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Notice The Way Forward

Discussion in 'Build Beta and Brainstorming' started by Pieter Boelen, Feb 12, 2016.

  1. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    The following is based on some discussions on Hearts of Oak on "Player Career Choices".
    However, it contains a lot of brainstorming of mine on how PotC currently works and what I would like to see changed, either in PotC itself or when these sort of things are implemented in HoO.

    The below covers the different values PotC has to handle "keeping score" and "progression" and such:

    Character Level
    Gaining XP gets you to level-up; on each level-up you get an ability point that you can spend manually.
    At least ashore, enemy characters are generated to be similar in level to the player. So you won't get Level 50 characters when you are Level 1 yourself.
    (This seems rather arbitrary/arcadey to me)

    Ideally I would like the game progression to NOT be "you are a one-hit kill at the start" to "you are Superman at the end".
    Instead, I'd like to see the focus of the game shift throughout the game. So you would have different stages, such as:
    1. Learning how the game works at all (tutorial)
    2. Gaining experience in "staying alive in 1-on-1 fights"
    3. Learning how to sail a small ship with a captain and crew (crew management tutorial)
    4. Doing basic navigation by yourself
    5. Doing basic trading by yourself
    6. Gaining experience in small ship battles
    7. Gaining experience in "staying alive in fights with multiple enemies", possibly with the help of officers
    8. Start boarding ships rather than running away/sinking them; possibility to get bigger ships this way
    9. Get a Letter of Marque or join the Pirates or a Merchant Guild
    10. Start doing missions/gaining relation points and rewards
    11. Start delegating navigation/trading/crew management tasks to officers
    12. Move up to bigger ships, get into larger sea battles
    13. Get involved in politics, such as infiltrating/blockading enemy ports or affecting other nations' economies in other ways
    14. Gain fame through doing this, leading to cooperation with other pirates or being introduced to governor's nieces/daughters, etc.
    15. Start dealing with "estate management"
    16. Get involved with diplomacy so you get the make/break alliances yourself
    17. Start capturing towns
    18. Start managing towns
    19. Try to keep the towns
    20. Conquer the world

    By the time you get to the end, you shouldn't be doing the same things that you were doing at the start of the game.
    You might hardly even participate in the sea battles anymore; you'd be much more involved with the "large picture".

    That makes for a huge progression that isn't "just numbers" but rather an intricate part of the gameplay.
    It also makes for huge replayability, because there are so many things that can go different in that whole process.


    Character Abilities
    You can choose any ability that isn't still locked because of:
    - Not having prerequisite abilities
    - Player level still too low
    - Specific player action required (can be tied in to certain quests OR career promotions)


    Health Points: Increase together with Character Level. It is possible to apply a "bonus" using the Apothecary.
    Ideally for Hearts of Oak at least, I would be VERY interested in a situation where the difference in HP between a low-level and high-level character would not be excessively huge.
    So a Level 1 character COULD win from a Level 50 one if the actual player is very skillful (or lucky).


    Character Skills
    You increase these by using them. They go from 1-10.
    Ideally these should go from 1-100 and it should take FOREVER to max out so you will NEED your officers. This isn't quite the case yet though.


    Crew Money
    This is the "ship fund" from which you pay all your expenses. It is basically the normal money that you deal with day-to-day.


    Personal Wealth
    Doesn't really serve a purpose, other than to keep score (see "Fame" below). You can donate it to the crew to actually make use of it.
    If "marrying" and/or "estate management" become a thing, then your personal wealth can be used there and may even be required there for the "general upkeep" or to pay for improvements.

    There are different ways of getting this:
    - Receiving salary every month (maybe this should happen ONLY if you are a Merchant or Naval Officer?)
    - When Dividing the Plunder as a Pirate or Privateer (SHOULD this even apply for Privateers at all? Or not? See below.)
    - When selling legal Prize Ships as a Naval Officer (maybe also do this for Privateers?)


    Being Married
    At the moment PotC basically has this as a "yes/no" situation. It doesn't serve so much purpose.
    So what purpose SHOULD it serve? Social status? It IS factored into "Fame" (see below).
    Maybe getting children? Can that also be added into the game? More status? Or perhaps a "backup" for when your main player character dies?
    Could you build a "dynasty" through the ages?

    What other advantages? Why would you want to spend personal wealth on a wife?


    Reputation
    Ranges from "Really bad" to "Really good". It changes based on certain player actions.
    For realism's sake, I want to change this soon so that many small actions will NEVER give you an amazing reputation.
    Amazing reputation should require LARGE actions. Also, perhaps a "lack of actions" should make your reputation drop down to neutral again over time.

    If you have a GOOD reputation, you should get some benefits from that, but also if you have a BAD reputation.
    "Being a nobody" means that nobody knows you nor cares about what you do,
    but it also means you get no benefits from being known and you don't actually get much of anywhere in the game.

    And now that I think about it, a suggestion by @Flannery may provide an answer to a question I was about to ask about "The Blackbeard Effect":
    If I understand the story of Blackbeard correctly, he worked very hard on building a fearsome reputation specifically to encourage ships to NOT put up a fight, but surrender.
    But if you have a reputation for being evil, why would your victims want to surrender to you?

    So my new idea is now as follows:
    - If you capture a ship and leave no survivors, then there will be ZERO effect on nation relations and reputation
    - If you slaughter the captain, but leave the crew alive, then you DO get negative reputation and relation points
    - ANY high reputation (both good and bad) will increase your Fame and high fame means higher chance that false flags are detecteed, but ALSO higher chance that ships surrender to you, rather than putting up a fight

    This then finally means that having a BAD reputation can be a GOOD thing.
    So you get the choice: Do you want to get a higher fame at the expense of getting negative relation points or do you want your piratical acts to remain unknown?


    Relation Points
    Through your actions, you can gain or lose points with the various nations.
    Below a certain level, and they won't want to trade with you. Go down even further and they'll be openly hostile.
    On the lowest level, you should be actively hated and be pursued as an enemy wherever you go.
    And on the opposite side of the spectrum, "zero points" means you are fully Friendly to that nation.


