Posted at 23:38 GMT on Friday 27th December 2013
<Appocomaster> Good evening, Ladies and Gentlmen
<Appocomaster> sorry to interrupt your football coverage
<Appocomaster> but we have, through the wonders of modern technology, managed to gain the presense of Lunar_Lamp, from a secret location (a service station off a motorway somewhere in England) to come in to answer some of your questions
<Lunar_Lamp> (the impression I got from the radio was that it was such an awful match that it deserved interruption)
<Lunar_Lamp> Yes, I am currently sat in a service station, enjoying the high class ambiance of a motorway McDonald's and Costa, with a stunning vista of a car park.
<Lunar_Lamp> (so, if I suddenly vanish... my 3G has broken)
<Appocomaster> you have questions lined up, so in your own time, Lunar!
<Lunar_Lamp> Ah, ok :-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 1): <androme> will you open up alliance relations - as in alliances that are actually allied get shared access or something?
<Lunar_Lamp> Whilst there is a certain appeal to this, I'm not sure if this would have particularly positive ramifications upon the wider game.
<Lunar_Lamp> It effectively bypasses the alliance limits in several respects, and if we wanted to do that, we could just increase the alliance size directly.
<Lunar_Lamp> However, if you think there is a genuine gameplay benefit here, that wouldn't just benefit large alliances, it would be interested to read a more detailed proposal - so post away on the suggestions forum!
<CH_Bot> (Q 2): <androme> will you make it more clear on e.g. planets page, which planets are fellow alliance members? perhaps open up the intel notes on galaxy pages to be viewed on planets via for t100 etc?
<Lunar_Lamp> I think is talking just about the top100 planets, and this seems like a decent suggestion for a small tweak. No doubt our devs will hate me for saying so, but that sounds simple enough to implement.
<Appocomaster> to be fair, on the galaxy screen, the alliance hcs have the ability to toggle showing who is in your alliance (as a recruit or a main member) or who is allied to your alliance
<Appocomaster> I assume that is top 100 then
<Lunar_Lamp> Yes, I think this is just an extension of this to the rankings sections :-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 3): <androme> what's going to happen to the future of pa?
<Lunar_Lamp> Sheesh, has anyone else asked any questions?
<Lunar_Lamp> Hi androme!
<Lunar_Lamp> Right. Future of PA. Big question!
<Appocomaster> (ask more questions or we're just going to voice androme)
<Lunar_Lamp> I think it would be fair to say that progress thus far has been slower than I'd have hoped, for a multitude of reasons.
-!- androme was kicked from #planetarion by Pea [ :: Make up your mind! (Excessive nick changes) :: (Auto) Duration: 1m]
<Lunar_Lamp> However, my *plan* is that over the Christmas break I can put down some more concrete strategy for us as a team to focus on, moving forward.
<Lunar_Lamp> Many of 'my' ideas are things that have come forward from the community, and hopefully we can share those quickly.
<Lunar_Lamp> However, the primary drum that I will wish to beat is "ease the transition of new players into the game" (starting at "I've just clicked on this advert for Planetarion - what is it?" stage).
<Lunar_Lamp> It's quite hard to answer such a broad question in this format though, if I'm brutally honest.
<CH_Bot> (Q 4): <androme> will you make 1-click fleet attack on planets? e.g. click on a letter - e.g. F or PL (for prelaunch) and it'll send a fleet to that target
<Lunar_Lamp> This sounds interesting, but I'm not quite sure how we'd reflect the deeper tactical nuance of attacking in PA, and we definitely don't want to gut that.
<Lunar_Lamp> As previously - if you have some ideas about how this could change, I'm genuinely open to hearing them, but expect controvery to abound in an area like that!
<Appocomaster> my concern would be that people would attack planets withuot thinking about it
<Lunar_Lamp> (also, people, feel free to ask questions in addition to androme)
<Appocomaster> newer players would just go "hurray I launched a fleet", then "wait, all my fleet died"
<Appocomaster> and there's a question around which fleet would launch, etc
<Lunar_Lamp> In short: there would need to be a lot more thinking around how that should work before we could implement it.
<CH_Bot> (Q 5): <androme> are you going to balance out ETD race? e.g. 2 steal, 2 emp, 2 normal, 2 cloaked ships ?
