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Escape shuttle is weird. So what makes a good round end?
#1
Brick 
I want to start this by figuring out exactly what does the shuttle escape mean, both from the game standpoint and its in-universe explanation.



Escape shuttle introduces a variable amount of round length. Players always have to choose to call the shuttle unless crew death threshold is passed (only seen this happen on lowpop), or "shift change" threshold is reached (usually 90 minutes, with subsequent 60 minute (?) increments for repeated calls). There is an option to recall the shuttle, which can be done at any time, by anyone with sufficient access or the silicons. Once the shuttle is called, there's 2 minutes you have to recall it until it's no longer possible to recall it in transit. You have unlimited amount of recalls. If you don't make it fast enough to the shuttle, you can board an escape pod and have a chance of appearing next to the shuttle to break into it in transit, or explode.



Here is what I observed happening as a consequence of this set of mechanics:
  • An escape shuttle vote is initiated by an announcement by the players. If majority votes "Y", it gets called. Otherwise, it doesn't.
  • A shuttle may sometimes be randomly called out of nowhere. Everyone is annoyed and screams to recall. If it's not recalled, the round is over in an unsatisfying way for everyone.
  • Shuttle shift change shuttle is called, everyone things "eh it's fine" and recalls it to pursue their long-term projects such as advzone, cargonia, learning new departments in low chaos etc. Anyone who got gibbed or permanently removed from the round has no chance to come back for potentially several hours.
  • A rampaging maniac massacres enough crew to result in "crew member fatalities" shuttle call. It's certain they have access - now you're at the mercy of them not recalling out of courtesy for the rest of the players. But they're technically allowed to recall the fatality shuttle, and it's not even technically against the rules, though it's somewhat reasonable for an admin to get involved and yell at the antag for this I still think it's problematic due to the mechanics.
  • Someone keeps calling the shuttle, the crew keeps recalling. This will happen for as long as one side or the other gets bored and gives up, or admins get involved. Nothing meaningful stops this mechanically, as the 2 minute threshold never has a chance to pass.



Now, the actual shuttle transit:
  • A lot of antags go loud and start racking up kills, either for fun or for objectives. Panic, stress and chaos ensues.
  • People sometimes get randomly thrown out the airlocks or broken windows, or just end up getting killed by a self-antag. Ahelps and messy post-round log-scouring for admins ensue.
  • Some antags and players who want to live huddle in some corner, hide themselves in sleepers, the lockers, or just lay down and pray to God a bomb doesn't go off.
  • A bomb goes off, a whole bunch of people die.
  • Security huddles in the brig in hopes of surviving. They don't even bother dealing with the amount of chaos and friendly fire going on in the main section of the shuttle.
  • If, by some miracle, no antags make it to the shuttle, paranoia, stress and expectation of chaos might still lead to all of the above occurring. Expect a flood of post-round ahelps.
  • Have fun with your hijack objective! Even critters apparently count, so enjoy being a Ling with your limb critters counting against the objective and red texting your ass. Most likely requires gratuitous rampage, barricading the escape shuttle, sabotaging escape pods and murdering everything and anything that gets on. Only seen this greentexted on low pop, which sometimes isn't even a challenge depending on antag.


Now, I dunno about you, but examining these mechanics as a whole just gives me a nasty, weird vibe. Nothing you do during the round seems to have any meaning, as in the end you always abandon the station and escape with what you can carry. If you want to survive the shuttle, you have to specifically create robust chems, and pray your department is capable of supplying you with survival gear. It also feels extremely unrewarding to me that you could be an awesome miner, give all departments ever all the materials they ever need, and in the end you know everyone has to abandon everything they did for a fresh, new round, very often without a chance to even use anything they made.



Now, let's look at this lore-wise. What does The Company - Centcomm - do during all this?
  • Centcomm is completely okay with sending and re-sending the shuttle as many times as necessary, no charge, no complaint! Fuel costs be damned!
  • Centcomm is completely okay with their extremely expensive station going derelict over any reason, or none provided! They have no thresholds in place to determine what is a "shuttle-callable" situation, structural integrity or crew shortage does not matter! This crew just feels like leaving, I guess!
  • The shuttle is called *every round*! That's each round of a derelict space station, if we consider each round doesn't exist in its own self-contained universe.
  • Make money and research to lose it all! The station is no-doubt expensive, but it does not seem to matter to the company, despite there being mechanics in place for station budget and selling research.


So what is even the goal for Centcomm on each round, role-play or otherwise? It's actually hard for me to understand what is even the purpose of each given shift, even as a player. So far, it's one big sand box where I essentially make my own goal or follow the crew objectives, but it doesn't truly matter what I end up doing, there is no major goal to work towards, except for game modes like Nuke Ops.



