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Thread: "He who controls the Spice controls the universe" Injected Events in Elite Dangerous

  1. Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread. #1

    "He who controls the Spice controls the universe" Injected Events in Elite Dangerous

    Hello there DDF!

    So, the new video is out of the bag, which we all hope is going down well, but lets not forget that it's also new topic time! You lucky, lucky people you...

    Today's somewhat vast topic is injected events, a system with fingers in many pies, mechanically speaking. Here it is:


    INJECTED EVENTS
    This system will be used to create large events and large scale changes to the Elite Dangerous universe.

    GOALS
    • Create large scale events for all players to enjoy within the ED universe.
    • Use player influences and system data from within the galaxy to feed into a meta-game system.
    • Provide story and content for missions and other environmental encounters.


    WHAT ARE INJECTED EVENTS?
    Injected events allow larger events to happen within the galaxy. These will not be initiated directly by players or specific actions, but will instead be based on the current state of a star system or faction, even certain random factors. These will be influenced by many factors:

    • Background simulation – the system itself will keep track of information within each system, such as population, wealth, standard of living & political influences.
    • Faction information – every faction will have status information, including friend/foe lists, station info, local specialisations & NPC hierarchy.
    • Government type – different types of government will affect the threshold at which certain events can be initiated.
    • Discoveries – big discoveries or new systems/planets that appear will affect all nearby star systems, potentially spawning new structures or causing events to break out (e.g. war, gold rush, etc.).
    • Contested star systems – any place where 2 enemy factions have influence will be considered contested, making it open to larger injected events.
    • Player influence – players will be able to influence a star system or faction through many different avenues (see Player Influence below).


    This information will be held & controlled by the meta-game, and then used by the developers to create these larger events and happenings. The idea is to create injected events that are relevant to the situation.

    In the future, we would hope to create a system that maintains a semi-autonomous approach to this, creating these events without the need for developer interaction, but also still allowing the team to inject separately.

    META GAME
    The entire system will be based off of rules dictated by a meta-game system, which will look at each location and calculate a set of factors by which an injected event can best be initiated. What this will mean is taking the influencing factors mentioned above and seeing where events would be best placed.

    For example:
    • A colony with a large population, nearby to a newly found, uninhabited Earth-like world might colonise that planet. A colony suffering from famine or being under-populated would not.
    • A star system with low wealth, low development or low standard of living levels would be more likely to suffer from pandemics, famines, governmental collapse and other serious planetary failures.
    • Star systems that are contested by 2 opposing forces may suffer from war, be it civil or between factions.


    This shouldn’t stop the developers from injecting more random events, such as extinction level asteroid collisions or alien influences if the need arises. Its function is to create relevance and a sense of a living, evolving galaxy.

    OUTCOME OF INJECTED EVENTS
    These events have the ability to significantly affect the ED universe, changing systems and locations, allowing us to keep it as interesting as possible. Depending on the event, the following are a few examples of what can happen:

    • Two factions could declare war on each other. The event would be focused around a disputed star system, allowing us to create combat encounters and missions, as well as refugees, unscrupulous pirates and aid requests. Eventually the star system could change hands and governments.
    • A new colony and space station is established in a recently discovered star system. Nearby over populated star systems might send out a colony ships, establishing a new station, which would promote trade missions, aid requests and other missions based on setting up a new colony.
    • A well populated planet suffers from an asteroid collision disaster, causing destruction over large parts of the surface (a visible change to the planet for players). This in turn would have the potential to influence other injected events, such as a planet wide famine or a severe pandemic.


    PLAYER INFLUENCE
    Players will be able to influence this system, since the meta-game will feed off of changes in the simulation from many different sources, including players. For example:

    • Missions – generally these will have the largest positive or negative effect on the system, depending on faction, success or failure, nearby enemies or allies, the importance of the mission undertaken, and various unforeseen consequences.
    • Trade – player trade will have a minor effect on the system, although a star system already under the effect of an injected event may be exploitable (i.e. food sold to a star system suffering from a famine would fetch a very good price).
    • NPC interactions – attacking, defending, interacting and killing NPC’s within a star system or faction will have an effect. The everyday NPC’s met won’t be high level, so their influence will be limited to small changes. For example, killing a trader will negatively affect the wealth of his faction or star system, but not to a vast extent.
    • Exploration – discoveries made by players, once sold into the system, will be unlocked for the system to use for injected events.


    The key here is to create way for players to influence the universe around them, without being able to destabilise or break the overall simulation.