<Lunar_Lamp> Well, Appocomaster is in charge of stats, so over to him!
<Appocomaster> yay! a question I can answer :P
<Appocomaster> I don't think that etd needs to be confined so strictly
<Appocomaster> The race always came from the ability to have some flexibility, e.g. "oh an emp ship would fix this gap nicely, we'll use that"
<Appocomaster> so some etds have had more emp / steal ships
<Appocomaster> you can knid of justify it by handwaving - "oh they traded more with these people recently"
<Appocomaster> in strict terms, they should probably only be able to have ships from the previous 1-2 rounds or something, but that's a bit painful
<Appocomaster> so in practice, we just adapt as necessary
<Appocomaster> it makes it easier to balance :)
<CH_Bot> (Q 6): <androme> are have you considered making pods die in similar way to SK's do?
<Appocomaster> the combat engine actually allows for this
<Appocomaster> when I recoded it so long ago
<Appocomaster> (though I think it has the same bug that SKs had)
<Appocomaster> it's certainly something we can discuss adding
<Appocomaster> I know in the past we had it and it was a bit of a tactical option - sending just enough pods to cap and die
<Appocomaster> but unlikely for more than hitting inactives, in practice
<Appocomaster> I think I can see SKs dying staying, but pods dying is something that's more open for discussion
<Appocomaster> on the suggestions or strategy forum :)
<CH_Bot> (Q 7): <Bazza> What size will BP's be for r55 ?
<Appocomaster> I don't think this has been decided, but the buddy pack sizes for round 54 did lead to nice and small galaxies, which I think everyone enjoyed
<Appocomaster> okay maybe that's not as popular as I thought
<Appocomaster> we'll maybe start a discussion on the forum this week on it
<Appocomaster> but the plan was to keep bp / alliance limits
<CH_Bot> (Q 8): <androme> thought about making 1 ship that specifically targets all SK's?
<Appocomaster> This could be done, but I am not sure what sort of implication it would have - you'd be that worried about SKs that you would have ships targetting only one class
<Appocomaster> I think that a nicer idea might be a structure (scarily close to PDS) which shot at SKs only
<Markb> just a reminder, if anyone has a question they'd like answered, /msg CH_Bot with it.
<Appocomaster> as that makes more sense to me
<Appocomaster> I'm not so sure about a ship that targets by type
<Lunar_Lamp> And we all know how popular PDS is!
<Appocomaster> it would work, with some combat engine tweaks
<Appocomaster> but I'd almost prefer a new construction or two :)
<CH_Bot> (Q 9): <androme> most important q of all my q's - what's the progress of PA's plan to attract more players and ease the passage for non'allied players/new players?
<Lunar_Lamp> As I alluded to earlier, this is one of my major focuses in the near future.
<Lunar_Lamp> I'm currently A/B testing advertising methods, as well as working on some stuff for easing players into the game. It's likely to be a "bit by bit" approach that is taken, with gradual improvement over a few rounds rather than a single killer feature all in one go.
<Lunar_Lamp> If anyone has ideas for specific Planetarion advertising banners, drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org :-)
<Lunar_Lamp> (as you may be aware, graphical skills are at a premium for PA, so every little helps)
<CH_Bot> (Q 10): <androme> a thought about Population Management - perhaps a slider that helps with Covert Operations? e.g. effectiveness or the Alerts Rating ?
<Appocomaster> securtiy currently helps alert rating
<Appocomaster> as for stealth
<Appocomaster> it's hard because I think it's reasonable to have multiple ways to be immune
<Appocomaster> you don't have to max guards and scs and population
<Appocomaster> we have the +5 success bonus and the randomness
<Appocomaster> the bigger I make the possible bonus, the more we have to look at ways to make sure that everyone can still block it a bit
<Appocomaster> we could have agent training centres which give a stealth increase
<Appocomaster> and remove some of the randomness and race differences
<Appocomaster> I'm not sure there's a pressing need to change it though :) compared to other things
<CH_Bot> (Q 11): Which skins do the PA Team use?
<Appocomaster> okay, so I have investigated this from R54
<Appocomaster> 5 of us use the Round 32 skin
<Appocomaster> and one uses Bob v2
<Lunar_Lamp> (Bob for the win!)
