Hello everyone, and thank you for what you do!
I am a simple chap, so I am merely throwing out ideas here with no particular solutions. That said, let me get to the point.
CUSTOM STARTS, SCENARIOS, AND SKIRMISHES
Pioneer currently has three start options which need no introduction. I was also told of some commands in which the player could force the game to give them certain things and put them in certain situations... but those were "dev tools" more than anything else. Perhaps there should be a bit more than that for a variety of reasons?
Proposal #1: Custom Starts
A custom start would let the player define their own starting conditions. Perhaps there would even be a randomized condition! How one could put limits on available credits, ship type, etc., as well as balance-related issues is an applicable discussion, but that can wait till a later post. But the main ideas are thus:
(a.) Player chooses a starting faction. This will put the player at one of the starports in that faction's capital.
(b.) Player chooses their ship and equipment. Perhaps ships and equipment can be steered by faction choice?
(c.) Player chooses a legal and/or combat skill rating.
(d.) Player chooses starting assets, be they cash or cargo.
...If balance is needed, then a point system can be given to each item. Choosing one of the main game factions would cost more points, but imaginably that would confer a bonus of association or security, especially if more backstory and development is worked into the factions. Also, certain factions might have access to certain ships more readily than others. Perhaps the Wave fighter is a Terran design, so a Solar Federation player would get a "faction discount" on that ship as a starting item. If they chose another faction, however, they may get no such advantage, and if they are of an opposing or unassociated faction, may incur a penalty. The player could get a few points back by making the game start harder by making their legal status bad with either their local system or nearby systems, or with another faction. They could also set themselves up to be targeted by bounty hunters from the get-go with a higher skill rating. And last, they could divvy out their remaining points to get cash and cargo.
Custom starts could be rated for difficulty by the number of points given to the player. A normal start has a certain number of points assigned to it, an easy start gets more, and a hard start gets less. An "unrestricted" start would have no cap on points, and would probably not make for a very exciting game, but it would allow the player to try out some things with relative ease and also without the tremendous time investment otherwise required.
Finally, all starts could be logged in the player's logbook. In that way, there would be no "cheating" at hand - the starting conditions would be known to anyone opening the file.
Proposal #2: Scenarios
A scenario is a quick game that the player can enjoy without needing to invest a large amount of time into it. Scenarios can be pre-made or random. All scenarios must give the player the tools they need to complete it without extraordinary effort. The main idea of the scenario is that the player can try out the game's missions as set pieces. So, if the game gets military missions or multi-part missions, the player could just try those by themselves.
Perhaps the player could even make their own custom scenarios, with or without a loadout point system? It might also be fun to add a leaderboard for such missions .
Proposal #3: Skirmishes
Last time I tried combat in Pioneer, I had a really rough time. In contrast, a game like Helium Rain will let you piece a battle together with no consequence to your game proper. Being able to kit-out ships and try combat-specific scenarios and random encounters makes for a great quick game all by itself, and lets the player learn how to fight without putting their own game in peril.
...That's about it. I don't think any extra pitching is necessary here, other than the point that aside from fun, these additional game modes might also be really useful as development tools all by themselves. That said, many thanks to all of the devs, and for giving me the space to throw this idea out there - thanks!
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