Cheap way to improve mission system.

When I started to play ED, I dreamed that space legs, atmosphere landings, Han Solo style adventures will be right behind the corner. I desire this freedom, a whole world without limitations to live in and explore. Thanks to this forum, I now know exact reasons, why these features are not there yet. Is there a cheap and effective alternative for the time being, while we’re all waiting for the real thing?

I believe there is. My suggestion in short is… More text.
Yeah-yeah, I know, but bear with me, ok?


I’ve recently replayed one old space-themed game yet again. Don’t know if I can name it there. Let’s just call it “SR2”. Nothing much about this game: simple 2D graphics, so-so sound effects and, to be honest, average gameplay, but it kept me hooked up till the very end! And even after several times I’ve played it through. How so? Because of one particular feature, it is famous for.

All missions there, from trivial cargo haulage to pirate hunt, had own unique backstory and afterword. It was made by just inserting story-like bits of text here and there, that were simple, entertaining and easy to read. They gave you different motivation and reasoning every time and even cargo was unique and matched with story behind it. Yes, after some time they’d inevitably started to repeat. But since they mostly were just texts, there were hundreds of them and new ones could’ve been added pretty quickly.

For example:


  • Trivial haulage mission: governor proudly ask you to deliver “aid” for starving “children” to the neighboring planet with ongoing civil war. Governor says that they could not gather enough credits in time, but as they are famous for daily products production plants, they decided to send 300 tons of pampers instead. Upon delivery, you will find out that this was all just clever set up made by pirate lord. He obviously miscalculated. Well, he can at least try to sell these things, right? It is good that you were paid beforehand.

Two simple and short texts before and after the mission? Yes, but it somehow feels much more entertaining than hauling tons of biowaste again and again.


  • Termination contract. Ruling power of the %randomname% system issued “environmental law” called “clear sky” but this particular one %CMDRname% keeps dumping waste in our precious space. Kill him.

But that’s not all. The true gem of SR2’s mission system was TEXT MISSIONS.

Imagine you are reading your favorite book, but you have an ability to decide what exactly main character will do. That’s basically what it was.

They were in all genres: detective, action filled thrillers, comedy, logistical\economical puzzles and so on.

For example, governor could ask you to manage ski resort, find killer, play as a spy and steal smth from enemy’s ground base, discover a way to get into the ancient ruins and so on. Even when you committed a crime and were brought to jail, it was also a text quest where you were forced to leave each day of your sentence, in which you tried to survive, trained your cockroach and took part in cockroach races, became local criminal boss or pitiful snitch and so on. =D

You took this type of mission, flew to your destination, landed and started the text quest. Which consisted of simple screens with text and illustrations and several options (decisions) you could choose from, each of them led you to the next screen based on your choice. Through your decisions, you were in control of the story and led it to success or failure. These missions were hard, full of puzzles and unpredicted plot twists.

The best part was that except original ones, most of them were written by the community.

There were hundreds of them and each of them was brilliant. It was like reading a book, interactive book that was integrated in the game’s universe.

How it can be used in Elite? It’s all up to FDs or community writers imagination.

Just trivial example:
Imagine, you’ve landed on the %station% and notice that invitation to the “text mission” appeared, you accept it and it starts:

while you were distracted, something or somebody stole your copy of “Flying for dummies vol 2”. Stole it right in front of your nose, from your cockpit and you haven’t even heard a sound. You notice that air went is opened. You rush to the security office and notice that its quite busy. [...] Somehow you get dragged into problems that this station face: someone or rather something is living down there in station’s airwent system and it’s stealing employees personal belongings...

Remember, it’s interactive, so it's up to you to choose %your character’s% decisions, solve puzzles, resolve this local crisis and read about consequences of your actions. This will nourish your imagination. You’ll feel that there’s more happening on the background and this %station% will mean something more to you in the future than just another 3D model. You’ll have memories connected to it, to the universe.

This is pretty much my suggestion. While we, for technical reasons, can’t do a lot of desirable things in ED right now, these text missions in cooperation with our imagination (pretty much like books, duh) may work as substitute. Players will be able to visit places and do things game engine won’t be able to provide otherwise for quite some time. Creative members of the community will be able to enrich and deepen game’s lore through making additional missions.

Pros:
It’s relatively cheap to implement.
Most of text can be written and translated by community efforts

Cons:
Tons of text.
Not for everyone’s taste. But you know, it’s better than nothing.
 
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