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WIP Improvements to Smuggling.

Discussion in 'Build Beta and Brainstorming' started by Hylie Pistof, Oct 13, 2017.

  1. Hylie Pistof

    Hylie Pistof Curmudgeon Staff Member QA Tester Storm Modder

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    In my experience the odds of getting caught were not 50% but more like 90%. Escapes were so rare that I took screenies of them. I only have 2 and I remember them! Epic! Simply running away did not work as there was always a fleet waiting for me. Battle damage more than used up any profit made from smuggling. Then there was the problem of constantly losing officers in the jungle.

    Smuggling was a lose/lose proposition and I have no desire to ever do it again.
     
  2. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Set that option to 0 and that should be different.

    Except you're basing your opinion on a situation that was changed 1-2 years ago?
    So it should no longer be as lose-lose as it was at the time. :no
     
  3. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    Agreed. Seriously, try it again - my own experiences of a short career in smuggling were almost the exact opposite of yours! Get the proper time from a soldier in the tavern (I never took the other option of sending an officer to scout and risk losing him). Make sure you're on the beach between the times the guard told you. I didn't see the coastguard soldiers all that often, and if I did, they rarely caught me before I got to the boat. My ship was more likely to take damage in storms on the way to the island than in battle with coastguard ships, which almost never showed up. Repairs were dealt with by my carpenter and a stock of planks and sailcloth.

    Which brings up the matter of the jungle. If it's highwaymen who are killing your officers, note that the dialog gives you the option to ask them to chop some wood for you. That avoids a fight and gets you some planks so you can repair damage to the ship.
     
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  4. Hylie Pistof

    Hylie Pistof Curmudgeon Staff Member QA Tester Storm Modder

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    Your experiences were the opposite of mine. It didn't matter what the soldier in the tavern said, there were usually soldiers there. Before all of those glorious changes were made I could run away from the soldiers and escape on my ships, but after all the changes? Noooo. There was always a fleet there and my only hope was to sail far enough away to get to the world map before I was dismasted or sunk. Fighting the soldiers rarely worked. 4-8 failed attempts before a successful escape was the norm. It was a lose/lose situation and not remotely worth it.

    All the freedom that this game used to have is gone. Now I feel like I'm tied up in a straight jacket and locked in a chest.
     
  5. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    You honestly lost me here.
    You keep referring to a situation that no longer holds true.
    Why hold old bugs and bad choices against the current version of the mod, when those have already been rectified?
    I don't get it. o_O
     
  6. Hylie Pistof

    Hylie Pistof Curmudgeon Staff Member QA Tester Storm Modder

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    Since you never played the game, how could you remember what this game was like before it was militarized?
     
  7. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    I know that you got, well, pissed off with the modifications at some point.
    Then further changes were made based on your feedback to rectify that.
    Then you never tried it again, despite your feedback being listened to.

    If your opinion still applies to the current version of the game, then further changes may be needed.
    But as far as I can tell, your opinion is outdated.
    That means we cannot do anything about it, because what could be done already has been done.

    So I cannot see the sense in this.
     
  8. Hylie Pistof

    Hylie Pistof Curmudgeon Staff Member QA Tester Storm Modder

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    So I tried it again just now. And just like two (2) years ago it took several runs in and out of the tavern before a town drunk errr guard showed up. Then more time was spent watching my ship bob in the waves at 20x speed until it was time to go ashore. Then it took 3 tries before I got past the soldiers. There was no way to just run away so I had to just keep redoing it until they did not show up. Then it took 3 more tries before I could get out of the harbor before the battle fleet sank my ship.

    So nothing has changed in 2 years and smuggling is not worth the bother.
     
  9. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    There are other ways to get the time, though.
    I think there should always be a soldier in the taverns at night, so you don't need to try multiple times.
    And you can send one of your officers, so you don't have to wait.
    Both tricks should help.

    You can go to your ship deck, talk to a sailor and skip time immediately.
    Saves you having to wait.

    If soldiers showed up, either you did not time your arrival well or you got bad information.
    Change the setting I suggested earlier this week to avoid bad information.

    Being caught is not the end of the world, though.
    Let yourself be caught, fight yourself out and you'll loot a book with the soldiers' time schedule.
    Then next time, you don't need to figure out the time again, because you'll already know.

    Until the schedule changes, but that only happens occasionally.
    And I think that is somewhat tied in with the Tavern News, so you can be aware of it.

    What player level are you?
    The Coast Guard ships are generated the same as Governor Ship Hunting, Treasure Quest Pirates and Escort Quest Enemies.
    Those are all deliberately coded to be in line with the player, so it is not an impossible battle.
    At the start of the game, the Coast Guard only shows up with a single ship as well, so it's not so hard.

    Do you want it to be possible to be caught at all? Or do you not enjoy having any risk to it?
    The risk isn't very different now from before. What is different is that now you have ways to reduce that risk yourself.

    If you really don't ever want to be caught, we can figure out a quick fix for you to just disable the soldiers and coast guard altogether.
    That's easily done.
     
