Regular updates will resume after the new year. Happy Holidays!
Happy Holidays scoundrels! Dread Citizen will be taking a small break for the next week or so due to travel and festivities. This will also give me a chance to catch up on writing the next short story. ;)
Regular updates will resume after the new year. Happy Holidays!
The 4th part to the short story (now 'novelette' =) ) Savior of the Damned concludes this chapter in the Dread Citizen pirate chronicles.
Next week, we hope to start a new short story that keeps to some of the themes with new situations and characters. Overlaps of events and crossovers are likely. Fans of Savior of the Damned should expect some returning characters in future stories. Those that survive anyway. ;)
As always, if you have a tale of the Star Citizen dark side that you would like featured or linked, just let me know and we'll be happy to promote it.
The Weekend Pirate
Last week our discussion topic was on multiple accounts and the strategic influences of such. This week, let’s look at the other aspect impacts of multiple identities and how PvP and the overall player conflict ‘system’ of Star Citizen could be impacted.
Please note, this article is a bit more ‘what if’ than my last several and I’m well aware the theories here are way too dependent on game systems that likely don’t even exist yet. The thought process here is just for the fun of it, so don’t take any of this too seriously.
Several recent interviews with Chris Roberts and the ‘crime’ Comm-link post have covered some aspects of characters skirting the confines of Star Citizens reputation system. Chris is considering having multiple characters per account to specifically address those who may want to try both sides of the good/evil coin. There are a couple of details that we don’t know yet (many of these aspects may have not been designed yet) on the state these two (plus) characters will exist. Will they share any material possessions? What about their garages? Will it be easy to transfer goods between characters (we already know ships can be transferred)? Easier than between two normal players?
Similarly, while we got a brief amount of data on piracy in the ‘crime’ post, a bunch of questions about reputation were left hanging. Players will have access to a system where they can broadcast fake IDs (or just hull/ship IDs) to avoid a bad rap during PvP and to use for landing, etc. There will also be a way to bribe certain people and some form of monetary penalty if captured by the Advocacy. So, assuming you’re careful and handle your IDs well, can you be a Citizen pirate? Is there reputation outside of the type covered by the type associated with the IDs? Can we gain reputation with black markets or NPC pirates and, if so, how does that relate to Citizenship and fake ID codes?
[UPDATE] After some discussions on forums on the above points, I just wanted to be clear on the intent in this article. The above paragraphs are not pro or con multiples IDs or Characters. The original point was that there will likely be multiple ways to engage in PvP outside of any detriment system and that the points below are not easily avoidable.
All that said, this post isn't really about the questions not answered. What I’m actually looking to talk about is how these elements will affect playstyles in Star Citizen. With several different ways to skirt the law or avoid any bad reputation, why not be a pirate? Just to be clear, when I say ‘pirate’, I mean a PvP player that doesn't exclusively hunt specific types of players avoiding law constraints (the fabled bounty hunter). The ‘crime’ post does indicate that piracy will be a skill-based activity that isn't a profession for the faint of heart, but the downsides are centered around long-term cost accruals or loss of benefits (citizenship) due to a bad rap. There isn’t much downside as currently described if your ‘alt’ character is the pirate who is potentially supported by a Citizen-trader / bounty hunter / military pilot.
So, let’s just say everyone has a pirate alt. For the sake of this discussion, let’s ignore the playstyle polls about who likes what and assume people ‘also’ want some PvP in their play (say most go for 20-50% of their playtime) and the multiple identity facilities take away any downside. Is this bad? What does this mean? Well, the theoretical driving pressure in a rational game system is the economy. The economics of ‘normal’ piracy (as in a profession you make money at doing) really depends on there being lots of other players as prey. If there develop trends in when players tend to use their casual pirate characters (e.g. weekends, holidays, etc.), then the game balance will spike with a combination of player conflict and lowered availability of of trade / mining prey vessels / players.
Following this reasoning, I would expect the number of people involved in the clashes to start saturating any systems / routes that are feasible (not heavily UEE protected), which is turn would disincentivize remaining trade outside of UEE core. Those routes would likely in turn get saturated and produce fewer profits. Any players not already involved with PvP would then be incentivized to join in, growing the level of conflict. Some steady state of ‘safe’ trade would eventually be established at much reduced levels.
The whole system would eventually reset (e.g. at the end of a weekend) and swing back the other way (back to some steady state PvP level) and starved trade routes would be flooded with people going after that quick buck after the shipping drought. Thus, the whole system could see a somewhat cyclic behavior around player conflict and economic incentives.
There is one primary SC feature that could shift the likelihood of this cyclic free-for-all: instancing. In theory, the SC universe doesn’t really have a limit on the people in a route or ‘where’ an instance is. If there is one section of space / sector that attracts the weekend PvP element (via an event or some other coordination), then as many instances as need would be spawned there or on the associated routes, freeing the rest of the universe for normal commerce. The problem with this is that anything that increases the safety for traders / miners increases non-PvP traffic in other areas, which causes the pirate element to prey on those elements and move outside of any kind of restriction.
Lastly, one element that isn’t really considered here is the player matching system itself. Depending on how this is tuned, the system could simply tune PvP likelihood based on economic pressure. There will theoretically be systems / waypoints that are always open PvP (matching is supposedly for inter-waypoint travel), but it may be possible that tuning player matching keeps enough trade open to maintain a mixed-playstyle balance.
