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LittleBird





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PostPosted: Fri, 13. Apr 18, 11:48    Post subject: Suggestion: Community Mission Editor Reply with quote Print

Currently I play X3:TC and although some plot missions are clunky and require patience due bugs and glitches I notice how much they give to the game experience.
I am also a player who has trouble to motivate myself for an endless game. I can not see much to do in X-games besides the plot missions. Sadly the standards missions become boring fast.

So I like well done missions and goals the game gives. Egosoft can not provide us with mass of missions but someone can... the community.
Some people would now say Egosoft offers a powerful script editor. Just do it. That is right but it is powerful as it is complex and tedious to use. Also you can broke the game with it.

Now think about the huge size new X-games have with the reworked engine. And think about how much unused space remains. So community generated missions could take place some distance of the standard travel routes and only there. There is just emptiness where no player and no NPC will ever be.
For example Freelancer has such a system. You take a fast travel route where you break out half way and then you fly a bit straight into emptiness where the battle begins.
After completing or loosing the mission everything would be erased. So no matter what mission you play no matter what huge battle you fight nothing would affect the vanilla game.

Therefore it needs a mission editor.
One where you choose your area that is far away from any station or ship. But then you have a limited editor. You can place stations and ships set triggers, communication and that is it. I think about a limited version of the Freespace 2 Editor. So pls a GUI, buttons and tooltips.
Of course if you like your creation share it with other people.

Well it is just a rough idea. I know there are many problems to consider. It should be impossible for doing a mission like "Destroy this M5- Congratulations! Here are 50.00000 Credits and Mastery Rank of Mastery".
And of course it is an idea for the future. I just see the new size and think why not using it for some fun the community has to offer?


So what do you think?


tltr: I like missions. Want more of it. Give us the tools for simple missions creation for the unused space far away from standard travel routes.

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Alan Phipps
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PostPosted: Fri, 13. Apr 18, 12:06    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

There is such a tool already in the later X games; it is called the Mission Director (MD) but unfortunately MD coding is a bit complex for many players and basic-level scripters/modders to become familiar with.


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Killjaeden





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PostPosted: Fri, 13. Apr 18, 12:48    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

MD is not a "tool" that you can use utilize just like that, it's a script language that you have to write code in.
Maybe Egosoft has a tool with GUI that creates MD code automatically from it but i somehow doubt it. The thing is intended to be written from a XML editor, not some fancy GUI with context menus, or even ingame like some games do it.
I would assume that it should not be difficult for a programmer to create an external tool to create missions via an interface, so that people with not much knowledge could create missions themself. Question is wether someone (Egosoft or hobby programmer) has the time and will to create something like that.

For comparison: In Arma series you have a 3D editor (or 2D in older versions) where you can place stuff in 3D, attach and place logic, create waypoints and NPC behaviours, place and customize triggers, etc. You still need some coding knowledge, but you can do a lot without that as well. That's what i would consider "a Tool" as opposed to a language, and i'm guessing that's what the OP also meant.


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UniTrader
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PostPosted: Fri, 13. Apr 18, 13:26    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Killjaeden wrote:
MD is not a "tool" that you can use utilize just like that, it's a script language that you have to write code in.
Maybe Egosoft has a tool with GUI that creates MD code automatically from it but i somehow doubt it. The thing is intended to be written from a XML editor, not some fancy GUI with context menus, or even ingame like some games do it


isnt the M$ visual Web Developer intended to be this? never used it because i prefer xml text editors, but from what i have read its basically like using pre-defined building blocks....


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PostPosted: Fri, 13. Apr 18, 14:06    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

We use Visual Studio for editing MD files. The XML schema used for the MD (as well as for the AI) is documented, so the editor is able to provide lots of help with the syntax.

