Simple Suggestions For An Exploration Overhaul

Hey all; I'm currently on my way back from my second Sagittarius trip, as I promised a close friend I'd escort him and keep him sane on the way out. I'm currently hammering my home as quickly as I can through what is going to be a roughly 30 hour flight on a direct course back and my goodness but it's exhausting and repetitive. In between rest and recuperation breaks, I spotted threads on the main forums raising the same concerns, so I thought I'd post the ideas that have come into my head as I honk scoop jump honk scoop jump my way home... and see what people here think. I expect they, or something similar have come up before many times, but it gives me a break from staring at the corona of stars for a moment!

Onboard Record Keeping:

A simple one, and one often asked for, but firstly there should be an accessible page aboard your own craft which lists the total of each type of discovery you've made; that is

F Class Stars = 1000
O Class Stars = 1001

etc. This should list all available discovery types so people have a goal to explore for; "Hmm, I've not claimed my own Black Hole yet, out I go again". There should also be a second page listing all the data you've gathered but not reported so far, to encourage people to feel like their progress along the way isn't pointless. And from this we get...

Advanced Honking:

Upon completing an Advanced Discovery Scan, as well as listing the total number of objects found, it should also state "Number of Objects of Interest: X". What are these? Each type of object, F class star etc should be checked against the player's recorded data for the following (as a rough idea)

* Minimum/Maximum size
* Low
est/Highest gravity
* Lowest/Highest temperature etc

I'd love for elevation/depth below surface to be taken into account, but I've no idea if the data is easily mined for this from planetary surfaces. But you get the idea. Upon initial honk it checks your records against the system and if it spots a record is broken, it says "Objects of Interest: 1" etc. It doesn't tell you where or what it is though, but it would let you know that something in the system is worth going and having a closer look at. Ideally if the idea was implemented, the previous marked discoveries would be updated into your records, that is anything with your name on previously would seed the initial records.

It would also allow much easier cross checking of inter-player achievements and if when you returned you had an outright record, there should be a big cash bonus, and perhaps an automated comment in Galnet about "Enormous new Earth Like discovered at..."

Also you could set your own "Interest" objects by type, so if you're looking for Earth Likes you could toggle them on, and again, it wouldn't say where one is, or if that's the "object of interest" or something else, but when honked, it registers a hit...

Discovery Data Return Drones:

One thing that's particularly frustrating about exploring is that on the way back, or just persuading yourself to go further is a huge emotional investment and rather stressful; because you don't know if you'll make it, or how much it's worth, or if you're abandoning your trip just short of something amazing... it's just horrible uncertainty and pressure.

So how about there's a unit, like the SRV hangar but for drones that fly back with your data? Make it weigh something so there's a small sacrifice in jump range, and it leaves the high stakes all or nothing style of exploration viable. Maybe even give it a limited amount of drones to carry. But also give it a timer for the drones to get back, so the "race for data" remains in game; say that on purchase you dedicate a receiving Station (making it a fixed point) then the return time is distance to that station from drone launch, divided by your ships jump range. That way the data would still take approximately the time it would take you to physically turn around and return it, but it doesn't mean you have to abandon your own pushing further; make it a very expensive add on, maybe even up to the insurance cost of your ship to further compensate for the ease it brings, so it's not just a no-brainer like auto repair units and doesn't make exploring too easy. But it would provide a sense of reducing the fear and tedium of exploring, and frankly would make the gameplay both more fun and consistent with how the other Elite mechanisms work with their obvious progression.


Thoughts, folks?
 
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Good ideas! Perhaps have the drone bay take the slot of something equally important - like the shield
 
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Discovery Data Return Drones:One thing that's particularly frustrating about exploring is that on the way back, or just persuading yourself to go further is a huge emotional investment and rather stressful; because you don't know if you'll make it, or how much it's worth, or if you're abandoning your trip just short of something amazing... it's just horrible uncertainty and pressure.
I believe you've just described the gameplay element of exploring. You know, where you have to make decisions with consequences and stuff that don't actually matter in the real world....a game.
 
