Space Games and Travel Time? Why? Why Not?


  • Pitcrew

    I saw this being discussed on a game recently and am curious about peoples opinions.

    Personally I'm of the opinion that they are a PITA and a hindrance to RP. Having to tell someone that No, you can't RP with them because you need to sit along in a spaceship room for 3 hours to get to them isn't helping anyone. I understand the immersion aspect of them, but for me that does not outweigh the bad.



  • IMO, the only 'beneficial' reason to why, is I think to prevent Shenanigans.

    Monday, Jim is on Planet Exdee doing Z. Tuesday, he's halfway across the universe PKing Jane with his friend because something happened while he was doing Z and she HAS TO DIE RIGHT NOW.

    It's a bad example, but I think everybody knows what I mean.

    Overall, I think we all know there's not really any good reason for it (unless you're a serious stick in the mud, not necessarily a bad thing, but being a stickler on some stuff is just boring), but it's kind of 'left in place' because a lot of MUers have no real 'filter' when it comes to stuff.

    There's stuff a lot of us will go 'uh yeah that makes no sense, stop that', but there's always the handful of people who will (ab)use things to the utmost limit possibly imaginable and for anti-fun things if there's not actual rules telling them to knock it off.

    Basically, the same reason a lot of rules/etc get implemented. Some small handful of people fucked everything up for the rest of us and it's easier to have broad rules than have to deal with every specific situation as staff.


  • Coder

    In a rare case of making snowballs in hell, I agree with @Tempest. You get this on any game where character location is important, which almost all of the time is going to be games where PvP is likely. This happened very frequently on World of Darkness games, to the point where combat would happen in an instanced application of the room called a "Time-Stop". (And boy, did it stop. Horror stories for another day.) The people in the time-stopped instance had to agree that anyone not there at the time would be allowed in.

    It also depends on your game's theme. (Calling @WTFE: I'm about to use the term correctly.) If your theme is isolation, then being anywhere at any time could be seen as theme-breaking. Part of the theme of Firefly/Serenity, and really most Westerns, is that you are somewhere that you can be anything you want to be, including wicked or dead. There is no cavalry. There are no cops. There is you and them.

    Part of what excites me about @AlexRaymond's "40s Rocket Age" project mentioned here is that there's really no reason not to be where the action is; a lot of the time, the action is wherever you make it. I find this to be a better setting for Mu*s, where people do want to be able to get to wherever The Hotness™ is taking place.

    Part of what doesn't excite me about Star Trek games is that a lot of people who like this game style wants to fly around in a ship, zoom zoom exploration. This is 100% Pure Awesome, and the "travel time" issue solves itself because you're at the whim of the code.

    The only Star Wars game I was on did what one of my original staffed Mu*s, an ElfQuest, game did: If you were of faction 'X' you stayed in areas that faction 'X' were known to be. Players respected theme and setting and rarely tried to break it, and other players would encourage people to not meander but instead make someone of a different faction if they wanted to be in a different place. I like this play style because it's more RP-centric.

    Anyhow, some idle thoughts.



  • So, here's a crazy idea, why not have space adventure games in localized areas where moving from one spot to the other in a RL day isn't some sort of immersion breaking feat?

    I've played on star wars games that were localized in a sector, where it would take maybe 3 IC days to go from coast to coast, and it was awesome because this wasn't an issue.

    Then others where you cross the galaxy at the speed of plot (and had to because the gun store was located on one planet, and the gaunch store was located on another) and it was shitty because in the middle of plots the PHB would say, everyone in my office, now!! and people would have to ditch out on the fun, despite the fact that it would take IC days for the orders to come in, but oocly the boss was having a shit fit over some random thing.

    Anyways, design a setting with this in mind, I guess.


  • Coder

    @SG said in Space Games and Travel Time? Why? Why Not?:

    Anyways, design a setting with this in mind, I guess.

    Not a crazy idea. Probably should be one of the first concerns when deciding on a game to throw onto a 24/7 persistent environment.

    I think, tho, that anyone should be able to say, "No, you can't be in this PvP scene because were you were not that close by." If it's PvE (plot, scene, whatever) then there'd have to be a more compelling reason.

    This isn't a Space Game issue, but I can see how that kind of setting exacerbates the perception.



  • I see absolutely no point to making a sci-fi game WHERE SPACE TRAVEL IS CENTRAL TO THE THEME without some type of coded space system. That's probably because I've played almost exclusively on Star Trek games since I found this hobby in 1996, and I'm just used to it. I can certainly understand why some people don't like it, but it would be a deal breaker for me.


