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Ben Fargo

Alpha Team Vanguard
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Posts posted by Ben Fargo

  1. This story began as an entry for Novawrimo2017.  I started it, but it did not seem right, so I abandoned it for a while.  Eventually, I had a new idea for it and then it all fell into place.  By then it was much too late for the contest, but I wanted to share it anyway.


    I invite you to join me in an investigation of the relationship between a man and his AI in the fateful year of 2145.



    This story is part of the AI Series.

  2. What I said was somewhat unclear.  I did not mean one person would be located in each tile.  I was guessing the size of an organization that would be needed to defend a planet and I think it would need at least as many members as tiles.  I agree they would be organized into patrols, but there would need to be enough to keep the whole planet under constant surveillance.  Most members will probably only play a few hours a day and some will be administrators and support people, so I am assuming the number actively patrolling at any time would be much less than the total number of members.  They would need to have constant surveillance to keep anyone from quickly claiming unclaimed tiles.   Even if the organization has the strength to defeat anyone who makes those claims,  doing that would probably take more resources than making a TCU for the tile themselves.

  3. I would imagine any organization large enough to defend a planet from intruders would have the resources to create enough TCU's to cover it.  Alioth for example has over 50,000 tiles and I would expect an organization would need at least one member per tile to defend a planet effectively.  The real number will probably be higher than that, but that is still a huge organization.  If the organization has not claimed all the tiles, then any organization that manages to sneak  or fight their way in will be able to place their own TCU.  While the intruder's claim would probably not last long, it would still be easier for the organization controlling the planet to place their own.



  4. Flipmaze


    A Flipmaze playfield is a surface divided into eighty one squares, arranged in nine rows and nine columns.  On the ground between each square is a force field emitter, which can be activated to prevent movement between two adjacent squares.  This means each square (except those on the outer edge) is surrounded by four emitters.  The squares in the corners have two emitters and are open on the other two sides.  These serve as the entrances to the playfield.  The other squares on the outside have three emitters and a wall on the fourth side.


    Each square is in either an open or a closed state.  If an emitter is between two closed squares or between one open and one closed square, it is activated.  If both squares are open, the emitter goes off and players can move between the squares.  Changing a square from either open to closed or from closed to open is called flipping it.


    There are two teams of three players.  Two of the players on each team are mazerunners.  The mazerunners start at the corners and try to reach the square in the middle.  The third player is the flipper.  The flippers operate a control panel overlooking the playfield.  They push buttons to flip squares, to let their mazerunners reach the middle and to block the mazerunners on the other team.


    The control panel has eighteen switches, one for each row and one for each column.  When the flipper hits a switch, it flips all of the squares in the corresponding row or column.  Note that it is the squares that flip, not the emitters.  If an emitter is between an open and a closed square and both flip, the emitter will remain activated.


    The game starts with all of the squares closed.  As the flippers hit the switches, some of the squares will flip.  The mazerunners move through open squares, trying to reach the center square.  The center square contains a button.  The first team to push this button wins the game.


    A nine by nine playfield seems like a good size, big enough to be interesting but not overwhelming.  However, when the game is actually played, we may find a different size is better.

  5. @Hades


    First, I think we have a different idea of expensive.  I expect it will normally take a single player or even a small organization months to get a ship, not hours or days. (Of course, they might get a loan for one, but then it would still take months to repay it.)  I agree a normal territory unit should cost much more than a ship. 


    However, I am guessing and hoping the sanctuary units will be  considerably cheaper, since they can only be used in a MSA.  Sanctuary units are bound to an account and while I am not certain, I assume that means each account can have one and only one sanctuary unit.  In any case, I would prefer that each account is limited to one.  If it took the average player a week to earn a sanctuary unit, I would consider that a reasonable cost, not expensive.

  6. In my opinion, the worse thing Novaquark could do would be to introduce MSA's and then make them scarce and expensive to force players to find security elsewhere.  As the devblog said, forcing a style of playing on people will more likely cause them to leave than change.  I am strongly in favor of the MSA's, but I would prefer to not have them implemented at all if they are not available to everyone who wants one.  They do not need to be on every moon or in every system, but there should be enough of them somewhere.  Otherwise, effort will be wasted developing something that still can be abused and produces bitter former players who feel feature they expected was not actually available.

  7. 4 hours ago, Costanius said:

    Make sure the safe zone on the starter planet is big enough for all the players! Otherwise it would get overcrowded fast.

    I would like to suggest to make the whole starter planet a safe zone, not only the area around the arkship!

    I think separate secure areas is a better solution than one large one.  It will be some time before we are able to leave the planet, so initially all activity will be on Alioth.  I would not like to see the secure area expanded beyond the 20 km planned for it.  Making the secure area too large would do too much to discourage combat.  Expanding the secure area later would upset people who already claimed territory there.


    The MSA should allow additional secure territories to be added as they are needed.  To me,  multiple secure areas do not feel confining the way one large one would, even if the total number of territories is the same.  I feel the best situation is to be able to experience risk on a journey, but also have a secure destination and multiple secure areas allow that.

  8. 1 hour ago, Lethys said:

    Or some rich troll just buys what He wants to troll others. If ppl built their monuments there it would be unfair and just Bad griefers f someone could simply outbid you and destroy the Monument (as He gets access to rdms->mine it).


    Just put down 5 or 20 sanctuaries, spread your fleet equally and you can always bypass that too. Store loot there indefinitely, come back days or weeks later and transport everything to your main base. 

    Still abuseable

    Those are good points I had not considered.


