Thoughts on generic missions so far

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AdmiralTigerclaw
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Thoughts on generic missions so far

Post by AdmiralTigerclaw » Thu, 6. Dec 18, 14:54

Going to put these here for the devs to check over if it doesn't get buried. A sort of quick review of some of the missions I've played. Minor spoilers for missions and strategies to them, so I'm placing them here in this subsection:


So, first up.
Satellite repair.
Ranked difficulty: Medium
ACTUAL difficulty: Trivial.

Reward vs Risk: Overpays by a massive margin
Notes: The cost of replacing a Satellite outright is so cheap that it would be easier to launch an entire constellation of them for the price that most of the missions pay the player just to repair ONE. We see these kind of economics today with flatscreen televisions. You can buy a brand new TV for the price most repair techs will charge you to fix your old one. Why would this be different in a bustling space economy?
Suggestion: Drop the reward to something like 2,000 per satellite repaired. Make sure the mission accounts for them in a dynamic fashion. So if it gives you one, the pay is ~2,000. If you have four, the pay is 8,000. Etc.



Next:
Attack and retrieve item.
Ranked difficulty: Medium
ACTUAL difficulty: Uh... Easy? Should actually be medium if ships shot back effectively.

Reward vs Risk: The payout for this mission seems about right. Get paid good money to shake some random trader down by blasting at them until they drop an item.
Notes: I've seen three 'flavors' for this mission, but they are all the same thing. Get mission, chase marked transport down, blast them until they drop the item you're after. Retrieve said item. Mission complete! Honestly, too easy for the marked difficulty. But that might get a little harder once the enemies with turrets can shoot back. However, this mission seems a little bland.
Suggestion: There needs to be more variation to this mission type than just 'blast until item'. Add in options on the comms list to warn them to drop the mission item, with a moderate chance of them just flat dropping it. Increase the odds of a drop if you scan them, if you have high standing with the owners of the sector you are in, and if you have a valid police license and do a police scan. The more 'authoritative' you seem, the more they should want to comply to avoid getting beat on. Also, to add in more variation, perhaps the target isn't actually the target, and the item has been passed off to someone else. This IS a 'fetch quest' after all. One or two side-tracks should keep things moving. Also, don't let the mission complete until you bring the item of interest BACK to the mission-giver.



Next:
Salvage Lockboxes.
Ranked Difficulty: Medium
Actual Difficulty: Trivial
Reward Vs Risk: The payout for this mission doesn't make sense for what you do. Not only are you payed a hundred thousand credits, you keep the contents of the lock box. It's like they paid you to make them breakfast, and they never eat.
Notes: A ship got blown up, and the high security lock boxes are floating in the void. Go cut them open and recover their goods. Aside from needing a cutting laser, and knowing where to cut, this mission is trivial to execute. Though, I find it odd that a ship exploded and its contents has scattered 30 km apart. In REAL space, that makes sense. In the X universe... not so much.
Suggestions: 1-Force the player to take the recovered items back to the mission-giver to complete the mission. 2- Spawn the lock boxes closer together. 3- Make the risk of the mission match the lore. Spawn a pirate in the area that will harass you if you get close to the lock boxes. Or spawn them WHEN you get close enough to ID the lock boxes. Or for even more threat, spawn them when you pop the lock, maybe with a message of 'thanks for doing all the hard work for me, but now your usefulness is at an end.' Give this mission variation by swapping the spawn of the enemy up.



Next:
Captured Derelict/Abandoned Pirate surrounded by mines
Ranked Difficulty: IMPOSSIBLE
Actual Difficulty: Impossible to fail. (If you understand 1: How to fly, 2: What a MINE is, 3: How to target and shoot things.)
Reward vs Risk: There seems to be a trend in ranking the difficulty of a mission above its actual difficulty, unless the mission was play-tested by a four-year old with a tenuous grasp of flight mechanics. The pay of course, seems right for a hazardous mission of this nature. But the hazard is so trivial to avoid that its not even worth considering.
Notes: Pirates abandoned ship, yada-yada, we got a pilot into it yada-yada, something something something, SURROUNDED BY MINES! This mission is so trivial to execute that I seriously kept looking for the Twist. Fly out, blow up the mines, mission done. If they're tracking or friend/foe mines, you can get them to chase you away from the wreck if you get within a km of them. I'm assuming this trick is meant to be used to deal with the mine that's supposed to be stupdi-close to the hull of the derelict. IE: If you just go in blasting, the sympathetic detonations may trigger the mine close to the ship and blow it away. Of course, two problems as far as I can tell. 1- The ship has full health and shields. 2- the mine cloud is too scattered to sympathetically detonate unless you get careless with the one mine.
Suggestions: 1 - Spawn the derelict ship as a near dead wreck with no shields and like, five percent hull. You don't just abandon a healthy vessel. This thing should be on the cusp of exploding so that even one mine kills it. And 2- Tighten the minefield up. Then maybe 3- Add variation by having actual hostile pirates show up intermittently when you destroy the mines. Maybe require you to escort the damaged ship to the dock of the station that gave you the mission.