    National Ranks
    To gain points above zero, you can do so either as Naval Officer OR as Privateer (but not both at the same time).
    You can even gain points with the Pirates AND with nation(s) as Privateer AT THE SAME TIME.

    This eventually gives you "Ranks", which come with rewards. These could be:
    - Unlocked abilties
    - New ships
    - Swords
    - Officers
    - Land

    I am not clear how to tie in "Merchant ranks" with this, because "Merchants with Letters of Marque" did historically exist.
    Does that mean you gain ranks as a Privateer? Or as a Merchant? Or both? For a single nation? Do those points stack?
    Would there be DISadvantages to doing that? My first thought is that in this case, you should gain points AS A MERCHANT.
    So while you COULD take legal prizes, you wouldn't get Privateer ranks and rewards.


    Fame
    In PotC this has mainly been a way of "keeping score". Your relation points are added together.
    Personal wealth is added too, as well as your amount of land and whether you are married to someone of "high social status".
    At the moment it basically serves no purpose, other than a NEGATIVE one because "being famous" means you can be more easily recognized and will have a hard time with "covert operations/false flags".

    I have the idea of adding Reputation as a factor in here. So if you have a HIGH reputation (really bad/good), then you also get a high fame.
    If your reputation decreases back to neutral, your fam drops too. And of course there need to be ADVANTAGES to fame as well.
    Possibly have certain national rank promotions require certain fame levels. Then you'd have an incentive to WANT it.


    Served Nation
    This is a relatively new development in PotC and is used to determine where your loyalties lie.
    If this is a normal nation, then if the nation relations change for that nation, your relations change to match.
    This will be the case if:
    - You are a Naval Officer for a specific nation
    - You have a single Letter of Marque
    - You started the game with a specific nationality selected (this also determines your starting relations, of course)

    If it is "Personal Nation", then your relations are NOT tied to those of any other nation.
    But for gameplay's sake, the various nations do not actually object to that.
    This can happen if:
    - You have MULTIPLE Letters of Marque
    - You started the game with Personal Nation selected (this makes all nations Wary of you, except for the usual hostile Pirates - so they're not HOSTILE, but you will need to earn their trust)

    It can also be "Pirate", which is very similar to it being "Personal" as your relations don't follow another nation either.
    This can happen if:
    - You selected "Pirate" as your starting nation
    - You chose to officially join the Pirate Brotherhood (note that you can do this IN ADDITION to getting legal Letters of Marque)
    - You have committed enough capturing/sinking of non-pirates ships without a Letter of Marque that you are now considered a Pirate

    Unless you choose to join the pirates, this does NOT immediately turn every single nation hostile to you.
    So having "Served Nation = PIRATE" is not necessarily an excessively bad thing. But it IS risky.

    The actual risk that you run in this case is still somewhat up for debate. At the moment in PotC it is handled as:
    You may be randomly recognized as being a pirate in ANY non-pirate towns and get attacked for that.
    That can probably do with some reconsidering and improving on and I'd welcome suggestions on it.

    One thought is that perhaps you should be considered a "Pirate" ONLY by nations that are actually hostile to you.
    So there would be "normal hostile" and "Pirate hostile", where the second option would be more dangerous.


    Final Points
    I think PotC's system has the potential to support ANY situation that might be desired, though it currently isn't yet "fully developed".
    In fact, we only really started building on it this last year.
     
    imado552, Thagarr and Robert Nutter like this.
  2. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    And subsequently also some notes on the various "play styles" that are currently supported:


    Privateer
    Privateers are allowed to purchase large naval vessels when they reach the required national ranks to unlock them.


    Naval Officer

    - Would you be able to JOIN the navy in mid-game? At the moment PotC doesn't have that as a feature (because "Navy" is brand new), but ideally I would want that.
    - We still need to figure out balancing for Naval Officer; at the moment it seems to be excessively profitable.
    - This is probably mainly because you can still do "whatever you want" and be a "Naval Merchant"; ideally that should be prevented, of course.
    - Not sure about "keeping captured ships for yourself". At the moment we allow that only once you get to the Commodore rank.
    - What would you consider "defecting to another nation"? Attacking your own would make you "leave bad" in PotC.
    - You aren't allowed to "leave the service" of your own free will for now; but should that be allowed?
    - You may be "kicked out of the service" if you allow your ship to sink. Depending on your reputation, this could be "leave bad" or not.
    - If you leave in a respectful manner, what if you then get a LoM from another nation afterwards? Should your former nation MASSIVELY object?

    @Captain Armstrong posted a suggestion that gaining "prize money" is almost a requirement to keep up crew morale as a Naval Officer.


    Pirate
    PotC now has "gaining ranks with the Pirates" with some rewards tied to that too. The MAJOR advantage is a much improved sale price for pirated ships.
    And also some swords on some of the ranks. That could certainly be expanded on though, which is easy enough to do.

    This feature was pretty much non-existent before as all you could do by "joining the pirates" was getting all nations hostile with you and there were NO benefits to it, unless you wanted plenty targets.
    So at least now it actually DOES exist as a proper feature.

    Some questions though:
    - Should pirates be allowed to purchase ships? If not, why? Because there are no "pirate shipyards"?
    Or because nobody is willing to sell ships to pirates? What if a pirate sells a pirated ship to another pirate?
    - For the above purpose, when should you be considered "a pirate"? Probably when Served Nation = PIRATE, I imagine.


    Merchant
    The major miss is obviously the Merchant playstyle. For now, PotC handles this as a simple "buy a Merchant License and you're sort-of considered a merchant".
    The main advantage is that a Privateer with a Merchant license(!) then doesn't get his crew complaining about wanting to switch to "Divide the Plunder".
    And it also removes the effect of "decreased profits due to low player skills", so you get higher profit margins.

    But there is absolutely zero progression there and I'd very much want to see that added at some point!
    I'm not entirely sure how to handle that; we'd probably need actual "Trade Companies" to join in the game, which for now still don't exist.

