As promised last week I’ll now give more insight about the means and purposes of the mission system on a gameplay and game experience level.
First of all, here are some more info on the gameplay:
– the player can hyperspace to any visible system on his space-map, as long as he has enough hyper-fuel.
– hyper-fuel will be available on any inhabited planet/station, or transmuted from your ship’s energy (slow and energy-consuming process).
– the player buys maps with most of the inhabited systems in each region of space.
– the player can run a scan to detect nearby unidentified systems, thus enabling hyper-jump to these new coordinates.
– a space scan needs time, and needs to be completed within a system (no part-scan then jump to finish in another system).
One essential purpose of the mission system is to enable the player to feel right into the action, in order to achieve a movie-like experience for specifically designed play periods (climax battles, epic chasing, …).
The missions thus have to be focused on the player, creating a lack of coherence… To put it simply you arrive randomly in a system which is attacked by pirates, if you take the action-side you would expect pirates to come back until you defeat them (you’re the hero remember?) and then get paid by any means. But by doing so it cracks the whole coherence and immersion of the game-universe, in the real world you could stumble upon a grand-ma being attacked by robbers and just run the other way; if you walk back the next day it would be highly suspicious if the same scene was happening again…
We have a balance problem to solve between coherence (as in space infinity and realism) and player-focused action (to entertain the player).
To « solve » this issue we have a standard separation between mission types:
– Primary missions and primary missions with an important choice in it (autosave before the choice). Designed to get the movie-like feeling, we shoot at having the « Hollywood touch » in it by creating situations that are always cool to play (no wrong or right choice, keep the fucking magic!). An example of that is the way you always stick to the habits and missions of a bounty hunter long after the bounty-storyline gets you to the other side of known space. Of course with higher stakes and ethic implications.
– Secondary missions are in my opinion a good space to take the player in a more personal adventure, failure is an option here and it comes with more immersion as you’ll discover the slums and violence of the universe… and your own avatar maybe.
– Generic missions are the kind of missions that are too often destroying a game’s money-making and/or experience grinding systems, here it isn’t about how much pig’s legs you can take back to a NPC or anything. Generic missions are available for two main reasons:
* Low-skills players have to be able to get money easily in order to upgrade their ship and equipment, thus being able to lower the difficulty of other missions.
* High -skills players may want to have a big ship without going through the storyline missions, and being able to cruise the universe for discovery… who knows :p
So so so soooo…. now that we know what we need to do, let’s have a look at how to achieve it.
Missions are based on what I call a « mission-stream », because missions are linked from parent to child. Each mission has a test part where you can test for various things (count things, check system/planet name you’re on it, your standings towards the system faction,…) and then it can (or not) display a text with one or more options that links to the next mission, then you have the « mission actions », like summoning ships in the system, adding money or equipment, …
Let’s not lie to you, a mission is still only going from point A to point B… All you have to focus on is the way you do it ;).
here are some ideas, linked with their possible player-reaction:
– you are told to go to a certain place in space, but don’t have a system/planet name: adventure with some safari taste
– you are told to go to a certain place in space, but don’t have the system on your map: adventure with some lonely-space-infinity mood
– you are told to go to a certain place in space, but don’t have the system on your map AND are being chased: adventure with action, stress caused by the space scanning time.
– you are given a cargo to deliver on blockaded planet:
action with some russian roulette
– your are ordered to retrieve someone on a jail-ship (you have to disable it):
action or stealth tactic with the risk of destroying the ship
and so on….
I think that’s enough for one post and one day…. XD