<Appocomaster> (the reason why it's called Bob is because Cin asked for a skin name, I said "bob" as my generic name-to-give-when-asked-for-a-name, and no one protested)
<Appocomaster> I don't know who has bob v2
<CH_Bot> (Q 12): <Dogg> can we have ship selling back and just not make sks so.expensive
<Appocomaster> and in the interets of anonymity, I will not share
<Appocomaster> okay, I was considering this
<Appocomaster> the main reason why we disabled it was obviously sks
<Appocomaster> I think that, with sks dying, we can probably make the armour/cost of sks comparible to the armour of other ships
<Appocomaster> and that eliminates the sk issues
<Appocomaster> I don't think you can turn that much of a profit with your covert opping
<Appocomaster> and then reselling
<Appocomaster> so I'm not so worried abotu that
<Appocomaster> as a consequence of this, we'd have to probably modify the resell rates of production
<Appocomaster> *the cancellation fees of production
<Appocomaster> if you can sell something back at say 70% when it's finished
<Appocomaster> going down to only getting 1% back when cancelling ... sounds a bit silly
<Appocomaster> so that will all need to be adjusted
<CH_Bot> (Q 13): <Papadoc> when will beta with the next rounds stats open?
<Appocomaster> tbc - need to confirm r55 stats :)
<CH_Bot> (Q 14): <androme> covert ops, altho lots of ppl dont like it, are there any other sectors you're looking for it to effect? perhaps a covert ops to slow down someone's production ?
<Appocomaster> at the moment, I'm not - production and ETA are things I'd not like to mess with (personally)
<Appocomaster> and I think that Lunar's emphasis on new players is still good
<Appocomaster> from a game point of view, the big changes would probably need to be more around galaxy / cluster structure and exile
<Appocomaster> but I've not had any ideas good enough to convince me to change the systems
<Appocomaster> p.s. pming me saying "just cap galaxies so they don't get so big" will not get that implemented. ever.
<Appocomaster> please /query CH_BOT with your questions
<Appocomaster> androme is not a bot
<Appocomaster> I repeat
<Appocomaster> androme is not a bot
<CH_Bot> (Q 15): <androme> have you guys thought about introducing a cost to launch fleets?
<Lunar_Lamp> Ah, this is a rather oldschool idea.
<Lunar_Lamp> Back in the day, there were eonium costs for launching fleets (it was fact, if I recall correctly, the only use of eonium).
<Lunar_Lamp> One of the phrases that I remember vividly from those days was "crippling eonium shortages".
<Appocomaster> (apart from scans, which had a crystal/eonium thing"
<Lunar_Lamp> There were players, galaxies, and even alliances, that were unable to attack due to eonium shortages.
<Lunar_Lamp> Now, obviously, that could be balanced better now perhaps, but I'm a little leery about making it harder to launch fleets.
<Lunar_Lamp> One of the core gameplay aspects of Planetarion is combat, and making it harder to enter combat would need to be done with a *lot* of consideration
-!- Exor was kicked from #planetarion by Pea [ :: Make up your mind! (Excessive nick changes) :: (Auto) Duration: 1m]
<Lunar_Lamp> I think, overall, the removal of eonium-as-fuel has beena positive move.
<Lunar_Lamp> I'll be honest though, it's not something I recall being discussed in as something to be brought back, so it's possible that we've been remiss in not considering it.
-!- Exor was kicked from #planetarion by Pea [ :: Make up your mind! (Excessive nick changes) :: (Auto) Duration: 0m]
<Appocomaster> the problem was things were so unbalanced
<Lunar_Lamp> But... I think I personally would need a lot of convincing that this is a genuine advancement in the game.
<CH_Bot> (Q 16): <androme> are military scans ever going to return?
<Lunar_Lamp> ...I'm getting threats from people wanting to break androme's fingers...
<Lunar_Lamp> Never say never, but I'm not sure that it's on our current roadmap - Appocomaster?