CBJ, in a discussion on this some time ago, wrote:
Some of the original reasons for choosing XML for the MD were:

- Domain-specific structure (it's laid out in the form of the conditions and actions required for mission progress) and syntax (many of the conditions and actions are directly mapped to mission activities rather than just being generic programming terms)
- Missions can be created with very limited programming knowledge (while it's possible to do programmer-y things like loops, it is also possible to create simple missions entirely without this, which helps with the learning curve)
- Editing comes with built-in self-documentation as well as syntax auto-completion (most self-respecting XML editors understand schemas, and the schemas can also be used to provide the documentation)
- Easy to parse and convert to internal format (it is loaded and parsed very simply using standard XML libraries, then converted into an internal form that is that is, like the raw syntax, closely tied to its purpose, rather than using a generic third party interpreter or JIT compiler)

Now, bearing in mind that we have been working with the MD, in one form or another, for nearly 10 years, the reason we continue to use it is very simple: we have it, it works, and it does what mission developers need it to. The AI scripting system shares some key elements, such as actions and conditions, with the MD, saving a lot of effort in maintenance and development, but is, again, tailored to the task in hand. It would be a very poor use of developer time to throw all that away in favour of something different, with all the issues and unknowns that would come with it, just because some people turn their noses up at it for being XML rather than a "proper" programming language.

Unfortunately a "mission editor" that does more than providing a nice interface to that XML is unrealistic. Defining the behaviour of missions, including handling of all the possible things that the player could choose to do, is inherently relatively complicated, and not something that can be done with a "simple" graphical tool.

It must be said, however, that modders looking at the missions we include with the game may come to believe that the process is more complicated than it is in practice. Because we are trying to provide quite a wide range of missions for use in different contexts, the structure of the files we use can become quite convoluted. It is also possible to create your own missions with a simpler file structure, if you are just trying to create them as single-use missions.

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LittleBird





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PostPosted: Fri, 13. Apr 18, 20:57    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

It is really sad to read this.
Because the MD is nothing you can touch without programming skills and/or a lot of effort.
I read both guides (X3 and X-Rebirth) also some Tutorials in the forum, watched Ketraar's one on Youtube and even if I would work up into this matter the documentation is not good at all. (for not programmer of course). It is mostly theoretical and lacks practice (examples).
But with this huge barrier I am sure a better documentation would be wasted effort. Script only is just overwelming.

Without a (more) simple way to create missions only a small percentage will be able to try and do it Crying or Very sad


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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 01:49    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

One problem is that your idea of a mission editor that creates a mission scenario out of thin air and destroys it again afterwards is absolutely contrary to what many people want and expect from and X series game. Just look at these forums and you will see plenty of complaints from people who say, with some justification, that the fact that some of our missions spawn ships goes against the games' "living, breathing universe" principle. We are fully aware of this, and are actively working to minimise that in future. What you are suggesting would achieve the opposite.

Another problem is the idea that, even ignoring the issues above, such an editor would be in any way "simple"; it wouldn't. It's easy to talk about placing objects and triggers, but missions consist of a lot more than just placement. A graphical interface wouldn't help with details such as mission briefings, who should say what and when, what events to respond to, failure conditions, rewards, and so on, and you'd be back to a more script-like environment for many of those things. In fact combining this with the first point above, just about the only thing you'd gain from the extensive development that would be needed to create a graphical front end would be the one thing a lot of people don't want in this game, namely the placement of objects that then would be spawned just for the mission!

Your point about a lack of practical examples, though, is a good one. As I said previously, the missions developed by us probably don't help much with this as they are part of a complex mission framework rather than individual standalone missions. Maybe when the dust has settled after the release of X4, one of our mission developers might have time to create something a bit simpler to demonstrate that getting into writing your own missions doesn't have to be quite so hard as people think. Smile

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Fleabum





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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 03:07    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

CBJ wrote:
One problem is that your idea of a mission editor that creates a mission scenario out of thin air and destroys it again afterwards is absolutely contrary to what many people want and expect from and X series game. Just look at these forums and you will see plenty of complaints from people who say, with some justification, that the fact that some of our missions spawn ships goes against the games' "living, breathing universe" principle. We are fully aware of this, and are actively working to minimise that in future. What you are suggesting would achieve the opposite.


