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Caligonisches Kollektiv
25-05-2019, 17:36
Motivation


As we noticed in the last couple of weeks, Arakis has started a push to revive the old STNE, probably due to complaints of older players that STNE has changed for the worse. If you've paid close attention, you might have noticed that I'm quite critical of the concept.

I don't think that the way forward is to restore 10 year old code. However, I've also noticed a lack of a vision for the future of STNE should look like. This thread is supposed to be one such vision.

Over the course of the years, I've come up with several ideas which would be a benefit to my play style. While I'm aware that many, if not most STNE players are here for the space battles, that's not really part of my vision, so if you're here to read about yet another update to the combat system, I have to disappoint you.

The STNE of my vision deals more about the things Star Trek is known for - exploration, good relations with other species (when possible), and stories. As an RP player, I think that these aspects of STNE got the short end of the stick for most of its existence.

I'm aware that this thread will most likely disappear in the depths of the forum with maybe 2 replies and 40 views, and in fact, I should probably start by suggesting an overall better communication system between Arakis, the Admins, NPCs and players, but hey, if I didn't suggest it here the ideas would vanish in the depths of my brain, so whatever.

Also, I know that adding all of the ideas to the game would be too much to ask for small team of (voluntary!) admins - I rather hope to contribute to the establishment of a roadmap for the future development of STNE. However, since some of the suggestions are more story than programming driven, one could actually levy the collective ingenuity to write, for example, some event chains for the anomalies below which the admins can integrate into the game with relatively little effort.

Since there's apparently no spoiler function in this forum, I'll split the suggestions into several posts in this thread for (an attempt in) improving your reading comfort. The full text became kinda lengthy.

NUMBERS ARE NOT FINAL! DIE DEUTSCHE √úBERSETZUNG SCHREIBE ICH, WENN ICH ZEIT UND LUST DAZU HABE!

Caligonisches Kollektiv
25-05-2019, 17:37
Exploration

While exploration is a cornerstone of Star Trek, in STNE, there's not really a reason to explore the vast reaches of space (with an exploration ship, that is; 80 slot fleets on the way to the enemy's starbase don't count) other than maybe shooting down a couple Vadwaur probes. I'd like to change that and give players a reason to go out there and explore.

I suggest the addition of:

Artifacts: While STNE has an item system with a plethora of items which can modify nearly any parameter of a ship, the most consistent way of obtaining them is to blow up Syndicate ships for some reason. In the following suggestions, I'll present a couple of new ways to obtain items (I'll also call them things like artifacts or relics for flavor, but in game terms, they're really all just items) - the item drop from Syndicate ships should be severely reduced if these ideas make it. Also, at least some of the items could get additional uses rather than just welding them to the hull of a cruiser. For example, there could be a class of items which open up new research possibilities, e.g. the ability to actually build some of the less powerful items in the shipyard at ludicrous costs, or +1 energy output to solar satellites, or some actually kinda useless but fancy new ship type (if they weren't already in the game, the glider type ships could have been gated behind an artifact based tech)

New anomalies: Star Trek is full of anomalies which, for some reason, tend to an unsatiable appetite for Starfleet vessels. Using the dialog system of the Artificia, these anomalies could be ported into STNE, where you have to pick a series of dialogue option to not get eaten by the graviton ellipse or whatever the anomaly is called. There should always be the dialog option "This anomaly looks scary, plot a course away from it!" for people who just don't care much about RP, but for the others, the sequence of options should be modified by the presence of academics on board (science officers, medical officers, engineers,... ), content of the cargo bay (an item which could be useful in this situation; or a couple torpedoes if the situation calls for a more explosive solution) and prior experience with the anomaly. Successfully escaping the anomaly, dispersing the anomaly or whatever you're doing with it may reward a stash of resources (e.g., an antimatter based anomaly could give you 500 warp core or 50 antimatter, an angry semi-sentient asteroid could yield 200 iridium ore or a couple dilithium crystals after its (probably photon torpedo based) pacification, and a derelict Tholian cruiser could be salvaged for duranium or stripped of its net generator.

