Starbase a la Animal Crossing (How to Start off with a Ship)

XenoCow

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#1
The idea: New players are given a ship, then they have to work to pay it off.

Meatbolio and I briefly discussed this idea in the thread Quickplay Mode: Or How to Retain Players that Don't Have the Patience for the Main Game, but I felt that this topic deserved it's own thread.

Currently, players start with nothing but a backpack. I think that the current grind for credits goes at a fine pace. However, I think that it could be improved. A huge part of Starbase is flying ships, so why not give players ships and then ask them to pay them off. This would work like Animal Crossing. You get a ship, but are then told to do a few diverse tasks to pay off the first bit, now, the player knows his or her options. Now that the player has a clear goal, pay off the starting ship. The player now has the opportunity to fly around and enjoy that aspect of the game while still grinding, either at the job sites or by flying off and mining/running errands for other players.

The caveat of the un-paid off ship is that it would be only allowed to fly within the safe-zone (The bank doesn't want you to destroy their property), additionally, it may not be modified until it is paid off. That would give the player a clear reason for why the ship needs to be paid off.

It could be a little ship that has maybe one cargo container. The fuel and battery cost to use the ship to collect ore from elsewhere should on average yield almost the same credits/minute as the jobs in the station to keep things balanced and to not ruin the work you've put into designing the jobs.

Please feel free to add your thoughts below!
 

Meetbolio

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#2
Oh hey would you look at that, that's me being mentioned in the post!

I think I can guess the approximate amount of ore crates they'd want players to have. Currently, the second-best ore (Corazium) sells for 56k a stack. Each ore box provides you one slot, which you can fill up with Corazium for again, 56k/stack. Because it takes a solid hour to get to the field, find your ores, mine them, and come back with a full ship, that would mean that to match the average payout of about 250k/hour in the jobs, the starting ship would need about 5 boxes. I'd advise developers to put 6 or even 8 (ok maybe 8 is a bit overkill but see my point), because as profitable as Corazium is, there's only so much of it in the safezone. 6-8 boxes would allow players to be profitable with other ores.

Anyways, these are just little details, the main question is to have a payoff system or not; I would really wanna see it in-game, because the jobs aren't as fun as mining actual asteroids, and you get this grounded feeling when you see everyone flying around in ships of various sizes while you're grinding.
 

FranklinZ

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#3
Very good idea except that it might make the grind on that particular ship longer. If the next goal of the player is to get a better ship, they would have to grind on the starting ship even more.
I suggest giving some prize to the player who paid off for their ship. Maybe the ship they were given was half broken but they need to pay it off before being able to fix and/or edit it.
 

XenoCow

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#4
I suggest giving some prize to the player who paid off for their ship. Maybe the ship they were given was half broken but they need to pay it off before being able to fix and/or edit it.
There would be a reward, it would be that you get to fly outside of the safe zone and modify your ship.
 

FranklinZ

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#5
There would be a reward, it would be that you get to fly outside of the safe zone and modify your ship.
Liked the idea of that. Had to make the ship non-safe zone qualified though, either having some weaponry or good speed. The worst thing that would happen to a new player would be getting their only ship instantly destroyed once the stepped out of the safe zone.
 

MoonSet416

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#6
I do have something to say about the last bit of your post. While I can totally see why you want to balance the earnings rate of said rental ship (and I do agree I should be balanced), I don't think it would be feasible to balance. The main reason is the lack of control. Flying a ship, even inside the safe zone, offers many different options. Do you go to the far edge and potentially get better stuff or do you opt for short and quick runs near the station, or somewhere in between? The balancing process can only take into account one particular playstyle.
 

XenoCow

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#7
The balancing process can only take into account one particular playstyle.
I totally agree, however, if the convenience can be balanced, then players who want to spend more time at the jobs won't feel like they are missing out and players flying around won't feel like it's a wast of their time either. The point of the balance is so that the most players can feel happy doing what feels best to them.
 

MoonSet416

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#8
I totally agree, however, if the convenience can be balanced, then players who want to spend more time at the jobs won't feel like they are missing out and players flying around won't feel like it's a wast of their time either. The point of the balance is so that the most players can feel happy doing what feels best to them.
I agree, hopefully they can figure out a balance for all those starting options.
 