    It gets especially fuzzy when when combined with also having a Letter of Marque.
    Does that mean you gain ranks as a Privateer? Or as a Merchant? Or both? For a single nation? Do those points stack?
    Would there be DISadvantages to doing that? My first thought is that in this case, you should gain points AS A MERCHANT.
    So while you COULD take legal prizes, you wouldn't get Privateer ranks and rewards.

    - What does and doesn't constitute "self defence" from a programming point of view can be extremely difficult to determine.
    - When is a player a "merchant who MUST purchase their ships" and when are they a "random character who happens to do trading and can do as he wishes"?
    - That said, I am intrigued by the suggestion that if you get a "Merchant License", then you cannot capture ships any-more.
    - Other than going from A-to-B and back, would there need to be any missions/promotions/careers/rewards related to being a merchant?

    Again a suggestion from @Captain Armstrong: Only allowing players to BUY trade goods once they get a Trade License.


    Smuggler
    "Smuggler" is some sort of "half career", mainly thanks to @Levis' fancy work on that.
    It is a side-task that you can do regardless of your "player career".

    Of course getting caught while doing it may have consequences, depending on your "career".
    If you get caught while being a pirate, it will make little difference. But if you get caught as a merchant or navy officer, you may find yourself out of grace.
    This still needs further development.


    Closing Thoughts
    There is clearly still lots of room for improvement.
    At least the current state is "more than nothing" though, which has been the case until Beta 3.5 .
     
    imado552 and Robert Nutter like this.
  3. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    My apologies if the above doesn't read like an entirely coherent story.
    It was copy-pasted from discussions elsewhere and I did only minor editing on it to make it fit this format.

    Still, I hope it contains some interesting thoughts and I'd welcome any suggestions and feedback on this.
    Once Beta 4 is released, I am definitely looking forward to tweaking the game systems to bring them further towards what is being suggested above.
     
  4. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    I don't like the fixed character progression. Right from day 1 when I was playing the stock game, I was trying to board and capture enemy ships, albeit small ones like sloops. And you're going to get experience in fighting multiple opponents the first day you venture out into the jungle, thanks to the prevalence of thugs and highwaymen.

    HP: indeed a level 50 character is still only human and what would kill a level 1 character would seriously hurt him, too. What's going to prevent a level 1 character from having any chance against a level 50 character is that one of them only has Melee 1, Basic Defence and a leather jacket, while the other has Melee 10, every combat perk in the book and gold armour. Skill, not HP, is what will keep you alive.

    Personal wealth: perhaps have some things paid for from this. Tavern bills, personal equipment - the sort of things you'd pay for out of your own pocket rather than claim out of company expenses.

    Marriage: when you ask your wife if there's any news, let's have some useful news. In Sid Meier's "Pirates!" this would be the location of the treasure fleet and silver train, which may not work in PoTC and may not be relevant to profession, nation or time period, but the basic idea of having her say something useful is sound. Or, since you're now in with the governor, promotions could come more easily. (How about husbands for those players who pick female characters?)

    Reputation: the point about Blackbeard isn't limited to Blackbeard. Pirates would hoist a black flag to show that they were pirates, so not bound by the normal rules of war, so you'd better surrender while you had the chance. Because if you annoyed them, they'd hoist a red flag, which meant no quarter given or expected, it was now a fight to the death, probably yours. But for the game, perhaps make it that enemies are more likely to surrender if you're good (you have a reputation for treating prisoners well), but morale weakens more quickly if you're evil (the enemy crew are scared and won't fight as well). Also, Heroes have the benefit that shops disregard their nation and serve them anyway. Perhaps extend that to Horrors of the High Seas - if you're a shopkeeper, do you really want to find out what Blackbeard will do to you if you refuse to serve him?

    Fame: I'd keep that independent of reputation. You're famous for whatever it is you've been doing. Maybe tie it to different things based on profession; merchants become famous for being rich, naval officers become famous for sinking and capturing enemy ships, privateers and pirates get a bit of both. And have a fame check before applying the benefits of reputation - the enemy crew aren't going to surrender because you're a good guy if they've never heard of you.

    Served Nation, Pirate: keep it that if you become Pirate, either by initial choice or by action, all nations are hostile. But you can buy amnesty, either from a governor or a diplomat, after which that nation is no longer hostile. Perhaps make it that if you're non-hostile to a nation and all its allies then you can buy a LoM and switch Served Nation to that nation - Holland won't risk its alliance with England by accepting you into service while England still wants to hang you, but if you've paid off an English governor as well then they won't object and you're free to become a respectable Dutch privateer. Or make it that you have to make peace with all nations, then Served Nation becomes Personal, then you're respectable and can buy a LoM.

    Naval Officer: is excessively profitable, not because you can trade, but because you don't need to divide plunder. Even worse is if you're exempt from some expenses. Suggestion is to do a sort of immediate division of plunder when you auction a prize ship, so most of it disappears into the pockets of your crew and officers (make sure officers do actually get the money), some of it goes into your personal wealth, and only a small portion goes into ship's funds. Restricting trade should only work if you can divide goods into ship's supplies (food, rum, sailcloth, planks, medicaments) and trade goods (everything else), so you can buy ship's supplies but not trade goods. If you can leave the service (maybe only after a certain amount of time) and then sign up with another nation, your previous nation should only really object if your new nation is your old nation's enemy. Or, at least, not object if your new nation is your old nation's ally. As for keeping captured ships, you can't swap to them and take command until you're Commodore, so at best it's a support ship under command of an officer. It's also one less free slot for taking prizes, so it's improving your firepower at the expense of getting the reward of using that firepower. You may be trying to keep it in reserve for when you are promoted to Commodore, though at that time you'll get a new, big ship anyway. I wouldn't worry about it.