Primitive civilizations: In some sense similar to the anomaly system, but planet based. Since players can, at most, colonize one class M planet, there's a bunch of open planets ideal for the emergence of life. These planets could be inhabited by species at all levels of development, be it pre-sentient, stone age, or almost warp capable (I'm heavily borrowing from Stellaris here). Pre-Sentients would probably make nice pets similar to the tactical rabbit, while Stone Age civilizations might be the ideal breeding grounds for snatching a handsome muscular barbarian bodyguard avatar for your personal guard. Bronze or iron age civilizations may have formed religious cults around a piece of advanced hardware which dropped on their planet for some reason, and your crew can passively observe the artifact to try and find out what it is, or outright steal the artifact. Bonus points if you're convincing the natives that you're their god and about to reclaim what's rightfully yours (and by bonus points, I mean a massive hit to external reputation. Even if it doesn't really mean anything at the moment, there should be some measure for telling that that was an evil move.) More advanced civilizations may have come up with ideas you haven't really considered yet which can be turned into a minor artifact or boost for you. This idea should be more in the vein of them inventing a particularly peculiar art style your people really like for some reason, or a space saving combination of umbrella and colander rather than a piece of technology which truly rivals yours - they're still technologically a few hundred years behind you, after all - but it's better than nothing.

Caligonisches Kollektiv
25-05-2019, 17:38
Alliances

So far, alliances don't really offer much in the way of benefits other than an automatic peace treaty, trading treaty and defense treaty and an ingame chat channel and an alliance profile. You can get the first two things with any player without the need for an alliance. The alliance profile is nice, but that's about it. I suggest to add some more flavor to alliances.

Alliance structure: At the moment, there's the alliance president and the other members are just that: members without any special functions. Let's talk about the president first - no matter if the alliance is a league of free star nations working together to improve the galaxy for everybody, a shady merchant syndicate with connections to the criminal underworld or a gathering of demons from the hell analogues of several cultures hellbent on subjugating the entire galaxy, the leader is always called president. I suggest to make the title editable; if you don't want to have a free text field out of fear that an alliance might be lead by Chief Soda Can from Regulus V or even a less family friendly title which I dare not write here, at least give us the option to pick a title from a list containing titles like Chancellor, Prime Minister, Speaker, Chairperson, King/Queen, Emperor/Empress, Arch Priest, Dictator, Swarm Consciousness,...
Also, it could be useful to add additional alliance functions. For example a chief diplomat to who the president can delegate the foreign diplomacy of the alliance. If some of the following ideas will be implemented, offices like a chief engineer could be reasonable too.

