives the best bonus. Joining a faction because you like its policy and want to spread it is quite different from joining the largest faction just to get the biggest tax break.


I actually like the idea of joining a faction to get a tax break, because I think that RP is lame. I'm actually being serious. The idea of joining a faction because of some wiki article you read about it's "history" is really unappealing to me.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:02 am 
Flight Master

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In regard to giving governor's additional powers, I will say we are hesitant to spend too much time on that. The governorships are a competition that most people do not involve themselves in. It would be a nice small feature, but we're not sure how big a priority.

Quote:
The problem I'm trying to solve is that we want some in-game effect from the influence game, but don't want people to join whichever faction gives the best bonus. Joining a faction because you like its policy and want to spread it is quite different from joining the largest faction just to get the biggest tax break.


Let's do chat about people evacuating their faction for the one that's winning. Most games that involve some form of territory control avoid this this via having 'faction' selection be part of character creation and make leaving that faction impossible. At the moment, we have it such that each faction can only be joined once.

Absolutely, absolutely you do get cases where, "Oh yeah, that server's an Alliance server" because one faction has a perceived (or actual) majority, but I think there are methods around this as well. I will say the 'factional majority' tends to be more a problem where there are only two sides. Odd numbers of sides are conducive to providing instability usually by some teams working together against a bigger threat.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Jul 29, 2009 7:21 am 

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Grant wrote:
The idea of joining a faction because of some wiki article you read about it's "history" is really unappealing to me.

Same here.

Lord Gilbert wrote:
Let's do chat about people evacuating their faction for the one that's winning.

One solution is to not equate "winning" with advantages. With my proposed benefit system, players would get the most personal benefit by joining the faction whose benefits best match their play style, regardless of its size and success. It makes faction politics more meaningful than size.

For example, if the Crimson Armada has the most combat-friendly benefits, then the more control they have on a skyland, the better it is for combat pilots. If you're a combat pilot, joining the Armada would then mean that each mission you run makes Skytopia just a little better for you and the way you play, even if it's losing. If you're not a combat pilot, there's no reason at all to jump ship, even if the Armada is winning .

For me, one of the attractions to this idea is that it's truly community-driven and dynamic. I can't predict how it would evolve. Would min-maxing or balanced factions be more popular? Will players try to push their own agenda or try to be fair to all? It makes the game and individual skylands more varied and dynamic, and gives factions more significance whether or not you RP or even run missions.


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