    I see the problem with bidding for territories, but I still think it would be useful to have some method of competing for territories in the ASA.  Ideally, new players are surrounded by territories that are active, attractive and useful, but there may be no way to ensure that.


    The practicality of spreading weapons across territories depends on the cost of territory units and the rate at which the delay increases.  If the units are very expensive and the delay increases sharply, most organization would probably prefer to defend one territory in a normal area than acquire all the ones they need in a secure area.  While developers can readily adjust the number of weapons and the length of the delay, the cost of territory units has a wide effect beyond this issue.  One solution would be to have a long delay regardless of the number of weapons or even make the effect permanent.  The disadvantage is that everyone would then want to store their weapons before they entered a secure area, but that would create an opportunity for weapons banks at the borders.


  9. I completely agree with Novaquark's goal of finding a moderate way between either extreme.  I have seen that as their attitude from the beginning and it is one of the main things that convinced me to back this project.


    I like their plan for the three types of areas.  Having only one secure area around the Arkship, even though it really would be rather large, seemed restrictive.  It felt like it was just an introduction area and the real game started outside of.  Introducing the MSA eliminates that feeling.


    The first time I read it, I missed one of the differences between ASA and MSA.  Nothing is allowed in the MSA until the territory is claimed.  This will prevent people from wandering in and doing random mining and terraforming, which make these areas more attractive.


    I am very interested in finding out what the differences between Normal Territory Units and Sanctuary Territory Units will be.  I also wonder how the demand for Guarded Territories and Sanctuary Territories will be handled.  Since they serve different purposes, I think they should be handled differently.  


    Those in the ASA will be the first things new players see, so I expect the demand for them to be very high, with those closer to the Arkship being considered more valuable.  It would make sense to have periodic auctions for the Guarded Territories.  This means someone could lose the territory they had if they were outbid, but it could increase the chances of these prime locations being used in a way that benefits the community.


    I expect the MSA will be effectively unlimited, with new areas introduced as the old ones fill up, so everyone who wants one will be able to claim it.  They do not have even the limited resources the ASA does and  their location would only matter aesthetically.  I do not think there is the same need to compete for Santuary Territories.  Once someone claims one, they should be able to keep it as long as they want without being afraid they might lose it.  The only exception would be the claim should expire if the owner has not logged in for several months.


    Several people have expressed concerns about secure areas being used as staging areas for attacks.  My suggestion for solving that would be to make any weapons that were in a secure area inoperable for some time after they leave it.  The length of time would depend on the number of weapons in one territory.  If there were few weapons, the delay would only be a second or two.  As the number of weapons increased, the delay would extend to several minutes and then several hours.  The delay have almost no effect on someone who carried a couple weapons for protection, but it would make storing an invasion fleet impractical, since it would need wait that time defenseless in a normal area before it could be used.  The explanation for the delay would the technology that inhibits the use of weapons in a secure area becomes overloaded if too many are concentrated in one territory.  When it is overloaded, it can not keep up with removing the inhibition when the weapons leave the area.


    Finally, I have a couple questions about the protection bubbles.

    • It says protection bubbles are activated for 24-48 hours.  Does that mean it will be a random time within that range, that the owner can chose the time within that range or the developers still need to pick a time in that range?
    • If attack notifications are sent, would they only go to the owner of a territory or  to everyone in it?  For example, it there was a trader visiting the territory, would they be notified so they could flee before the attack or would it be up to the territory owner to do that if they chose?
  10. @Iskiox


    Sorry, I missed a couple words when I read your post, which changed the meaning significantly.


    Are you suggesting this would be a replacement for the current tile system or just another option?  I would not like to see it as a replacement, because it would make it more difficult for organizations with limited resources to claim just one tile.  If it was an option,  I do not see why anyone would choose it unless the overall cost of a core and its surrounding tiles was significantly less than getting the tiles individually.  The chance of losing several tiles by losing just one unit seems like a serious disadvantage compared to only losing one tile for each unit.

  11. I completely disagree with this idea.  Claiming a planet should require claiming every tile on it.  It should be very difficult for even a very large organization to accomplish.  Of course an organization that controls most of a planet would probably have enough power to dominate anyone else on it, but they should not automatically control anything more than the tiles they have claimed.

  12. I agree there are good reasons not to build real spacecraft with cockpits like those.  However, in any science fiction setting, there needs to be a balance between what seems probable and what is recognizable to people.  We do not know what the equivalent of a cockpit will actually look like in the future, but people in the future are likely to instantly recognize it when they see it.  Making the cockpits resemble ones we are familiar at least captures that feeling.

  13. There is a difference between ships being similar because they are the same type of craft and one being a replica of another.  You were asking about making replicas and legally the IP owner can choose to not allow that.  Disney in particular has the reputation of being fiercely protective of their IP.  What the players or developers would like this game to be does not change what the laws are.

  14. I would like to suggest a different aspect of pay-to-win.  Instead of considering whether another player has an advantage over me because they sell DACs, I am going to talk about how I feel about selling them myself.  I do not intend to sell any.  When I play a game like DU, it is to see what I can accomplish in it, but it is the struggle that makes it satisfying, not the accomplishment itself.  In the sense that it would allow me to accomplish more with less effort in the game, selling DACs could be called pay-to-win, but it would be more accurate to call it paying someone else to play the game for me.  I only play games if I enjoy them, so to me it does not make sense to pay another player to enjoy it for me.


    Everyone does not have the same idea of what is enjoyable, so I do not mind if other players sell DACs, but I consider the ones I got as a founder only as a pre-paid subscription.

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