Alliance succession: At present, there's no way of controlling who should become the next president if the last one is deleted due to inactivity. Also, no way of forcing a sitting president to resign if they become inactive. I'd like to address this issue by adding some flavor by introducing succession types of which one must be picked when the alliance is founded. In the following, I'll use the term "president" for the alliance leader throughout, although terms like chairperson, dictator or emperor/empress would be more adequate, depending on the situation.
- Democratic election: The new president is elected by popular vote. Every 2 months or so, an election is held. In the week leading up to the election, alliance members can apply to become the next president and they'll be on the ballot for the next election; the sitting president is always on the ballot. The election takes a week and every member has a single vote. The next president is the one who gets the most votes (plurality) as long as the turnout was 20% or higher. If the turnout is under 20%, only one candidate (the old president) is on the list or the two leading candidates get the same number of votes, the old president stays in office (in the last case there could also be a runoff election, but I don't want to make it too complicated...). The alliance can switch out of this system if the majority of the members vote to do so (separate vote), or the president can simply decide to do so if they get reelected more than 10 times in a row.
- Oligarchic government: Only the elite, i.e. those with an alliance function (president, or one of the additional functions like chief diplomat presented above - for this government type it could make sense to add the function of "advisor" who doesn't have any special privileges other than being considered part of the elite for the election) can be voted for. Votes from members of the elite count twice and break ties in their favor. Election cycles are twice as long as for democracies. Apart from that, like the democratic election. The alliance can switch out of this government type if the elite decides so (plurality of the elite votes for the switch) or if more than two thirds of the members votes for it in the same way as highlighted above.
- Dictatorship: Similar to the current system - no elections, the president can abdicate by transferring the presidency to another alliance member. The president can be challenged for the presidency at any time by a member of the elite (see oligarchy). When this happens, the president can give in or decline. If the president declines, the peace treaty between the president and the challenger is removed for two weeks or until the challenger retracts the challenge, so they can duke it out ingame (here's potential for a civil war mechanic, but I'll leave it at this for now). If the president ignores the challenge for two weeks, the challenger automatically becomes the new president. Similarly, non-elite members can challenge members of the elite other than the president for their position with the same rules. The government type can only be switched if the president decides to do so (or maybe a civil war, but as I mentioned before, that would be a complex mechanic)
- Monarchy: Similar to dictatorship, but the sitting president can create a succession to the throne which always must contain at least (min 3, #members of the alliance-1) successors. The first three in the line of succession can issue a challenge at any time (see dictatorship), the other members can always challenge number 3 in line (and can't be removed from that position by the president for two weeks). The president can always abdicate to the first in line of succession; if they're deleted due to inactivity, the first in line of succession inherits as well. Switching out of this government type works as it does for dictatorships.

Alliance holdings: A Shameless rip-off of Star Trek Online's system, with some adaptations. As in STO, these are meant to be resource sinks and stimulus packages for the economy for the time outside of the Christmas Event. Apparently the phenomenon is weaker on the other, more fighty servers, but on DE4, the economy almost literally grinds to a halt outside of the Christmas Event. Alliance holdings should be visible on the map, even when they're under construction, so that other alliances can see when an alliance encroaches on their territories and take appropriate action.
- Alliance holding limit: The following holdings, while similar in function to settler starbases, do not count against an individual player's fleet limit but against an alliance slot limit. This slot limit should depend on the number of people in the alliance and maybe other factors like buildings on the alliance capital world etc.
- Alliance starbase: A starbase used primarily as a defensive holding. Its stats are either predetermined or it could be modular, e.g. it's possible to build a defense module, a shipyard module, a jump gate module etc.; in the latter case, the other holdings can be folded into this one. It should be stronger than the settler analogues (except for the storage space - I don't mean those to be free storage space so that alliances can dominate the Christmas Event more than they already do!), but capped by the alliance slot limit. If an alliance ever exceeds the slot limit (e.g. by losing alliance fleet capacity in some way), the newest fleet holdings (building date) fall inactive until the slot limit is met again. If an alliance is dissolved, the holdings become controlled by the former alliance leader, but inactive until they join an alliance again.
- Alliance jump gate: On DE4, there once was a jump gate network through the galaxy which was built by one alliance. It wasn't used all that much because jump gates are a quite expensive method of travelling, but that's another issue. When the members of the alliance who built the gates became inactive and were deleted, the gates were deleted with them, putting an end to the gate network. This would be circumvented with gateways which are bound to the alliance rather than individual players.
- Alliance research station: Serves as a place where some alliance related technologies can be researched. The only technologies I can think of right now is a higher holding limit (with moderation, maybe two or so extra holdings - number of members and capital world investments should be the main sources, at least for large alliances), but maybe we can come up with more technology ideas. Also, the research station can serve as a centralized warp core deposit for all alliance holdings which should make servicing the holdings easier. Everything that's being researched here should exclusively benefit the alliance, so that it's still a perfectly reasonable way to play without an alliance (note that the starbase is purely defensive since it can't be moved and the gateway network only helps mobility but does not directly attack either)
(- POSSIBLY: Alliance fuel station: Buildable in deuterium nebulae. A very powerful Deuterium collection station meant to be paired with the research station so that the alliance holdings can be serviced more efficiently. They can still be serviced conventionally, though)

