Friendly suggestions for Next Egosoft era

General discussions about the games by Egosoft including X-BTF, XT, X², X³: Reunion, X³: Terran Conflict and X³: Albion Prelude.

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andymac
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Post by andymac » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 11:38

I agree that Egosoft should start from scratch rather than try to squueze more life out of the X engine. A complete redesign would allow multi-core optimisation and give the devs the ability to add features that might not be possible in the current engine.

Some ideas/comments about features for the new game;

1. Variable difficulty.
I'm not expecting a huge number of options here - maybe just areas;
A) size of missions rewards low/high. If you want a game where you get paid huge amounts for missions so you buy an uber-ship fast then you can do so. OR, if you want a X2-style grind, then you can choose that also.
B) combat difficulty low/med/high. Basically adjust the combat effectiveness of enemy AI, so that players who are a bit rubbish at combat and want to focus on trade aren't excluded from the more hostile areas of any space by their lack of skills. Veteran combat aces can set it to high for a real challenge.

2. Universe map
Have a "real" universe (3D perhaps?) rather than a grid of seperate systems. I like the idea of planets within a system being linked by accelerators, and systems being linked by a jump drive. Which leads to point 3...

3. Travel
I also like the idea of only larger ships being able to jump between systems. Smaller ships would need to "piggy back" or dock - a bit like in Freespace, perhaps? Pilots of small ships can pay a large ship to take them with them (like hiring a TL) - having to pay a lot more if the player wants the big ship to take a detour to go to somewhere of the player's choosing that wasn't on the big ship's planned route.

4. Use of planets
We'd all love planets / moons to be usable. My concern is that this could be a huge timesink for the devs. Flying through the atmosphere would be cool for a few times, but eventualy would get time-consuming and players would want to turn it off (like the jumpgate animation in X). Which means the Devs spend ages making realistic-looking planets for very little gameplay benefit.
My suggestion is this; to land on a planet your ship has to fly to a certain area in space in orbit (marked by a box/spere in your HUD?) and stop dead. The backstory can be that tihs is for clearance etc. This then triggers a cutscene of your ship descending into thick clouds... cut to your ship landed at a space base. This way, the devs only have to design a handful of cool-looking space bases and some generic background scenery. Not spend months working on a cool planet-generator that will hardly be used.

5. Immersion
I loved all the non-mission stuff on the BBS in previous X games. Although the TC mission system works well, I miss the immersion factor of BBS. If some way could be found to make the universe feel like a vibrant place whilst keeping the mission system slick, that would ge a great achievement.

6. No multiplayer
Don't want to derail this thread with excessive discussion of this, so just suffice to stay - don't bother. Stick with the rich single player experience which has worked for you in the past.

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Post by 5c0rch! » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 13:19

My suggestion is this; to land on a planet your ship has to fly to a certain area in space in orbit (marked by a box/spere in your HUD?) and stop dead. The backstory can be that tihs is for clearance etc. This then triggers a cutscene of your ship descending into thick clouds... cut to your ship landed at a space base. This way, the devs only have to design a handful of cool-looking space bases and some generic background scenery. Not spend months working on a cool planet-generator that will hardly be used.
So pretty much Freelancer style planet landings? Where you had to fly to an atmospheric 'gate' where you get clearance to land, and then cutscence, then you are landed on the planet ready to trade.

I know that it would just add alot more work on their plate, but I was thinking of more than just novelty atmospheric flight, I was thinking full blown battles within the atmosphere of a planet. Where there would be ground targets, installations and such, as well as atmospheric dogfights. The Exodus of New Caprica from Battlestar Galactica Season 3 Comes to Mind.

I mean c'mon, you gotta admit that would open up a whole new avenue of combat gameplay, don't you? Like Orbital Strikes from Capships in orbit, conquest of planets where you take the capitals of a world cities, and fighting pirates on their own hidden bases on out of the way planets and such.
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Post by mrbadger » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 13:27

Blackjack. That's all I wanted added, or put back in.
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Re: Friendly suggestions for Next Egosoft era

Post by pjknibbs » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 13:31

ezra-r wrote: * Create a New engine from scratch (don't use old one) or use another from the reliable existing ones (Infinity?) that may be known for stability and performance (whichever costs less to egosoft).
Exactly what isn't stable about the existing X3 engine? In addition, most of the "existing reliable" engines you're talking about are not really designed for space sims, assuming that's what Egosoft will produce next (and I hasten to add that I don't know either way).