    Pirates: if Served Nation is Pirate, either by initial choice or by repeated piratical action, then all nations should turn hostile. But you can buy amnesty, either from a governor or a diplomat, then that nation is no longer hostile. Perhaps make it that if you've bought amnesty from a nation and all its allies, you can then buy a LoM from that nation, which changes your Served Nation to that one. Or make it that if you've bought amnesty from everyone then Served Nation becomes Personal (and Pirates now become hostile as you've gone to great lengths to turn your back on them).
    - If Pirate shipyards exist, e.g. on Turks Island, why not allow Pirates to buy ships there? Especially since you're encouraged to sell captured ships there, meaning the shipyard is losing money on buying ships and will want to make money by selling them again. (And, of course, you can always take your chances with a false flag, then try to buy a ship in someone else's shipyard.) On the other hand, what sort of pirate are you that you pay for ships? :p

    Merchants: I agree that if you have a LoM, you still earn ranks as a merchant. Tie the merchant licence to a specific nation, then you should only be able to get a LoM from the same nation. Historical precedent is that the East India Company issued some of its ships with LoM's so they could legally take prizes, and you can be sure they didn't issue LoM's to non-British ships! Merchant LoM's should only be available when you have a moderately high merchant rank - if you want to make your early career by taking prize ships, why did you sign up as a peaceful merchant? As for disallowing buying/selling trade goods unless you have a merchant licence, I disagree strongly! Even if you split goods into ship supplies and trade goods as I suggested for naval officers, that severely restricts the gameplay for a starting player. (And probably wrecks Fetch quests.)
     
  5. Talisman

    Talisman Smuggler Storm Modder

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    I would like to suggest that this thread be moved to the Build 15 Brainstorming Forum.

    Because I think that is a more appropriate place for it.

    :drunk
     
  6. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    That would make it less visible. And I can guarantee you at least SOME of this will be started on right after Beta 4 has been released.
    A lot of this is actually a whole less risky and simpler to change than some of the things that have bee done the past 6+ months or so.
    Plus it is a gazillion times more FUN to make stuff like this happen than just continuing with everlasting bug-fixing.

    Specifically what character progression do you not like?
    My 20-point list above isn't specifically meant for PotC; in fact, that is more of a Hearts of Oak idea of mine.
    It is also a set of VERY rough ideas that should NOT be followed to the letter at all.
    So take that more as "inspiration of how the game COULD work" than a list of requirements of how the game should work. ;)

    I'd definitely like it if the game would work like that. :onya

    At the moment the game NPCs level-up together with the player (at least ashore), making for a rather player-centric world that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me.

    Once "staying in the tavern" is more of a relevant part of gameplay, that could easily be handled through personal wealth.
    "Personal equipment" is tricky though; how to distinguish between "personal items" and items that you get for your officers and/or crew?
    I haven't yet been able to think of a good way to handle that one....

    As a simple start for having some sort of reputation system, I was thinking of having the "chance for surrender" be quite literally the inverse of the "false flag detection chance".
    That is an over-simplification for certain, but it sounds to me like it could be implemented relatively easily and would at least be a step in the right direction.
    Ship surrender is at the moment already directly linked to crew morale, so difference between good and bad that you describe there ends up having a VERY similar effect.

    Definitely how you are treated in shops will need some reconsidering as well. :onya

    That is actually why I was thinking to DO have the two linked together.
    My thinking is to make it quite hard to become a Hero (or Terror), then even harder to stay there.
    Then if "Neutral" is consider as a "1" multiplier on fame, then any reputation above/below can be a higher multiplier.
    So that means: High/Low reputation gives higher fame and higher fame has its effect on surrender and false flag detection.
    Then fame can also go DOWN again if stop working on your reputation.

    It would no longer be a "score that only goes up" though. But does it really need to be?

    Anyway... It's late now. Will think about the rest tomorrow.... :wp
     
  7. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    I definitely like it! Probably the "marriage news" would need to be of a generally better quality than "random rumours".
    A scheduled Treasure Fleet that you can plan to raid is something I'd like to see in the game as well. :yes

    I'm not sure about making all nations hostile upon turning pirate, unless you deliberately turn pirate.
    At the moment, it is possible to "accidentally" slide into piracy if you ignore the warnings.
    I think I prefer having that situation be not as grave as when you join the Pirate Brotherhood on purpose.
    That being said, it SHOULD become attractive at that point to actually DO join the pirates and go all the way.

    Interesting idea. I haven't yet got clear in my mind how to apply that though.
    From what I understand of the Navy is that "prize money" is mainly a personal thing and shouldn't affect so much your day-to-day running of the ship.
    Maybe the specifics of "Economics as a Naval Officer" should be discussed separately here though, because I think it could be quite complex (or INSANELY simple; one of the two :cheeky):
    Feature Request - Correct Financial Situation for Naval Officers | PiratesAhoy!
    We've made some changes to it already, but for sure more could be done.

    I think that is quite doable and should definitely be done.
    That should open up a lot of possibilities for differentiating the play styles.

    At the moment there is only one way you can leave the service, which is if you're kicked out for losing your ship.
    Would it make sense to DO allow you to voluntarily leave after a certain rank?
    But you'd have to lose your ship(s) and officers then, so you get to start from scratch.

    As for "what nations object to your actions", maybe link that to when your Served Nation changes?
    If you were an English Naval Officer (or Privateer) and leave, your Served Nation will still be England.
    If you then get a French LoM, your Served Nation changes to France.

    So maybe make the following changes:
    - When you get a single LoM, immediately change your nation relations to match with that nation (not a good idea if you plan to get multiple LoMs?)
    - If your served nation changes from one nation, to another nation that is HOSTILE to the former nation, have the former nation turn VERY hostile (-119?)
    - Once your relation to a nation is VERY low (lower than 100, for example), have them actively hunt you down in some way

    Agreed. I think how that part is handled currently in PotC should be fine as-is. :yes

    If you didn't officially join the Pirate Brotherhood, then as soon as you get ANY LoM, your Served Nation is changed to that nation and will no longer be Pirate.
    So currently you just need to "buy amnesty, then buy a LoM", which does seem too simplistic.
    Your idea of "only allowing you to buy a LoM if you're not hostile to ALL involved allies" is a good one for sure and makes a lot of sense to me. :onya

    So... Served Nation to turn to Personal and Pirates to turn Hostile as soon as you turn non-Hostile to all non-Pirate nations? Does make sense to me.
    Plus that prevents situations where you have ZERO enemies in the game, because that has the potential cause all sorts of weirdness.
    Probably an unlikely scenario though....

