Progenitor Mine, a Daily PvP Territory Control Objective

Recatek

Meat Popsicle
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
286
#1
Since FB is beginning to consider features for the next roadmap and future updates (judging by the creation of the council), I thought it would be a good time to return to the topic of activities and content in Starbase. I'm particularly interested in fun things to do for daily player retention and giving players reasons to log in tomorrow after logging off today. I originally discussed that in a PvE(vP) context with Rogue Drones, and if you haven't read that post, I'd recommend doing that for context on this one. Today I'd like to discuss more explicitly PvP and territory-oriented points of interest (POIs). This thread proposes the Progenitor Mine, a PvP territory control objective designed for daily PvP at group sizes beginning with 2-6 players.

Note: Any number in [brackets] is a ballpark number and shouldn't be taken at face value without tweaking. Some points are (Optional) and would be nice to have, but aren't critical to the core concept.

Revision 2: 28 Dec 2021, previous revisions: R1
Progenitor Mine
Ancient and enigmatic, progenitor mining stations predate Endo expansion into the Eos system by millions of years. Little is understood about these structures, their origin, or how they remain operational despite their age. Immovable and impervious to our weapons, these megaliths synthesize advanced compounds from ambient gasses, stoically persisting in autonomous service to creators long since vanished.
  • Progenitor Mines are dev-placed stations deep in the belt at fixed locations far away from dev safe zones.
  • Progenitor Mines are rare. The Eos belt, for example, may have at most 10 or 20 of them scattered throughout.
  • Progenitor Mines interfere with Endo shielding and warp technology.
    • Stations may not be built within [20km] of a Progenitor Mine (to ensure an unprotected gap between any player stations and the mine).
    • Capital ships, civilian or military, may not warp within [20km] of a Progenitor Mine.
  • Progenitor Mines have no safe zone, and PvP can freely occur in or around the structure.
  • Progenitor Mines can not be entirely destroyed by players.
    • Option A: The mine's structure is impervious to all damage and collision.
    • Option B: The mine's structure is vulnerable to damage, but automatically self-repairs between activity windows.
  • (Optional) Progenitor Mines are protected by NPC auto-turrets.
    • These turrets automatically engage any ship or player during the activity window, until they are destroyed.
    • If destroyed, an auto-turret will automatically repair itself before the next activity window.
Activity Window
  • Every [11] hours, the Progenitor Mine becomes active for 1 hour.
    • Different mines are active at different times of day, to account for players from different time zones.
    • A given mine is active at the same time(s) each day, every day (e.g. 7am-8am and 7pm-8pm, every day).
  • While the Progenitor Mine is active, a player can enter the structure and interact with the control console.
    • The structure interior is designed to be an Endo-only combat space, too confined for ship combat.
    • The control console and its immediate surroundings are impervious to all damage.
    • "Hacking" the the control console requires a [120] second interaction period, represented by a progress bar.
      • The player must stay within [3m] of the console after beginning the hack.
      • Firing a weapon, leaving the maximum range, or taking damage will interrupt the hack.
        • If interrupted, the player's interaction progress is reset to the full time.
    • Successfully hacking the control console will grant the player storage access to the station.
      • A player's storage access is removed and reset when that mine's next activity window begins.
      • Player storage access is unlocked on a per-mine basis, and does not carry over between mines.
    • Any number of players can interact with the control console and get station storage access.
Rewards
  • During the activity window, the Progenitor Mine will begin producing a rare/exclusive and desirable resource into its storage.
    • This resource production occurs on 6 minute ticks. An activity window will have 10 such ticks.
    • Resource production ticks occur only when the Progenitor Mine is active. (Why? Answered below.)
  • Resources remain in the Progenitor Mine's storage until collected or until the next activity window begins.
  • A resource bridge connection is available at a docking area on the Progenitor Mine for collecting and transferring this resource.
    • This resource bridge can only be used by a player that has obtained storage access during this activity window.
    • Resource transfer is one-way -- no materials or resources can be inserted into the mine's storage.
  • (Optional) This resource is highly radioactive and ships carrying it are easy to detect and ambush.
Q&A
Why all of... (gestures wildly at the above) this?
I discuss this in depth in the Rogue Drones thread so I'm not going to rehash it too much here. Starbase needs things to do. Players can't be relied upon to make all of those things to do, especially when there are so few players to begin with. We're in a situation where players aren't playing because there isn't anything to do because players aren't creating the content because players aren't playing because... you get the idea. Having the game itself give more things for players to do brings more players into the world, which in turn means more players will be creating more content for other players. The game needs more of an initial hook to build and keep player content momentum, and part of creating that hook is providing some baseline gameplay content that doesn't require a lot of player-work to function.

But we have station sieges, and will eventually have moon base sieges and passive production. Again, why this?
This is intended for smaller groups who want something to do every night. Sieges are big events. They require a lot of investment on both the attacker's side (military capital ship) and defender's side (a station worth attacking). They aren't going to happen every day, and a typical player probably shouldn't expect to participate in one more than once a week or two. One side of a siege will also always lose something big and expensive, so every siege is a big risk. By contrast, Progenitor Mines require no upfront cost from any interested party other than "show up here at the right time". The rewards should be just enough that players want to fight over and capture these things for them, but not enough that corps are going to rage-uninstall when they lose the fight. This is a fun, low-investment and high-engagement activity that gives players things to do and fight over without putting a lot on the line each time.