In Nuke Ops, the game expands to introduce several new ways to win or lose:
  • Win by killing all nuke ops before the nuke is planted
  • Win by destroying the nuke even if nuke ops are alive or not
  • Win (?) by escaping in the shuttle before the nuke gets planted
  • Lose by nuke ops killing everyone and blowing up the station
  • Lose by escaping on the shuttle with a planted nuke



All of this introduces a common enemy, and multiple approaches to the situation - there are several ways to achieve victory that does not even involve the escape shuttle! It also introduces interesting dynamics and drama where calling the shuttle may not even be seen as a good option by some crews.



I really want to discuss this and brainstorm ideas. How can we take the lessons learned from the nuke ops setup, and apply them to the standard gameplay loop? In what ways can the crew end the round that does not involve escape shuttle? And how can those new methods to end the round involve as many crew members as possible?

Now, time for some actual suggestions, starting with the shuttle:
  • If the pattern is for people to start shuttle votes, why not make it the default behavior? A shuttle vote must be initiated to decide whether a shuttle is called or not. Anyone not voting is ignored.
  • Similarly, to recall the shuttle, there needs to be a limiting factor - perhaps a vote as well, or a limited amount of recalls in a certain period of time. Due to the shuttle vote itself requiring a vote, perhaps there's a maximum of one recall per 30 or so minutes? Just spitballing.
  • I have no clue what to even do for the shuttle transit itself. Some people pondered lengthening the time spent in transit, but I dunno if I see merit in that yet.
  • Perhaps hijack objectives should be removed from lowpop unless a certain threshold of players is reached - maybe at least 15 people must be there at roundstart for hijack objectives to be introduced in rotation?

As for other ways to potentially end the round. The tricky part is making it satisfying for everyone. The shuttle has the benefit of being telegraphed, and allowing you to delay it, potentially indefinitely (for better or worse).
  • I've been pondering the concept of Department Objectives. Each station department is tasked with fulfilling a certain quantifiable objective - Quartermasters have to earn X amount of money for Nanotrasen, Roboticists have to create a number of borgs and available surplus bodies/securitrons, Research has to correctly identify a number of artifacts for a good overall percentage rate, Security has to ensure at least half the antagonists are brigged or borged, Civilian department has to have a certain number of food, drinks and produce available for sale through QM, etc. - Out of all of these objectives, only some of them have to be completed to unlock an alternative round end.
  • Perhaps that alternative round end earns everyone on the station a vacation or something, and you can reach that vacation through a space dinner shuttle?
  • The vacation shuttle may not even necessarily end the round - simply accelerate it by perhaps removing the ability to recall the shuttle, and auto-calling it once the vacation shuttle arrives at the vacation zone?
  • Alternatively, the new round end conditions could be tied to advzone, however the problem with this is it's tied into telesci and any volunteers willing to participate in *off-station* adventures.
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#2
Regarding votes - when I'm a command on Main I generally go "yeah nah fuck a vote, the station is in ruins" and the telesci nerds can try again next round. I get really annoyed with people INSISTING on votes when Security has had a horrible time of it, or the station has many, many breaches because Genetics or whatever is almost an unstoppable genetic monster and just needs a liiitle more time.
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#3
Ss13 is a multi-player sandbox space station insanity simulator with no clear goal on most rounds.

The escape shuttle exists to call an end to the round and let everyone shuffle around their roles and keep the game from stalling out.

There can be no defined end because there is no defined purpose. I don't think the game would benefit much from adding one.
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#4
I was under the impression that shuttles sent as a result of crew member fatalities couldn't be recalled. Did that get changed or did that feature never exist and I am just going insane?
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#5
Also if someone is recalling the shuttle to kill more after already killing a bunch that it absolutely against the rules and you should report it
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#6
I don't disagree with the sandboxy charm of the game. I also don't want endgame objectives to be rigid and restrict player expression - however, I disagree with this game having no clear goal on most rounds.

Each round actually has a pretty clear goal: don't die is the obvious one, but also with changelings, vampires, etc. running about the goal is "defeat the antagonists". This doesn't necessarily mean to tide or validhunt either - just assist those equipped or allowed to deal with the threats to the best of your ability.