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  10. LarryHookins

    LarryHookins Buccaneer Staff Member Storm Modder

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    Pieter is reminding me of all the stuff I miss by not playing New Horizons.

    Is smuggling ever all that profitable though? I never tried it. If it's not at least two to three times as profitable as legitimate trading I'd rather keep my reputation and relationship with everyone and just make an extra trade run or two. Of course if your reputation is already a little sketchy... :)

    Hook
     
  11. Hylie Pistof

    Hylie Pistof Curmudgeon Staff Member QA Tester Storm Modder

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    What part of there were no soldiers do you not understand? The old in and out until one finally showed up is how I did it.

    I only go on the ship deck to get fencing practice so know nothing of that obscure trick.

    I arrived at the correct time and the soldiers were there just like always. I do NOT cheat and play the game as delivered, thus going through the same misery as the other players.

    Not being caught is the definition of a successful smuggler. A smuggler who gets caught is a failure. The odds of successful smuggling as it is now set up is 20-80, not 50-50 or 80-20. Your system is a long boring grind with a predetermined result of failure and is not worth doing.

    I did this grind at level 35 with a luck skill of 6 but have been sunk by a single broadside from a Battleship before. The thrill of actually escaping is so great that I used to take screenies of any success. This one was my desktop for some time. POTC new 2015-05-12 22-17-47-37.jpg
     
  12. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    There is this:
    If I recall, the profit margin also depends on how much the smugglers like you now.
    So if you do it for a while, you'll end up getting higher profits later on.

    I looked it up in PROGRAM\LandEncounters\LEnc_monsters.c:
    Code:
                    if (Whr_IsNight())
                    {
                        //Night
                        [...]
                        {    // PB: Total number of characters: Between 2 and 9
                            Random_sailors_sit_tavern(1+RAND(2), GetLocationNation(location)); // 1-3 sitting sailors : always one sitting sailor
                            Random_guard_sit_tavern  (2*RAND(1), GetLocationNation(location)); // 0-2 sitting soldiers: they come together or not at all
                            Random_sailors_group     (  RAND(2), GetLocationNation(location)); // 0-2 walking sailors
                            Random_guards_group      (1+RAND(1), GetLocationNation(location)); // 1-2 walking soldiers: always one walking soldier
                        }
                    }
                    else
                    {
                        //Day
                        [...]
                        {    // PB: Total number of characters: Between 1 and 5
                            Random_sailors_sit_tavern(1+RAND(1), GetLocationNation(location)); // 1-2 sitting sailors : always one sitting sailor
                            Random_guard_sit_tavern  (  RAND(1), GetLocationNation(location)); // 0-1 sitting soldiers
                            Random_sailors_group     (  RAND(1), GetLocationNation(location)); // 0-1 walking sailors
                            Random_guards_group      (  RAND(1), GetLocationNation(location)); // 0-1 walking soldiers
                        }
                    }
    
    So during daytime, there could indeed be no soldiers at all.
    But I was right and there should always be one at night.

    Now you do. It was added to the game for this exact reason.

    It isn't cheating if it makes the game playable and enjoyable.
    If the default "false information" value should be changed, then we need to know and we can change it.

    From PROGRAM\smuggling.c:
    Code:
        //Generate the ships
        Group_CreateGroup("Coastal_Guards");
        GenerateQuestShip("Coastal_Captain01", GetSmugglingNation()); // PB: Use Generic Function
        Group_AddCharacter("Coastal_Guards", "Coastal_Captain01");
        Group_SetGroupCommander("Coastal_Guards", "Coastal_Captain01");
    
        if(GetCompanionQuantity(Pchar) > 1 || makeint(Pchar.rank) > 5)
        {
            GenerateQuestShip("Coastal_Captain02", GetSmugglingNation()); // PB: Use Generic Function
            Group_addCharacter("Coastal_Guards", "Coastal_Captain02");
        }
    
        if(GetCompanionQuantity(Pchar) > 2 || makeint(Pchar.rank) > 8)
        {
            GenerateQuestShip("Coastal_Captain03", GetSmugglingNation()); // PB: Use Generic Function
            Group_addCharacter("Coastal_Guards", "Coastal_Captain03");
        }
    
    So, at game start, you are met by only one ship that is similarly sized to your own.
    If you have a companion OR are higher than level 5, then there will be a second one.
    If you have a second companion OR are higher than level 8, then there will be a third one.

    I have got not the faintest clue if these numbers are reasonably balanced.
    If playtesting says that this is too nasty, we can change them to be more forgiving.
     
  13. Hylie Pistof

    Hylie Pistof Curmudgeon Staff Member QA Tester Storm Modder

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    So there it is. The smuggling is completely broken. By the time you have enough money to buy a cargo you WILL be meeting three ships or more, all at higher tiers than yours. That is IF you survive the fight with the soldiers. It's a lose/lose situation, especially after the long boring grind to get that far.