  • Pitcrew

    Not being in the right location for a PVP scene or something like that is a pretty common problem across all MU, not just space based ones. It could just be from being across town at the time of the scene instead of across the galaxy.

    And I'm fine with IC travel time being enforced, but on the two space based games I have played on the actual travel time and the IC travel time haven't been the same thing. It might take a 30 minute coded flight to go from planet X to Y but we RP is took a week, for example.


  • Pitcrew

    I would say that it depends on your game's focus. If the focus is on what's happening on the ship or ships, you should absolutely have travel time, but if the focus is on what's happening on the planets, then you should arrange some way for travel times to be handwaved or negligible. That way you can have players actually doing what you want them doing.

    We did something like that with The Fifth World: there were portals called Waygates that allowed you to travel instantly between them, so despite the game taking place over several planets and moons, there was rarely any need to worry about whether or not someone could be present for a scene (unless they were away from a Waygate in the wilderness).

    If you are going to have travel times on your game, I believe that they should be "off-screen," in that it doesn't actually take you 30 minutes (or 3 days, or whatever) RL time to move your bit from Point A to Point B. Instead, just say that the ship is traveling until X RL date, and all RP should happen on the ship until that date (this is even better if you provide some suggestions/drives to RP during that time).



  • I am very pro-spaceflight, partly because minigames are boss, partly because Star Wars AoA was my verreh first MU and I miss the good old days.


  • Coder

    The hobby is not as big as it used to be.

    The absolutely last freaking thing it needs is, "Anyone wanna RP?"

    To be answered by, "Sure! Uhh, you're on Coruscant and I'm on Tattooine, um. I can get there in two hours?"

    The more centers of RP there are the harder it is for people to actually connect. The longer people go bored wanting to RP but being unable to for reasons that are built in, the more likely they'll give up and go read a book or watch TV.



  • @ixokai said in Space Games and Travel Time? Why? Why Not?:

    The hobby is not as big as it used to be.

    The absolutely last freaking thing it needs is, "Anyone wanna RP?"

    To be answered by, "Sure! Uhh, you're on Coruscant and I'm on Tattooine, um. I can get there in two hours?"

    The more centers of RP there are the harder it is for people to actually connect. The longer people go bored wanting to RP but being unable to for reasons that are built in, the more likely they'll give up and go read a book or watch TV.

    QFT.



  • Damn, I even mentioned this in another thread and completely missed this one. The #2 'some day' weird idea I had was for a traveling space carnival game. Think of a mashup between Carnivale and Firefly: dustbowl/depression era troubles on fringe worlds struggling to get by.

    Grid was the rag-tag caravan of ships, which would travel (over time) from border world to border world, as a group. The border world (if they were on one) would have been 2 rooms: of 'this is a general representation of this world, temproom off of here for any locations you find relevant as necessary', and the faireground room where the show gets set up to bring in the crowd. It'd be 1-2 weeks on that world RL time, with the weekends included at both ends, and the weekdays between for 'travel' to the next one, arriving Friday night -- so fairly easy to schedule around.

    Collectively, through either dodging warrants or hiding out or just not being welcome or not being up to code and barely having resources as a group to do more than just scrape by and keep the lights on and food on the table, individual or small group 'go jaunt off to <other planet>' was just not in the collective budget, and/or there would be other reasons this would not be a thing. Ships aren't up to code for their legit port, not enough fuel to get there, that rich kid hiding out with the weirdos got disowned so there's just not the cash to cover the trip, whatever -- it would have been marked out as 'this is not a thing unless there's some big, effects everybody story involved, because it would effect everybody if somebody did it'.

    It wasn't so much 'tightly focused' as 'holy crap, this is packed tighter than a tin of sardines'.

    Highly weird, very gritty, but the reasons everybody would be in the same place -- even if that place was different every so often -- were built in. People could probably do something similar with a team of mercenaries or other group traveling around in a similar way, I would think. For a one-faction, PvE-oriented game, it should be possible to construct a setting that supports this without too much hassle.

    It just likely isn't the kind of thing that people are necessarily looking for when they think of 'space game', where one of the appeals for some folks would be 'can be on any number of active worlds'. Star Wars is a perfect example of the sprawling space opera on many worlds at once that has a good potential for game longevity if people take to it, for instance.