Good ideas, like many others in the exploration subforums. Horizons is a giant leap in the right direction IMHO, but after empty star systems, we have empty planets. Please FD, give us something to FIND (oh and not tea, pretty please ! :D )
 
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I already sketched out counter-balancing so the decision element remains whilst improving gameplay; As it currently is, the only consequences, and thus gameplay that exists is for those whose "real world" allows them to spend massive amounts of time dedicated to repetitive experiences, and to make it more impressive by simply stringing it out for longer; The kind of masochist that thinks grind is the same as achievement is the same as gameplay. And in my idea, you can still have that; Heck, give those who return the data manually a "Secure Data Delivery Bonus" in credits over drone returns, if need be. But if the idea is to improve exploration with regards to exploration itself, and not just the ability of people to throw hour after hour into it... well, then we need to add some game mechanics, wouldn't you say?
 
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One thing that's particularly frustrating about exploring is that on the way back, or just persuading yourself to go further is a huge emotional investment and rather stressful; because you don't know if you'll make it, or how much it's worth, or if you're abandoning your trip just short of something amazing... it's just horrible uncertainty and pressure.

It is frustrating. But the way the game works is that you have to go out and you have come back alive. There are many aspects of exploring which can rapidly become tedious, I totally agree. But, I personally don't see an issue with this aspect of the exploration mechanic.

Reaching that distant star system is very cool, but its only half the journey, and every explorer heading out knows that.

As for the other suggestions. I am all for some sort of internal logging system. I'd love to have a filter on the galaxy map showing all the places I have been.

On the other hand, I have never been a fan of changes to the ADS mechanic. In the end it would just make exploration even more tedious. Changes to exploration should be with the addition of more interesting things. It's now how we explore, but what we explore that should be expanded.
 
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It is frustrating. But the way the game works is that you have to go out and you have come back alive. There are many aspects of exploring which can rapidly become tedious, I totally agree. But, I personally don't see an issue with this aspect of the exploration mechanic.

Reaching that distant star system is very cool, but its only half the journey, and every explorer heading out knows that.

As for the other suggestions. I am all for some sort of internal logging system. I'd love to have a filter on the galaxy map showing all the places I have been.

On the other hand, I have never been a fan of changes to the ADS mechanic. In the end it would just make exploration even more tedious. Changes to exploration should be with the addition of more interesting things. It's now how we explore, but what we explore that should be expanded.

Agreed on all points. Climbing Everest is only half the journey.

And yes, making the honk more fiddley will only make it more tedious. I don't explore to honk, I honk to explore

Having said that, I like your ideas on record keeping.
 
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Agreed on all points. Climbing Everest is only half the journey.

And yes, making the honk more fiddley will only make it more tedious. I don't explore to honk, I honk to explore

Having said that, I like your ideas on record keeping.

But that's exactly what my idea does; the initial honk would remain as the same, except now it has an added "pay closer attention to this system". If it didn't flag a system, you can quickly move on to your own set goal, but if it does you can stay and explore further... And you'd still have to work out what it was pointing at. But once done, you'd get some actual, recorded achievement, a sense of pleasure in the here and now. Is it a particularly large planet? A boiling hot one? What ever it is, you've just gained a concrete sense of value for something which, unless you are writing everything down to paper as you go (which would string out an already life-battering process to insane levels) you didn't previously have.

The reason I left it simple is, let's face it, development on this game isn't exactly enormous; My idea behind the scenes just requires a new UI page, and a quick database cross check. I tried to keep it modest so it's achievable... but let's not forget that the galactic scale is also going to ensure that more complicated gameplay mechanics are going to extend the travel time stupendously. Imagine a 1 minute mini game to make exploration fun somehow; and I'd love it to be more fun; assuming an average 900 jump run to Sag A* (27000ly / 30ly jump range) is going to add another 15 hours to the travel time. (900 jumps for 900 minutes / 60 to make hours). What my idea does is provide some guidance for a process everyone already does; Honk, then look at the System Map. Except now, if you've toggled it to only flag things you want, or are record breakers, now you can drop the System Map unless you feel like it, and carry on exploring looking for what ever it is you were looking for...
 
People keep asking for ways to take the risk of loss out of exploring. It's the only thing that keeps it interesting as it is. OK, have your drones - but I want to be able to intercept them and steal your data. Or destroy them simply because. How does that sound?
 
Onboard Record Camping - It is better to add something new to the search than wasting time on it. The legendary, unique, rare minerals, artifacts, fossils to create the collection or sale of a lot of money.
Add tab near materials for synthesis. That such things have to expend energy developers. We are waiting all this in 2.1.


Advanced Honking, Discovery Data Return Drones - Do not simplify the game. The risk of an important part of the exploration without him game would be even more boring.
 