How do you envision this playing out? What's the player story here?
It's Wednesday night. I just had a great time playing with my amazing corpmates in Starbase, my favorite video game, but it's late and I need to log off for the night. Tomorrow, I'm going to log on at around 6:30pm in time for the activity window on the mine closest to our corp's station. There's another corp nearby and we've been fighting over this mine every night. Those jerks! Tomorrow night, it's ours! After logging on, we'll rally up a squad of around 5 players, split between two ships, and make our way to the mine. The window starts at 7pm, and we'll arrive at around 7:20pm to see JerkCorp loading up a transport with the resources being produced. After a dogfight, we'll manage to blow it up, but a number of their endos will have bailed from their ship and gone inside the station to block our access the control console. We'll blow up any remaining defense turrets and land on the station's loading dock. We'll dismount and make our way inside the station. After fighting our way through down a series of hallways (I'll kill someone while walking on the ceiling! So cool!), we'll get to the control console and set up to defend the doors. I'll begin hacking the control console and eventually get station storage access. We'll let the rest of our corp know that the coast is clear, and our transporter will show up a little while later to collect the generated resources after I set up the resource bridge connection for them. After the activity window ends, we'll head home with a full transport and hope we aren't ambushed on the way back by a JerkCorp counter-attack.

This is gamey and artificial! This sucks! What about my organic entirely player-driven world?
Answered in depth in the Rogue Drones thread.

Indestructible? But this is a fully destructible voxel world!
Let's be real, this mechanic wouldn't last more than a week if these stations were destructible.

Why are resources only produced during the activity window?
Attaching a time limit to a point of interest or hotspot helps ensure that all interested players show up at the same time. This maximizes the chance of actual PvP and interesting interactions. It avoids situations where players passively siphon off of the mine during off-hours without running the risk of being attacked.

Why are activity windows on a fixed and predictable time?
Two reasons. First, it's so people with other things to do can plan their play time and coordinate group play sessions around mine timers. Second, it ensures that everyone on all sides will know ahead of time when and where to be to shoot at each other for maximum PvP fun.

Happy to discuss any thoughts or feedback. I'm not too concerned about the lore, or even the visuals/skinning of the idea. The point is to create a low-investment, low-risk PvP objective for people to participate in at a predictable time and place without putting something as big as a station or capital ship on the line. Hopefully that's the point that comes across here using this as a skeleton framework for discussion.
 
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CalenLoki

Master endo
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
741
#2
Nice idea. I worry that it may just end up with a single big faction rolling through the mines, without really giving small factions much chance. But certainly it wouldn't harm.

My question is: why there is invulnerability period in the first place?
There's nothing to do on those stations during invulnerability, and you plan to provide enough stations to cover all time zones anyway. You'd get the same effect with a single station running 24/7. Extraction of treasures would be done using tanky haulers during combat (new type of ship currently pretty useless).

Only difference would be that a single faction wouldn't have to fly from one mine to another after the vulnerability window closes.
On one hand that could lead to monopoly, if the faction is strong enough.
On the other it could prevent oligopol, where multiple powerful (but not allied) factions decide to split mines between them. Scarcity brings conflict.
It would also allow playing more flexibly. Some people never know at what time they can log into the game.

Mine could just as well have space for only a single "treasure". And if there's nobody to pick it out of the device, the next one won't spawn after that 6 minute tick.

Regarding station layout - I'd go for gradually reduction of combat scale, rather than jumping straight from open-space to infantry-only.
I.e. outer layer is open space, where you can fly freely and only care about collisions with other ships and wrecks.
Then there is layer with few long antennas, maybe with some "bunkers" on them for cover.
Then layer with narrow "streets" between structures, wide corridors and large halls. So ships can enter, but need to fly slowly and carefully.
And then finally narrow chockepoints and corridors suitable just for infantry. That's where the wealth generators would sit.

Regarding station destruction: It could be done, if the station has some way to regenerate. I.e. depending on current damage level, each second/minute/hour it regenerates one component. So it never heals completely, but never vanishes either. The only indestructible part would be the core of the station.
 
Joined
May 13, 2020
Messages
1
#3
Someone will try and build over these points regardless. I lack insight over the kind of gameplay features this represent and its impact on a game like Starbase so I can't provide input as of now...I really need to play more Starbase...
 

Recatek

Meat Popsicle
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
286
#4
Nice idea. I worry that it may just end up with a single big faction rolling through the mines, without really giving small factions much chance. But certainly it wouldn't harm.
Yeah, it's a valid concern, but these would be pretty rare and spread out throughout a belt. If you have 10 in the Eos belt, you're looking at hours of travel time to visit each, tons of fuel spent, and so on. The ideal is to make them something that you'd want to park a station fairly close to and "live" near, and that other corps would do the same, so the game would organically get these lovely little neighborhoods of stations run by opposing corps that are all fighting each other for said mine (and other cool POIs) nearby. Of course, you don't want the stations to be right on top of the mine, so nobody gets too much of a home field advantage in the contest fights. Hence the large exclusion radius.

My question is: why there is invulnerability period in the first place?
There's nothing to do on those stations during invulnerability, and you plan to provide enough stations to cover all time zones anyway. You'd get the same effect with a single station running 24/7. Extraction of treasures would be done using tanky haulers during combat (new type of ship currently pretty useless).
So this goes back to the "why should station sieges be declared ahead of time?" question I talked about years ago*. PvP needs a few ingredients to occur. You need at least two players on opposite teams, in the same place, at the same time, and at least one has to be ready/willing to risk or force a fight. With that in mind, there's a few issues with "always available" hotspots, but the main two are:

1) There's no guarantee that, whenever you go to them, there will be someone else there to fight. I could go there for an hour, collect resources for a bit, and leave. Then 20 minutes later, you could do the same, and we'd never see each other. That's nice in a "I'd love to get free resources" sense but pretty lame in a "I'd love to have a good PvP fight" context. You're leaving the frequency of PvP encounters mostly to chance.