    LOL! :rofl
    Indeed I personally have no objection to pirates being able to purchase ships.

    One thing to note is that "pirate design" ships are generally better suited to piracy for obvious reasons (faster, more crew).
    At the moment "pirate shipyards" sell those only if you don't have a LoM OR are not hostile to the pirates.
    Maybe the "Tier 4" limit for pirate ships should apply to shipyards too? I'm not sure if it currently does.

    But indeed that does return to the question: Why would you WANT to buy a small pirate design ship?
    Unless, when you play as a Pirate, it really DOES become hard to either get a large ship or at least to KEEP one.
    Would be quite realistic if a pirate player would indeed find that operating with small, agile ships and PLENTY crew tends to work very well.
    While on the other hand trying to keep a fleet and/or large ship may be possible, but difficult.

    I wonder what @Flannery would think of that, since he's specifically interested in "Playing as a Pirate".

    Makes sense to me. Then gaining "Privateer ranks" and "Merchant ranks" would end up being mutually exclusive.
    That is good, because it allows us to set it up in a similar way to how "professional navy" is handled.

    What advantages would there be in gaining "Merchant ranks" though? Actually, how about the advantages of ALL the other ranks too?
    Once the rank systems are in place and make some measure of sense, we should probably have a good think through them.
    Maybe @Armada's suggestion of making certain abilities exclusive to specific ranks could be put to use there?
    @Levis' "unlocking abilities" feature would make it very easy to set that up.

    I've got to admit, I'm not quite sure about that idea either. It is an interesting one, but how to make use of it without making things annoying?
    Of course SELLING goods should always be OK, because you might have gotten them anywhere and you need to be able to get rid of them.

    I'm mainly thinking of how to distinguish between "being a merchant" and "being a random character who does freelance trading".
    SHOULD there even be a difference? Maybe any character who isn't a Pirate/Naval Officer/Privateer should be considered a Merchant?
    So then by default you CAN do trading. And when you do so, you automatically start gaining merchant ranks? Which eventually lets you get a LoM with your Served Nation?

    Then when you manually get a LoM, you become a Privateer and then you would NOT be able to buy trade goods anymore?
    What reason could there be for Privateers to DO do trading on the side?

    Maybe "Fetch Quests" could be re-purposed to become "Merchant Missions"?

    Anyway, I'm not at all sure yet of the best way to handle this. For now, I'm just coming up with random ideas.
    I'm not at all convinced those Merchant ideas are at all good ones. :wp
     
  8. Talisman

    Talisman Smuggler Storm Modder

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    I disagree with it appearing arbitrary/arcade –

    It is necessary in order to keep the game challenging/interesting for the player.

    Having enemies that are too difficult or too easy to defeat will make players give up playing out of frustration or boredom.

    Personally I think that the AI should be randomly in the range of +20% to -20% of the player's Level (strength) to give some variety, but not make it too easy or difficult. There can always, of course, be special specific characters who are exceptions due to the story or quest they are in



    A lot of this seems most applicable to Free Play, and while giving Free Play a more structured form of game play, may not be appreciated by those who want to “do their own thing”

    I am not sure how it will affect or possibly interfere with the various Story Quests. Or what problems it may create in them.



    I don’t think there has been enough feedback on the new Locked Abilities (with multiple points) system to judge whether it is liked by the players.

    I have seen very little comment on the Beta 3.4 version, and we have had no public release of the Beta 4 version, so we have no feedback on that.

    This new system appears to be aimed at the Free Play scenario, to make it more interesting/challenging.

    As a player who is mainly interested in the Story Quests I personally just find it annoying and irritating, so I disable it




    These all appear to be focused on the Free Play Story and trying to fill it up and give the players more things to do or achieve in that form of game play



    While what I said above for Health Points- Character skills etc. also applies to this I would also like to add the following:

    Pirates used fear to intimidate merchant ship crews and their captains.

    Merchant ships usually sailed with the minimum crew necessary to sail the ship (to maximise the owners’ profit). Their crews could be outnumbered by up to 10 to 1 by a pirate crew that chased them.

    Merchant captains could not rely on the willingness of their crews to fight pirates, or even be willing to attempt to out sail their pursuers since many merchant captains mistreated their sailors and some of those sailors would want to join the pirates. (Pirate captains wanted to recruit more willing sailors to increase the size of their crew so that they could capture and sail larger ships.)

    Pirates would ask captured merchant crews how their captain had treated them and could severely beat or even kill a merchant captain if they were told of mistreatment.

    SO a Pirate Captain’s Bad reputation plus a high level of fame (or notoriety) should lower the morale of merchant ships and make them more likely to surrender.

    While this would increase the realism in the game the question as to whether any of this would make more engaging or interesting game play is open to debate. Merchant Ships just surrendering to the player would become very boring very quickly.

    Of course none of this applies to Naval (military) ships, who would engage any pirate vessel as long as they were not seriously outclassed. The pirate’s reputation would not affect the Naval crew’s morale, ability or willingness to fight them.





    These again are of more interest to those who play Free Play rather than someone me who plays the Story Line Quests. And would only be of interest to me for any interference they cause with the Story I am playing.







    I admire your optimism – but I think what you see as “tweaking” may actually be (or involve) major changes in the coding of the game’s environment. This could result in a lot of time having to be spent “bug hunting” , testing and balancing, as was experienced with Beta 3.5 and Beta 4

    As you know from experience there are not many people who contribute to these forums, and even fewer who have the time, and are willing or able to assist in the tasks of testing, and balancing.

    And if these changes introduce bugs, as they probably will, then you are back to bug fixing again. So as I said - I admire your optimism.


    Two Final Thoughts.