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...Horizons is a giant leap in the right direction IMHO, but after empty star systems, we have empty planets. Please FD, give us something to FIND... )

That's exactly how it is -compressed into one sentence.

But I would like to add the following: "Please FD, give us something to DO"

Exploring should be more than just jumping, scooping and scanning.
 
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Hey all; I'm currently on my way back from my second Sagittarius trip, as I promised a close friend I'd escort him and keep him sane on the way out. I'm currently hammering my home as quickly as I can through what is going to be a roughly 30 hour flight on a direct course back and my goodness but it's exhausting and repetitive. In between rest and recuperation breaks, I spotted threads on the main forums raising the same concerns, so I thought I'd post the ideas that have come into my head as I honk scoop jump honk scoop jump my way home... and see what people here think. I expect they, or something similar have come up before many times, but it gives me a break from staring at the corona of stars for a moment!

Onboard Record Keeping:

A simple one, and one often asked for, but firstly there should be an accessible page aboard your own craft which lists the total of each type of discovery you've made; that is

F Class Stars = 1000
O Class Stars = 1001

etc. This should list all available discovery types so people have a goal to explore for; "Hmm, I've not claimed my own Black Hole yet, out I go again". There should also be a second page listing all the data you've gathered but not reported so far, to encourage people to feel like their progress along the way isn't pointless. And from this we get...

Advanced Honking:

Upon completing an Advanced Discovery Scan, as well as listing the total number of objects found, it should also state "Number of Objects of Interest: X". What are these? Each type of object, F class star etc should be checked against the player's recorded data for the following (as a rough idea)

* Minimum/Maximum size
* Low
est/Highest gravity
* Lowest/Highest temperature etc

I'd love for elevation/depth below surface to be taken into account, but I've no idea if the data is easily mined for this from planetary surfaces. But you get the idea. Upon initial honk it checks your records against the system and if it spots a record is broken, it says "Objects of Interest: 1" etc. It doesn't tell you where or what it is though, but it would let you know that something in the system is worth going and having a closer look at. Ideally if the idea was implemented, the previous marked discoveries would be updated into your records, that is anything with your name on previously would seed the initial records.

It would also allow much easier cross checking of inter-player achievements and if when you returned you had an outright record, there should be a big cash bonus, and perhaps an automated comment in Galnet about "Enormous new Earth Like discovered at..."

Also you could set your own "Interest" objects by type, so if you're looking for Earth Likes you could toggle them on, and again, it wouldn't say where one is, or if that's the "object of interest" or something else, but when honked, it registers a hit...

Discovery Data Return Drones:

One thing that's particularly frustrating about exploring is that on the way back, or just persuading yourself to go further is a huge emotional investment and rather stressful; because you don't know if you'll make it, or how much it's worth, or if you're abandoning your trip just short of something amazing... it's just horrible uncertainty and pressure.

So how about there's a unit, like the SRV hangar but for drones that fly back with your data? Make it weigh something so there's a small sacrifice in jump range, and it leaves the high stakes all or nothing style of exploration viable. Maybe even give it a limited amount of drones to carry. But also give it a timer for the drones to get back, so the "race for data" remains in game; say that on purchase you dedicate a receiving Station (making it a fixed point) then the return time is distance to that station from drone launch, divided by your ships jump range. That way the data would still take approximately the time it would take you to physically turn around and return it, but it doesn't mean you have to abandon your own pushing further; make it a very expensive add on, maybe even up to the insurance cost of your ship to further compensate for the ease it brings, so it's not just a no-brainer like auto repair units and doesn't make exploring too easy. But it would provide a sense of reducing the fear and tedium of exploring, and frankly would make the gameplay both more fun and consistent with how the other Elite mechanisms work with their obvious progression.


Thoughts, folks?

I find it ridiculous that we have no means to save the data we discovered...if we die we are essentially rezzed which is a huge stretch to begin with, yet people have a problem with being able to somehow conserve the discoveries they made. Whether by drone (ingenious), data squirt, dna imprinting or whatever clever means, it would make exploring a hell of alot more fun. I think the intrinsic danger in the simple act of exploration is enough without losing months of game time to a single incident.

All I know is I've been out in the wilderness for months now and discovered a ton of cool things. If I get killed (mostly by the stupid interdiction mechanic lately) I can't say I will ever want to spend time in this game again...even after paying for life. If the devs can't satisfy this and enjoy losing players to bad gameplay so be it. If anyone comes back from months of exploring and doesn't get the data back AND says wow! that was fun Ima do it again...needs a therapist. Great ideas.
 