2) Always-available hotspots create what I call "babysitting behaviors". If you never know when something you care about may be attacked, and you have limited options for getting to it if it is attacked, your only option to protect it is to just sit at it and watch it all day. This isn't really engaging gameplay. Most people don't want to be a video game security guard for hours on-end, and even if you do get attacked, you're more likely to be AFK or alt+tabbed watching YouTube than you are to be alert and ready to defend yourself.

Limiting the mines to one-hour windows once or twice a day clearly signals to players that those are the times you should go there if you want some action and PvP. Limiting the resource spawning also to that period creates a carrot incentive and pushes players to take the risk of going there exactly when a fight is most likely. The trick here is getting everything to all happen at the same time to ensure conflict. Afterwards, having the invulnerable period where nothing bad can happen to the thing you fought for frees you to not worry about it for a while, so you can then spend that time going off and doing other fun things in the game rather than being on babysitting duty. This is all mostly the same logic that applies to station sieges -- minimize downtime, reward risk-taking, and allow players to schedule their limited gameplay time in a way that's mostly likely to deliver maximum fun per hour.

* - You might notice that I argue against daily vulnerability windows in that post. That's with the idea in mind that stations are expensive and very painful to lose. Mines are supposed to be pretty painless to lose, and the vulnerability period is shorter than a siege, so I think they're a good application of daily windows. If you don't show up to defend it isn't the end of the world, but it's nice to do (and you're rewarded for doing so). A handshake/declared siege system for each mine would be kinda overkill, though some in-game indication that your mine is under attack would be nice for the owning corp.

Only difference would be that a single faction wouldn't have to fly from one mine to another after the vulnerability window closes.
On one hand that could lead to monopoly, if the faction is strong enough.
On the other it could prevent oligopol, where multiple powerful (but not allied) factions decide to split mines between them. Scarcity brings conflict.
It would also allow playing more flexibly. Some people never know at what time they can log into the game.

Mine could just as well have space for only a single "treasure". And if there's nobody to pick it out of the device, the next one won't spawn after that 6 minute tick.
You're right about a corp being able to potentially move from one mine window to the next in a cycle. Corps dividing up mines rather than fighting over them is also a risk, though I think there are enough chaotic players/corps to make that unlikely to last long. I think you can address both of these with mine scheduling. Basically, you don't need to have a mine open every hour of the day. If it were up to me I'd look at playerbase activity times, identify a peak hour for maybe the 3 or 4 most popular time zones (NA, EU, AU, etc.) and have multiple mines in very different parts of the game world open during each. So for example, during NA prime time at around 7pm, I'd have two mines open on opposite ends of the Eos belt. The likelihood that a single corp could lock both down at once, or would want to, is pretty slim just due to the travel times involved.

I think what's more likely in that scenario is that a given corp would claim territory near one mine that aligns timezone-wise with the majority of its players. Similarly, due to the scarcity and desirability of mines, rival corps would also gravitate to that same mine and establish competing outposts nearby. This has a nice knock-on effect of creating clusters/neighborhoods of stations of PvP rivals that are all active around the same time zone and thus more likely to fight over other resources in the region besides just this mine.

Regarding station layout - I'd go for gradually reduction of combat scale, rather than jumping straight from open-space to infantry-only.
I.e. outer layer is open space, where you can fly freely and only care about collisions with other ships and wrecks.
Then there is layer with few long antennas, maybe with some "bunkers" on them for cover.
Then layer with narrow "streets" between structures, wide corridors and large halls. So ships can enter, but need to fly slowly and carefully.
And then finally narrow chockepoints and corridors suitable just for infantry. That's where the wealth generators would sit.
Yeah, this is a super important point. One of the really nice things about a dev-placed station like this is that they can actually engineer the "level design" of the fighting spaces to be evenly fun for both sides. Unless FB gets really good with imposing design constraints on player station builders, most player-built bases/stations are going to be as defensible and unfun/meatgrindery for the attackers as the defenders can manage. But Frozenbyte doesn't have a dog in this mine fight, so they can design the space to optimize for fun and cool engagement angles and cover and the like for both sides rather than optimize for maximum meatgrinding in favor of the defenders. A progression like you describe would be very neat and would be pretty different I think than what you're likely to get in a player station fight, and would be really nice for gameplay variety.

Regarding station destruction: It could be done, if the station has some way to regenerate. I.e. depending on current damage level, each second/minute/hour it regenerates one component. So it never heals completely, but never vanishes either. The only indestructible part would be the core of the station.
True yeah. This is what I suggest for the turrets, that they heal up during the invulnerability period so they're ready to go during the next vulnerable window. I think it's important that the mine is "fresh" for each vulnerability window, and also I don't want the repairs to be a cost to the owning players. It's very important that these mines are not too precious to the corp owning them. They should change hands pretty frequently and that should be okay -- you shouldn't lose a mine and suddenly be out a ton of resources you sunk into it like you would be if you had lost a station. That's what sieges are all about given the much higher stakes.
 
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mrchip

Well-known endo
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
50
#5
There's stuff i completely agree with, and there's a few concerns.

First concern... Remember the "no offline raiding" thing? Yeah. It flies out the window here.
I suppose the scarcity of these POI is supposed to mitigate this... but it won't solve it.
1 person can just park a civ cap at the distance limit, log in at the end of each vulnerability winow, see if anyone's there to guard it, if so, back to the capital and try another day, if not, it's free real estate. Click the button and wait 2 minutes. Boom, it's yours.
Always take the produced materials to your civ cap before the next window, and if you want to, collecting a single window's materials might be enough to satisfy you and then whenever someone bothers to retake it, you'll let them.
What an epic battle.
I can even imagine the scenario of 2 or 3 of these caps doing the same, they meet and they just agree to form a queue to each milk the station a little bit.

