Saturday, July 27, 2013


One of the challenges in creating a game where everything can be crafted by players is testing without player crafted stuff. So I had to first prove the models for space travel, but the components of the space ship don't have stats, so it is hard to determine what a good stat would be.

The first math problems were all about space travel, distance calculations and some factors that play into space travel such as warm up and cool down of major systems.

But the math in crafting is much harder. It amounts to an artificial system that takes elements or components and puts them together in a way that is hard to determine the outcome until you've done it.

I've played many games with crafting and know what I like and what I don't like. Top of the list is advancement through crafting. I would point to Star Wars Galaxies as a crafting setup I despised. The actual crafting was cool. But having to create useless items to advance made no sense in terms of making a game fun versus making part of a game really dull.

The other tough part is that to craft, you have to mine for resources. To mine for resources you need some player crafted tools. Or at least "player craftable" hand outs.

So the start of this becomes filling a galaxy with elements to mine. So far there are hundreds of different elements spread throughout the planets and solar systems. Some rare, some common, some requiring special abilities to even detect that they exist. Others are in concentrations so small they seem impossible to harvest and many that degrade over time, sometimes very short amounts of time.

One aspect of crafting that has bothered me in games before is not knowing what would make the perfect thing. While having some mystery is good, I had trouble understanding why elements with some impressive attributes had no effect in making the finished product better than an element with very weak attributes. To alleviate at least some of the mystery, I will be providing crafting equations published in a forum I am in the process of setting up.

Crafting is much too complicated for me to go into great detail here. But I wanted to give some insight to the equations I've finished and feel they are very good.

Each element will have a set of attributes. Depending on the class of the element, it will have different properties. There's actually 80 different properties in the database at the moment so rather than cover all, i'll hit a few. Radioactive, magnetic and rate of decay.

Radioactive and magnetic materials may be useful for some things but not others. So these are two I would start with to explain some of the intricacies of crafting. One schematic may require something to be very magnetic where another does not. That's sort of obvious, you really should not have a computer case made out of very magnetic iron.

But then there are schematics that want a very specific number. The ranges for most attributes fall between 1 and 1000. There are some very special elements that may go as high as 2000 but those are really rare. Nothing ever hits 0 because it causes my equations to break down. So say you're crafting a very special type of hyper space engine. One of the key components would be steel. But in this case, the absolute ideal magnetism is 650. But there's a catch, if it is higher than 650 it is actually proportionally worse than if it was lower.

So what does that mean for the crafter? A good schematic will tell you the ideal value (more on schematics in a future post). A really good schematic will tell you if you should worry if the value is above or below.

So say I'm crafting that engine. It says I need some type of steel with a magnetism rating of 650. I have in my stock pile two batches of steel to pick from. One batch has a 600 rating and the other has a 700. But the schematic did indicate that if the value exceeds 650, that's really bad.

The crafting equation normalizes values so that 999 is always ideal and then adjusts the value of your current thing to a proportion within. So using the math, 650 becomes 999. Your 600 value translates to become 930 but your 700 actually moves all the way down to 600. In the grand scheme of things, this could mean the difference between traveling 5 lightyears at a time to traveling 50 lightyears in a single jump.

To make things even more complicated, some elements decay. So if you finally make your way out into  a highly radioactive dead zone where a star died and a black hole is in the process of forming and manage to acquire 500 units of dark matter, you'd better get that to a seriously good containment system asap since the rate of decay on dark matter is .034 units per minute. If you have a cheap hyper drive and managed to get yourself 6 jumps from the nearest containment area, your 500 units could reduce down to 350.

Can a ship have a containment system? yes, manufacturing spacecraft can be outfitted with special containment system so things like this do not decay. Trouble is that most of the important elements that do decay are in areas not under confederation control (see other post which talks about faction and alignment called Flashing Back). So you will need to hire a security detail to protect your mining and manufacturing operation if you choose to do that out in deep space. You may think you're all alone out there and not realize the formation creeping up on your position.

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