XenoCow

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#9
The main point of this idea is really just to give players something to make the early game feel less of a grind. Perhaps the first ship a player buys could be bought for half price and then the other half paid back later. That might be more fair and allow for much of the early game to remain the same, but dramatically reduce the time it takes players to feel like they have an effect on the environment and get flying.
 
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#11
Good idea, provides more variety in how players can start out. Might be worth making it optional for players who want to stick to the jobs.

Its worth noting that once the player has paid off the ship that they would not only get the reward of being able to modify it and leave the safe zone, but would also have the ability to sell the ship (assuming selling ships gets added). And so the time and effort they put into paying off the ship is actually time and effort put into increasing their own wealth and the ship loan just speeds up the process by providing more lucrative options.

The balancing process can only take into account one particular playstyle
That is a very good point, but hopefully if they introduce different ores based on distance and then also have a reactive economy that changes relative to supply and demand then the different distances and also the beginner jobs could potentially reach an equilibrium.
 

XenoCow

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#12
Dont forget too, some sort of 'used' ships are supposed to be avaliable at a reduced price... Damaged, but functional, ships for beginners.
Oh yeah! I had almost forgotten. That should make a big difference. I look forward to buying a fixer-upper ship.
 
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#13
Dont forget too, some sort of 'used' ships are supposed to be avaliable at a reduced price... Damaged, but functional, ships for beginners.
Aside from the official "used" ships, I imagine as the game goes on, many old players would have ships that they no longer use and have maybe a few broken bits, which can be sold to new players as well.
 

CalenLoki

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#14
Another idea - allow players to go into negative balance when buying ships.
I.e. you need to have only at least 25-50% of the ship cost before buying it.
So I have 250k, I buy ship worth a milion, my account shows -750k.

All artificial limitations (like not being able to leave safe zone or discount only for the first ship) are always hard to implement or balance.
 

Jasperagus

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#15
This would work but couldn't you just do a starter tutorial and get the money to buy a starter ship of your choice?
 

XenoCow

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#16
Another idea - allow players to go into negative balance when buying ships.
I think the ability to start with debt fits right into the Animal Crossing starting game paradigm. However, there needs to be some limit to the debt, or penalty for being in debt. If there is not, then it's just free money.
 

CalenLoki

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#17
Debt could carry to new character, if you use it then delete the old one.
It could be up to one mil. Should be enough for decent starting miner.
You can take it only if you're not in debt already, and have at least 20%-50% of the ship value.
You can't buy anything more until the debt is paid.

Of course someone could just keep buying more copies of the game... but 40$ for 1M credits is quite a hefty price.
 

CalenLoki

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#19
Either would work.
Initially I though about completely blocking any payment until your balance get positive. So you'd need to buy all the supplies and tools before the ship.
But only limiting ship purchase would be more noob-friendly.
Also you couldn't own station lot or join company until you pay it back.
You couldn't get in debt while being part of company as well. Except debt due to not having enough money to pay for lot.
So it'd be limited to new players.
 

Quinc

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#20
Obviously the starting jobs are income for new players (or players who lost all of their ships), but they are also meant to act as tutorials. You are performing tasks that are similar to the same ones that veterans do, except in an isolated, controlled environment. The problem is that in order to actually get a ship you have to repeat the job for several hours. They could pay more, but then why bother with the real thing?

I agree with you on the nature of the problem, but I believe that there needs to be some sort of tutorial. So far, Frozenbyte's solution seems to be to add a wider variety of jobs; more tutorials and less repetition, though really they need an incentive to do each one. A debt that needs to be paid off but also limits their actions does seem like a good way to steer them towards a tutorial. However it doesn't seem any better than the current system, and you don't specifically mention any sort of tutorial moments.

While I believe there should be a tutorial, I don't mean a scripted sequence where the player follows specific instructions. I just mean that we should avoid the opposite extreme, "Here's a ship and there's is outer space. Figure it out!" Another thing known to drive away new players is overwhelming them, putting them in a position where they need to do something but they don't really have the knowledge or skills to actually do it.

Giving players a ship immediately steepens the learning curve, giving them a good ship immediately steepens the learning curve even more. They have to learn how to use the thing...immediately. Example: a player whom has piloted a turret first will find it easier to fly a ship. I would also have then move around as an endoskeleton before piloting either. The limitations you get while under debt are good, but they aren't enough for a tutorial experience. Grabbing a ship and flying out into the universe involves several different skills, espiecially if something goes wrong, ideally players should have had a chance to practice each of those skills in separate circumstances.
 
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