This may be mitigated by allowing the owner to define an attacking window. No, this doesn't solve it like in stations. Because in stations you have siege mechanics. That window of time, is an opening that allows attackers to announce a siege. The siege will notify owners days in advance.
Here, if you wanted to truly defend it, you would have to log in and stay online at every single window.
So i guess that's my second concern. That keeping these might be a pain, or even outright never worth it.

Third concern is that this has to sit in a very precise spot in terms of how much it produces and how much it typically costs to capture.
Of course, it needs to make a profit, or else... well... you waste ships to capture it, the station gives you stuff, but overall you lost resources. The loosing side's losses are even worse, but guess what. You can avoid the losses altogether by... completely forgetting the existence of this feature in the videogame.
But what i mean is, will there be a slice of the playerbase that can use Progenitor Mines as a viable source of income?
Will there be players that actually think the activity is worth it?
In a world where mega factions are going to build ridiculously overpowered production stations, and new players can barely afford a small mining ship, how many players are actually in that thin spot inbetween where wasting a dozen of combat ships is acceptable to get a smaller reward than what they would get from being part of a large faction?
And even if the large factions have better ways to gain resources, what prevents overpowered teams from annihilating those less powerful player groups and taking almost permanent ownership of these?
What about pirates? "More content"? What about large pirate factions? Wouldn't they almost permanently camp these stations, since the people that are supposed to come there are the just right level of player, where it's not a highly militarized and proficient mega faction, but it's not 2 friends in starter ships, so the salvage is good, AND they also get the materials from the station...

Fourth concern is that the station amount is fixed, the playerbase is not fixed, and the demand is also not fixed (balance may change it, regardless of player count).
But this might be solvable by creating an excessive amount of these stations, and letting the devs deactivate or reactivate some over time.

And last... The "produce stuff during the vulnerability window" has problems.
You just need to wait for the window to be over, or almost over, and then take everything. You can now forget about the station until the next window. Even if it gets retaken, the only materials you're missing are the ones that are produced after it is taken from you.
Couple this with the fact that civilian capital ships are obviously the perfect tool to pair with these stations, the materials you take will be completely safe the moment they get in your capital ship.
Actually, a lot of what makes this sketchy relates to interactions with civ caps. If there was a huge zone that disallows them, it would increase engagement. Which... might be a bad thing, given that you can be attacked at any moment without warning.


But i completely agree that the game needs a baseline of content. I'm not bothered at all by introducing small "gamey" elements like this, i think it's totally worth it, and probably necessary.
I don't see the "nice to have, but painless to loose" as something that works in this context: even if it is painless to loose, the lack of the stuff it produces means there is something to loose regardless, and if you lower how much it produces, then the entire thing isnt even worth it anymore.

I think something much simpler, like temporary and auto generated ore hotspots, would do the same trick of "player magnet" without any of the strings attached. (something like a comet titan asteroid, appears in the belt for idk 30 minutes or so)
You find it on your rad scanner if you're within reasonable travel range, if you want to you can fly to it and if there's people you might fight for it.
 

mrchip

Well-known endo
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
50
#6
Also, wow i just had the realization of just how big of a leap of faith Starbase's current policy of relying on players to be the source of content is...
It's so risky... and neither us or the devs have confirmation that this even possible at all... let alone work well...
 

LauriFB

Administrator
Moderator
Frozenbyte
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
203
#7
From development perspective, there's a lot of siege features coming which could be used in this:
  • Destruction for the fun and tactics. We have the tech, and there's also coming support for auto-repair (with resources on player stations). This would mean that for the event station the repair could happen every time it's not under fighting.
  • Destruction from level design perspective. Level designing a huge station with action in mind is not easy, fast or our core competence. But if we pair it with destruction/siege repair it then doesn't matter that much since players can fix our leveldesign flaws.
  • Siege capture mechanics. Siege capture is based on station layers and capture unit is one build area. Similarly, this station could have different areas, and to reach to the core, the outer layers need to be captured first, just like in regular siege. As a bonus, every capture area could generate rewards for it's owner, so smaller teams could also run for a quick, small payout on one or a few areas.
To have a controllable risk/reward, we would need to tune risks to nearly non-existent (ie. free teleport to the site), easy way to obtain/bring enough weapons/other stuff, maybe the first station being inside a safe zone to allow flying and storing ship nearby. This way the rewards could be kept in balance.

As for the actual development, this is still something which would need to be done properly, so I'd say it's 6-10 months on top of completed siege mechanics.

As for does this type of activities fit to the game, that's something for everyone to discuss.

As for does this feature take time from other features, well, if done the smart way, not that much. But smart way usually involves a bit more work even, in this case it would mean creating a support for player-made very large structures and then treating those as dev-made structures would be (ie. kind of permanency).
 
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
17
#8
It's not even a real choice between Station Sieges and this Progenitor Mine. Since you learn to mine by the end of the tutorial, it means a much larger participation rate compared to having to build a station (or join a clan w/ one) to begin with, I think the devs underestimate how many casuals there are who could use a little more hand holding.
 

Recatek

Meat Popsicle
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
286
#9
1 person can just park a civ cap at the distance limit, log in at the end of each vulnerability winow, see if anyone's there to guard it, if so, back to the capital and try another day, if not, it's free real estate. Click the button and wait 2 minutes. Boom, it's yours.
Always take the produced materials to your civ cap before the next window, and if you want to, collecting a single window's materials might be enough to satisfy you and then whenever someone bothers to retake it, you'll let them.
What an epic battle.
I can even imagine the scenario of 2 or 3 of these caps doing the same, they meet and they just agree to form a queue to each milk the station a little bit.
This is possible, but I don't want to let perfect be the enemy of good here. Yes, mines will sometimes be uncontested during their vulnerability, but if they're rare enough (again, we're talking about a handful of them at most in the game, like one for every thousand DAU) and desirable enough, there will be fights at them. You can increase the chance of this by having the mine better advertise when there are players there. I suggest a notification to the owning company/faction that the mine is being captured, but you can go further. A bright beacon on the mine visible from a far distance that changes color when anyone is near it during the vulnerability window would be an extra incentive to come check it out. This makes it harder to get away with just passively collecting resources without someone else getting curious.