I would love to see something like a broken jumpdrive (or some other aptly named item like mysterious piece of glowing technology)that you can fix with resources/time/mechanic that jumps you to an instances pocket sector that could be used for single type missions. The sectors could be full of asteroids, alien stations, long lost technology or whatever the script/modders place in there. As it is random, once the player leaves this random pocket sector, it is removed and all assets within destroyed.

This not only could offer great random replay-ability to missions but would add some way for modders to create missions that have specific sector setups without impacting the main game.

Thoughts?

Regards
Flea

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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 03:17    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

If I may add to that based on my experience. The biggest problems with Mission Design dont really come from the code. Unlike what was said, I dont think you need much programming skills to write missions using MD as its now, I'm no programmer at all.

The main hurdle in X3s MD is the games nature, it being a sandbox is what makes creating mission a challenge, not its interface. Once people get around to understand the "basic" logic of MD and how it "ticks" its pretty straightforward, create cues, add conditions, wait for conditions to be meat, trigger the action, repeat.

Complexity rises when you have to take into account that there are a lot of possible scenarios and missions tend to require rather specific things to happen and the player to (re)act a certain way for them to plot along. Taking into account the many possible approaches to events is the real challenge and I dont think simplifying is possible, but mostly I doubt its desirable. As mentioned above, players will want complex and varied missions and for that a proper tool with many possibilities is required.

MFG

Ketraar

PS.: A drag&drop type of mission creator works OKish in a game like KSP where its pretty linear.

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LittleBird





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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 11:08    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

CBJ wrote:
One problem is that your idea of a mission editor that creates a mission scenario out of thin air and destroys it again afterwards is absolutely contrary to what many people want and expect from and X series game. Just look at these forums and you will see plenty of complaints from people who say, with some justification, that the fact that some of our missions spawn ships goes against the games' "living, breathing universe" principle. We are fully aware of this, and are actively working to minimise that in future. What you are suggesting would achieve the opposite.

So basically a kind of world AI that crates missions and challenges of its own?
Something not a single game out there has achieved? That complains sound not realistic for me.

Fleabum wrote:

I would love to see something like a broken jumpdrive (or some other aptly named item like mysterious piece of glowing technology)that you can fix with resources/time/mechanic that jumps you to an instances pocket sector that could be used for single type missions. The sectors could be full of asteroids, alien stations, long lost technology or whatever the script/modders place in there. As it is random, once the player leaves this random pocket sector, it is removed and all assets within destroyed.

That is in general the idea that missions take place far away in the emptiness.
Both types could be combined because it is unbelievable having a big fight against Xenons just some clicks away from travel routes as a mission. Also it is unbelievable destroying a pirate station in an unkwon sector you only can reach by this jump drive. If you switch both approaches it works.

Ketraar wrote:

Complexity rises when you have to take into account that there are a lot of possible scenarios and missions tend to require rather specific things to happen and the player to (re)act a certain way for them to plot along. Taking into account the many possible approaches to events is the real challenge and I dont think simplifying is possible, but mostly I doubt its desirable.

For this reason the effects of the mission should be independent from the vanilla game. So the creator has full control about what is happening. Also the devs for such a mission editor have full control what can be happening.
Sure if people do not like spawning objects that get destroyed afterwards...


The point is.
I can not see how missions should work or evolve out of the normal game. They never have (well demanding 10.000 energy cells if store is empty is an exception).
And all missions (also the plot missions) are simple. I am certain not simple to create but simple in its design.
I see what I suggest could be known as some kind of theme park content. It is understandable that people do not want it in a sandbox game.
But looking at the X-game missions theme park is common not the exception. So unless the sandbox can create missions of its own I think theme park is the only way. And the community is an potenitally endless source of this content (well if they want it...)