Next:
Go scan a station module
Ranked Difficulty: Very Hard
Actual Difficulty: Trivial
Reward vs Risk: Overpaid for what amounts to 'fly somewhere and circle a station for five minutes'.
Notes: Aside from the bug that doesn't flag the mission as complete unless you scan some random vessel or laser towerr, the hardest part of this mission is finding the right station and part for a first timer. After that, it's just flying in circles. The way the lore sounds, it looks like you're doing some industrial espionage, and someone might take offense to you essentially flying around and snapping photos.
Suggestions: Toss in some variation by adding in those people who might take offense to you snapping photos of their station modules. Have the station send out defense fighters when you start scanning it while this mission is in your roster. Have those fighters chase you around taking potshots trying to drive you away. To make this mission 'very hard', the station isn't hostile when it does this. But you can turn it hostile if you choose to shoot back. Essentially, security is telling you to disperse and won't do anything more than 'shove' you unless you fight back.


Next:
Inspector
Ranked Difficulty: I forget, I think it was medium
Actual Difficulty: Trivial
Reward vs Risk: Overpays, again. A mission that's pretty much 'fly to place, give locals an air show' shouldn't pay you nearly 200,000 credits.
Notes: Like the scan a station module mission, the hardest part might be getting there. Except this time, 'there' is marked for you. So really, you don't get a mission more trivial than this. Even the satellite mission forces you to get in your suit and fly with a thruster pack. But we still need some manner of easy missions for the player.
Suggestion: Nerf the pay. Keep this mission otherwise as is... Maybe put a time limit on it from time to time. "I want you to inspect this station. But you've got to be quick. If my subordinates hear of this, they may spruce things up before you get there, and I wan't to catch what they've been slacking on."



Next:
Blow up laser towers
Ranked difficulty: Hard
Actual Difficulty: Do laser towers actually shoot back? (Easy)
Reward vs Risk: This mission actually punishes you for doing it in the form of taking faction hits. In the two I've played, I had to kill 2 towers the first time, and then 13 towers the second time. But there was no threat in the engagement itself. It was essentially pest control. The pay makes no sense at the moment because there are so many factors involved.
Notes: It makes sense that this mission puts you at odds with another faction very quickly, but the way system works at the moment, you are only ever at risk of counter-attack by one laser tower. The biggest threat is really if the mission throws a lot of towers in and the resulting one-point faction hits you take with each kill. I went from +1 neutral with Hatikva Free League to -12 enemy in one fell swoop.
Suggestion: Laser Towers need their own entire protocol for swarm defense. Essentially, if a laser tower gets attacked, it should send an alert out to any other laser tower of the same owner in a 20 km radius, instantly turning them all hostile. This way, the swarm of towers react to a player picking them apart by all turning on the player at once and making them DANCE. The towers also need to be integrated as a group entity 'under the hood' so that killing your way through them doesn't result in a massive blow to your reputation. After all, in the lore, this is a hostile action by the faction that put them there, and should expect SOMEONE to be hired at some point to clean them up, and not really hold it against them. After all, if you planted BOMBS around my house, and I called the bomb squad to disarm them? Are you going to hold it against the bomb squad for doing its job?


Next:
Mines at the gate
Ranked Difficulty: Very Hard
Actual Difficulty: Very Easy
Reward vs Risk: Another 'hazard pay' mission where the hazard is overblown if you're competent at the controls.
Notes: This mission is essentially 'minesweeper', without the caveat of having a derelict ship waiting to die if you somehow roll a critical fail on your competency as a PC space sim pilot. Whether the target area is a gate or a station, it's a pretty straight forward 'shoot the mines until they're all gone' mission.
Suggestions: I see no reason to change this mission up except maybe to alter the difficulty rating and Maybe put a time limit on it to spruce it up. Often military operations are time sensitive, and you need to clear the mines quickly so they don't miss their window.





