[SVN] Some loose ends in the faction system

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[SVN] Some loose ends in the faction system

Postby philo » Sun Aug 28, 2011 7:07 am

I'm very grateful that the old factions.xml has been revised in order to get rid of the "obnoxious Uln" complex, and I also appreciate the attempt of making faction standings more human readable in the new savegame format.
That said, and after two long games played in Svn over the past 3 weeks, I need to report a couple of issues that arise with this new system.

Inconsistencies in the new factions.xml:
  1. Rlaan-citizen: Quite unlike the Rlaan faction itself, the citizens are not affected by any player actions. Which means: they remain at point "0" neutral forever. Should you hit one of them only inadvertently, I'm sure this will cause a downward spiral which can never be stopped.
  2. LIHW: They have only 0.2 standing towards themselves and their citizens. Also, their 0.2 standing towards the Privateer faction seems to be hard-coded, because when you start killing Aera they go up to a 120 maximum.
  3. Aera and Aera merchants: You can work your way to a neutral standing ('0'), but there is no way to get a positive friendly reputation with them. This pre-determines them as the enemy and robs the player of a choice. On top of that, the '0' point faction does not seem to be recognized as neutral: Aera structures still attacked me when trying to dock.

Presumable savegame misreadings / faulty faction calculation:
  1. Only an hour or two into one of my games I noticed I had a -100 standing towards the "Privateer" faction. I don't suppose 'self-hatred' is a valid parameter in Vegastrike. To fix this, I had to reload an old savegame.
  2. A while later I noticed that the faction points I had with the Andolians were "1.25e-00599". This misreading corrected itself after two or three reloads.
  3. Some time into another game I became aware that I was rapidly losing faction standings with the "Upgrade" faction. In less than an hour it went down to "-100" and "4 kills". But I had never shot at any place where you can obtain upgrades, let alone killed any neutral unit. And I could not observe any changes either: there were no red dots on the radar, and I could still dock to all structures, planets and capships as well as have friendly communication with them. To get over this, I had to edit the savegame. Since then, the values never again deteriorated.
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Re: [SVN] Some loose ends in the faction system

Postby philo » Sun Aug 28, 2011 2:20 pm

Sorry, I just realized I forgot to mention two further important points:

1. Uln:
They have been eliminated as an immediate mass-kamikaze and game-breaking threat, but they still remain a dangerous hidden threat for the unwary. They have no enemies (in factions.xml), hence there is nothing the player can do to appease them. An unintentional hit may turn them hostile already, and that should suffice to return the player to the old 0.5.0 scenario, with one decisive exception: this time there isn't even a theoretical option for getting back into good terms with them.
Since the Uln also appear as opponents in rescue and defend missions a new and unexperienced player could easily be lead to accept those missions in the false belief that their consequences will be no worse than those of other missions.

2. Dynamic factions:
I've always had a suspicion that in terms of military conflicts there was more going on around me than a strict interpretation of the factions.xml would allow. Now I have proof: there were several reports in the news about an ongoing war between the Uln fleet and Rlaan strike forces. So the Uln, who started off neutral towards Rlaan like towards everybody else, have turned hostile. They now have an enemy, and one would expect them to react positively to my joining the conflict on their behalf. But the overall faction relations as given at the end of a savegame do not reflect this new state of affairs: they are still exactly the same as at the beginning of the game, or in the factions.xml respectively.
If faction relationships are indeed dynamical (and I'd certainly welcome this for making the game more interesting) then it is in no way logical to have factions stick to a diplomatic pattern which is historical and has been proven obsolete by current events.
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