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coldend

Drone Stability / Drone Hull Parts

Suggestion

Posted (edited)

In preparation for this suggestion I spent some time combing through the threads here. I have decided to place this suggestion in the "Feature Requests" section, because I don't think a single drone part solves what I see as the problem, which may be philosophical or aesthetic in nature.

THE PROBLEM: Drones, even well designed ones, lack the strength and rigidity I would expect.and enjoy. They bend and act as though made of straws or pipe cleaners and styrofoam.

I have seen a couple of threads on the topic, and some commenters suggest this is a Nimbatus feature that the developers have intentionally included as an aesthetic choice. I'm too new to say for sure, and my cursory searches have not yielded results to prove that.

So, my suggestion comes in two parts...

  1. A change in philosophy. To me, the fun and challenge of Nimbatus, is the test of the player's creativity to create varied and innovative solutions to the assortment of scenarios presented, some of them being PvP. The artificial challenge imposed by constructing ships using sub-standard building materials (i.e. springy sponge-board), that wobble and create an unpredictable or inconsistent application of forces on your design... is enough of a annoyance as to be game ruining, at least for me as a player.
     
  2. There are a few ways that one could solve "the problem" should the developers think as I do, that it is indeed a problem.
    1. The introduction of larger "ship hull" parts, that can contain other parts.
    2. The introduction as others have suggested of solid or rigid struts.

P.S. - I very much enjoy the game. The potential of Nimbatus when i saw it on steam early access, made me snap it up in spite of all the previous early access titles I have been burned by. This game scratches the sandbox game itch I have had for quite a while now, and I have been unable to quite put my finger on. Stray Fawn not only showed me what I was missing from the genre, it excited me with the promise of Nimbatus to solve them. I can see myself re-living with Nimbatus, the hours, days, months, years I spent in Terraria, buying copies of the game for friends and family just to show off the creations I built... but the reservations I have about the ships seemingly constructed of Nerf materials is enough to put me off all of that potential.

Edited by coldend
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@Micha , (A dev,) stated in one of these threads that full rigidity was quite boring from an engineering standpoint, making it difficult to build incorrectly at all.  He has said that they are looking at solutions, but that full rigidity, which they've tried in closed builds, is probably not going to be it.  Multiple connections, also tried in closed builds, will also probably not be the solution they go with, based on conversations from when the closed alpha was going on.

Rigid struts are one suggestion; another has been a 'chasis' layer, something that is rigid that you can connect other parts to, (but god forbid the parts protecting it take damage, and those parts take damage.  Another has been having a number of cores with various configurations of rigidly connected blocks.  Those last two were geared toward preserving some challenge to construction in having a requirement to protect some very critical parts.

There are some ways to address this in the current build, though.  For instance, instead of using linear connections, zig-zag them through the ship so that for the right side to pull away, it exerts force on the leftmost parts of the ship.  If you "lace up" a ship this way, flexing has to overcome resistance from almost every connection in that part of the ship, rather than just several chains of linear connections supporting only themselves.  It still very much helps rigidity to avoid long ships, though, and to distribute thrust.  Good engineering can help limit the problems flexibility presents.

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I agree with Lurkily. I tend to build large, complex, long drones and they're all quite stable. It takes planning and practice, but I find it's part of the fun.

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4 hours ago, Garheardt the Black said:

I agree with Lurkily. I tend to build large, complex, long drones and they're all quite stable. It takes planning and practice, but I find it's part of the fun.

He's not kidding.  He's made some linear behemoths, even one with holes in them to make room for internal spinner turrets.  Check the 'post your projects' thread somewhere, there are some videos of them in stable operation.

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To me this is a "Dark Souls" type of argument, which is again a philosophical / aesthetic choice. I enjoy the challenge of designing a novel solution to a scenario, which I see the potential for in Nimbatus. I personally do not enjoy the "challenge" of overcoming an artificially imposed handicap on all designs in order to "git gud" at being able to do so (overcome the handicap).

On 1/7/2019 at 7:25 AM, Lurkily said:

@Micha , (A dev,) stated in one of these threads that full rigidity was quite boring from an engineering standpoint, making it difficult to build incorrectly at all

That is disappointing to hear, because I interpret that statement to mean that the devs are more interested in making the challenge of the game the design of the drone itself. To me, the design & stability of the drone should be intuitive and consistent (this, to me, is not boring... it is science, math, architecture, and engineering), whereas the challenge, artistry, and creativity comes in the application of those designs to the challenge scenarios presented.