The goals can be ignored, but clear goals are always there for each round by their design.
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#7
I’ve always advocated for a bigger shuttle. Make the medbay section of the shuttle much bigger, so that doctors can actually take care of people dying on the ground, and make the actual walk space bigger. Of course, this would require remapping of several maps to incorporate new shuttle designs, but it’s an important change I think we need.
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#8
(11-24-2021, 10:19 AM)Jakson Wrote: I’ve always advocated for a bigger shuttle. Make the medbay section of the shuttle much bigger, so that doctors can actually take care of people dying on the ground, and make the actual walk space bigger. Of course, this would require remapping of several maps to incorporate new shuttle designs, but it’s an important change I think we need.

Bigger shuttles might make the transit at least a little more bearable. It's so cramped right now it's awful.
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#9
(11-24-2021, 06:14 AM)Crystalwarrior Wrote: Now, let's look at this lore-wise. What does The Company - Centcomm - do during all this?
  • Centcomm is completely okay with sending and re-sending the shuttle as many times as necessary, no charge, no complaint! Fuel costs be damned!
  • Centcomm is completely okay with their extremely expensive station going derelict over any reason, or none provided! They have no thresholds in place to determine what is a "shuttle-callable" situation, structural integrity or crew shortage does not matter! This crew just feels like leaving, I guess!
  • The shuttle is called *every round*! That's each round of a derelict space station, if we consider each round doesn't exist in its own self-contained universe.
  • Make money and research to lose it all! The station is no-doubt expensive, but it does not seem to matter to the company, despite there being mechanics in place for station budget and selling research.


Okay, so the shift we play is the last shift on SS13. We all get fired when we reach centcom.

Which, expanding on that. I don't think the shuttle actually goes to centcom. In game, we head there after a brief 2 minute transit through the channel, but in canon we know the journey would be a lot longer due to SS10 serving as a port for ships going in and out of the frontier.

Assuming you start at a SS13 floating around near the debris, you would head to SS10 on the first leg, from there, depending on if you live in the frontier or not, you would then board a ship heading into the sol system, or would then get off and have to make your way to where ever it is you live. As you pass through the channel, you then reach earth. From there, those who live on earth would disembark and leave, while a second ship drops people off at mars and the Belt, likely around Ceres or somewhere.

And now
Light lag

So, Communication isn't instant in the distance we are dealing with, and as we can tell from several emails, NT stations are under attack at the moment across known space. This rather that point in time everything in the frontier boils over and goes to shit. NT probably can afford the cost to do the repairs needed, assuming the crew doesn't do them already, though with a downturn in short term profit. It's likely NT doesn't even know the extent of the damages, with communication assumedly taking a good amount of time to travel from SS13 to SS10 to Centcom, probably somewhere around 20 minutes would be a reasonable choice. Which leaves us with the last one.

What we are dealing with on station is company script called credits, which seeing from what we earn in game means that the places we are buying and selling from is company stores. NT hasnt been turning much of a profit from SS13 prior to this shift, and when the shuttle comes, it's us being all fired as stated before for a new crew draft to be filled out and sent to SS13. Even if the station makes a obscene profit, it's likely that this has been planned in beforehand and all our paperwork has been filed to fire us. And if the crew asks to go home early, who cares if it's a few minutes before they all get officially fired.

Like emily has stated, centcom is the end cap of a round. It's all the simpsons couch gag and a cool place to run around and murder each other with your goodies that you couldnt/didnt get to use that round. I think as the shuttle exists right now it's fine. Cramped yes, but bearable and a fun last chance sorta thing.
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#10
Larger shuttles seem to be in need for sure at least in my opinion. Like with the population growing we're probably only one wave of new fellas coming from a streamer or youtuber away from literally all standing space in a shuttle being taken with only room for more people who crawl on the ground (which tbh would be hilarious as well, but would get kinda annoying too after a while.)

On the topic of escape shuttle votes, I'd certainly be up for it and I'd even suggest that make it a vote that any head (and AI) can commence which pings everyone's PDAs and has a nice, noticeable box right on the main screen where you can vote with tallies for Y/N. This would give the PDA some more use and make keeping it somewhat a priority. Hell you could even rig the vote if you stole PDAs!

To add to this you could have only the Captain and HoS have the power to unilaterally call the shuttle without a vote. And maybe have it work with like a hand or eyescanner. Could get some cool situations with the crew having to cut off a hand/eye to call the shuttle if the vote can't get started or somebody is rigging it with stolen PDAs to not call.
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#11
(11-25-2021, 04:28 PM)Tribaja Wrote: Larger shuttles seem to be in need for sure at least in my opinion. Like with the population growing we're probably only one wave of new fellas coming from a streamer or youtuber away from literally all standing space in a shuttle being taken with only room for more people who crawl on the ground (which tbh would be hilarious as well, but would get kinda annoying too after a while.)

