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Thread: Are "science points" too generic? Does the game become a grind?

  1. #1
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    Are "science points" too generic? Does the game become a grind?

    From the flurry of 0.22 information over the past couple of days I think I've gathered how the tech tree works: You explore something to earn generic science points, and then you spend those science points to unlock items on the tech tree. You can see what you haven't unlocked and can thereby choose where to spend your acquired points.

    While this is a fairly obvious way to implement such a feature, I worry that it turns "science" into "economics". Players will be motivated to find the most efficient way to earn science points quickly, regardless of what that way entails. If anyone has ever played an MMO (I confess I played WoW for a few months) you'll know the drill: find some mechanism that quickly accrues XP, and then farm the ever-loving !%&@ out of that. It's not much fun, but it gets you "maxxed out" rapidly.

    I wonder if, perhaps, a more directed approach would be more interesting and rewarding for players.

    Consider:

    - If I launch a jet and manage to fly it all the way around kerbin, I should learn something about making jet engines efficient, and unlock technology that reflects this.
    - If I manage to take a really heavy plane up to 10,000m, I should learn something about making better wings by doing so. Perhaps this makes all wings slightly stronger, or have slightly more lift, or unlocks a new wing entirely, thus making it easier for me to do the same thing next time, or letting me build an *even bigger* plane next time if I want to.
    - If I get a rocket into orbit, I should learn something about how rockets work in a vacuum (and perhaps boost vacuum ISP for all rockets)

    As it stands it appears as though I could, say, launch a mission to Duna, earn some generic science currency, then come back and spend it on air intakes - which makes very little sense. Exploitation of the currency mechanics is also a larger concern when trying to use generic "points".

    So I guess this is both a suggestion and discussion. My suggestion being: make science more directed. The game already tracks certain "achievements" in the log, and I'm sure it wouldn't be too hard to come up with others, like I have above, that give a sensible, logical reward for achieving certain milestones, which would also encourage players to explore the game and reward them for doing so.
    Last edited by allmhuran; 13th October 2013 at 09:20.

  2. #2
    Official HypeTrain Driver GregroxMun's Avatar
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    I completely agree. HarvesteR said he wanted players to do whatever they want, but it does not make sense. If you want to do whatever you want, play the sandbox.
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  3. #3
    Kapsulni komunikator lajoswinkler's Avatar
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    This reminds me of monstrous abominations in Minecraft, with huuuuge farms that make bread and all that stuff people eat in multiplayer. Yeah, stuff quickly turns dull when your only goal is "experience points".

    I might be wrong, but the only way to mitigate the danger you're talking about is including intelligence into the feature. AI or real intelligence by some dude who will have the job to periodically invent a new task. I don't think AI is suitable enough for this, because this needs unpredictability and cunningness.

    I really wouldn't like KSP to turn into a new game ridden with massive, uninventive projects where players behave like drones. I hate that.
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  4. #4
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    The neat thing is, players can still do whatever they want - and in fact, by doing what they want, they will be rewarded with *relevant* technology that makes it easier to do what they want, or allows them to do what they want in a more advanced way (bigger, faster, etc).

    If I want to build planes, then I will spend time building and flying planes. And with a more directed system, that would result in me doing things that would be rewarded with plane building technology, which is great if I'm someone who wants to build planes - which, according to the first premise - I am!

    And of course, there's no reason why you couldn't combine the two methods. Have some "generic" science currency that you can spend wherever you want, but make things "expensive" in terms of generic currency. At the same time, make the directed breakthroughs "free". To take an example from my OP, if I get a plane greater than X mass to Y altitude (X and Y arbitrarily determined by the devs), then I just automatically learn about better wings and get an immediate, "free", unlock or improvement in wing tech.

  5. #5
    and if you don't show people the path(s) to take in advance, they'll complain about that and someone will set up a website with a fully exposed tree for others to "cheat".

    It's a classic no-win situation for the devs, whichever option they choose, someone will complain.

  6. #6
    You can't really grind points since every time you do the same science in the same place you get less. It encourages you to go and explore other planets and biomes.

  7. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by boomerdog2000 View Post
    You can't really grind points since every time you do the same science in the same place you get less. It encourages you to go and explore other planets and biomes.
    So then we will grind by doing the same science, with the same vehicle in different places.
    1 lander
    1 interplanetary transfer stage
    1 launcher for both
    Launch a bunch of them, go everywhere, do all the science.

    Of course there are exceptions, like Tylo and Eve, but a good lander could land on pretty much any moon or planet, albeit being overkill for a lot of bodies.
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  8. #8
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    Even still, it's effectively a different mission each time since each planet poses a unique challenge. With a few exceptions, no two worlds are the same drill for a landing mission to. More importantly, I'd like to see you design something that can get to Jool easily on the first handful of tech levels. NERVAs look to be way up there.
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  9. #9
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    I wouldn't worry too much. This is only the first release of the tech tree, SQUAD are probably going to fine-tune it in future releases.

    I do like the idea of multiple flavours of science points that unlock several items along several different tech trees. Anyone remember a really old game called Alien Legacy? That would be a pretty good example of what I have in mind.
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  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Psycix View Post
    So then we will grind by doing the same science, with the same vehicle in different places.
    1 lander
    1 interplanetary transfer stage
    1 launcher for both
    Launch a bunch of them, go everywhere, do all the science.
    <...>
    You know, that sounds to me like a very efficient and effective space program. I would enjoy designing that lander, that IPT, and that lifter. And I would enjoy "grinding" them all over the Kerbol system.

    And then I would realize that the science I had just "grinded" unlocked bigger and better lifters, IPTs, and launchers. So I would enjoy building and "grinding" with those too.

    If you want to define "grinding" as "flying spacecraft to new celestial bodies", then I think you'll find KSP is chock full of grinding. I think you'll also find you're playing the wrong game.

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