    Okay, no specific discussion points from me here, we're interested in what you think, anything you think we've missed, anything that could make this greater. Feel free to also post up any big ideas or epic scenarios you can think of for us to inject, anything you'd like to see happen in the ED universe.

  2. #2
    I guess the main thing for me is how the change in the meta-game is communicated to the players, and specifically, how players are made to feel involved.

    One idea would be to create a system to make sure players get relevant newsfeeds. If I've been performing action A in a system, and that contributes to the injecction of event B, then I'd like to see the newsfeed about event B. So I've been pirating near Darwin Station, and as a response the governor has requested help from the Imperial military - I should get that newsfeed. Same if I've been trading with Darwin station, and the wealth goes up, leading the governor to declare a new station called Erasmus will be built. I need to get that sense of cause and effect, even if it's only loose.

    Good proposal though.

  3. #3
    How do you plan to measure how well an event went, for purposes of refining the system? Would you want to go with something informal like player response on the forums, or something more scientific like the percentage increase in player trades in a region after an event?

    More to the point, what data will you need to log server-side to measure the success of an event?

  4. Click here to go to the next staff post in this thread. #4
    Re. communicating to players, yes, most large events would appear on the news feeds, I believe this would be our main way to get players involved in each event or situation. Plus it is a really nice way to feed into the fiction.

    Re. measuring events, we have a plan for in-game analytic's and feedback, but the forums will always provide a powerful tool for player feedback.

    Re. data, we will be keeping all player data to a minimum, just to keep overheads down.

  5. #5
    I'm not sure I follow the scale and frequency of injected events. Are you expecting to have a hundred events on the go at once, each of which lasts half an hour, or a dozen events that each take a fortnight to play out?

    In particular, I might just be reading too much into the language but I get the impression you're planning to start with the big event you want to introduce (e.g. plague in Soholia), then fill in some kinds of sub-events along the way (50th annual eat-your-weight-in-salmonella competition -> shortage of medical supplies -> pandemic -> exodus of the rich -> population loss -> recovery). That's probably the only way to approach a first pass of the event system, but would it make it hard to let players really create big branches in the storylines?

    For example, if there was an outbreak and players started relabeling water as medical supplies, could that generate a crisis of confidence event that drove down the value of medicines? Alternatively, if players started selling weapons in significant quantities as soon as the planet started looking a bit peaky, could they stop the plague event and create a civil war instead, as people get shot before they got within sneezing distance of each other?

  6. #6
    Originally Posted by Andrew Sayers View Post (Source)
    I'm not sure I follow the scale and frequency of injected events. Are you expecting to have a hundred events on the go at once, each of which lasts half an hour, or a dozen events that each take a fortnight to play out?
    From the description these would be events which would play out over weeks or months with the repercussions changing the "Universe" forever.

  7. #7
    Originally Posted by stephen_usher View Post (Source)
    From the description these would be events which would play out over weeks or months with the repercussions changing the "Universe" forever.
    Yes, that's what I got from it. Pandemics and civil wars don't take place over a period of hours, and to attempt it in that sort of timescale in the ED universe would just look silly IMO.

    Actually civil wars generally take place over years if not decades (any number of examples in recent Earth history). I'll be interested to see how FD get round that one.

    Aside from that though it all looks pretty good from here.

  8. #8
    My question concerns the duration of injected events and their outcomes. I accept that the answer could be that it varies, but I'm still hazy about the ratio between in-game time and real time.

    For instance, an asteroid collision of sufficient magnitude could destroy a planet (or at least it's ecosystem) or seriously disrupt it (nuclear winter). In reality these kind of changes would be in effect for decades, how long would they be in effect for in ED?

    I'm guessing there is some kind of acceleration involved, to keep things interesting. A major global event on Earth (I'm talking Ice Ages not Hurricanes) happen once in thousands of years (or longer). Even with many planets and systems available, there may still be only 1 event somewhere every year or so, if in par with reality. I assume that major events will occur more frequently than that, so their duration needs to scale in a similar manner to allow players to experience the evolution.

    Personally the only thing I'd want to avoid is a kind of "weekly" or "monthly" event, so players know how long they have to interact with it. I'd like the event to have demonstrable change, so players can figure for themselves how long it's been happening/will continue for and have their interactions (providing it was sufficiently numerous) to effect a logical aftermath.

  9. #9
    There are a few areas that could be interesting...

