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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ajsarge
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Post by ajsarge » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 04:17

someone else wrote: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.
What? NO! Don't even THINK about "Leaving it to the modders" to finish a game. Games are REQUIRED to able to be played straight out of the box by those people who don't have access to the internet or don't want to download 11 billion mods just to get a game running well.

DO NOT EVER "LEAVE IT TO THE MODDERS"!!! THAT IS NO EXCUSE FOR SHODDY DESIGN WORK AND PROGRAMMING!


Now, moddability is a damn fine thing to go after. If someone wants to take your vanilla space-based engine and turn it into a sea battle game? Let them. The easier it is for modders (and mappers) to get into a game, the higher quality mods and maps we will get. I have yet to see a full CUSTOM/NON-STOCK universe yet for X3. The only not-remade-original I know of even is terradine from X2.

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Tenlar Scarflame
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Post by Tenlar Scarflame » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 04:46

I have faith that Egosoft will make something quite fun next time around. :)

If it's not in the X-Universe, there's still a good chance I'll get it.

If it is in the X-Universe but it's an MMO, I will wince, but might still go after it. :P

If it's in the X-Universe and it's not an MMO, there's no question I'll be ordering on release day... :D

Now, Egosoft is a tiny, tiny developer trying to do gigantic things. I mean really, any other game of this scale is generally made by a MUCH bigger developer. Amirite? And I don't spend NEARLY as much time in similar games. Who else has made something with the kind of persistent depth that TC has, without a freighttrain-sized wallet? I mean, imagine Terran Conflict if EA had tried to do it... It would be a shallow, arcadish fesival of disappointment. Egosoft's TC is (relative to everything else released these days) brutal, unintuitive, buggy, and frustrating, but good god man, it works! Hats off to a really dedicated team with a real soul and vision, I say. :)


I will now dismount from my soapbox of adoration and offer suggestions...

-please no MMO's. Multiplayer would be awesome, but not massively. Just... please don't go there. :roll:

-I think Ego's definitely got a handle on the "gigantic living sandbox" style, so I think they ought to keep doing more of that... in space would be a plus too.

-What Ego appears to be trying to do with TC is a sandbox RPG/sim with strong RTS elements. The Sim part they are pretty expert at: RPG and RTS, less so. I suggest they go play a lot of Homeworld, Fallout, Dawn of War, and Neverwinter Nights, and take notes...

-If Ego tries space-complex construction again, I suggest they go buy a gigantic bin full of Legos, and see how they go together... NOT USING GIANT SPAGHETTI TUBES. :P

-Their next engine most definitely should be built from the ground up. I can tell the X3 engine is largely based on the X2 engine, and I suspect X2's was based largely on XBTF... meaning X3's engine, while heavily updated and tacked-on-to, was really assembled in 1999. Time for a new one.

-They should hire me to do their plot work...
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Post by PlatinumTech » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 05:18

My biggest suggestions:

Scrap the In-game script editor

Go with something out-of-game, preferably something more powerful and flexible than the current system. Go with a real scripting language like Lua maybe.

Now, X3:TC was announced to be the last of the X series, while the X universe might still be used.

Since this is the case, I'm assuming an new engine, or a vastly upgraded one, is on the blueprints for the next game.

Keep it single-player focused. While multiplayer is fun, some of us are antisocial, additionally, we love to be able to mess around, reload, or play DiD. We like to be able to restart, and even put certain characters/save sequences down for long periods and come back to them later.

Fluid NPC interaction, don't have hard coded borders, or even relations for that matter, between NPCs.

Don't pull a Freelancer. Aiming high and landing among the starts is not a philosophy for game development, at least, not a good one. Freelancer promised everything and the world, but was cut down due to funding (and M$).

