Crew control and personalisation

A place to ask and talk about Astrobase Command.
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Crew control and personalisation

Postby PensiveElephant » Tue Sep 03, 2013 12:03 pm

I have several questions about your vision regarding life and crew aboard your station:

1. How do you expect crew to be controlled aboard? Will it be possible to directly control them RTS-style or will they be controllable only by assigning jobs and tasks?

2. Will crewmembers and people on the stations have needs, like entertainment, food, ambition (related to career progress), family?

3. Will the player be the commander of the station or just an abstract guiding presence (in the latter case I guess that would mean that the commander title would be held by one of the crew)?
3b. If the player is the commander, will she/he be represented by an avatar, or will he/she be disembodied?

I think that's more than enough questions on my part :P

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby Adam » Tue Sep 03, 2013 2:52 pm

PensiveElephant wrote:1. How do you expect crew to be controlled aboard? Will it be possible to directly control them RTS-style or will they be controllable only by assigning jobs and tasks?


In general, you can only assign them jobs and tasks. However, when handling events on the station (attack, alien infestation, etc.), we'll want to be able to give them orders.

We're staying away from the RTS-style level of control because we want to emphasize that these people have a mind of their own (i.e. they don't need you to tell them where to stand). Some experimentation will be in order, but we speculate it will be some sort of group order system that they will interpret and execute to the best of their abilities.

PensiveElephant wrote:2. Will crewmembers and people on the stations have needs, like entertainment, food, ambition (related to career progress), family?


There are infrastructure requirements in order to be able to support additional crew members (e.g. living quarters). While we likely won't be tracking individual needs and wants due to the size of the crew making that unmanageable, we will likely have crew-wide needs and wants. While we've only discussed hoe it affects the quantity and type of people that visit your Astrobase, there are definitely many more opportunities there.

PensiveElephant wrote:3. Will the player be the commander of the station or just an abstract guiding presence (in the latter case I guess that would mean that the commander title would be held by one of the crew)?
3b. If the player is the commander, will she/he be represented by an avatar, or will he/she be disembodied?


Great question! We've definitely had a lot of back and forth on this matter. While crew will be interacting with you as though you are the senior officer, we opted against giving the player an avatar on the Astrobase in order to keep the spotlight on the crew.

Essentially, we want to drive home the fact that while you are making key decisions, those are largely informed by the information (good or bad) provided by your crew members and then are executed entirely by them. We don't want the Astrobase to run itself, but we also don't want the player micromanaging every individual action.

What do you think of that approach?

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby aunshi » Tue Sep 03, 2013 3:14 pm

Related to the above; how will combat work? will security teams (assuming they work in teams) follow pre-set orders when placed on alert (defend this check point, patrol this area etc.) while civilians move to "safe areas" or return to their living quarters. Could you have set orders for the evacuation of certain sections of the station by civilians (say all non-combat personel evacuate the docking sections etc.)
I know the level of detail given in Dwarf fortress is MASSIVE and probably goes beyond what you want to do, but I still hold it as a gold standard for simulated combat. Would it be possible for security personnel to be trained by their superiors/instructors, perhaps in battle simulation rooms?

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby PensiveElephant » Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:22 pm

Adam wrote:There are infrastructure requirements in order to be able to support additional crew members (e.g. living quarters). While we likely won't be tracking individual needs and wants due to the size of the crew making that unmanageable, we will likely have crew-wide needs and wants. While we've only discussed hoe it affects the quantity and type of people that visit your Astrobase, there are definitely many more opportunities there.


Which brings up an interesting question - how large do you envison a balanced astrobase to be? Dozens of inhabitants? Hundreds?

Adam wrote:(..)While crew will be interacting with you as though you are the senior officer, we opted against giving the player an avatar on the Astrobase in order to keep the spotlight on the crew.

Essentially, we want to drive home the fact that while you are making key decisions, those are largely informed by the information (good or bad) provided by your crew members and then are executed entirely by them. We don't want the Astrobase to run itself, but we also don't want the player micromanaging every individual action.

What do you think of that approach?


I can understand that rationale, certainly. An avatar would mean focusing on him/her and mostly dealing with things dealing directly around them. But, avatar or not, will the "disembodied commander" have any kind of characteristics and abilities that a player could invest in? Hmmm... I guess it would be difficult to figure out an XP system for such a person though...

You say "good or bad" information - do you mean that your crew can sometimes be wrong on what it reports?

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby Adam » Tue Sep 03, 2013 10:47 pm

aunshi wrote:Related to the above; how will combat work? will security teams (assuming they work in teams) follow pre-set orders when placed on alert (defend this check point, patrol this area etc.) while civilians move to "safe areas" or return to their living quarters. Could you have set orders for the evacuation of certain sections of the station by civilians (say all non-combat personel evacuate the docking sections etc.)
I know the level of detail given in Dwarf fortress is MASSIVE and probably goes beyond what you want to do, but I still hold it as a gold standard for simulated combat. Would it be possible for security personnel to be trained by their superiors/instructors, perhaps in battle simulation rooms?


