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HaydenBarca

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Reply with quote  #1 
I'm planning a LARP using Artemis as the main engine.  One of the aspects of the LARP is to have several players in Engineering (separate from the Engineering Station, which I'll be referring to as the Engineering Officer), with a similar set-up for Science.  They will have physical mini-games that allow them to manufacture torpedoes in the fly, juice the reactor for more power (both implemented by GM buttons when they finish the task), and use clues to analyze enemy ships.  That last part is basically a matrix logic puzzle with the clues needed to solve it sprinkled around the game (e.g. Kralien Hulls use a titanium-mercury alloy, Arvonian hulls are not made of depleted uranium, the ship with the honeycomb construction also uses Nickle-Iron Hulls, etc.).  If they solve the puzzle correctly, they get some benefit in-game (not sure what at this point -- you can't modify beam damage on-the-fly, right?).

My question is where can I hide clues in the game?  I imaging many of them will be scan results from the Science Officer/Station.  It sounds like Generic Meshes are great for custom scan text.  What are some other options?  Anomalies?  Wrecks?
Mike Substelny

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Quote:
Originally Posted by HaydenBarca
I'm planning a LARP using Artemis as the main engine.  One of the aspects of the LARP is to have several players in Engineering (separate from the Engineering Station, which I'll be referring to as the Engineering Officer), with a similar set-up for Science.  They will have physical mini-games that allow them to manufacture torpedoes in the fly, juice the reactor for more power (both implemented by GM buttons when they finish the task), and use clues to analyze enemy ships.  That last part is basically a matrix logic puzzle with the clues needed to solve it sprinkled around the game (e.g. Kralien Hulls use a titanium-mercury alloy, Arvonian hulls are not made of depleted uranium, the ship with the honeycomb construction also uses Nickle-Iron Hulls, etc.).  If they solve the puzzle correctly, they get some benefit in-game (not sure what at this point -- you can't modify beam damage on-the-fly, right?).


Actually there are variables that scripts can change called playerWeapon and playerShields. I have not experimented with changing them mid-game, but I presume they have the same effect as changing the settings on the server before starting play begins. If you try this please report back here on how it goes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HaydenBarca
My question is where can I hide clues in the game?  I imaging many of them will be scan results from the Science Officer/Station.  It sounds like Generic Meshes are great for custom scan text.  What are some other options?  Anomalies?  Wrecks?


Sigh. I wish I had an answer for you.

Saturday night I ran a pretty basic mission script with clues revealed in Science scans and Communications messages. Both players saw their clues but didn't bother to mention them to anyone.

Audio and video clues sometimes work, if the crew is playing in a quiet room.

There is one thing about LARPing that doesn't seem to work well with Artemis or any other computer game. LAPRing is so immersive that players expect to play through the who adventure only once and without interruption. But in computer games, players are used to learning where to focus their attention by dying and re-starting the game.

"Oh no! Mario died because that barrel ran over him. I guess I'd better hit the JUMP button next time!"

Watching my players fail Saturday night, I realized that I should have given Communications an ominous message in the first 60 seconds of the game, something like:

From Artemis Quartermaster: "In our cargo bay we have a space dragon egg that's about to hatch! If we don't dock at DS1 in the next two minutes our ship will be destroyed!"

If Communications ignores that message, and most of them will will, I would blow up the crew and start over again. Thereafter Communications would have learned that those messages are important.

Players expect to learn a computer game by dying and restarting.  But players expect the opposite from a LARP - - - they never expect to restart a LARP.

One solution is to run a lot of LARPS, like the TSN Role Play Group does. After a few hours of simple games players will understand their roles. Then you can play for years with a good level of immersion.

If I ever run a LARP at Armada again I would try something else. I would start the bridge crew with planted NPCs playing Science and Communications, and assign two player characters to shadow them. The two NPCs would play for the first 10-20 minutes, showing the players the importance of Science and Comms uncovering clues. Then I would have the two NPCs killed in battle or maybe transferred off the ship so the players could take over.


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JSpaced

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Reply with quote  #3 
Player WILL ignore important messages.
I ran a Star Wars mod to wrap up a tabletop game in Artemis.

I created audio, I typed it up as text as well, to the effect of:
"This is the Republic fleet, we're here to help."

Then when the enemies were destroyed:

"We have received order 66. All Jedi are the enemy of the Republic and must be destroyed."

It was clear, it was audible.