As for multiple players arriving and agreeing to split the mine, I don't even think that's a bad thing. Diplomacy and negotiation is also interesting gameplay, and then you have the added tension of potential betrayal. I think that's cool!

This may be mitigated by allowing the owner to define an attacking window. No, this doesn't solve it like in stations. Because in stations you have siege mechanics. That window of time, is an opening that allows attackers to announce a siege. The siege will notify owners days in advance.
Here, if you wanted to truly defend it, you would have to log in and stay online at every single window.
So i guess that's my second concern. That keeping these might be a pain, or even outright never worth it.
It's a tradeoff. Handshake sieges are important for stations because you have a lot to lose and a siege window is potentially pretty long. As a defender you also have no incentive or reward for defending your station during a siege other than just not losing it. These mines are different in those three ways: losing a mine is pretty painless since you aren't sinking any cost into it, the window is a shorter time if you do want to babysit it, and you get a reward (special mine resources) for babysitting even if nobody shows up. I think these differences make mines a better candidate for timed windows rather than handshake sieges. Yes, you'll lose a mine offline from time to time, but you wouldn't have been there to collect during that time anyway, so it isn't a huge loss. The only real benefit to holding the mine during non-vulnerable hours is that it's a tiny safe zone your company can use out in the belt somewhere for repairs and such.

Third concern is that this has to sit in a very precise spot in terms of how much it produces and how much it typically costs to capture.
Of course, it needs to make a profit, or else... well... you waste ships to capture it, the station gives you stuff, but overall you lost resources. The loosing side's losses are even worse, but guess what. You can avoid the losses altogether by... completely forgetting the existence of this feature in the videogame.
But what i mean is, will there be a slice of the playerbase that can use Progenitor Mines as a viable source of income?
Will there be players that actually think the activity is worth it?
In a world where mega factions are going to build ridiculously overpowered production stations, and new players can barely afford a small mining ship, how many players are actually in that thin spot inbetween where wasting a dozen of combat ships is acceptable to get a smaller reward than what they would get from being part of a large faction?
And even if the large factions have better ways to gain resources, what prevents overpowered teams from annihilating those less powerful player groups and taking almost permanent ownership of these?
What about pirates? "More content"? What about large pirate factions? Wouldn't they almost permanently camp these stations, since the people that are supposed to come there are the just right level of player, where it's not a highly militarized and proficient mega faction, but it's not 2 friends in starter ships, so the salvage is good, AND they also get the materials from the station...
Calibrating the rewards will be difficult from a design perspective, yes. Starbase doesn't have a good design space right now for "nice to have" materials. Things like additives and sidegrades to ship or endo equipment. Ideally these mines would give you something you can't get anywhere else, but that also isn't overwhelmingly powerful. Like consider some sort of reagent you could add to the construction of a ship part that makes it 5% less (attribute) but 5% more (other attribute). That would be the perfect thing to provide from mines and other POIs like this (rogue drones too). You don't need it, and you aren't going to wipe the floor with everyone else if you have it, but it's still valuable and desirable as a trade commodity or strategic resource.

As for factions permanently camping the mines, I don't necessarily see that as a bad thing. I've been in plenty of situations in PvP MMOs where a guild has "owned" a space and camped it, and it was basically guaranteed fun for us if we could throw a group together and go try to kick them off of that hill. The longer that group camps that area, the more people will be pissed off at them and willing to come help you blow them up. We didn't have to worry about finding them that way, and it was a 100% assured fight. I think that's a good thing. I just want to ensure that nobody feels like they have to camp the mine to defend it, which is why they're intentionally so painless to lose. There shouldn't be any stick here, only carrot.

Fourth concern is that the station amount is fixed, the playerbase is not fixed, and the demand is also not fixed (balance may change it, regardless of player count).
But this might be solvable by creating an excessive amount of these stations, and letting the devs deactivate or reactivate some over time.
Oops! The mine shut down! Ancient technology and all. Who knows how that stuff works. Sorry about that. Crazy, huh? Gotta love those progenitors, am I right?

Mines could be visually presented in varying degrees of "reliability". So you have more reliable mines and less reliable mines. The less reliable mines would be the first ones to shut off if player pop drops, and the more reliable mines would be the last. This at least gives a company/faction a heads up when they decide which mines to park their station next to, and makes higher reliability mines more valuable real estate. You could also base it off of activity in the area, where mines in areas that don't see a lot of player traffic for a week or two are more likely to go dormant for a while.

And last... The "produce stuff during the vulnerability window" has problems.
You just need to wait for the window to be over, or almost over, and then take everything. You can now forget about the station until the next window. Even if it gets retaken, the only materials you're missing are the ones that are produced after it is taken from you.
Couple this with the fact that civilian capital ships are obviously the perfect tool to pair with these stations, the materials you take will be completely safe the moment they get in your capital ship.
Actually, a lot of what makes this sketchy relates to interactions with civ caps. If there was a huge zone that disallows them, it would increase engagement. Which... might be a bad thing, given that you can be attacked at any moment without warning.
Yeah, that's the idea with the warp exclusion radius (which applies to all capitals, civ and mil). This absolutely doesn't work if players can park anything with a safe zone too close to the mine. There needs to be a big open area around the mine where everyone is vulnerable to attack, including the transports bringing goods back from the mine. Who doesn't love a good convoy ambush, right?