    Im not quite sure how these would be injected but

    POLITICAL :
    Election injection : can lead to assassination missions, collecting information, extortion, intimidation and can also give passenger missions either leaving a now hostile enviroment or coming home at the end of a dictatorship. Creating game wide missions. Also arms may be at premium to help create security or civil wars. As part of this, a candidate running may have controversial views that cause other event s to occur too... slavery legalised etc or possibly due to overwhelming outrage at a candidates policies should they win... A Blockade and embargo are instigated.


    I think political news broadcasts would be reasonably common as sytems evolve and political evolutions occur.

    scuse spelling.. I am excited about this part of the game...

  10. #10
    As i understand the OP, the injection is the creation of the issue... I don't see it really having a time limit.

    For example Famine should be triggered by low food levels or crop failures.

    Famine is not the injection - Crop failures is.

    Until the crops stop failing OR supply of food is more than sufficent then the event is ongoing.

    Blockades are not the injection- the reason behind it are... civil dissobediance, civil war, terrorist actions.. declaration of independence , anything... until its resolved OR the blockade is defeated the event continues..


    THats how I see it really.. So political events would be an injection of a succesful assassination of a president - generates an elections and opens up the other possibilities. Or retirement of the current leader.

  11. #11
    Originally Posted by psykokow View Post (Source)
    As i understand the OP, the injection is the creation of the issue... I don't see it really having a time limit.

    For example Famine should be triggered by low food levels or crop failures.

    Famine is not the injection - Crop failures is.

    Until the crops stop failing OR supply of food is more than sufficent then the event is ongoing.

    Blockades are not the injection- the reason behind it are... civil dissobediance, civil war, terrorist actions.. declaration of independence , anything... until its resolved OR the blockade is defeated the event continues..


    THats how I see it really.. So political events would be an injection of a succesful assassination of a president - generates an elections and opens up the other possibilities. Or retirement of the current leader.

    I agree, but how long would it take for forces attempting to repair the issue to resolve it?

    Take Iraq, coalition forces have been there since 2003(?) attempting to resolve the situation, now operations are mostly scaling down. So that's 10 years for that "event trigger". We can't really have events taking 10 real time years in ED, I know Iraq could be regarded as a series of events, but a decade of play to resolve a single game trigger?

    I'm not sure, steady and stable game evolution over a decade would be fine, but for events of this magnitude, they require faster resolution. Otherwise it's very possible that other events happening elsewhere will collide and create cascades that can spiral out of control. Imagine if while Iraq was going on, along with Afghanistan - North Korea had launched a tactical strike against the US, Syria had exploded into all out war and dragged Russia/US in and China had launched a cyber attack against the US?

    The objective here is to mix things up without breaking the simulation after all.

  12. #12
    How will this work in offline vs. online?

    I'm thinking about a few scenarios:

    1) I'm playing mostly offline, then go online for a bit - will the systems around me suddenly erupt in full scale war (if the storyline and events has been building up online for weeks)?

    2) I'm playing online mostly, but then have to go offline for a few weeks. I single-handedly save a system from certain destruction by blowing up an asteroid on a crash course, and then go online a while later. How will my heroic deed affect other people's games? Will their actions influence my game?

    I still have trouble grasping the online/offline concept of this game, what affects what in online vs. offline modes, and if everyone will experience the same changes as I do when playing online (ie. a single unified online universe, or a segregated universe with lots of small "sub-universes" (read: instances), or something completely different).

  13. #13

    Characters

    It sounds like injected events are going to be an interesting way for the development team to have some fun.

    You could also use the injected event system to further develop NPCs in game, if the NPCs are dynamic it would add to the game experience. Real people move on in life and become successful or come upon hard times.

    If this happened it would really add to the realistic feel to the game. I suppose that raises other questions; how are the NPCs going to be represented in game?
    Are the avatars going to be a static picture, or a moving 3d mesh ?

  14. #14
    This seems to be based around the idea of a system, planet, or colony having an event occur. Is there any scope for multi-system events, covering entire sectors or even eg full scale, all-out war between factions?

  15. #15
    Well, we knew it was coming, but I didn't know the detail until now.

    My thoughts on first read:

    1. This has the (very real) potential to break the game completely if it goes wrong - so I hope your QA department goes into overdrive with this.
    2. I hope these events are quite well spaced out and suitably rare, reflecting the fact that the universe doesn't really change that much except over thousands, millions or billions of years. It would a real pity if that extinction level asteroid event were to happen twice in the same week. What a bummer.
    3. I see no mention of those "God like powers" we were promised back in the Kickstarter days by El Presidente.

    Anyway, just some thoughts. I'll probably think of something more positive to post later on after come thought. My initial feeling is simply to breathe inwards and mutter "risky" under my breath.

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