Overall suggestions for the above:
- I had three 'on the day of my daughter's wedding' missions at the same time. And I've only seen three variations of that whole mission line come up. If it's going to pop up so often, it needs a LOT more lore entries to keep it fresh. The same goes for many of the others. I would actually suggest no less than twenty entries of 'lore' per mission type. If you're doing 'attack and recover' missions like 'on the day of my daughter's wedding' over and over, you want enough variation that even if you keep seeing the same stuff, you don't see five of the same thing at the same time on your chart.

Other missions I've seen, but not played (these are 'named' how I interpret the way they should play):

- Deploy satellite
- Kill a target (Usually the mission you scan for on a station)
- Deploy mines
- Deploy Laser Towers
- Taxi (I missed my ride, my ship left me)
- Fetch Quest (Bring wares to station)
- Build Quest (Build a station of specific design somewhere)
- Now Hiring
- Prospecting
- Hijack a ship


Those are my thoughts at this time.
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Playbahnosh
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Re: Thoughts on generic missions so far

Post by Playbahnosh » Thu, 6. Dec 18, 17:52

As an X veteran, I agree with the general sensibility. Missions in X4 are way to easy and pay way too much for what needs to be accomplished. The whole system reeks of being unfinished and unbalanced.

I have no problem with the variety, but I have to take issue with the types. Far too many "fetch quests" and "fly around this area until something happens", but basically no combat missions. X3TC used to have nearly a dozen variants of just combat oriented missions. X4 has....one. The "go after this one ship and shoot it". I don't count the missions with the stationary mines or laser towers "combat", it's just a stupid shooting gallery. Where are the station defense missions? Convoy raid missions? Stolen ship? Bounty hunt? Xenon/Khaak incursions? Border patrol? Hell, Operation Final Fury? Come on, Egosoft, you KNOW how to do missions, why not in X4?
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AdmiralTigerclaw
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Re: Thoughts on generic missions so far

Post by AdmiralTigerclaw » Fri, 7. Dec 18, 00:35

Playbahnosh wrote:
Thu, 6. Dec 18, 17:52
As an X veteran, I agree with the general sensibility. Missions in X4 are way to easy and pay way too much for what needs to be accomplished. The whole system reeks of being unfinished and unbalanced.

I have no problem with the variety, but I have to take issue with the types. Far too many "fetch quests" and "fly around this area until something happens", but basically no combat missions. X3TC used to have nearly a dozen variants of just combat oriented missions. X4 has....one. The "go after this one ship and shoot it". I don't count the missions with the stationary mines or laser towers "combat", it's just a stupid shooting gallery. Where are the station defense missions? Convoy raid missions? Stolen ship? Bounty hunt? Xenon/Khaak incursions? Border patrol? Hell, Operation Final Fury? Come on, Egosoft, you KNOW how to do missions, why not in X4?

I would assume that more 'complex' missions will come out later. Right now, most missions seem to focus on grabbing existing NPC assets rather than generating entirely new ones. I've noticed even Laser Towers and Mines seem to show up on their own before you find the mission. There's also a very obvious show of missions being incomplete from the lack of any time-limited missions, period.

However, my focus here is more on commenting on the missions as they are in current state. I'm not going to add more noise the 'this is unfinished!' crowd. That's not going to help. I like what we got with the engine, now it just needs to be rid of pesky bugs and spruced up to make sense.

And one of the things that tops my list is making interaction with the mission more dynamic than simply being a fetch quest. Best approach being that you create multiple ways to resolve a mission that have different consequences. Such as my suggestion to the 'retrieve item' mission group. Having multiple peaceful AND hostile ways to recover the item makes that more fun.



One thing I actually DON'T like is having the 'start navigation' function being tied into certain mission. That might be good for a FPS or getting information on a fixed position, but I feel it takes away from missions that involve running down the target. I've got a Nodan. It can run a ship down so fast I opened a dogfight on a Xenon miner that was in travel mode with my own ship in travel mode.