This is not to say that the choice to use materials that are pliable and non-rigid is not more interesting to some, and in fact in the real world there are many examples in engineering and material science where a novel approach yields a better result. To me, that should be less of a dev imposed handicap, and should instead be a feature offered to player.

It is not entirely obvious to me why this would be a binary issue, nor how one could consider the introduction of more options "boring".

Material features such as...

  • rigidity - firm & solid to rope-like (imagine a bolo type launch-able projectile)
  • buoyancy - This would require the introduction of fluid mechanics, but would be very interesting
  • fragility - a container with a breaking point that allows it to shatter on impact releasing loose contents

Perhaps my excitement for the potential of the game is more than the scope of the devs original intention; but seeing as this is an alpha build, and such features exist in other games of a similar nature I was hopeful.

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1 hour ago, coldend said:

 I enjoy the challenge of designing a novel solution to a scenario, which I see the potential for in Nimbatus. I personally do not enjoy the "challenge" of overcoming an artificially imposed handicap on all designs in order to "git gud" at being able to do so (overcome the handicap).

This isn't an arbitrary imposition; it's an outcome of the physics.  The devs have tried altering those constants - arbitrarily imposing changes - and decided that the ease of success was not interesting.

1 hour ago, coldend said:

whereas the challenge, artistry, and creativity comes in the application of those designs to the challenge scenarios presented.

1

All of those things have to occur within certain constraints; the physics and the setting.  It sounds like you prefer the applications to be challenging, but the constraints to be forgiving.  That's okay, nothing wrong with that, but I think that the intent is for both the engineering and the application of it to both be interesting and challenging.

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16 hours ago, Lurkily said:

This isn't an arbitrary imposition; it's an outcome of the physics.  The devs have tried altering those constants - arbitrarily imposing changes - and decided that the ease of success was not interesting.

I hear what you are saying, that the devs decided that the ease of success was not interesting. That's an aesthetic choice... which does not make it arbitrary, not exactly... but to the player that feels the brunt of that artificial imposition, it certainly feels so. Also, I don't see how we can blame 'the physics', since we are talking about an entirely artificial game world, how forces interplay is entirely within the scope of the devs control.

When I opened the Nimbatus game, there was an invitation to join the forums and make suggestions, and to place a review on steam... as I have done. In the role of critic, I am offering up my opinion, as requested. In my role as a consumer, I am stating my preference in relation to a product I may wish to spend additional money on in the future. I understand the rationale behind some of the design decisions thus far, and while I respect them, I simply disagree with them... and in line with that respect, I was not offering a debate. In the game's current state, it was well worth the 61hrs I dedicated to exploring it and the $20 I spent, and I don't regret it one bit... however, for me to recommend the game to others or purchase additional copies for friends, I've stated the features that would convince me to do so.

The forums alone tell me I am not the only one who feels this way, but I don't have any quantitative data to support if my opinion is in the majority or minority, so it's really a business & artistic decision for Stray Fawn to make, whether to appeal to those consumers... or not. The quotes you offered seem to say that decision is made; well if that is the case...there's probably not much more to discuss.

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When I say it's an outcome of 'the physics', I'm not saying we can't change it; more that it's not arbitrary.  The decision not to alter it isn't arbitrary, but from a belief that the result isn't more interesting.

Now, please don't take my objections to be saying that you don't have the rights due as a fan or a consumer.  That's not what I mean. 

I realize that it seems like I'm trying to shoot you down; this isn't the case.  In reality, I'm just already prepared for this discussion.  I made this suggestion -- a few, actually, aimed at trying to make it possible, (I still advocate some that I think preserve the developers' intent,) and I was eventually argued around by a lot of the same arguments I'm presenting now.

In short; sorry if it seems like I'm trying to shut you out.  The arguments I offer you were once used against me, and I was frustrated at the time, as well.

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Oh, don't take my response as frustration, just disappointment. I play quite a few sandbox games, and I have pretty high standards for them, but I like to think I am fair. Those titles that I do enjoy, I have not only purchased for myself but for friends as well. Those games get quite a bit of my time and money. In fact, I've dedicated space in my steam library just for them.