    One


    I have been under the impression that Build 14 was in the process or approaching its Final Release


    This statement would seem to indicate that I was mistaken in this belief.


    In my opinion, as I have said in the past, Beta 3.4 and Beta 3.5 were more like Alpha versions, and it has taken a lot of time and effort on Beta 4 to recover from this situation, since there has mainly been just 2 people working on the game’s main environmental mechanics. And it appears that these will continue to be modified and altered in Build 14.

    Perhaps all we have is a difference of opinion as to what the next version of the New Horizons Mod should be called – Build 14 Beta 5 or Build 15.


    TWO


    On a more general question, I am beginning to worry that the New Horizons Mod is “running out of time” and all these changes are being made rather late.


    I understand that that until @Levis arrived you had virtually no modding / programming support to enable you to achieve these improvements, but the fact remains that the Storm engine is not designed to work with the most recent generation of OS, Processors, or amounts of memory, and I feel that it can only be a matter of a couple of years until Microsoft removes the backward compatibility support in its new operating systems that enable them to run programs from the Windows XP generation.

    The POTC version of the Storm engine was created for Windows 98/ME/200/XP according to the blurb on the box, all of which are now virtually obsolete.

    I also notices that even the new version of Sea Dogs: To Each His Own, says its OS is Windows XP. :eek:

    So the only future for the New Horizons Mod, to give it a long life, may be conversion to the new version of the Storm Engine developed by the De Zeeroover Mod Team for COAS see here:- Age of Pirates II: PiratesAhoy! Edition | Page 6 | PiratesAhoy!


    But would this be worthwhile or achievable with Hearts of Oak on the horizon, and the very limited resources (so few people) available.


    :drunk
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
  9. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    I'm not saying it doesn't work. There are a gazillion games out there that already have the "player levels up, so do the enemies" mechanic.
    It is pretty much expected these days, I think. But if you think about it, it almost defeats the purpose of levelling up in the first place.
    What is the point in gaining higher ranks when your enemies do too and the whole game maintains the same sort of balancing it had all along?

    Anyway, I'm not at all sure how an alternative would work. So consider my rambling on that particular subject a REALLY long-term thought.
    Maybe it'll never happen at all. But if I keep it in the back of my mind, then who knows....? Maybe one day we can come up with something interesting.

    As I said in one of my responses above, my 20 point list is purely of how one play-through of the game could work.
    It is mainly directed for Hearts of Oak and I don't think we'll manage to ever get PotC quite at that level.
    Generally, it is just me thinking out loud.

    I'm not sure either. Most of the shorter term ideas I've got shouldn't interfere too badly. And if they do, that can be addressed.
    Ideally I figure that the best results would be if the Storyline and Free Play gameplay mechanics both work together.
    Neither necessarily had to detract from the other. And in points where they become incompatible,
    we can disable the Free Play stuff for storyline purposes where need be.

    Indeed the amount of feedback hasn't been very huge. But I do know there are a fair few people who disable it on purpose, which is what I was referring to.
    I started a new thread pretty much on that subject: Poll - Level-Based or Career-Based Abilities? | PiratesAhoy!
    If we do think there is merit to the ideas there, then I do imagine that is a great thing to put a toggle on.
    Maybe link it to Arcade/Realistic Game Mode too? Anyway, we can figure that out when and IF we get to it.

    True, it is mainly all focused on making the game outside the Storylines interesting as well.
    The idea is that players could end up playing their own story, rather than following a story that is pre-programmed.
    Or, even better, in addition. After all, Free Play and Storylines are BOTH perfectly valid ways of playing the game.
    But PotC is in the odd situation that the Storylines are far more developed than the true Role Playing mechanics.

    My thinking would be that fame/reputation would help in making sea battles easier, as that gives a gameplay purpose to wanting a high fame.
    But I would also want to make it hard to KEEP it that way, so that it could make for an added challenge.

    If and when we get to implementing these things, I am certain it will have to go through some iterations before it works as intended.
    But most of the ideas I've got are of a type that I am not too worried about. They're pretty much on par with the Nations Relations rewrite that I did last year.
    I know there was a lot to be said on that at the time, but it is definitely more stable and less convoluted then it was before.
    And whenever bugs with that were reported, I usually had them addressed shortly after.

    The main bugs that I DO have a problem with are the ones that are not related to my own work.
    Those are much more difficult to track down simply due to my unfamiliarity with it.
    So that applies to @Levis' work, of course, but also the gazillion other mods that people made over the years, but never quite finished and fixed.
    It can be quite large projects to investigate what goes wrong with those and I don't always enjoy having to do that.
    But it would be a huge relief if I could actually work on my own stuff for a change. I hardly ever get the chance to do that.

    Are you referring to "In fact, we only really started building on it this last year"?
    Of course there has been a huge amount of modding done on PotC already, but not so much on the "careers" and general free play game mechanics.
    But over the past year, we have:
    - Separated the sidequests to be available in ALL storylines
    - Added "Naval Officer" as a unique career
    - Allowed players to join the pirates as an actual part of the gameplay
    - Rewritten the Nation Relations to finally make False Flags work for real AND do a whole lot more
    - Added some rudimentary Merchant gameplay too

    I consider those to be some great strides in a direction that most definitely was not "fully developed" and still very much isn't.
    But we're much closer now than we were in February 2015 and I'd like to see that continue.

    Apart from the 1-second lag in 3D Sailing Mode, I don't really remember any major issues with Beta 3.4 .
    For the sake of being diplomatic, I will not comment on the bumpy road to Beta 4 that followed.

    That isn't related to anything I have been brainstorming on in this thread though.
    Most of what I suggest here is really quite straightforward and manageable in comparison.

    Would have been nice had these been tackled years earlier, that's for sure.
    Me being at sea and later in a hospital certainly didn't help very much.
    Neither did the "unfinished yet buggy content" that made up a lot of the mod either.
    I've basically spent 10 years fixing and finishing other people's stuff and it still isn't done.