    That said, a lot of the most engaging sci-fi stories (to me, at least) are set in space either all take place on one ship, or one ship and one world (or only one world at a time). Some could have long-term potential, but a lot of them would be the kind of game you'd need to know from the start would likely have a limited lifespan and some top-down story arcs built in from day one. Think of stuff like any of the Alien films, in which the action takes place predominantly on one ship, or one ship and one world. You could technically have a game based on a film like Event Horizon, with the exploration of the ship taking much, much more time and a larger team handling salvage and research -- or, much as most people I know aren't keen on it (myself included), Alien: Prometheus could follow a similar model. The trick here would be to know going in what you plan to cover and know there's an expiration date when that collection of stories is played out.

    The 'tell a story, do a time shift or location shift reset, continue the over all story but in a different time/with a new set of characters/etc.' concept that @Coin has talked about from time to time could work really well for something like this to keep the game going and give interested players more to do in the broader universe to tell more and new stories, even if it's essentially run in installments with resets and time breaks in between. (Something like the Alien films could be done this way, for example, just -- for fuck's sake -- things should be presented in chronological order.)

    In a way, the 'we're all getting older and we don't have unlimited time' factor nudges me a little toward this being a more realistic model these days for a space game than one with the enforced travel and wait times of some traditional multi-world games. I think the sprawling space operas have a better chance of longevity without breaks or resets and such if people can get past that hurdle (or find a way around it as @Seraphim73 has described), but I have to admit, the breaks and resets model is uniquely compelling here, and I'd be curious to see if someone tries it some time to create a long-running game with defined 'chapter breaks' and troupe-style play with character changes throughout.



  • @ixokai This is why there are alts, OOC plot rooms, and holographic communicators that let you talk with people across the galaxy.


  • Pitcrew

    @Jennkryst It's also why we shouldn't do it any more in the first place, because those are stupid hassles to enforce. I don't have time to RP in two hours, I have to go to bed. If I can't RP -- actually rp, not halfass 'work around' stuff -- I'm going to go find something else to do.

    Edited to add: Why bake a problem into your game that people are going to have to tapdance to get around, that you have to build tools to get around? Maybe, I don't know, don't have the problem in the first place? Easier for everybody.


  • Coder

    @Sunny said in Space Games and Travel Time? Why? Why Not?:

    @Jennkryst It's also why we shouldn't do it any more in the first place, because those are stupid hassles to enforce. I don't have time to RP in two hours, I have to go to bed. If I can't RP -- actually rp, not halfass 'work around' stuff -- I'm going to go find something else to do.

    This. I don't do alts, and unless your character has a reason to go hopping around the galaxy, having multiple planets cuts you out of a lot of RP. Having OOC plot rooms and communicators doesn't help if you have no connections to anybody outside your home planet. This was my issue on several Star Wars games. Obviously SW and other space games still work in spite of this, but there's no denying it's an issue that stymies RP.


  • Coder

    @Jennkryst said in Space Games and Travel Time? Why? Why Not?:

    @ixokai This is why there are alts, OOC plot rooms, and holographic communicators that let you talk with people across the galaxy.

    Riiiight. So its better to have two or three characters that can only sporadically find RP, instead of one who can regularly RP because the setting isn't actively making finding RP hard.

    And OOC plot rooms don't solve anything but let people pretend the setting isn't actively making finding RP hard. I won't even get into how 'holographic communicators' doesn't even begin to address the issue at hand.

    Any game whose setting is such that any character can't potentially run into any other character is creating hurdles that must be overcome, and making it harder to actually play.

    Now, a mobile setting like BSG:U or @surreality mentions would be fine. Since everyone is mobile too, on any given friday night at say 8pm my time when half the RPing universe is going to bed (since damnit I'm PST and they're EST) but I have three or four hours still to RP in, those that remain are all still potential RP partners with me.

    If something is making the pool of possible people I have to RP with even smaller then my timezone does, screw it. I won't bother.



  • I'm in the camp that space travel time or RP downtime filler is not helping RP.

    I've played countless hours of SW1, it has economy, space travel, cargo trade andv other simulators. But I'm not playing a mu* to solo a game.

    In fact if I want that I'm booting up old Elite, or it's modern open source equivilant Oolite. One even has mmo servers going somewhere last time I checked. No space trade/mining mini game compares to Elite for me, inlcluding Mu*s that have tried.

    This is going similar realm as that How to Change Mu thread. Coded filler is cutting into RP time. I've enjoyed the bajeezus out of coded poker, pool, bowling, tarot, sabacc, space trade, battlemechs, +combat. But really I want the interactive story telling that is Mu* (multi user) RP.