Thing is Traders if they blow up they lose their cargo. If a Bounty Hunter or Pirate dies they lose their Bounty or cargo. So the same should go with the Exploration.

Now having Drones that fly back for you. All a player has to do is go until their ship destroyed and collect the data because a drone already flown it back for them. That not a challenge.
 
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Having access to a copy of Universal Cartographic panel (without an option to sell the data) whilst onboard the ship, anywhere in the galaxy, would be a huge improvement. Could be accessed through the galaxy map view, for example. As an additional tab: Current Exploration Data, showing me the list of systems / astronomical objects, the same as Universal Cartographic panel. I don't need the prices, nor the option to sell data, just plain info.

Another suggestion: right now a bit of a problem for me is that I have to keep a separate record of systems to explore. To explain what I mean: I do some trading run or a mission and for these I don't carry any exploration scanners onboard of my ship (I have them when I travel longer distances or when I intend to explore and explore only). Whenever I get to an unexplored system, I note it down for future exploration. I've already filled a small notepad with system names (and another one with trading, shipyard and outfitting data) and it's becoming cumbersome. It would be good to see a tab for "Unexplored Systems" in the Galaxy Map. Or simply allow to filter the Galaxy Map so it shows only the systems I have visited, but haven't explored.

I do like the Galnet posting the most interesting discoveries. That's a brilliant idea. Players could see that something really cool is in this or that place and make a sight seeing trip there. And the explorer who found that gets a brief moment of fame, why not.

As for Discovery Drones, I like the idea. There was a tread recently suggesting black boxes, preserving discovery data in case of ship destruction. In my opinion any of the options would seriously add a lot of depth to the exploration. Whether I have to sacrifice internal compartment for a drone to send data back or sacrifice it for a black box I have to go to recover in case of ship destruction, it would be a most welcome exploration feature. At least for me, but you have to prepare for the backlash of masochists who will say that this sort of feature makes Elite too easy (like it was ever difficult).

I have another suggestion in regards to additional or automated modules. Exploration Probes. Again, taking some space (like cargo limpets). You get to some system, you scan it and go to the objects you find most interesting. At the same time you send a few space probes (supercruise capable) to other objects you're less interested in. And of course you have to wait for them to come back with the data before you move on to another system, during which time you can go to another object or just simply relax and take pictures.

And one more thing. Getting information about life forms on the worlds that have them, generating another discovery bonus with Universal cartographic. An info that some life forms were detected, how evolved this life form is (bacteria, plants, intelligent aliens etc). Even if we are never able to interact with these life forms in Elite (and it's a logical limitation due to a risk of cross-contamination) or to even see them, that would add another interesting thing to discover. And in case Frontier ever fancied to procedurally generate these light forms, they would already have a database of places where these life forms can be found together with few basics parameters that can be used to procedurally generate them. Players could also be able to filter their galaxy map to see only the systems where such life forms are present.

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I already sketched out counter-balancing so the decision element remains whilst improving gameplay; As it currently is, the only consequences, and thus gameplay that exists is for those whose "real world" allows them to spend massive amounts of time dedicated to repetitive experiences, and to make it more impressive by simply stringing it out for longer; The kind of masochist that thinks grind is the same as achievement is the same as gameplay. And in my idea, you can still have that; Heck, give those who return the data manually a "Secure Data Delivery Bonus" in credits over drone returns, if need be. But if the idea is to improve exploration with regards to exploration itself, and not just the ability of people to throw hour after hour into it... well, then we need to add some game mechanics, wouldn't you say?

I'd give you +100 rep for this post, alas, was able to do it only once. It's good to know I am not alone in thinking this way.
 
People keep asking for ways to take the risk of loss out of exploring. It's the only thing that keeps it interesting as it is. OK, have your drones - but I want to be able to intercept them and steal your data. Or destroy them simply because. How does that sound?

Sounds good to me. I get the drones or a black box floating around after I got destroyed, you get to shoot at those devices and vent your frustration this way. Win / win situation. You can even become a "data pirate" and go out there with the sole purpose of stealing exploration data from survey probes, delivery drones or black boxes or whatever option this might be.
 