    Two reasons for me working on this now:
    1. I'm actually ashore now and therefore more available than I have been in many years.
    2. On Hearts of Oak development, there have been many discussions about these things in the past.
    But just discussing stuff "on paper" without having a game to test it in ends up being just discussing stuff in "thin air".
    In other words: Nothing much comes of it. That is why rather than talking about it, I intend to actually DO it.
    We may not get it right on first try in PotC; maybe not even on second try. But it is all lessons learned that can be used for HoO.
    And hopefully we DO get it right in PotC on third try, so in the end HoO will just need to copy what we set up in PotC.

    The retarted "Windows 10 framerate issue" is certainly not helping, no.
    That is quite obnoxious, that is! But it seems that for now there are still workarounds that work.

    I am not so positive on "porting to another version of the Storm engine" anymore these days.
    A few years ago, I might have been happy to see that happen. But now? Not so much.

    By my reasoning: We'll do everything we can possibly do within PotC, then apply the lessons learned directly to Hearts of Oak.
     
  10. Armada

    Armada Sea Dog Staff Member Administrator Project Manager 3D Artist Storm Modder

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    Let me bring up an alternate example from last year's The Witcher 3, which is widely regarded as an exceptional RPG in many respects.

    In that game, the enemies don't appear to scale up in difficulty as the player levels-up. Instead, there are certain areas in the game world where higher-level enemies exist, so the player can only fight them once they gain an appropriate level.
    The story quests also gradually introduce higher-level enemies regardless of player level, so it's up to the player to make sure they're the right level to do a certain quest.
    All quests, including side-quests, have a recommended level, and you can acquire these side quests in almost any order, so you may have to come back to a quest later on if you don't meet the recommended level straight away.

    It's important to note the "recommended" part; you can attempt a quest or fight a high-level enemy at any time, but you will probably get killed if your level is too much lower than the enemies' levels. ;)
    Anyway, that's just one way of scaling the difficulty based on character level. Whether it would work for PotC, or indeed HoO, I'm not sure yet.
     
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  11. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    That does sound pretty good to me.

    One example from right within PotC that I also think is good is the appearance of different ship classes.
    In the unmodded game, the classes encountered were linked to the level of the player. On default mod settings, that is no longer the case.
    I reckon that is a VERY good change to have been made and it works quite well by my reckoning.

    If ships are too strong for you to take on, then you just have to avoid them until you ARE strong enough.
    And if you don't, then you can deal with the consequences.

    I wonder how the game would play out when the same sort of logic was applied to encounters on shore as well.
    Can that even work? And if not, what makes shore so different from sea that it can't?
     
  12. Talisman

    Talisman Smuggler Storm Modder

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    I think the main difference between Land and Sea is visual

    On the sea the appearance of a ship is a good guide to its strength ( you can see how many guns & what type of ship it is - also flags will give a clue - military - merchant etc. or with the information provided by the Spyglass ( if you play on those difficulty levels))

    On land it is difficult to judge an NPCs strength ( unless they wear a uniform - when you can assume they are relatively strong ).

    Because the character models don't give an indication of strength and also many don't show the things like armour and other items that can enhance the strength or fighting ability of the character. Also there is no way of indicating which ability enhancements an NPC might have. ( I know there is the O key - but I consider that as a modding tool, not something that I would use routinely during game play, as it would damage the imersion )





    If I remember correctly I think Assassins Creed Black Flag did something similar. It started the player in the north of the world map where smaller ships and easier Forts were located and slowly took you southwards where the larger ships and more difficult Forts were ( after you had been instructed on how to improve & strengthen your ship). It also restricted the player for the first 10% of the story to a single town ( Havana ) and stopped them from wandering around the game world until they had built up their skills, by the simple expedient of denying them a ship. ( I don't think we could get away with that :no ) :rofl.


    I think having certain areas in the game world where higher-level enemies exist, is a method that game companies use to ease the work the game engine has to do, since instead of having to recalculate the level and strength of an NPC against the player each time they spawn. All the game engine has to know is that in a certain area the NPCs are a specific Level and that is fixed. So it must reduce the work the engine has to do and also make the coding simpler.

    I think careful thought would have to be given this in POTC - since currently the player is allowed to select and vary their starting location ( by choosing their nationality - or choosing the Stormy Start ) and these are all over the world map. So defining areas of sea or islands by the level of difficulty of enemies on them could cause some problems.

    HoO might be able to implement such a system but it all depends of the sort of game play experience that you want to provide.


    :drunk
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2016
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  13. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Thanks, @Talisman! Good point about strength of enemies on shore not being indicated in any notable visual way.

    The only ways I see around that are:
    - Having all characters similar in strength, so you could judge strength by numbers
    - Having "high level" and "low level" character models; where mainly soldiers would be stronger than random NPCs
    - Have truly strong non-soldier NPCs limited to specific quests
     
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  14. Talisman

    Talisman Smuggler Storm Modder

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    Agreed - these problems are because we have chosen to have a realistic enviroment (game world ) without fantasy characters which could be used to give different models to different levels of enemies. ( I personally would not want this changed - I don't like monsters, dragons etc. - sorry sea serpents)

    The only place where we have anything slightly like that is the Maltese Abbey. And I think that is okay since the player has to choose to go there.

    If a quest writer wants strong High Level; enemies then they can create them specifically. :yes


    :drunk
     
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  15. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Indeed I am quite happy with the (very limited) level of fantasy we've got.
    That can be kept to quests and specific locations. :yes
     
  16. Armada

    Armada Sea Dog Staff Member Administrator Project Manager 3D Artist Storm Modder

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    Some games simply display the enemy's level next to their health bar, and if an enemy is deemed too tough for the player to fight, there's often a red 'skull' icon next to that as well.
    Although we probably wouldn't want to resort to showing enemy levels, perhaps a skull icon (or something similar) to indicate a challenging enemy might be better? That said, I don't know if that's actually possible within PotC's HUD system. :facepalm
     
  17. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    PotC probably not. But you could keep it in mind for HoO. :yes
     
  18. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    On the contrary, several proposals are actively being coded. They're not merely at "proposed development", they're probably going to happen.