    The old smuggling system was pretty easy but gave you the option to flee or fight.

    The system in dead COAS was harder but still not a grind to the end. It was still fair.

    This current smuggling system in POTC has only one goal. To stop all smuggling. This is too bad considering that smuggling was intended to be a major part of the game.

    Talk to the people in town and they will tell you all about it.

    There is a smuggler in every tavern.

    There are caves and tunnels used by smugglers all over the map from Eleuthera to Nevis to Kralendijk.

    Now all that serves no purpose at all.

    On a more positive note, I played POTC for 12 hours last night and only had 1 crash. There are AAA games that can't do that.
     
  14. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Fully agreed!

    With all the effort that @Levis put into making smuggling more involving and interesting, I can assure you that what you describe is the very opposite of the intention.
    Sounds like some more tweaking is required. I'll contact @Levis to see if he's got any clever ideas.

    Time to get to the bottom of this and "Make Smuggling great again!" ;)
     
  15. Marki

    Marki Sailor

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    Nice response. It is good to see you guys still develop the game further, thanks. I feel like playing your newest version right now :yes
     
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  16. DeathDaisy

    DeathDaisy Master Mariner Storm Modder

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    I enjoy doing smuggling, but I've mostly done it on higher levels and as a pirate, so murdering soldiers wasn't the end of the world. However, I did some counting and some thinking and maybe SMUGGLING_PERCENTAGE_BAD_INFO 50.0 is too much as standard or it could scale differently with luck. At 1 Luck, the chance of bad info is 50%; fair enough maybe, 1 luck is terrible. But at 5 luck, an alright score, it's still 30%, scaling to something like 5% at 10 luck. Also I didn't know I could even get bad info, so I hadn't been looking in the schedule books I got of the dead soldiers cuz just gambling with a guard seemed easy enough :p I just assumed I always had a fairly large chance to get caught, just that there was fewer soldiers if I was there at the right time. Never saw a coast guard ship tho, as far as I can remember. but yeah, it's gonna be rough starting as a smuggler, frex as your starting player type, if you got a 40-50% chance of discovery at every island until you get the book and they don't change patrols, especially if ships shows up and you are unlucky with the wind

    I guess you could both send an officer and ask a guard to double check, if they got separate calculations for bad info. Maybe even just making the systems clearer somewhere could go a long way without changing a whole lot else, that would definitely have helped me play smarter and more carefully at least :p or maybe they are described somewhere and I just didn't read the instructions... anyway, having more ways to influence the chance is always cool, I'm fresh out of ideas rn tho
     
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2017
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  17. LarryHookins

    LarryHookins Buccaneer Staff Member Storm Modder

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    @Hylie Pistof

    Simple enough. The 5 and 8 need to be increased. Leave the companion quantity numbers where they are; if you're sailing a fleet, you need to have more opponents. You might add a random number to determine if the extra ships are added, and having this depend on luck is a good idea, and it doesn't currently.

    Only you can determine what those numbers should be. Increasing them is not a cheat, it's a method of balancing the game for the way you prefer to play. The numbers may well be balanced for a starting character, I have no idea.

    By the time you get to level 35 smuggling *should* be harder. By that time you should have learned all the tricks to reduce the risk of getting caught. If those tricks aren't working, you may not be running the latest version of the code. But even a high level character with a good schedule and a high luck score shouldn't encounter patrols very often.

    Hook
     
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  18. Pieter Boelen

    Pieter Boelen (Not So) Old Seadog Staff Member Administrator Storm Modder Hearts of Oak Donator

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    Easiest thing I can think of: let's remove that rank check altogether.
    If you have companions, generate a larger fleet.
    If not, keep it at one.

    Which "you" do you mean?
    It would be easiest if the person with the objections plays around with the numbers.
    If you have to wait for ME to do it, you'll be waiting for a long time indeed...
     
  19. Grey Roger

    Grey Roger Sea Dog Staff Member Storm Modder

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    That won't help - if anything, it makes the problem worse, as it means low level characters aren't exempt from meeting a fleet rather than a single ship, which they are at the moment.

    One other snag is that all coastguard ships are matched to a combination of your character level and your own ship. The idea is presumably that if you're in a big warship, the coastguard will send a big warship after you - there's not much point in them sending a sloop if you're in a battleship! But that means if you're in a battleship and your companions are in pinnaces, you may find yourself facing multiple battleships...

    All of which is irrelevant if SMUGGLING_PERCENTAGE_BAD_INFO is set to 0.0 and if having good info means the coastguard ships don't show up anyway. ;)
     
  20. LarryHookins

    LarryHookins Buccaneer Staff Member Storm Modder

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    I think you answered your own question, Pieter. :)

    It's been too long since I played so I don't remember how fast characters level up. I can't say if 5 and 8 are good numbers.

    But I do think luck should be a factor. Hylie thought so too because he mentioned having a luck of 6 and still got caught. It may be impossible for a level 35 character to do any smuggling with the current code. Is this what was intended?

    Hook
     

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