But i completely agree that the game needs a baseline of content. I'm not bothered at all by introducing small "gamey" elements like this, i think it's totally worth it, and probably necessary.
I don't see the "nice to have, but painless to loose" as something that works in this context: even if it is painless to loose, the lack of the stuff it produces means there is something to loose regardless, and if you lower how much it produces, then the entire thing isnt even worth it anymore.

I think something much simpler, like temporary and auto generated ore hotspots, would do the same trick of "player magnet" without any of the strings attached. (something like a comet titan asteroid, appears in the belt for idk 30 minutes or so)
You find it on your rad scanner if you're within reasonable travel range, if you want to you can fly to it and if there's people you might fight for it.
I want to emphasize here the importance of having these POIs operate on a predictable schedule. Starbase has very long travel times, and relies on player coordination to get a lot of things done. Knowing well in advance exactly when you need to be somewhere for the action is critically important to making sure you get good PvP encounters between ready-to-fight groups. If you don't engineer the hotspot or flashpoint to have enough advance notice and/or delay the first-to-arrive players for a while, you're just giving freebies to whoever happens to be closest at the time.
 

Recatek

Meat Popsicle
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
286
#10
(skipped for space)
Thanks for taking a look. I'm trying to propose these ideas in a way that:

1) Adds new content to get people into the game and, most importantly, out of the SSC and into the game world.
2) Gets maximum reuse (as best I can guess, since I'm not on the dev team) out of existing features and functionality.
3) Feels flavorful and appropriate to Starbase's world and fantasy.

In roughly that order. Hopefully this accomplishes these goals, or something like it.

I'm sure players would be willing to contribute to station designs for something like this. I think the important part is that the defender shouldn't be doing the level design/layout -- it should be done by a third party, dev or player, who doesn't have an inherent bias towards attacker or defender. The designer should only care about making something that looks cool and plays out in a fun way. That way you get a good combat arena and a neat world content setpiece instead of a meta meatgrinder.

As for the teleporting part, I think it's okay if these are things players need to travel to. Part of the idea here is that these mines factor in to creating strategic terrain in the world. The presence of a mine in the region gives companies/factions a reason to build their station in the area, and invites other rival factions to do the same. This clustering is a good alternative to everyone just spreading out evenly throughout the world and avoiding one another.
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2021
Messages
39
#11
It seems like the idea of a static installation that spawns a valuable resource that you can own as a faction is already better covered by stations and the eventual foundry / factory / smelting mechanics, whereas what your idea brings to the table seems to be more about ensuring that combat exists with a short-term investment, low risk and moderate payoff.


Why not just scrap the whole "capture" mechanic here?


It honestly seems a lot more fun as just a wave of free-for-all carnage that sweeps through as each area begins spawning it's resource, and if you made it less about faction control and more about just protecting the guy with the football than even smaller factions could have a pretty good chance of engaging with the mechanic.


Like, keep the whole rest of the idea, just drop the safe zones and the 'capturing' bit, have a ring of twelve mines ~20km in diameter and each hour on the hour the next mine clockwise "lights up" and starts producing.


Seems like that might be a bit simpler to implement as well since it requires almost nothing entirely new except the resource spawning piece and a new configuration for safe zones (damage allowed to everything EXCEPT structures).
 

Recatek

Meat Popsicle
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
286
#12
Yeah, you're right. The more I think about it the more the capture mechanic is probably unnecessary. In the game I'm borrowing this mechanic from, the capturable resource POI had some small additional benefits for holding them, but none of those really apply to Starbase right now. You could ditch the capture part and, as you say, just have the mine turn on for an hour, spit out resources every 6 minutes, and then go dormant again.

One thing you're losing from this though is a reason for the fight to be "decisive". The original two minute capture timer means that whoever takes the resources has to have "held the field" for at least a little while uncontested. I want to avoid situations where someone can come in and ninja loot very quickly while evading an actual fight. So I'd suggest that in order to collect the resources, you need to either be inside the structure or activate something inside of it that lets you load up your ship outside, ideally with some sort of interruptible delay/stalling timer that leaves you vulnerable for a moment. You can flavor it as something like needing to bypass the station security in order to activate the resource connection.

Also, I would still keep the autoturrets and just only have them "deploy" during the vulnerability window. Their main purpose is to deter solo-looting the mine or, if someone is very determined to do so, at least delay them a bit to increase the risk of someone else showing up.
 
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Joined
Nov 1, 2021
Messages
39
#13
Yeah, you're right. The more I think about it the more the capture mechanic is probably unnecessary. In the game I'm borrowing this mechanic from, the capturable resource POI had some small additional benefits for holding them, but none of those really apply to Starbase right now. You could ditch the capture part and, as you say, just have the mine turn on for an hour, spit out resources every 6 minutes, and then go dormant again.

One thing you're losing from this though is a reason for the fight to be "decisive". The original two minute capture timer means that whoever takes the resources has to have "held the field" for at least a little while uncontested. I want to avoid situations where someone can come in and ninja loot very quickly while evading an actual fight. So I'd suggest that in order to collect the resources, you need to either be inside the structure or activate something inside of it that lets you load up your ship outside, ideally with some sort of interruptible delay/stalling timer that leaves you vulnerable for a moment. You can flavor it as something like needing to bypass the station security in order to activate the resource connection.

Also, I would still keep the autoturrets and just only have them "deploy" during the vulnerability window. Their main purpose is to deter solo-looting the mine or, if someone is very determined to do so, at least delay them a bit to increase the risk of someone else showing up.
I think you can solve for most of this with level design. If the path in to the loading dock is somewhat cramped, it solves for this by just forcing people to slow down to get to the dock.

So basically a series of somewhat short tunnels with a couple switchbacks, opening into the loading bay which should include a large, open area. Most of the ship -> ship combat happens outside, because anything flying through the tunnels is vulnerable to infantry with anti-armor weapons, but if you do get a ship through it's a turkey shoot inside the structure.


