Change of starting mechanics

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mudcrabempire
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Change of starting mechanics

Post by mudcrabempire »

This post is motivated by the (probably well known) observation that the starting area can have a rather dramatic impact on the start of the game. Especially when playing on higher difficulties it's very important to get a good start and some maps can be unplayable highly challenging due to no other reason than the starting area.

It would be nice to have some choice, independently of the map seed, about where to start. Following are a few ideas in that direction.

--Don't make biter expansion and the time-factor for evolution start ticking until you produce your first unit of pollution. //Just so you can take it easy, walk and look around and settle on how and where you want to do stuff.
--Make biter nests in a large area around start constant in size and density. //To not "herd" the player in.
--Make several iron/copper patch pairs in a large area around start. //Because that's kind of needed to start. Several to have a choice from.
--Make coal and stone patches around start small but frequent (maybe some larger ones mixed in). //Because they are not needed in large quantities at the beginning, small but frequent so they don't influence starting location choice (much).
--Generous amount of small lakes around start.
--Better worked out environments (think of the biomes in minecraft) plus transitions between them, possibly with choice in which environment to start. //Technically a bit off-topic, but if the environments had significantly different properties (resources, geography, biters) it would add some nice choice to where to start. Also if one happens to start near a border between environments one can decide which way to go. This could potentially replace some of the sliders for world generation (all those settings are maybe nice as "advanced settings", but for a regular game a slider for "overall resource richness" and a dropdown for choosing starting environment are more than enough)(and yes I am aware that biome generation algorithms are far from trivial and that it probably won't happen near-future).

Septimus ii
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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by Septimus ii »

This could maybe be an option if you set a very large starting area. The problem is that starting areas are quite heavily managed in the map generation - providing a set area of no biters, and all basic resources. It would be difficult to change this without major repercussions

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by mrvn »

Most important and hopefully trivial change would I think be to have separate settings for starting area for resources and for bitters.

If you don't want to run into bitters the moment you expand you need to set a large starting area. But that also pushes out resources that aren't allowed inside the starting area. With mods those resources are often needed quite early. So all this does is force you to expand far more and you run into bitters just the same at the same time when you don't want that challenge yet.

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BlueTemplar
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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by BlueTemplar »

So, adding a "mid-area" ?

Being able to pick your starting spot would be amazing, but I can't see it working with the way how resources (& biters) increase exponentially from the start...
Also you can kind of simulate this by just doing Escape => Restart until you find what you like ?

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by mrvn »

BlueTemplar wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:23 pm
So, adding a "mid-area" ?

Being able to pick your starting spot would be amazing, but I can't see it working with the way how resources (& biters) increase exponentially from the start...
Also you can kind of simulate this by just doing Escape => Restart until you find what you like ?
It would be nice if you could pick a spot on the map preview and it would use that as starting position. By which I mean it would offset the terrain to where you clicked and generate a new preview. Ideally the terrain wouldn't change except for the hardcoded lake in the starting zone. Wether ores remain unmoved or generate completely different I leave open. But I don't think the ore should move. Otherwise you would select to start next to a 1G iron ore field next to a 1G copper ore field and 100M coal field with tons of oil.

So simplest case clicking for a new start position would add an offset to the noise function for terrain and nothing else.

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by mudcrabempire »

BlueTemplar wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:23 pm
So, adding a "mid-area" ?

Being able to pick your starting spot would be amazing, but I can't see it working with the way how resources (& biters) increase exponentially from the start...
Also you can kind of simulate this by just doing Escape => Restart until you find what you like ?
No the "mid-area" would completely replace the "starting area". Basically instead of a fixed starting area, make a large area with many spots that are attractive to start in. The exponential(?) increase of resources of resources/biters would only start outside this area.

I know that you can reroll until you get a seed you like. It just seems unelegant to me. I would prefer if all seeds where similarly play- and enjoyable.

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BlueTemplar
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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by BlueTemplar »

This is pretty much incompatible with random map generation. (And the opportunity for being surprised comes with the opportunity of the game being too easy / too hard.)

BTW, any way to extract the seed from the map string, once you've finished restarting and found a starting area you like ?
mrvn wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 2:33 pm
It would be nice if you could pick a spot on the map preview and it would use that as starting position. By which I mean it would offset the terrain to where you clicked and generate a new preview. Ideally the terrain wouldn't change except for the hardcoded lake in the starting zone. Wether ores remain unmoved or generate completely different I leave open. But I don't think the ore should move. Otherwise you would select to start next to a 1G iron ore field next to a 1G copper ore field and 100M coal field with tons of oil.