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Post by 5c0rch! » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 13:41

I certainly hope they produce another space sim, cause they are kick arse at that! /sucking up to devs

A 3d Universe Map would also be required if a realistic universe model was used, It wouldn't be as practical or intuitive to have a 2d map.
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Re: Friendly suggestions for Next Egosoft era

Post by mrbadger » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 15:19

pjknibbs wrote:
Exactly what isn't stable about the existing X3 engine? In addition, most of the "existing reliable" engines you're talking about are not really designed for space sims, assuming that's what Egosoft will produce next (and I hasten to add that I don't know either way).
I know what it will be. A MMORPEGER with planetary landings, a UFO base, and blackjack. Plus a mini game where you get to argue with CBJ about whether there ever was a generational ship in Elite.

Just don't tell anyone else :wink:
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Post by freddiel » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 17:57

s_mak wrote:Stardock's Galatic civilizations 2 runs right out of the box. :)
You're right it does, great game too. However, I would hazard a guess that it is a quarter of the size of X3 TC in terms of programming code. :)
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Post by mrbadger » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 18:08

5c0rch! wrote:I certainly hope they produce another space sim, cause they are kick arse at that! /sucking up to devs

A 3d Universe Map would also be required if a realistic universe model was used, It wouldn't be as practical or intuitive to have a 2d map.
A cubed map sounds interesting, but it would mean a somewhat extreme size increase for the X'verse. If the cube were just ten sectors on a side that would be 1000 sectors. Right there you'd crowd out loads of players simply because the processing requirements to run it would be masssive.

The visualisation of such a map would have to be really *really* good to make that seem like something useful.

Parsing what was said, they are 'done with the X storyline' But they have a mature codebase, a strong community, and good experience in space sims. I rather suspect we'll see something similar, but not X as it is now.
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Post by 5c0rch! » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 18:28

I never meant to go to the extremes of 3d, just that it should be less a flat surface map, and more of a Mass Effect type of travel map, where you can click and zoom on a specific portion of the Universe (ie galaxies) and then click on a system to see the planets and such in that system (and this would be what you would travel within.) This would also allow for hidden locations within galaxies and even hidden locations in the void between them, that would allow for a lot more immersion when it comes to exploration. (new locations could be discovered through all sorts of in game means, adding a new layer of exploration to the game, rather than the boring North-East-South-West means of exploration in X.)

And who says it isn't possible, especially if they work multi-core support into their next game (which I assume they would, otherwise they would be shooting themselves in the foot in terms of what they would be able to accomplish).

That being said, I'm sure we will all be hooked on whatever they release next. :lol:
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Post by ytheleus » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 20:59

1) I agree strongly that pre-release testing has been inadequate over the course of several product releases. Major game-breaking bugs are not acceptable, whatever the excuses. The main benefits of improving this aspect of development would be better initial reviews, more early full-price sales, better uptake of X-games by casual gamers and ultimately more moolah (albeit in a slightly longer time-frame) for publishers, devs, and future development. The X games are far better than they get credit for, eventually.

2) Factory complexes need streamlining. One idea is to sell a complex framework as a type of station, essentially a large holder object (with manageable geometry and at least one capital docking bay for TL station deliveries) into which factories can be installed, as if they were being attached to a TC complex. These might be expensive, and come with different factory capacities.

3) The best travel/exploration model I've seen was in Independence War 2, with jumpgates between major systems, but also warp travel through huge and sparsely-populated areas consisting of several neighbouring star systems. You get a sense of wide open spaces and isolation. There are many places to hide. I also liked the Newtonian physics in IW2, but frictionless inertia isn't as intuitive as space ships that respond like cars in 3D.

4) If it's multiplayer, I won't be playing it.
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Post by mrbadger » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 21:16

ytheleus wrote:1)

4) If it's multiplayer, I won't be playing it.
I doubt it, but frankly, neither will I if they do. I like my sandbox game. Provided I sacrifice the odd ship to the mighty RNG I can pretty much do anything I like.
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Re: Friendly suggestions for Next Egosoft era

Post by ezra-r » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 21:29

pjknibbs wrote:
ezra-r wrote: * Create a New engine from scratch (don't use old one) or use another from the reliable existing ones (Infinity?) that may be known for stability and performance (whichever costs less to egosoft).
Exactly what isn't stable about the existing X3 engine? In addition, most of the "existing reliable" engines you're talking about are not really designed for space sims, assuming that's what Egosoft will produce next (and I hasten to add that I don't know either way).
You just opened the pandora box.

Let me mention a few:

1. X3 engine is not updated enough to cope with its massive amount of content. It is constantly reading/writing disk and it's not capable to handle a sufficient amount of memory to relieve this, thus the failed attempt to relief this enabling the >2Gb mem flag (which it has been proven to not work right). This is more noticeable after playing for a while, which is strange because the game seems to handle very well at first.

2. The same reason after playing for hours the game slows down or becomes a dog, fps decrease, fighting can become next to impossible due to MASSIVE stutter. Why? Noone, not even egosoft knows. (so much for a reliable engine,right?). Why Elena's Fortune, Aladna Hill and some other sectors have great fps at start and after a while you better not visit them?