The resources spawn slowly over an hour, the area can be entered at any time, and there is only one active area at a time.


Either there aren't enough people online to make this interesting, in which case, someone gets the prize without much effort anyway, or everybody with time to spare is already trying to camp the next node and fighting each other for it.

For turrets, rather than AI powered turrets (bothersome because it necessitates a faction for co-operation, which could suck for a fast paced melee, and also someone has to write the AI), you could just have tripod weapons set up. That's fun too because it means turret ownership becomes like a little sub objective.
 

Kenetor

Master endo
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
326
#14
This thread proposes the Progenitor Mine, a PvP territory control objective designed for daily PvP at group sizes beginning with 2-6 players.
This will just be dominated by the bigger factions, the small factions wont stand a chance and you know it.
id also the devs focus on the features we have been shown before jumping on yet again new parts to the game.
This is not something that could be made quickly either, this will need a lot of coding and balance testing to get right, we don't have time for that
 
Joined
Nov 1, 2021
Messages
39
#15
This will just be dominated by the bigger factions, the small factions wont stand a chance and you know it.
id also the devs focus on the features we have been shown before jumping on yet again new parts to the game.
This is not something that could be made quickly either, this will need a lot of coding and balance testing to get right, we don't have time for that

Eh. It's a lot lower key then a lot of other suggestions and nobody is suggesting this would take priority over the existing roadmap.

OP explicitly calls out that this would be a "roadmap 2" proposal.

And you can say that bigger factions would dominate any PvP mechanic / event and be just as correct.
 

Recatek

Meat Popsicle
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
286
#16
I think you can solve for most of this with level design. If the path in to the loading dock is somewhat cramped, it solves for this by just forcing people to slow down to get to the dock.

So basically a series of somewhat short tunnels with a couple switchbacks, opening into the loading bay which should include a large, open area. Most of the ship -> ship combat happens outside, because anything flying through the tunnels is vulnerable to infantry with anti-armor weapons, but if you do get a ship through it's a turkey shoot inside the structure.


The resources spawn slowly over an hour, the area can be entered at any time, and there is only one active area at a time.


Either there aren't enough people online to make this interesting, in which case, someone gets the prize without much effort anyway, or everybody with time to spare is already trying to camp the next node and fighting each other for it.

For turrets, rather than AI powered turrets (bothersome because it necessitates a faction for co-operation, which could suck for a fast paced melee, and also someone has to write the AI), you could just have tripod weapons set up. That's fun too because it means turret ownership becomes like a little sub objective.
Yeah, this all sounds reasonable. I still think autoturrets are useful as a deterrent against people just going to these solo and walking away with a risk-free reward. Even if they just aggro on all players, it's something to tie up the first group to arrive so that the second group has a chance to fight for the reward as well. The turrets aren't critical to the idea though.

I don't really see these as something where you'd go from one to the next to the next over the course of a play session. Maybe you'd hit one or two if they were close to each other and at similar times, but I see this more as a way to add strategic value to areas of space and give factions reason to set up stations near to the mine and live near each other, even as rivals. One of many ways to give space and location explicit territory value and create daily flashpoints for PvP.

This will just be dominated by the bigger factions, the small factions wont stand a chance and you know it.
That's fine. I'm not out to solve the large vs. small faction balance issue on top of everything else, I just want to see more content in the game to give people reasons to log in and play. If you look through my posts in the thread I'm actually very interested in the idea that territory-focused factions would establish bases near these mines and fight over them as a daily activity. That's a good thing for faction members to participate and stay active in the game for, and it's a stated a goal of the system. I say 2-6 players because I feel like this is a smaller objective you'd skirmish over every day rather than a big battle you'd batphone everyone to log on for (as you would a siege). If these fights get bigger than 2-6 then that's great, all the more people who are in the world doing things, and I do think there's opportunities for smaller-faction groups to fight for these rewards on days the large factions get lazy or complacent. Also, it must be said that in the current state of the game, 6 active players is a large faction.

id also the devs focus on the features we have been shown before jumping on yet again new parts to the game.
This is not something that could be made quickly either, this will need a lot of coding and balance testing to get right, we don't have time for that
I posted this in response to FB creating the council and soliciting feedback on upcoming features. They're looking at what to include in the next roadmap after the current one is finished, and/or considering replacing some of the current items at the end of the roadmap that they haven't heavily invested in. As with the Rogue Drones proposal, none of this is a "drop everything and shift focus to this immediately", it's a proposal for the kinds of things I think the game would benefit from going forward as we wrap up the current roadmap. I'm also proposing these in a way that, as best as I can tell, would get a lot of reuse out of existing systems to accelerate the implementation process.
 
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Joined
Nov 1, 2021
Messages
39
#17
Yeah, this all sounds reasonable. I still think autoturrets are useful as a deterrent against people just going to these solo and walking away with a risk-free reward. Even if they just aggro on all players, it's something to tie up the first group to arrive so that the second group has a chance to fight for the reward as well. The turrets aren't critical to the idea though.

I don't really see these as something where you'd go from one to the next to the next over the course of a play session. Maybe you'd hit one or two if they were close to each other and at similar times, but I see this more as a way to add strategic value to areas of space and give factions reason to set up stations near to the mine and live near each other, even as rivals. One of many ways to give space and location explicit territory value and create daily flashpoints for PvP.

Yeah, I don't think the turrets conceptually make or break the concept either, just kind of riffing on the concept and seeing where it takes us.

Collecting the reward in full takes an hour, and if nobody is around to stop you, IMO that's a design failure of 'insufficient incentive.' I think it's most significant to make sure picking it up leaves you with your pants down for a non-trivial amount of time - if turrets accomplish that, great, but I think the design goal here should be that the process of getting the reward leaves you vulnerable, which is a little different than just "something throws bullets at you."