On the topic of escape shuttle votes, I'd certainly be up for it and I'd even suggest that make it a vote that any head (and AI) can commence which pings everyone's PDAs and has a nice, noticeable box right on the main screen where you can vote with tallies for Y/N. This would give the PDA some more use and make keeping it somewhat a priority. Hell you could even rig the vote if you stole PDAs!

To add to this you could have only the Captain and HoS have the power to unilaterally call the shuttle without a vote. And maybe have it work with like a hand or eyescanner. Could get some cool situations with the crew having to cut off a hand/eye to call the shuttle if the vote can't get started or somebody is rigging it with stolen PDAs to not call.

I really like these ideas! Would love to see it implemented this way. If it's not bio-locked to HoS and Captain then anyone with AA ID can call the shuttle which would defeat hte point of the change lol
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#12
(11-25-2021, 04:28 PM)Tribaja Wrote: Larger shuttles seem to be in need for sure at least in my opinion. Like with the population growing we're probably only one wave of new fellas coming from a streamer or youtuber away from literally all standing space in a shuttle being taken with only room for more people who crawl on the ground (which tbh would be hilarious as well, but would get kinda annoying too after a while.)

On the topic of escape shuttle votes, I'd certainly be up for it and I'd even suggest that make it a vote that any head (and AI) can commence which pings everyone's PDAs and has a nice, noticeable box right on the main screen where you can vote with tallies for Y/N. This would give the PDA some more use and make keeping it somewhat a priority. Hell you could even rig the vote if you stole PDAs!

To add to this you could have only the Captain and HoS have the power to unilaterally call the shuttle without a vote. And maybe have it work with like a hand or eyescanner. Could get some cool situations with the crew having to cut off a hand/eye to call the shuttle if the vote can't get started or somebody is rigging it with stolen PDAs to not call.

Definitely approve of larger shuttles. Currently the shuttles are so packed that trying to move around just gets you shoved randomly in multiple directions as people run around in a panic, leading to chaos which means combat is just a horrible mess of friendly fire. Now, SS13 is a chaotic game but too much chaos results in lot of self-antagging which isn't fun for the victims or the admins. I think every experienced player can say they've been spaced at some point on the shuttle by a non-antag, whether due to a misunderstanding, simple mistake or actively using the chaos of the shuttle to intentionally grief. In addition, larger shuttles mean that bombs are less impactful which helps deal with the common occurance of people doing haha funny shuttle explosions and killing most of the crew in a way that results in 0 fun for the crew.

Honestly, after writing this it occured to me that the insta-gib from being spaced on the shuttle is a little silly considering how easy it is to do. If the shuttles were larger with perhaps multiple areas/rooms you wouldn't permanently be an aggressive grab and a throw away from instantly dying - which is never fun. You could even add a walkway on the sides of the shuttle 1-2 tiles wide that extends after launch to help with this.
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#13
Larger shuttles would be a pretty big mapping endeavor. You'd have to redesign every shuttle for every map, and then all the variants that have been made of the shuttles for each of those maps, then redesign all of centcomm's docks (which i believe exists in a z level that is shared by other things and is therefore competing for space) and all relevant portions of maps themselves (Manta comes to mind as particularly problematic for this). It's not quite a human resprite tier project, but it's sure as hell not something that someone just decides to do one day and hopes that it'll be received well by devs.

I tentatively like the idea of formalized shuttle votes, and think it's a more realistic addition. The bio-locked voteless shuttle call also seems like a reasonable solution to a number of edge cases while opening up some interesting gameplay opportunities. That being said, I would be hesitant to include it because the most popular option is not necessarily the best one as a vote like this would imply.
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#14
Escape shuttle votes are absolute garbage because half the people who would vote "yes" are already dead or too busy dealing with the absolute nightmare of a station that the people voting "no" are intentionally ignoring to vote.
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#15
(11-26-2021, 01:29 PM)Mouse Wrote: Escape shuttle votes are absolute garbage because half the people who would vote "yes" are already dead or too busy dealing with the absolute nightmare of a station that the people voting "no" are intentionally ignoring to vote.

Maybe more important jobs like Heads of Staff etc. count for more votes?
Also I still think there's more good than bad in shuttle voting as long as there's methods for the shuttle to be called no matter what -- like the game itself telling 'em "No, this *CAN'T* be fixed, get the fuck off this piece of junk!" -- which is currently very lacking besides crew shortage vote which can easily be recalled anyway by the same people voting "no"...


Why are crew shortage votes recallable unless the crew numbers are back to acceptable, again? (as in whoever died to cause the vote gets cloned or something)
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