3. The fact that since release, these previous two points haven't been fully fixed and egosoft staff focus on fixing content issues rather than these critical engine issues.

4. The constant fight with codecs and the perfect windows/driver install (check tech-support), unheard of in any of the other games I ever played (i have played many...many). I have had certain issues with other games, but the whole tech support forum is a master lesson of how to have the ultra perfect codec install. Why this game needs this and all others I ever played don't? A mistery to me.

5. In certain scenarios AI ships throttle to Zero, and your huge mighty invasion becomes the biggest letdown ever. (I had that scenario, provided a save, no answer...).

6. AI that won't ever be able to maintain formation, that crash repeatedly with big objects or with you in that formation, incapable of decent dogfighting and real collition avoidance.

7. Game can't handle some of its weapon definitions (like pbe's with slow the game as hell, Shockwave Phase Generators, etc.) that slow the game down to a very not-enjoyable experience at times. FLAK effect which has a bug that has been "fixed" disabling it, etc..

8. I think I could be re-editing and adding to this list endlessly.
---

I could also mention the whole mess with game ship and other element stats since release, and the whole mess that still the game (statswise) is after so many fixes (many contributed by players), or the mess of mixing xtended stuff with x3:r, plus the comeback of many fixed previous bugs, although that's not an engine problem that indicates even the egosoft staff can not reliable modify the game without a very high risk of screwing something in the process, which indicates something wrong, not with the ego staff, but probably with the way the engine is handled and how they can create content in it (this is my personal hypothesis of course, I admit Im clueless).

---

Just to clarify:

It is normal that no games are perfect after release, it is normal that all of them have "some" critical bug that needs fixing and it is annoying as hell, still you will be able to play it more or less correctly with a normal performance, maybe an occasional CTD.

It is not normal it hasn't been fixed many months later and still it seems like ego doesn't have a clue where the problem may be.

Since egosoft staff is probably great and they offer the best support I have ever seen in action I just can assume there is something wrong with the engine or they lack numbers to do any decent fixing, although this is just a personal hypothesis like I said earlier, what I really care about is they fix the outstanding issue with the game performance and slowdown over time and remove the stutter as much as possible to make it a playable/enjoyable game all the time, not just when you start a new game (and even then it stutters a little bit at times).
Last edited by ezra-r on Thu, 6. Aug 09, 22:03, edited 13 times in total.

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Re: Friendly suggestions for Next Egosoft era

Post by mrbadger » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 21:30

ezra-r wrote: Let me mention a few:

1. X3 engine is not updated enough to cope with its massive amount of content. It is constantly scratching disk and it's not capable to handle a sufficient amount of memory to relieve this
Let me stop you there. The engine is scratching disks?
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Post by Poseidon » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 21:33

mrbadger wrote:
ezra-r wrote: Let me mention a few:

1. X3 engine is not updated enough to cope with its massive amount of content. It is constantly scratching disk and it's not capable to handle a sufficient amount of memory to relieve this
Let me stop you there. The engine is scratching disks?
I'm certain he meant, 'the engine is constantly using the scratch disk', as in virtual memory.
5c0rch! wrote:I certainly hope they produce another space sim, cause they are kick arse at that! /sucking up to devs

A 3d Universe Map would also be required if a realistic universe model was used, It wouldn't be as practical or intuitive to have a 2d map.
3D maps are a bit overrated. Anyone here played Sword of the Stars? I know quite a few players that never get their head around the truly 3D maps in the game... and the interface was very good (IMO).
ytheleus wrote:4) If it's multiplayer, I won't be playing it.
I think they'll have a hard time breaking into the MMO sector due to EVE. A static multiplayer universe that ran on a player-run server, with a small player count (eg. 64) might be interesting, but would break the 'Reload a Save' functionality. DiD players may like this, but I would think most players needs this functionality to survive the learning curve, recover from random events (Gate Collisions), and enjoy the game in general.

On another note, Egosoft has been working on the X series for a decade! I can only imagine they've had plenty of ideas in that time that never got implemented due to their commitment to their existing product. I have faith that their next game will contain the results of their enthusiasm and experience. These forward-looking threads are always interesting, but I can't help but wonder how many of them are laughing as they point out the JIRA ticket from 2005 documenting the things we're saying now.

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Post by someone else » Thu, 6. Aug 09, 23:14

just one thing to add:

leave entire and complete moddability of all aspects of the game.

you don't want to spend the time creating a good AI? leave the modders the chance to work on it. There are plenty of talented people ready to work free for you.

all the hardcoded limitations should be removed, the game engine itself should be issued to work only on the graphic rendering of things and processing the "scripts" (whatever they may be) that make everything else work.

I have no idea on how to do that, of course :roll:
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