The tone I have in my response is not defensive, just a simple statement of fact. The company that gets it right, gets my money and my time. Those that don't, I toss into a dusty part of my steam library and when my friends or kids ask I say "meh" and I forget about them. With each title, I hold on to hope for a while and wait to see how things play out.

2019-01-09 15_00_15-Steam.png

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In "frustration" (or "disappointment," if that word feels more fitting) I was referring to your being unhappy with what you viewed as an artificially imposed challenge, rather than a challenge that is rewarding.

I also noticed you mentioned lacking quantitative data; every suggestion does have a vote count that you can refer to, which the devs use to gauge the popularity of suggestions.

For instance, Dargus' suggestion of rigid drone bodies has a count of +2.  A post of my own, suggesting a chassis that can help keep a drone coherent without abandoning physics altogether, got zero, and a post suggesting an 'inertial dampener' to stabilize parts at an energy cost got one.  Much more popular are ideas permitting multiple connections (7 on Omega Rogue's posting) but there are gameplay and coding problems at play in that; in particular, physics can get very taxing very fast when multiple connections are permitted -- Michah(Dev) said they tried it when the subject came up during the closed alpha. Markus (Other Dev) stated that they're not sure how they'll address the issue, but rigidity is an issue on their radar.

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16 hours ago, coldend said:

The forums alone tell me I am not the only one who feels this way, but I don't have any quantitative data to support if my opinion is in the majority or minority

I've found the vote count on suggestions to be fairly compelling ;)

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6 hours ago, Garheardt the Black said:

I've found the vote count on suggestions to be fairly compelling

What I meant by quantitative data, is some kind of population representative of the market that Stray Fawn is appealing to with Nimbatus (this is kindof in the realm of what I do for a living so bear with me please).

  • The Nimbatus Kickstarter had 2,892 backers.
  • On the Nimbatus Facebook page, there are 549 likes, and 616 follows.
  • On the Nimbatus Steam Store page, there are currently 327 reviews.
  • In this forum, we were talking about votes, and the numbers there are in simple double digits, if that.

We can make some educated general statements based on these numbers, but I'll just call your attention to the declining ratio of participants in the kickstarter vs. the number of people posting in these forums. Obviously the population of active forum members voting on suggestions is not nearly a representative population of even the participants in the Kickstarter; and therefore it can't be representative of the population that would make Nimbatus a commercial success.

I would assume Stray Fawn has better market research around what their target demographic is actually looking for.

If we compare another title to this one that shares a similar set of steam tags ["Indie", "Action", "Sandbox", "Space/Sci-fi"] (just for demographic purposes). The title "Edge of Space" has...

  • A Facebook page with 3,847 likes, and 3,741 follows.
  • A Steam Store page that shows 2,631 reviews (beginning as positive in 2014, and then trending negative as market penetration increased)

Edge of Space was commercially a failure, I bring it up only as an example of how new Nimbatus is to the marketplace, and how their current available statistics show a very small market penetration. So it's hard to see if they are currently exposed to the base of their target demographic.

With all that said... No, I really don't find the forum vote count compelling.

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If you post an idea in a game's official suggestions forum and no one votes for it, the data points to a single conclusion; what was suggested was not well received. The rest of your data is speculative and diluting the only hard figure you have.

That said, sorry for getting way off topic. 

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As an FYI, the counts for similar suggestions have been merged a number of times, and the one with the highest vote count is usually kept, (They aren't combined,) so the counts on popular suggestions typically disregard the times it evaded notice and got no response.

I wonder . . . we've talked about rigid struts, or added physical parts to connect pieces for stability.  What if they also had limited durability, so that if you tried to prop up too much stress they'd begin to break?  You'd be able to make something a little more reliably stable and rigid, but also not disregard physics stress, and have to build intelligently.  The only problem I see with it is that people would be likely to prop up every part they can reach this way, which would kind of defeat the purpose of preserving the need to build intelligently.

Maybe each part could have a setting to tune it's 'hardness' - and just like real life metals, harder (more rigid) materials are more brittle.  (You know the old parable about the willow and the oak.) You'd be able to make rigid constructions, but you'd have to brace it with more resilient connections intelligently, and you wouldn't be able to add new struts willy-nilly to complicate physics and wouldn't neuter the reward for designing well.

I know the reward of design isn't really an issue for you, as opposed to the reward of design application in gameplay.  But as a development concern, any implementation of rigidity will need to consider making the engineering phase both challenging and rewarding, as well as the application.

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