Not sure if you missed this bit or if you just thought it was a poor idea, but I think my suggestion about facility placement might affect engagement quite a bit - I was suggesting we basically arrange the mines like a clock face, so the next 'active' zone is always "adjacent" (probably separated by a couple kilometers, but close) to the current installation.

I think that essentially makes this like a rolling mega brawl - so you have the option of leap-frogging ahead and trying to muster a defense, or just hopping right in, or trailing along behind and picking up scrap / trying to intercept the "victor" as they leave with the spoils, etc.

The part where people have to leave with the loot at some point makes this VERY difficult to have one team just continue camping the event for several hours, so I'm with you there - you have to escort the payload somewhere safe to "cash in."

Also due to the format and timescale, it seems pretty likely that an organization wouldn't want to sink a buttload of resources into trying to capture 3-4 hours worth of payout on a daily basis, so I think this is likely to stay a moderately casual, smallish team type of event - the kind of thing larger corps might use as a training exercise, smaller corps might do to build up some resources and clout, or solo players / small groups might engage with just for kicks.


Your biggest risk here, I think, is in placing the proper incentive.

If it's too significant, you're going to get cartels that move in and just permanently camp the entire ring, basically setting a mutual aid to corner the market on whatever this thing produces.

If it's not significant enough, it'll starve due to lack of interest.

So the key here is to make the reward something that's not super useful to an established corp, but is expensive enough to produce that the average person can't go out and grab it out of an asteroid. Limited quantities of some kind of alloy or something that you'd normally be able to make on a station might be good, or maybe the "reward" is a large, partially completed ship (rather than a mine the facility is a malfunctioning automated shipyard) that you have to repair/claim or tow.

FWIW I don't think any ore in the game currently fits that bill.
 
Joined
Nov 12, 2019
Messages
576
#18
You really are married to the idea of not participating in the community and having a single player NPC experience, aren't you? Why does this game have to be like WoW to you?
 

Recatek

Meat Popsicle
Joined
Aug 9, 2019
Messages
286
#19
Not sure if you missed this bit or if you just thought it was a poor idea, but I think my suggestion about facility placement might affect engagement quite a bit - I was suggesting we basically arrange the mines like a clock face, so the next 'active' zone is always "adjacent" (probably separated by a couple kilometers, but close) to the current installation.
It's an interesting thought. I had imagined these being a little more randomly scattered throughout, and calibrating their vulnerability windows to the top 3-4 timezones' peak playtime (say, a few mines open at 8pm for NA, a few at 8pm EU, etc.) give or take an hour. That way you get people converging on mines on a regional basis, and it encourages the kind of neighborhood-building effect of factions placing their stations all in that region in order to better contest their nearest mine each night. You'd also have different mines open at the same time across the world, which might help counter issues with say, one faction or coalition dominating every mine.

That said, a sort of roving thunderdome style system could work as well. I'm not sure which would be better. I'm very keen on the idea of these mines reinforcing the strategic value of territory, and encouraging rival factions to cluster their stations around each other so they fight not only at the mines, but also all across the region since they're now more likely to just bump into each other. One nice thing about the ring approach is that it seems pretty agnostic to the size of the playerbase. If there's only ever one mine open at a time, you have a pretty good control over the outflow of mine resources. That could get clumsy as the playerbase grows though. I guess it just depends on how gamey/artificial we want to get (though I don't think you necessarily lose verisimilitude here -- that's the nice thing about having ancient and enigmatic technologies as a narrative device).

FWIW I don't think any ore in the game currently fits that bill.
Oh absolutely, I don't think so either. I mentioned above that I think the rewards from mines (and from Rogue Drones and the like) should be sidegrade-style additives, and should be exclusive or nearly exclusive to these activities. I ramble a lot so let me just copy-paste it here:
Like consider some sort of reagent you could add to the construction of a ship part that makes it 5% less (attribute) but 5% more (other attribute). That would be the perfect thing to provide from mines and other POIs like this (rogue drones too). You don't need it, and you aren't going to wipe the floor with everyone else if you have it, but it's still valuable and desirable as a trade commodity or strategic resource.
Cosmetics could also work really well here. Rare consumable paint/dye materials for ships, maybe with cool iridescent effects. Some necessary item for assembling certain endo visual parts. That sort of thing. You want things that are desirable and especially trade-worthy, but you don't want a situation where whoever gets the mine today has a way easier time also getting it tomorrow, and the next day.

By making these things exclusive to mines (and Rogue Drones, or other similar activities), you get an additional fringe benefit. Now combat-oriented players have a way of getting something miner/industrial-oriented players want but don't have. Right now that relationship is one way (miner->fighter), but this is an opportunity to create more of a trade loop so different types of players have more reasons to cooperate.
 
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mrchip

Well-known endo
Joined
Feb 25, 2020
Messages
50
#20
You really are married to the idea of not participating in the community and having a single player NPC experience, aren't you? Why does this game have to be like WoW to you?
It's really not that at all...
The core takeaway from this is adding minor bits of "standalone" "PVE" gameplay, that don't absolutely require the playerbase to do something to get that gameplay loop going.
I really dont expect anyone to go "yes, i want starbase because i want to get those mines, the mines are my passion".
It's meant to be an activity players do once, maybe a couple times.
Something where you can bring together some friends / clanmates and make an event. And then forget about it.

The takeaway isnt to make this a PVP or/and PVE game, but to keep it a player centric game, but that some standalone gameplay is a necessary safety to spark those player interactions.

When the playerbase is low and unengaged, you need to provide something that almost no matter what, they will be able to rely on.
 
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