I know that X2 and X3 made missions a bit frustrating due to the LACK of pointing at objectives, but I feel there has to be some middle ground of information management that could make searching using player assets not a total headache without holding your hand.
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Re: Thoughts on generic missions so far

Post by Playbahnosh » Fri, 7. Dec 18, 11:42

AdmiralTigerclaw wrote:
Fri, 7. Dec 18, 00:35
I'm not going to add more noise the 'this is unfinished!' crowd.
I'm sorry, but it has to be said. The game is blatantly unfinished. Not talking about it won't make this fact go away.
Best approach being that you create multiple ways to resolve a mission that have different consequences.
That's a bit optimistic, seeing as how EGO is struggling to make missions work with one solution. :roll: But I get what you are saying. Like the "stolen ship" mission in TC, where you could bring the ship back to the customer and receive a reward, or you could just keep it and receive a rep hit and a security force jumping on top of you. But, if you managed to fight them off, you got a free ship!
I wholeheartedly support this, but I think it will take some time before EGO overhauls the mission system.
It can run a ship down so fast I opened a dogfight on a Xenon miner that was in travel mode with my own ship in travel mode.
Shift+X is your friend :wink: Yesterday, I chased a Xenon energy transporter halfway through Scale Plate Green in travel mode, trading potshots, and we suddenly arrived to a Xenon Defense Platform. Things got, uh, a bit hairy from there :mrgreen:
I know that X2 and X3 made missions a bit frustrating due to the LACK of pointing at objectives, but I feel there has to be some middle ground of information management that could make searching using player assets not a total headache without holding your hand.
You know, I actually liked how X3 did missions briefings and guidance. Yes, I know it was supposed to be broken, but after a while I could see the benefits of no handholding, the game actually required me to think during a THINK mission. I still remember the fun I had with the Aldrin and Treasure Hunt missions. What I would like more of in X4 is like the Data Vaults. Where you have to find the triggers for certain doors, scan the anomaly to find the next clue. Maybe scanning a data leak on a station gives you a fraction of a set of coordinates, then following the thread would lead you to danger and/or riches, and you wouldn't know which until you go. Maybe it's a trap, maybe it's someone's life savings, maybe a piece of another puzzle.

The same for non-think missions as well. Indeed there needs to be variety in the mission lore! Right now the "stolen data" the "priceless art" and the cheating business partner missions are exactly the same. Go hunt down this one ship, shoot it, done. You don't even have to bring the stuff back, you can keep it. :sceptic: And sadly, that's the most action you gonna get out of any mission these days, unless you like fixing satellites or dropping resource beacons...

I want a mission where some stupid Teladi stole a Xenon control module, screws up and invites a Xenon invasion on himself. I want the only guy who can fix it to be several sectors away. I want the idiot teladi to board our ship, and I want hordes of angry Xenon drones chasing me from sector to sector, running the gauntlet, until I finally crash into the stations docking bay, half a ship and my underpants missing, and have the other dude yell at the teladi in the comms of this is the last time he is helping this idiot, etc, etc.

I want timed trade opportunities. There's a wedding going on, and the groom forgot the food. Now you have five minutes to ship this 5000 Cahoona Burgers to a distant location or there's gonna be a riot. If you succeed, you get a reward, but if you are indeed late, all you see is a bunch of ships shooting at each other at the station, yelling obscenities at each other.

I want spy missions that requires me to actually avoid police patrols and shuttles, using other ships and the station modules as cover, to get to a data node, and then get out without being seen/scanned.

I want a crazy boron scientist to give us a beacon, that we need to place on a Xenon captial ship or a station. Like, imagine the gauntlet as you go full tilt towards to the station, eject the beacon at travel speed so it slams into the station. It immediately releases a cloud of angry combat drones, on top of half the sector already chasing you. But alas, the beacon generates a wormhole, and you manage to jump in half a second before your shields go down. But it's not over yet, you are in an empty unknown sector and you can barely see anything, it's a thick fog. You have use your scanners to find another anomaly to take you back to known space...and who knows what lurks in the mist... :o

I want to be excited when I see a quest marker pop up on the screen, "ooooh what sort of adventures will I get into now?" :D
Because right now, it's more like "uuuurgh, what sort of boring, menial labor you want me to do for a pittance?" :|
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Re: Thoughts on generic missions so far

Post by AdmiralTigerclaw » Fri, 7. Dec 18, 23:59

Yeah, there definitely needs to be more missions that get you going.

But at the same time, I'd prefer to see those spaced out amongst a lot of mundane, but moderately interesting day-to-day tasks. Because sometimes you don't WANT to be flying your ship apart every five minutes. You just need some income.

One thing we need is the return of Truck Driver operations. "I have a ware special order that needs delivering'. It's not a sourcing mission where YOU have to find something. It's just a milk-run. They already have the wares, you just need to show up, pick up, and move it.

Maybe at some point we should write up some missions and draw flow charts for them. That's one thing these missions reek of missing at the moment. They're not built up.
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