"Did you shoot at our friends? You've upset them!"
"No I didn't!"
"Yes you did! They're shooting us!"
"I didn't do it!"
"You must have!"

Communications just sat there with a baffled grin.

I've since learned that if a clue is important (this is mostly TT games, but also LARP) have three possible routes to it.

Also consider having them on index cards. "You now know this..."

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Mike Substelny

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Quote:
Originally Posted by JSpaced
Then when the enemies were destroyed:

"We have received order 66. All Jedi are the enemy of the Republic and must be destroyed."

It was clear, it was audible.


That is another good point. Players especially ignore messages that they overhear. You might need to say: "Hey Jedi ship, we just got Order 66 which tells us that you are now enemies of the Republic. Please hold still and lower your shields so we can kill you."

Of course this is phenomenally stupid, while an overheard message is really cool. But you can count on players to ignore the really cool stuff. [frown]

In fact, I bet a hundred Republic Dataries that your Jedi crew likes to leave the main screen on Long Range Scan. Crews who do this tend to believe that all important information can be found on the Long Rang Scan. I bet they didn't notice when Order 66 came through, they noticed when the little blips on the Long Range Scan turned red.


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"The Admiralty had demanded six ships; the economists offered four; and we finally compromised on eight."
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HaydenBarca

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Reply with quote  #5 
Quote:
Originally Posted by JSpaced
Player WILL ignore important messages.
...
Also consider having them on index cards. "You now know this..."


Thanks for the tip.  I was considering having a variety of taped-up index cards next to the Science console.  Inside is the clue and outside is "Open this the first time you scan a Torgoth ship".  With the list of inviting, mysterious, tantalizing cards next to them hopefully they'll remember.

To your points, it's probably worth having a metagame discussion with both the Science Station (computer) and the Science Section (non-computer players) letting them know that they are dependent on each other for game content.  That way if the Science Station falls down on the job, a Section member can wander over and say "Hey, have you scanned a Torgoth ship yet?"  "Oh yeah, I forgot, here.".

I think it's also going to be key for the Section members to have things they can do on their own (without being wholly dependent on another section for content).  In the case of Science Section, I was planning a research tree that results in building Upgrades (rather than finding them as anomalies).  I guess I just (Create Type=Anomaly PickupType=#) on top of the ship with use_gm_selection (unless there's a way of directly adding Upgrades to the ship's inventory).

Agreed, belt, suspenders, and duck tape is needed, particularly if it's a mission gate and not a nice-to-have.
HaydenBarca

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Reply with quote  #6 
So, I'm tinkering on my first mission script and pulled a trick that might be helpful for others who are looking to hide clues.  The basic plot is that the characters are trying to find an allied scout that hasn't reported back.  The scout has been attacked by a Skaraan Executor and damaged, so it jumped into an asteroid field and powered down to avoid detection.

In the set-up I've placed anomalies all throughout the asteroid field.  Most of them are space junk, with a few upgrades sprinkled throughout.  However, to represent the powered down ship, one of the space junk anomalies has a name ("D1"), which is not visible to the players, but allows for other commands to be applied to it.  When the scan level of "D1" becomes 1, I destroy the anomaly object and create a new generic mesh in the exact location with the name "Derelict".  I can then set text properties for the generic mesh for level 1 and 2 scans to reveal that it is a ship that is disabled, and then that it is actually powered down instead of destroyed.  I also had to manually do this swap when the players get within 3000km (which is normally when they get line-of-sight in the asteroid field), in case they hadn't scanned it by the time they approached.

When the players get within 1000km, the scout "powers up" when they see the player ship approach.  This is represented by destroying the generic mesh and creating the neutral ship in its place.

With this three-part sequence (anomaly-mesh-ship), I was able to layer 4 scans deep on the same artifact in the story so that the science player would have some more depth of discovery.  I can share actual code if that would be helpful.
SpaceDiceman

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Reply with quote  #7 
Share, please!
HaydenBarca

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Reply with quote  #8 
Here's the sequence:

In Start:
<create type="Anomaly" pickupType="9" x="16759.0" y="0.0" z="14165.0" name="Derelict1" />


Event if they scan the anomaly:
(They don't actually see a scan result of the anomaly.  As soon as it is scanned, it triggers this code and is replaced with the generic mesh.  But with a starting map full of anomalies it's not obvious at first which are important to the plot.)