(- REDACTED: Alliance fleet - I don't know how to balance this)
- Alliance capital: A bonus planet slot for the alliance where special alliance buildings can be built. The Colony Headquarter is instead the Alliance Headquarter and possible buildings are Administrative buildings (+X Holding Limit), Megacities (+many people for the planet), several fabricators for resources which are automatically added to holdings in the construction phase - more effective and energy efficient than settler buildings, but not crazily so. This should be more of a constant trickle for the construction of holdings to help small, poor alliances. More prosperous alliances should want to use the administrative buildings instead and source the materials for the holdings from their members. Additionally, the usual power plant buildings are available.

Caligonisches Kollektiv
25-05-2019, 17:41
Diplomacy

Research agreement: If one member of a research agreement has researched a technology and all of its dependent technologies, the other member can research the technology for no/reduced Iso Chip costs if it costs no more than 100 chips (maybe +10 chips for each additional research agreement which meets the preconditions?). This is meant to encourage old players to come back because they have a way of cutting the boring, but necessary technologies like those for most small ships short. Maybe this should also allow people to build these ships as long as the treaty is active. What it should NOT do is to allow people to research battleships, subspace portals or spacetime modification for free, hence the iso cost limit.
Sensor data sharing: The members of the treaty share their LRS data
(REDACTED: Sanctions and economy paradigms: If the difference in external reputation between two characters is high enough, they should be mutually targetable for sanctions which hurt their economy (-20% output modifier to all resource producing buildings, sanctioned characters can no longer directly trade with sanctioning characters) which can be circumvented or mitigated by trade deals between characters of similar external reputation or economic paradigms, e.g. choosing the economic paradigm "Autarky" for a smaller economic hit but the advantage of not being affected by sanctions any longer. For those of you who want to play space North Korea. I don't know how to balance this yet, though, and there are no production modifiers in the current version of the game.)

Role Play

RP Avatars: Avatars cost money and people who don't have that (like me, a few years ago, when I was a student) can't necessarily afford as many of them as their RP requires. Thus, I suggest adding RP Avatars which can be built with resources (however that's supposed to work, but in Age of Empires you can build villagers by stapling deer bits together, so apparently that works somehow) which can be named as the conventional avatars but don't give any of the benefits and don't count against the avatar limit. Also, they can be outright killed if captured in addition to the ability to imprison them. For your authentic redshirt corps(e)!
Semi NPCs: Probably the most controversial suggestion because it would benefit me quite a bit. In the early days of DE1, the Rhulan player ascended to NPChood for their RP, but things like that are quite hard to do nowadays with six different servers, all with their separate RPers. However, I suggest the addition of Semi-NPCs which get the ability to build ships rivalling NPCs in strength, the ability to create some items and a boost to their ship and planet cap, although to a smaller degree than for NPCs. They do not get their own area on the map (at least not officially - they can, of course, proclaim their own region) and do not get their own set of ship images, although they can use the images which already exist on the server for their NPC-level ships. Maybe we can even add a couple new ship images from Edna's archives if she allows it, or accept submissions from players if the quality and art style fits STNE. The Semi-NPCs are bound by most rules that NPCs are bound by, e.g. they should not overuse their power to subjugate the galaxy, and are controlled by the NPC overseer. The Semi-NPChood can be awarded and retracted by the council of the NPCs, and possibly by their fellow Semi-NPCs to a degree. Upon retraction of the Semi-NPC status, all colonies colonized after the date of their ascension to Semi-NPChood are lost if they exceed their limit as a player, Semi-NPC and NPC ships obtained during their tenure as a Semi-NPC are deleted outright and if they're still above their ship cap, settler ships are deleted until they're below it, beginning with the newest (build date).