So simplest case clicking for a new start position would add an offset to the noise function for terrain and nothing else.
I'm not sure that this is compatible with the way ore is generated - I suspect that (unlike for RSO ?), patch frequency *also* varies with the distance from the starting area ?

And the starting area might have a bigger effect than you think on elevation, cliffs, moisture, etc. ?

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by netmand »

mudcrabempire wrote:
Wed Jan 29, 2020 5:01 pm
It would be nice to have some choice, independently of the map seed, about where to start.
I've been cycling through seeds to find my ideal place to start. It would be nice to have it so the settings allow my starting area to be optimized in the first preview. I like some of the mechanics proposed as well, as long as they are configurable so those that want more of a challenge (aka Deathworld) won't be saddled with changes they don't want.

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by BlueTemplar »

IMHO using *Preview* (rather than Restart) to pick a *specific* map is cheating - since you're able to see much farther away... and also removes a lot of the exploration fun - but, again, it's only IMHO.

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by mrvn »

BlueTemplar wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:26 pm
BTW, any way to extract the seed from the map string, once you've finished restarting and found a starting area you like ?
Save, quit, copy map string from save game, new game, import map string, look at seed.

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by BlueTemplar »

Thanks !

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by netmand »

BlueTemplar wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:45 pm
IMHO using *Preview* (rather than Restart) to pick a *specific* map is cheating - since you're able to see much farther away... and also removes a lot of the exploration fun - but, again, it's only IMHO.
"IMHO" notwithstanding; The sheer amount of flexibility of this game renders any sort of play comparison difficult to say the least. Not to mention that previewing a map is vanilla functionality. To which I'd argue is not a cheat.

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BlueTemplar
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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by BlueTemplar »

Well,
Twinsen wrote:Notice that the "Preview" button has a warning icon next to it (in the images above). Hovering over it will give you a warning that the preview can spoil the exploration part of the game and should be used to understand the settings. My hope is that the majority of players will open the preview, play with the settings, then close the preview and re-roll the seed before pressing play.

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by netmand »

BlueTemplar wrote:
Thu Jan 30, 2020 4:13 pm
Well,
Twinsen wrote:Notice that the "Preview" button has a warning icon next to it (in the images above). Hovering over it will give you a warning that the preview can spoil the exploration part of the game and should be used to understand the settings. My hope is that the majority of players will open the preview, play with the settings, then close the preview and re-roll the seed before pressing play.
All that tells me is that Twinsen would consider my use of the Preview puts me in the hopeful minority. If they wanted to enforce that play-style they would have made the play button (when in preview) re-roll the seed automatically. Before the preview feature was implemented, I would restart games until I got the map I wanted. Minimizing play on unwinnable/undesirable games is a totally viable way to play. Would you ask chess champions to play their games until their actual end and call resigning a cheat?

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by BlueTemplar »

No, that's why I suggested to use "Restart" ?
(Which is technically still a bit "cheaty" - that's why AFAIK one of speedrunning challenges is to use a specific map seed - but less so than using Preview ?)

Also, personally I care more about Preview spoiling the exploration part of the game...

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by netmand »

What's funny is that I first noticed that the Preview shows more map when I chose a map with uranium on it but didn't see the patch (and forgot where it was) after I started playing and reached nuclear technology. I had to explore to find where it was. Preview certainly didn't ruin exploration for me.

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by mrvn »

With mods like RSO the preview also doesn't show the actual ores that are later placed by lua script. So you get to pick the biome and lakes and forests and the resources are still a mystery.

Maybe the preview should have a resources free mode. I hate starting in a desert.

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by Lunruj »

Starting mechanics should be improved. Currently it is hard to find a reasonable start map on Death World setting because there are often nests close to initial resources. This should be prevented. Also, patches bordering one with another or on the other hand too far from each other are annoying.

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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by ssilk »

Hm. In my opinion nearly any map is playable even under crazy conditions. nobody said it is easy. :) But that should be the reason to play “hard”. 8-)

And so doesn’t need so much tweaking.
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Re: Change of starting mechanics

Post by Lunruj »

ssilk wrote:
Sun Mar 22, 2020 9:51 am
Hm. In my opinion nearly any map is playable even under crazy conditions. nobody said it is easy. :) But that should be the reason to play “hard”. 8-)

And so doesn’t need so much tweaking.
I would agree with that if that was a big problem to implement, but the changes needed to make the difficulty more consistent and avoiding most of the extreme cases should be fairly easy. If someone wants a higher difficulty level that can be done easily with tweaking the starting values. But I think the standardized settings should produce more consistent results.

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