Take these ideas presented, cut out what you can't afford, skip some corners, but maintain. I think that releasing games in steps to fund it is fine, like you have for the X series. I really don't consider Reunion a game, but a pre pre-beta to what could've been in X3:TC that still wasn't even achieved in TC. X3:TC is the beta to the finished product. None-the-less, they are all great fun, and have brought you many loyal fans along the way.
Not many companies get people that will buy 3 copies at full-price for what they consider a beta, unless you're doing something right. (and yes, I have 3 X3:TC copies registered, and a X3:R too)

And please, no MMO. You've build yourself a dedicated Single-player focused fan-base, don't go ruin it. Bad business decision ;]

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Post by eladan » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 09:33

ajsarge wrote:DO NOT EVER "LEAVE IT TO THE MODDERS"!!! THAT IS NO EXCUSE FOR SHODDY DESIGN WORK AND PROGRAMMING!
It's a bit of a fine line. Egosoft is under pressure to provide "more, bigger, better!" each game, but they don't have an infinite resource pool (funds/time, personnel) to provide it. When they spread themselves thin enough to include all the content people are demanding, clearly something has to give. I don't think anyone would argue that various aspects of the game could use improvement.

That's the choice. Either you have a smaller subset of game features, and more time can then be spent refining those features, or you provide more game features and have to make do with a bit of a rush job. Keeping in mind that if a feature isn't included, there's virtually no chance of modding being able to provide anything other than a hack to implement that feature.

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Post by CutterJohn1 » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 10:24

My suggestion(not that it counts for much of anything)..

-Give up the cubes! As much as i love playing this game, I can't help but be disappointed whenever I think back to the awesomeness that is Independence War 2, and compare it to this, in particular regard to the universe layout.

If someone were to combine that with the massive gameplay options of X... well.. It would be a truly amazing game. Epic.

Plus it would help framerates a LOT, since so much less would be 'IS' at any given time.


Oh, I lied.. one other thing..

Yes, I know.. Space is supposed to be dark(or bright, depending on your perspective), but its the dark I'm worried about. There are times in x3 where you cannot see the beautiful game, because you are facing the sun, and hence seeing the 'back' of everything, which is dark. It is rather annoying. :(

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Chemical-mix
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Post by Chemical-mix » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 12:43

Just been reading through all this, and there are definitely some great- if not entirely original- ideas.

However, i honestly believe some of the critisism directed at Ego/Devs is a little unwarranted.

Yes- there have been some/ a few/ many bugs with the game (delete as you see fit), but the majority of these- in my opinion- have been fixed to the point where they do not interrupt my personal enjoyment of the game. For-Profit companies do not have either unlimited resources or time, and we all need to realise this.

I do agree that the X engine is getting a little old in the tooth, but i am absolutely positive that if a follow-up X game is to be made, that issue will be resolved through natural progression. This would hopefully lead to a reduction in memory leaks, stutters, CTDs etc, though i'll admit that i'm no programmer and i could be entirely wrong.

As to answer a lot of the great suggestions that have been made:
We need to realise that X is already a very niche-market game. Implementing many of the ideas that have been posted would make the game unplayable on all but the most advanced of systems (Skynet from Terminator comes to mind). DS and Egosoft cannot risk alienating any of it's quite fanatical fanbase by making the game not only niche, but also a huge drain on the potential players' pocket. We need to keep things in perspective for what is affordable (in terms of PC hardware) for a potential buyer of the game.

One of the greatest aspects of the X-series is its almost limitless scriptability and moddability. For a profit-orientated company to give so much unrestricted freedom to its property is coming close to unheard of. By allowing users this freedom, they risk denting their own profits of any future releases. This is one of the main reasons why certain developers- and especially publishers (i will not name them)- do not give the end-user the option of fiddling with the product. I love the player added content, and like to see the great work that Egosoft have done being used as a wonderful framework for Community creativity.

So far my experience with Egosoft and the X-series has been 99% positive, regardless of the bugs etc that clearly do need to be ironed out. I have never experienced support like i have been given not only from Ego, but also from the active community on these forums.

I would absolutely not want to risk losing either that support, or customability that this game allows.

Lets give Egosoft some credit were it is clearly due in these aspects, and move on to the next release with progression, but more importantly with reality still attached to our expectations.
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Post by 5c0rch! » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 13:42

As for scale universes, we know that it is at least kinda possible, even with the current engine, just go look at the Continuum mod over in the S&M forum.

That a single modder is able to get working travel between planets with just the current engine tells you what Egosoft should be capable of, given the time and the resources to do it.

I also believe that what some people come on here and expect from such a dedicated, but otherwise tiny development team (compared to the gaming market big dogs like EA and Activision) is ridiculous. They are not a big development team and are limited by numbers, resources and time. They have to choose wisely on what they want to go for in a game. As they are they cannot have a Huge sprawling Universe with a mammoth amount of features and no bugs to speak of, they simply do not have the resources.