At the end of the day, I would like to remind the reader this whole article is just a hypothetical thinking exercise for generating discussion. I don’t have any answers and I don’t have a solution to suggest, but these ‘system’ issues like these are something consider in such an environment. It will be very interesting to see how the instancing and player-matching systems will allow CIG to apply valves and vents to the PvP pressure that could build up or if game-wide player conflict will have any of the mentioned cyclic effects.
The tale of Logan the pirate continues in this weeks installment of Savior of the Damned.
Join him on a wild ride through the home asteroid field of the Bullet Bay station and see if he gets the vengeance he is seeking.
Death During Boarding
In a recent interview with PCGamesN, Chris Roberts answered some very interesting questions about boarding actions that affect us pirates:
PCGN: Are the crew on the ships are hurriedly repairing it at the same time and may possibly escape?
CR: If you repel the boarders and you get some time, then you should be able to fix your ship, or if some friends turn up and help you fix it, you may be able to get it out of there.
The idea is that the bigger ships, the capital ships are almost like floating persistent instances in space. You can’t take the down and land on planets. You can take the smaller ships down and land them on a planet, and when you land it’s safe, but if I manage to capture myself a cruiser or something, I’m going to have to find a place to park it in space that’s safe, or it’s at risk of being boarded by someone else. It doesn’t get “turned off” in the way that normal ships do.
PCGN: And what happens if you’re killed during a boarding actions, if your actual character, rather than your ship, is eliminated?
CR: That’s a good question, because you’re saying that your ship’s floating, pristine, but you got killed in a boarding action?
PCGN: Possibly. You’ve talked about ships being insured and obviously a ship can be destroyed but pilots, Wing Commander-style, could eject. In a gunfight, it’s a little different when the actual bullets are hitting you rather than your vessel.
CR: Well, it’s not fun to have permadeath, so I think if you die in a boarding action you’re going to end up in much the same way that you end up if you lost your ship, back on the closest safe planet. This is something to be decided, whether in that particular case is your ship still intact, or is it a case of you lost your ship and you get your base ship back, but you wouldn’t get all your upgrades back. That really would be a matter of deciding what the penalty is for failing on a boarding action. I would be inclined to think that if you failed on a boarding action you’d end up on the closest safe planet, maybe with your ship intact, unless someone took it over while you were boarding.
PCGN: Would it be possible for people on your side, your allies, to look after your stuff and potentially make sure it gets back to you?
CR: Potentially. There’s a bunch of edge cases in all these dynamics. There’s a bunch of stuff where it’s pretty simple to say “Okay, this is the way it works,” and there’s some stuff where you’re “Okay, how correctly do you want to simulate this?” The most realistic way is to do something like the real world, where you die boarding something and that’s it, you’ve got to start all over again, but I think it would be good if you were boarding something and you died during the boarding action, and no-one else has taken over that ship, you’d spawn back on the last safe planet that you touched down on. You’re there, your ship is there and the fiction is that your friends brought your ship back to you. You were heavily injured in the boarding action, but they managed to get you fixed up.
So, what does this mean? CR makes it sound like the pilot will also be able to exit his ship during boarding. He also says that reverse captures (prey capturing boarding ships) are possible. Lastly, the death during boarding sounds like there is no insurance penalty (assuming no reverse capture), which cuts the downside down even more. Anybody see something I missed?
Pirate Boxing Theory
The discussion article this week is on multiboxing in Star Citizen and it’s theoretical impacts on game strategies and battle tactics. As this is Dread Citizen, the emphasis, as always, will be toward the arts of skulduggery.
So, what is multiboxing and why should you care? Multiboxing (or dualboxing or just boxing) is PC gaming terminology for running multiple game clients attached to same online game. This was originally done with multiple computers (or boxes), hence the name, but many games allow multiple client instances on the same machine or through hacks (or Virtual Machines, etc.)
As for why you should care, multiboxing does influence what is possible in many online games and it is guaranteed that some people will do this in Star Citizen. It is not ‘bad’, per se, but it does change the scope of the game’s mechanics. Indeed, many games are built around the fact it is a given that many of the players will multibox (though it is usually far from a main stream activity).
The feasibility of multiboxing in any game is tied to the level of interaction the game requires. RPGs, where stats are king and real-time interaction is minimal, are ripe for multiboxing. A character that just follows you around buffing you or casting heals is a temptation that many cannot resist. Even if it costs them another $15 a month (or even 25 times that for single-man raids). Multiboxing in other games that require near real-time control (FPS or other twitch-based) is much less advantageous. If reaction time matters, then it is hard to split your attention without sacrificing too much.
Star Citizen’s space combat (to our current knowledge) is a real-time affair and It is likely we won’t see many (if any) people trying to simultaneously pilot two Hornets into combat. That said, there are many other things that may be conceptually feasible. Also, the lack of a monthly fee and the extra low bar game cost from the crowdfunding means we are guaranteed to see a bunch of people with extra accounts. Let’s explore some possibilities:
Any other ideas? Tell me in the comments!
New Info on The Dispatch
Just in case you aren't following the RSI Spectrum Dispatch feed, there was a whole post on the ‘cost of crime’. Here’s a rundown of the new info:
Continuing our riveting tale of Star Citizen piracy, today we bring you the second part of Savior of the Damned.
Hot off his last raid, Logan's adventure takes him to pirate-run asteroid for a little down time and unexpected adventure. Come back next Tuesday for the continuing story.