    And that's probably why I received a PM. Good news (for me) - it seems I'm not alone in my concerns. Bad news (for you) - it seems I'm not alone in my concerns. As the individual in question preferred to say what he did in private rather than in open discussion on the forum, perhaps because of a perception that defending what already exists is regarded as superfluous, I'll respect that - he can identify himself and explain further if he wishes. Another possible problem is that while I sometimes mention that I'm considering sticking with a version which is fun, and get told off for it, other people may simply be quietly doing it - either pulling back to a really old version (we've seen people posting about versions of Beta 3) or just giving up on PoTC entirely. And once you've lost a player that way, you're never going to find out why.

    Doing the same thing obviously becomes easier, but then it becomes possible to do harder things. Early on I have a hard job boarding even a small merchant ship with a small, low morale crew. Later on, I can take any merchant ship easily and am not afraid to take on warships, or even smaller forts. Once I've completed "Tales of a Sea Hawk" and have full melee skills, perks and equipment along with the Sovereign of the Seas, I go after the Flying Dutchman and attack big forts, even Cartagena.

    Real life is boring. That's why we play games. ;) Anyway, if we want the game to be more realistic, there are plenty of things that could be done without risking the combat system. The game is never going to be realistic as long as a dead bird can fly into your pocket and make a near-permanent nest there, for example. :cheeky Or, where is the equipment set for enemy captains? It must be somewhere different from where random crew get their equipment, judging by what I've been finding on them, so perhaps we could give armour to enemy captains without giving it to crew as well; that way you don't end up looting piles of armour, and the final duel becomes even more interesting.
     
  19. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Which means that people, mainly @Tingyun, are experimenting with them. It isn't final until it is IN the mod. And right now, the last official version is still dated on 28 July 2016.
    I myself don't even quite know what exactly has been changed since then.... Haven't exactly been keeping up.

    You people do realise that changes are being made and proposed with the specific purpose to get feedback, right?
    It's quite impossible to make progress without actually doing anything. Not doing anything is the opposite of progress, after all.

    Changing stuff that is disabled by default for fear of messing things up for people does not work, because people will not give feedback until you pretty much FORCE them to.
    If people would actually bother to test proposed changes before official implementation, then we won't have to do what you perceive as "forcing it onto players".
    But nobody DOES bother with that. Which means we're stuck between a rock and a hard place as we get the choice between:
    a. Doing nothing
    or
    b. Doing something that may or may not end up being a good idea

    Once feedback has been given, we always listen and try to then take the best decision. That could be:
    1. Rolling it back to how it used to be, which I know I've done many times in the past (and in some cases with great pain as it wasn't easy!)
    2. Making further changes, because the first implementation wasn't quite good enough (which you yourself have assisted with in the past)
    3. Adding a general toggle, because some people do like it and some people don't
    4. If it really is for a single person only, sometimes we may just point to the change needed so that person can adjust it for themselves

    I honestly don't know how it can be possible to be more reasonable than that.
    The amount of effort I've put in over the years to make everybody happy is huge, huge, HUGE! And surely by now you people must KNOW that.

    Silently sticking to previous versions without saying anything is RE-TAR-DED!
    I think @Hylie Pistof has been doing that at some point and, while he was right at the time because of the performance issues, those have been fixed now and I honestly have NO CLUE why he would still continue to do that.
    Seriously, how can we EVER make people happy if they don't tell us HOW?

    I know I've been asking about that approximately a gazillion times while doing my Nations Relations rewrite, but all I'd ever hear is a big load of nothing.
    The only feedback would be vague stuff about "no, I don't like it", but when I'd propose actual changes on a simplified mode that people can toggle, the silence has been overwhelming indeed.
    And you know what happens when the only feedback is silence? NOTHING happens, that's what.
    Because of course nothing happens if people don't actually give specifics on what it is that they do want!

    So tell me now: Are we supposed to stop trying to move forward at all?
    I've been doing everything in my power to move forward WHILE being as reasonable as I know how to be towards people who like things how they are.
    But apparently that is just not good enough. For reasons that I cannot fathom, because how the crap is it possible to be even MORE reasonable about it than I'm already being???

    As you might expect, it is most definitely becoming very tiresome when even the slightest suggestion (which is NOT the same as a decision) is already met with huge resistance.
    That is the very opposite of the kind of positive and forward-thinking atmosphere that I want to see in this community.
    And if that is really the way it is going to be, then you can deal with things yourself whichever way you like but I'll refuse to have any further part in it.

    You cannot fault me for being at least curious on how it could work if we'd want it to. Mainly because I wonder if it can be done at all.
    I honestly do not know the answer to that. But I'm hoping that one day we might be able to find out.
    It might lead somewhere really interesting. Or somewhere completely terrible.
    But at this moment right now, we very simply do not know either way.

    That is a joke. An Easter Egg. And hardly a huge issue, because it is easily dealt with. It could be removed if you insist. But seriously, WHY?
    All that would accomplish is to take a tiny bit of Modder fun out of the game and remove some of the large variety of stuff that I have prided our mod on for so many years.

    I'd have to look it up. It won't really be feasible to do anything substantial about that though until after this issue has been tackled:
    Planned Feature - Use Generic Captain and Ship Generation Functions | PiratesAhoy!
    That's an important one.
     
  20. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Also, we talk about stuff on the forum specifically so that we can figure out what would be the best possible decision.
    It should be OK to at least talk about stuff, right? And when people try stuff in their own game, that should also be acceptable, no?

    So again, we return to the point that it isn't necessary to threaten anything just because we talk about something.
    Especially when at least my own posts are absolutely LITTERED with mentions of "maybe sometime, but not now" or "sure, but probably a toggle required", etc.
    For a while now, I've been getting the impression that people don't even SEE those mentions,
    because for whatever reason, the panicky arguments continue even after the second post in a thread already agreed to a toggle.

    Where does that make any sense??? Surely we can all be reasonable people here? I know I'm trying to be. Trying very hard too.
     

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