  • Admin

    Barring specific and isolated circumstances, anything that means players who are online at the time and willing to roleplay with each other can't do so is a bad idea.



  • I treat coded space as an optional system for those folks that enjoy simulations and/or pvp, or for people that have nothing going on RP-wise to give them something to do. Don't like it? Don't use it. Take a shuttle instead (TrekMU*'s variant on the fast travel system), but then you'll miss out on RPing with your crew.

    Anyway, it's usually not coded systems preventing people from RPing on these games, it's having your player base split between multiple antagonistic factions.


  • Politics

    @surreality said in Space Games and Travel Time? Why? Why Not?:

    Damn, I even mentioned this in another thread and completely missed this one. The #2 'some day' weird idea I had was for a traveling space carnival game. Think of a mashup between Carnivale and Firefly: dustbowl/depression era troubles on fringe worlds struggling to get by.

    Grid was the rag-tag caravan of ships, which would travel (over time) from border world to border world, as a group. The border world (if they were on one) would have been 2 rooms: of 'this is a general representation of this world, temproom off of here for any locations you find relevant as necessary', and the faireground room where the show gets set up to bring in the crowd. It'd be 1-2 weeks on that world RL time, with the weekends included at both ends, and the weekdays between for 'travel' to the next one, arriving Friday night -- so fairly easy to schedule around.

    Collectively, through either dodging warrants or hiding out or just not being welcome or not being up to code and barely having resources as a group to do more than just scrape by and keep the lights on and food on the table, individual or small group 'go jaunt off to <other planet>' was just not in the collective budget, and/or there would be other reasons this would not be a thing. Ships aren't up to code for their legit port, not enough fuel to get there, that rich kid hiding out with the weirdos got disowned so there's just not the cash to cover the trip, whatever -- it would have been marked out as 'this is not a thing unless there's some big, effects everybody story involved, because it would effect everybody if somebody did it'.

    It wasn't so much 'tightly focused' as 'holy crap, this is packed tighter than a tin of sardines'.

    Highly weird, very gritty, but the reasons everybody would be in the same place -- even if that place was different every so often -- were built in. People could probably do something similar with a team of mercenaries or other group traveling around in a similar way, I would think. For a one-faction, PvE-oriented game, it should be possible to construct a setting that supports this without too much hassle.

    It just likely isn't the kind of thing that people are necessarily looking for when they think of 'space game', where one of the appeals for some folks would be 'can be on any number of active worlds'. Star Wars is a perfect example of the sprawling space opera on many worlds at once that has a good potential for game longevity if people take to it, for instance.

    That said, a lot of the most engaging sci-fi stories (to me, at least) are set in space either all take place on one ship, or one ship and one world (or only one world at a time). Some could have long-term potential, but a lot of them would be the kind of game you'd need to know from the start would likely have a limited lifespan and some top-down story arcs built in from day one. Think of stuff like any of the Alien films, in which the action takes place predominantly on one ship, or one ship and one world. You could technically have a game based on a film like Event Horizon, with the exploration of the ship taking much, much more time and a larger team handling salvage and research -- or, much as most people I know aren't keen on it (myself included), Alien: Prometheus could follow a similar model. The trick here would be to know going in what you plan to cover and know there's an expiration date when that collection of stories is played out.

    The 'tell a story, do a time shift or location shift reset, continue the over all story but in a different time/with a new set of characters/etc.' concept that @Coin has talked about from time to time could work really well for something like this to keep the game going and give interested players more to do in the broader universe to tell more and new stories, even if it's essentially run in installments with resets and time breaks in between. (Something like the Alien films could be done this way, for example, just -- for fuck's sake -- things should be presented in chronological order.)

    In a way, the 'we're all getting older and we don't have unlimited time' factor nudges me a little toward this being a more realistic model these days for a space game than one with the enforced travel and wait times of some traditional multi-world games. I think the sprawling space operas have a better chance of longevity without breaks or resets and such if people can get past that hurdle (or find a way around it as @Seraphim73 has described), but I have to admit, the breaks and resets model is uniquely compelling here, and I'd be curious to see if someone tries it some time to create a long-running game with defined 'chapter breaks' and troupe-style play with character changes throughout.

    mrw

    It took me like a minute to find my tag. XD



  • @Coin :P :P :P ...<3

    Was referencing your timeskip-on-same-game concept. I figured you might want to chime in on that front as it could work with this kind of game. (It strikes me as something that could be exceptionally well-suited to it.)

    Edit: P.S. Totally saving that to warn tag victims in advance some time.


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