<event name="Reveal Derelict Scanned" >
<if_scan_level name="Derelict1" side="2" comparator="EQUALS" value="1" />
<destroy name="Derelict1" />
<create type="genericMesh" x="16759.0" y="0.0" z="14165.0" angle="0" name="Derelict" meshFileName="dat/ximni-scout.dxs" textureFileName="dat/XimniDiffuse.png" colorRed="1.0" colorGreen="0.0" colorBlue="1.0" />
<set_ship_text name="Derelict" desc="A disabled ship, about the size of a small capital ship." scan_desc="Scans show this ship is lightly damaged, but powered down."  />
</event>


Event if they don't scan it, but get close enough to it:

(I noticed that the anomalies do not auto-scan in visual range of 7000 km like enemies, so I had to manually do it.  Since the practical visual range is reduced in the asteroid field, I set it to 3000 instead of 7000)

<event name="Reveal Derelict Visual" >
<if_distance name1="Artemis" name2="Derelict1" comparator="LESS" value="3000.0" />
<destroy name="Derelict1" />
<create type="genericMesh" x="16759.0" y="0.0" z="14165.0" angle="0" name="Derelict" meshFileName="dat/ximni-scout.dxs" textureFileName="dat/XimniDiffuse.png" colorRed="1.0" colorGreen="0.0" colorBlue="1.0" />
<set_ship_text name="Derelict" desc="A disabled ship, about the size of a small capital ship." scan_desc="Scans show this ship is lightly damaged, but powered down."  />
</event>


Event when the scout "powers up"

<event name="Scout Powers Up">
<if_distance player_slot1="0" name2="Derelict" comparator="LESS" value="1000.0" />
<if_variable name="scout_msg1" comparator="EQUALS" value="1.0" />
<warning_popup_message message="The Derelict ship has powered on!" consoles="S" name="Artemis" />
<incoming_comms_text from="Xi'Qin'Ah" sideValue="2" type="FRIEND">Thank you for rescuing us, Rescue Team! That darn Skaaran Executor knocked out our impulse engines and we did an emergency hop to this asteroid sash before our jump drive breaked.</incoming_comms_text>
<incoming_comms_text from="Xi'Qin'Ah" sideValue="2" type="FRIEND">Can you connect with us and send your fix-it teams onboard to help us fix? I think you humans call it "docking".</incoming_comms_text>
<set_variable name="scout_msg1" value="0.0" integer="yes" />
<destroy name="Derelict" />
<create type="neutral" x="16759.0" y="0.0" z="14165.0" angle="223" name="Xi'Qin'Ah" hullID="9" sideValue="2" />
<set_object_property property="systemDamageImpulse" value="1.0" name="Xi'Qin'Ah" />
<set_object_property property="systemDamageWarp" value="1.0" name="Xi'Qin'Ah" />
<set_object_property property="systemDamageBeam" value="1.0" name="Xi'Qin'Ah" />
</event>

So it's basically creating, destroying, and recreating things in the same point in space to evolve the story.  I did the same thing with another anomaly-turned-generic mesh to hide clues to look for the powered down ship.

I'll post the mission after one more playtest.

Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #9 
That is a clever series of tricks. Nice work!

I hope your players are interested in finding the ship. Lots of crews sit there and do nothing until there is an enemy to destroy.

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HaydenBarca

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Reply with quote  #10 
I'm writing for folks who are LARPers moving into Artemis, rather than folks coming from a space combat PC/console game background, so I'm not too concerned.  The mission briefing makes it clear that finding the ship is The Thing To Do and there are no starting enemy ships to distract them.  My next step is to examine each of the player experiences (the stations) and make sure that everyone has something to do at different parts of the game.  For instance, Comms had a lull between the initial briefing and when they actually find the missing ship, so I added some additional communications from the Command Base so they have some content to chew one.  Even better would be to offer them choices, but I haven't thought through that yet.
Mike Substelny

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Reply with quote  #11 
It's always good to give Comms some friendly ships that need guidance. Consider:

Freighter: "We have a load of Plutonium. Where should we take it?"
DS1: "We can turn a load of Plutonium into a Nuke."
DS2: "We can turn a load of Plutonium into six Beacons."

This gives Comms several messages to send/receive and a decision to think about and discuss with the captain. If the crew suspects the derelict ship could be threatened by monsters then they will want some beacons.

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"The Admiralty had demanded six ships; the economists offered four; and we finally compromised on eight."
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HaydenBarca

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Reply with quote  #12 
Nice, thanks for the idea.  A game is really just a series of interesting decisions, so I want to make sure everyone has some.
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