I myself am amazed by their dedication to their fans, their ongoing support of their games with updates, new features and content, all for free is a great achievement in my opinion. They could just as easily made us pay for features such as the Aldrin missions that where implemented in 2.0, but they didn't, and that puts them high up in my list of developers.

As a side note, I hope that in some years, after the X series has become significantly old enough to allow for it, that Ego release the source code for the game, it would allow some fairly awesome things to be accomplished that are otherwise impossible at the moment because of some of the hard coded limitations. (I guess we will just have to wait and see.)
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Post by ytheleus » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 19:49

Perhaps I'm being old-fashioned. Since when was it OK to release something onto the market that is clearly not fit for the purpose printed on the box or boasted of in the marketing literature?

The minimum standard, of course, must allow for some bugs and take into account that devs are only human, but when you pay full price for a newly released game and it's at the development stage of an early beta, it seems entirely fair to question the standards of software engineering and quality assurance being applied - not programming or creativity or customer-focus or enthusiasm, those are distinct subjects.

My view is that professional software engineering disciplines are important for development teams of all sizes, not least for a company's bottom line, but neglected by too many games devs because we let them get away with it again and again. A hard-nosed project manager, and some backbone when negotiating timescales with publishers could be good news for everyone.
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Post by mrbadger » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 20:37

ytheleus wrote:Perhaps I'm being old-fashioned. Since when was it OK to release something onto the market that is clearly not fit for the purpose printed on the box or boasted of in the marketing literature?
If you mean the X games, this statement is nonsenical.
ytheleus wrote:The minimum standard, of course, must allow for some bugs and take into account that devs are only human, but when you pay full price for a newly released game and it's at the development stage of an early beta, it seems entirely fair to question the standards of software engineering and quality assurance being applied - not programming or creativity or customer-focus or enthusiasm, those are distinct subjects.
Again, nonsense. Sorry, but it is. This shows that you lack a good understanding of the reality of software development, or indeed what the term 'beta' actually means.
ytheleus wrote:My view is that professional software engineering disciplines are important for development teams of all sizes, not least for a company's bottom line, but neglected by too many games devs because we let them get away with it again and again. A hard-nosed project manager, and some backbone when negotiating timescales with publishers could be good news for everyone.
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Post by ytheleus » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 21:37

You disagree, but don't really say why.

You may have misinterpreted my post as an attack, but since you ask I have 15 years or so experience of software development. It's my opinion that the sums of money involved in game development are large enough to justify professional standards of technical management.

I assure you I'm as keen as you are to see Egosoft prosper.

In case it makes my previous post look more sane, I was responding to this:
5c0rch! wrote: also believe that what some people come on here and expect from such a dedicated, but otherwise tiny development team (compared to the gaming market big dogs like EA and Activision) is ridiculous. They are not a big development team and are limited by numbers, resources and time. They have to choose wisely on what they want to go for in a game. As they are they cannot have a Huge sprawling Universe with a mammoth amount of features and no bugs to speak of, they simply do not have the resources.

I myself am amazed by their dedication to their fans, their ongoing support of their games with updates, new features and content, all for free is a great achievement in my opinion. They could just as easily made us pay for features such as the Aldrin missions that where implemented in 2.0, but they didn't, and that puts them high up in my list of developers.
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Post by mrbadger » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 21:53

ytheleus wrote:You disagree, but don't really say why.

You may have misinterpreted my post as an attack, but since you ask I have 15 years or so experience of software development. It's my opinion that the sums of money involved in game development are large enough to justify professional standards of technical management.

I assure you I'm as keen as you are to see Egosoft prosper.
Did I say it was an attack? I said it was nonsensical, that's not the same thing. Make a statement on a forum, you should expect that someone who doesn't agree will challenge you. I wasn't rude, that kind of thing causes problems, and I don't see why it would be worth it anyway.

I didn't go into technical reasons to refute your claims, because there is no point.

Why is it people who make daft statements about software development always then say how many years experience they have as a coder when those statements are challenged? It's so very predictable, and quite irrelevent. I make no mention of my own experience, because again, it is irrelevent, a first year student studying basic software development can quote as well as someone who's been through the whole set of university qualifications.