On-Astrobase combat is still very fluid, so take what I say with a grain of salt. We're giving ourselves leeway to explore our options here and see what feels right.

Certain module contents like security checkpoints and weapons lockers will serve as natural rallying points and security bottlenecks on the Astrobase. Since we will have visitors onboard, we have also discussed designating modules as public versus crew-only. That way, if you plan out your Astrobase so as to make it difficult for a saboteur to reach your main power plant or tech lab, you'll be able to feasibly support greater amounts of (poentially shady) visitors without problems.

We also discussed being able to give Astrobase-wide orders by rank and/or by division. So, we can get a call for engineering techs to go fix a hull breach or senior crew to evacuate an alien-infested section while security handles it.

Finally, as we'll detail further in the future, one of the benefits of the hierarchy you build in the duty roster is that superiors confer a portion of their own bonuses to the people they command. So, put the right people in the right place and everybody benefits.

PensiveElephant wrote:how large do you envison a balanced astrobase to be? Dozens of inhabitants? Hundreds?


That should largely be up to you. Depending on the kind of experience you want to have, you might want to keep a small, effective astrobase. Or, you might want to build a massive one. The only constraint is that the bigger the astrobase, the more infrastructure you'll need to keep it running and the smarter you'll have to be about its layout if you don't want to see diminishing returns.

As for having a specific number, it's too early to tell at the moment. It'll be a matter of finding the right balance between possibilities of epic scale and how much of your crew you can/want to possibly care about.

PensiveElephant wrote:will the "disembodied commander" have any kind of characteristics and abilities that a player could invest in?


We're not currently planning on supporting that. We want the player's progression to be based on their learning of the various systems and finding the right crew members for the right jobs. What it comes down to is we want you to create meaningful goals for yourself rather than provide you with an XP grind to focus on.[/quote]

PensiveElephant wrote:You say "good or bad" information - do you mean that your crew can sometimes be wrong on what it reports?


Absolutely! If you assign a new recruit to a power diagnostics position, he may never detect that one of your power plants is going to fail. Or, if he does detect it, he might give you an incorrect estimate of the remaining time.

We don't want to go overboard with these kinds of features, but we need to show people being bad at their jobs in order for you to feel truly validated when they are doing good, either because they've gained experience in the position or because they were the right person to begin with and you were smart enough to place them there.

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby MaxShields » Mon Oct 14, 2013 7:19 pm

How much autonomy do you foresee characters having for dealing with the requirements of every day life?

My understanding of what you've described above is that this should be relatively hands off. I hope you avoid the crazy clickfests that are created by needing to tend to each character's Maslow's hierarchy of needs. I find needing to remember to tell a character to have a drink of water or get some sleep (à la Sims) extremely aggravating. It is not an exercise in decision making, but rather an exercise in pattern tracking, which is entertaining in some cases, but I think you're aiming for a higher level of strategic thought which the clickfest would detract from. I'm not saying characters shouldn't need to tend to basic needs, but they should have the initiative and autonomy to do so on their own. They are highly trained space operators, after all.

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby MilitantLobster » Mon Jan 20, 2014 5:27 am

MaxShields wrote:I find needing to remember to tell a character to have a drink of water or get some sleep (à la Sims) extremely aggravating. ... I'm not saying characters shouldn't need to tend to basic needs, but they should have the initiative and autonomy to do so on their own. They are highly trained space operators, after all.


I totally agree with this sentiment. I'd hate to have to run everyone's lives at the same time as my base. I feel like the player should just have to provide quarters, a mess hall, a lounge, and tell the crew member where to work.

I am curious as to whether the player will have to create a schedule or if the game will optimize that for you. Either way, if I assign 6 guys to a security checkpoint I don't want them showing up randomly throughout the day, they ought to have duty shifts. Maybe that would be a nice in-between, the player sets the number of shifts and the computer optimizes from there.

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby daselk » Mon Jan 20, 2014 7:04 am

Yeah i like the idea of crew working in shifts, or at least making it clear when they are on duty and off duty. A certain other space game of building bases drives me insane when you set crew tasks and they go to the bar, have a chat, order a meal THEN engage the hostile alien decimating my citizens.

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby MaxShields » Mon Jan 20, 2014 6:52 pm

daselk wrote:A certain other space game of building bases drives me insane when you set crew tasks and they go to the bar, have a chat, order a meal THEN engage the hostile alien decimating my citizens.


Why whatever do you mean? :D

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Re: Crew control and personalisation

Postby Rat Patrol » Wed Mar 12, 2014 11:49 pm

Adam wrote:
PensiveElephant wrote:There are infrastructure requirements in order to be able to support additional crew members (e.g. living quarters). While we likely won't be tracking individual needs and wants due to the size of the crew making that unmanageable, we will likely have crew-wide needs and wants.

What do you think of that approach?


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