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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 11:52    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

LittleBird wrote:
So basically a kind of world AI that crates missions and challenges of its own?
Something not a single game out there has achieved? That complains sound not realistic for me.

It would, of course, be great if all missions came about that way, but as you say that's not always viable. However there is a middle ground, where missions come about for a variety of reasons, whether as a result of the ongoing activity in the game universe, as part of a story, or simply because we want them to. The important thing, though, is that wherever possible the mission's action involves existing objects and NPCs that already exist in the game universe rather than creating them specially for the mission and destroying them when it's finished. It may not always be possible, but this is what we are aiming for.

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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 12:07    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Don't like this idea, indeed it's pretty much the exact opposite of the missions I'd like to do in an ideal X game. Missions which occur in the middle of nowhere, using assets which are spawned in purely for the purpose of being shot at & which are removed from the game when the mission is over, are utterly inconsequential & just not interesting for me.

If I'm doing a station defence mission, for example, I want that station tro be part of the economy so performing poorly in the mission can have real consequences - if I'm nearby to find the mission it's likely because I frequently trade with that station so I have an incentive to help out if it's attacked. That makes it an interesting mission, whereas defending a fake station, which is just going to be deleted after the mission is over anyway & plays no part in the economy seems, well, pointless.

IMO in an ideal X game missions would be generated as a consequence of events in the universe. For example, pirate shipyard builds a fleet to go raiding for resources & this activity generates missions for the player to complete at stations along it's flightpath - i.e. the pirate fleet is there whether or not the player completes any missions, the stations & ships still get attacked whether or not the player intervenes, however player intervention has the potential to mitigate the attack & prevent possible damage to the economy. Thats the sort of missions I'd like to see in X4.

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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 13:40    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

@ GCU: I do agree that would indeed be interesting, but there we can also see exactly the problem that faces Egosoft regarding a 'missions' scenario that has bad effects for the NPC economy if the player fails or does not engage in it.

There may be many other players who prefer relatively peaceful trade-based play who would be furious about a series of inevitable missions that degrade their local trading environment and over which they have no control apart from having to resort to combat and going against their preferred playstyle.

The effects could seem a bit like in X2/X3 getting a random Kha'ak destroyer or two plus clusters spawning in your favourite trade hub sector when you only have trade ships locally.


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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 14:18    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Alan Phipps wrote:
@ GCU: I do agree that would indeed be interesting, but there we can also see exactly the problem that faces Egosoft regarding a 'missions' scenario that has bad effects for the NPC economy if the player fails or does not engage in it.

There may be many other players who prefer relatively peaceful trade-based play who would be furious about a series of inevitable missions that degrade their local trading environment and over which they have no control apart from having to resort to combat and going against their preferred playstyle.

The effects could seem a bit like in X2/X3 getting a random Kha'ak destroyer or two plus clusters spawning in your favourite trade hub sector when you only have trade ships locally.

I usually play with a predominantly peaceful Trade/Build approach to the game. Most of the combat I do is to help stations I frequently trade with deal with random attacks. I rarely do combat missions because I don't like the way enemy ships are spawned out of nothing, purely for the purpose of being shot at. Would much rather have missions which fit in with the events that are happening around me anyway - not proposing that stations should be attacked any more frequently than they do already, just that those attacks should generate missions to defeat them.

As for degradation of local trade, that already happens - stations get damaged & can't trade if they loses storage or production modules. That's fine as far as I'm concerned - game would be less interesting if stations & freighters were never attacked by hostile forces. Early game I'll move on to a different part of the universe while the stations are fixed, or mid-late game I'll consider whether it's worth assigning elements of my OOS defence fleet to defend the area.

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PostPosted: Sat, 14. Apr 18, 15:13    Post subject: Reply with quote Print

Arn't we moving the discussion away from the OPs suggestion about a tool to create missions and how it could be simplified (or not) to just broad mission design? I dont think its the same discussion.

MFG

Ketraar

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