The ideal of issue free code is a Platonic concept, like the ideal bed (ideal forms [1]). One can describe it, strive towards it, but one cannot actually acheive it. There will almost certainly never be a product which is released without flaws, without something that needs to be fixed later. No amount of money or effort can change this. To state that the games industry, where product development is hard, costly and neccesarily fast, should be able to acheive this theoretical ideal is silly.

Besides, the method of patching issues later is also a well established, and accepted, practice. One that no company worth its salt can avoid. In fact a company that patches can be considered to be better than a company that does not, since the former is responding to the realities of software develoment, the latter is not.

This is rapidly heading towards off topic however, so I'll say no more on the issue. Besides, I have a nice long walk to start and some audio pratchet to listen to while I do it.

[1] Plato, ‘Politeia’, page 5, 360 B.C
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Post by Poseidon » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 21:58

I think we may be ignoring many of the non-technical, non-process influences on a software release. Publisher requirements, investor requirements, cash flow sustainability, etc, may have pushed them into releasing before the developers would have liked. We don't have access to all the information, but I doubt the developers looked at the QA results and said, 'Eh, good enough. We'll let the customers find the rest of the problems for us'.

You bring up the point of polish on a released product, but the X-series' customer base is fairly well defined. While it'd be nice, a new episode in the series is unlikely to draw vast new crowds of customers. You'll notice that many (I would guess most) existing players purchased the new game anyway, despite their consistent track record of releasing 'early beta' product. Since this was planned as the end of the series, executive politics may have turned TC into a cash flow solution to sustain them through the development of their next product.

This is all speculation on my part, but it's meant to point out just how much we don't know. Yes, there are ideals that would be nice to maintain, but sometimes the people in the trenches aren't given the time, resources, or option to uphold them. Somehow, I doubt the real decision makers read these forums, which means we're just taking out our frustration on the people with their hands already tied.

The last few posts should have been summarized as a single line item on the suggestion list, "Request more QA resources for future releases".
Last edited by Poseidon on Fri, 7. Aug 09, 22:01, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by ytheleus » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 22:00

mrbadger - You stated that I had no experience and don't know what I'm talking about.
The second part could be true.

:P

[Edit]Poseidon: A fair summary. I was originally objecting to the idea that process improvements are undesirable, impossible or too much to ask for.
Last edited by ytheleus on Fri, 7. Aug 09, 22:58, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by festa_freak » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 22:00

I haven't read all the pages but I will add a few of my own ideas.

First. I didn't like the BBS missions. I wouldn't read them. I would just dock, press arrow keys really fast, and if I didn't see a button flash by, I would just move on having 'wasted' a few minutes of precious gametime.

The performance issues I can agree with. My computer is decent and still stutters a bit sometimes. It's completely random. I don't have a complex yet so I haven't seen any of this FPS drop from complexes.

NO MULITIPLAYER! I think SP games are becoming such a rare gem. They allow you to go about it at your own pace and do what you want and still get the job done. If you add an mmo/co-op aspect (moreso for the mmo) you will have a few set methods that work 'best' for whatever you are doing. Be it combat, trade, missions, anything. It will be painful to balance, you won't have your treasured Hyperion and it won't have the same flare.

I don't know much about the GoD engine, but is it possible to make a random universe? Say, 100 planets randomly named with the regular number of factories evenly distributed amongst the universe?

I am fine with the controls in flight, but ordering a fleet is quite a challenge. Maybe we could have a point and click type RTS-lite interface in the universe/sector windows to move ships around.

I would personally like to see more customization during combat. Things like localized shields. For example. If you wish to run from a fight, put all shields to aft to give yourself more time to reach the jumpgate. I really liked the energy balance in X-Wing Alliance. You had to juggle engines, weapons and sheilds. (Maybe I should just play that for a few hours for old time sake :)

Just a few suggestions. I know they may have been said a few times in this thread and for sure on the boards many times.

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Post by Nanook » Fri, 7. Aug 09, 22:30

festa_freak wrote:...
First. I didn't like the BBS missions. I wouldn't read them. I would just dock, press arrow keys really fast, and if I didn't see a button flash by, I would just move on having 'wasted' a few minutes of precious gametime. ....
So, you don't care for background information about the universe you're playing in. That's fine, I guess, even though they give a lot of 'flavor' to the the game, but did you also miss out on all the Pandora messages, simply because they didn't have "a button flash by"? :P
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