I find it ridiculous that we have no means to save the data we discovered...if we die we are essentially rezzed which is a huge stretch to begin with, yet people have a problem with being able to somehow conserve the discoveries they made. Whether by drone (ingenious), data squirt, dna imprinting or whatever clever means, it would make exploring a hell of alot more fun. I think the intrinsic danger in the simple act of exploration is enough without losing months of game time to a single incident.

All I know is I've been out in the wilderness for months now and discovered a ton of cool things. If I get killed (mostly by the stupid interdiction mechanic lately) I can't say I will ever want to spend time in this game again...even after paying for life. If the devs can't satisfy this and enjoy losing players to bad gameplay so be it. If anyone comes back from months of exploring and doesn't get the data back AND says wow! that was fun Ima do it again...needs a therapist. Great ideas.

As for interdictions, I don't know what you're flying, but if anything faster than T7 or T9, simply submit and if you judge the opponent is too strong for you, jump out. May be a bit more difficult if they have a much heavier ship, but you still should be fine. I've also noticed that if I dealt any damage to them, they don't tend to follow me later, even if I didn't destroy them. I'm talking about NPCs of course, players are a different story. As for T7 or T9, that's a bit more of a problem, these cows overheat crazily if FSD charge takes too long.

Apart from that, I absolutely support your point of view. Especially the bit about a therapist...
 
Thing is Traders if they blow up they lose their cargo. If a Bounty Hunter or Pirate dies they lose their Bounty or cargo. So the same should go with the Exploration.

No, it shouldn't be the same with Exploration. Why? Getting 100k whilst trading takes a fraction of a 5 min trade route, you will make several times that in 5 minutes. And I'm talking about a safe, quick and legal route, no smuggling involved. Very low chance for even being interdicted. Getting 100k worth of bounties takes shooting down one or two wanted ships, so 2 minutes approx. and they are easy to find. You can honey trap them to find you, you don't even have to look for them.
Getting 100k whilst exploring takes much longer than that. Even if you just fly and scan, without surface scanning.

But the main thing is that bounties are bits of data, which can easily be preserved and so can exploration data. We can do that now, without us having access to as advanced technology as we have in Elite. We were able to do so for quite a few decades already when it comes to planes, ships, trains etc. Don't see how humanity lost this capability on its way to the 34th century. Right now we have space probes transmitting us poistcards from the surface of a comet and rovers transmitting use postcards from Mars, it beggars believe that in 34th century people are not able to do a simple data backup.
As for the trader's cargo, that's a physical object which can be physically destroyed, so makes a bit more sense. Still should be insured, pretty much as businesses insure their property now, in 2016.
 
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So players excuse here is. They want to get drunk and fly, Text and Fly. Lack any known skill and Fly or don't even bother playing the game and fly. Basiclly letting the game play it self. Then self destuct so they can retreave their data. If you want to play that way stay near the Bubble. If you want a challenge you have to watch what you are doing while you are flying.
 
So players excuse here is. They want to get drunk and fly, Text and Fly. Lack any known skill and Fly or don't even bother playing the game and fly. Basiclly letting the game play it self. Then self destuct so they can retreave their data. If you want to play that way stay near the Bubble. If you want a challenge you have to watch what you are doing while you are flying.

And how does this hurt your gameplay? Let's say somebody likes having a few beers in front of the computer whilst playing a game. Good for them. If they want to get tipsy and fly around the galaxy, it's their own business. If they want to text and fly, it's their own business, it's their texts and theirs game, shouldn't really be of any concern to anyone but them. If there was an "autoplay" mode, basically letting the AI take care of the ship, maybe that would be an exploit if no player input or presence was necessary to keep it going. If they were required to be at the keyboard, if there was a requirement for their input for the game playing itself, it would be their choice, their game and nobody else's business. For as long as the player is there, watching, let the game play itself if that's the way they want to enjoy it.

Elite Dangerous is not a church service or an audience with Her Majesty where you have to behave in a certain way and follow the protocol. It's a computer game. Game, so it's supposed to be fun. For as long as this fun can be had without interfering with the gameplay experience of other players, there is absolutely no harm in players having options.

You play your game in a certain way and it's perfectly OK. But why on Earth you like everybody to follow exactly the same pattern of playing Elite, is beyond my comprehension. You don't want to use data storage? Don't use it. You don't want to use the feature of being able to collect the data after ship destruction? Do not use it. You don't want to use any form of autopilot? Do not use it. But if somebody else decides to use such features, it's their own business, not yours. In no way this affects your gameplay experience. They are not taking over your ship, so please stop trying to take over everybody else's ships.
 
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