<Appocomaster> military scans give a definite advantage to cloaked people (fewer ships to add up)
<Appocomaster> in the past xans just had 3 fleets, 2 with pods and one with their whole fleet, etc
<Appocomaster> military scans showing targets are definitely out
<Appocomaster> I'd prefer not to bring in military scans again just because it's nice having some ambiguity (population, etc)
<Appocomaster> well, I say nice from my point of view :p
<Appocomaster> I am sure when you are attacking ro covert opping, it's not so fun
<Appocomaster> but if everything is predictable, then is it really any fun?
<Appocomaster> this is open for debate - happy to be told I'm wrong and why
<CH_Bot> (Q 17): <androme> will alliances have control over alliance ships that you choose to make available via one of the 3 fleets ?
<Lunar_Lamp> No. NO NO NO NO NO NO NO.
<Lunar_Lamp> And, in case that is unclear: no.
<Lunar_Lamp> Alliances are aggregations of planets. They are not "mega planets". Alliances should be able to request that you do things, but they are not puppetmasters.
<Lunar_Lamp> Planets should retain their autonomy, as part of a military and political *alliance*. They should not become slaves of an all powerful organisation.
<CH_Bot> (Q 18): <androme> will this flag roids idea for the speed round make its way into proper rounds ?
<Appocomaster> ohhhhhhh as an aside to this, I worked out how the non-flag special asteroids were broken
<Appocomaster> seriously genius level mysql chaos
<Lunar_Lamp> It could do, but I think there is value to their "novelty" being a good thing.
<Appocomaster> so, even if we don't get flag roids, we could get special roids back
<Lunar_Lamp> I'm not sure if they'd be as interesting over a long period of time.
<Appocomaster> the good old +5-10% m/c/e
<Appocomaster> so we may see a return of that
<Appocomaster> I agree with Lunar, the flags are nice to keep separate
<Lunar_Lamp> I shall leave that one up to Appocomaster when he comes to balancing stats. It would be interesting to re-add the special roids.
<CH_Bot> (Q 19): <androme> non-PA game Q (kinda) - do all of you enjoy doing what you do to make this beloved game what it is and do any of you enjoy playing impartially?
<Lunar_Lamp> Well, speaking for myself: it honestly varies.
<Lunar_Lamp> Some days, when I've got back from a long day (and sometimes night too) at my day job, and I see issues to deal with for PA, it's hard.
<Lunar_Lamp> But, at the end of the day, I'm *only* here because I've spent so long with this community that I feel strongly for it, and for better or worse, I want to see it thrive.
<Appocomaster> I go in cycles. sometimes I'm on a roll and do stuff, sometimes I am doing work, sometimes I am having a break from it all and reading (I am a bit of a book fiend)
<Appocomaster> I tend to sync up with the round cycles
<Appocomaster> Hermiod: please keep your BBW to yourself
<Lunar_Lamp> I'd love to see PA grow to the point where it became a full time job for me, not because it would be nice to be paid to work on PA, but because that would be a sign of fantastic success.
<CH_Bot> (Q 20): <Squidy> Is Androme being paid for filling CH?
<Lunar_Lamp> He'd better not be. I'll have words with our accountants to make sure though ;-)
<Lunar_Lamp> (...if anyone knows anyone willing to do our accounts for free, let me know...)
<CH_Bot> (Q 21): <androme> do any of you ever meet up in real-life? :D
<Appocomaster> we all turn up in limos
<Appocomaster> black suits
<Appocomaster> at airports, with briefcases
<Appocomaster> (maybe if we end up earning lots of money)
<Appocomaster> Lunar, myself and Markb have met
<Lunar_Lamp> I would *love* for Ranul Tech to make enough money that I can pay for the whole team to be in one room at once.
<Appocomaster> Lunar_Lamp: you could fire half the pa team and invite Markb and I over for lunch
<Lunar_Lamp> So, er, if someone could go out and buy a few thousand credits...
<CH_Bot> (Q 22): <MinimumWage> where do you see PA - lets say 5 years from now? ppl ask me in interviews...and so...what say u? :D
<Lunar_Lamp> That is a very hard question, as I'm sure you well know.
<Lunar_Lamp> I'd like to think that we fix a few of our biggest issues, and I am sure that we'll have a larger, more diverse, community that enjoys playing the game even more.
<Appocomaster> to be honest, seeing ourselves still here, having the same questions, would be a success
<Lunar_Lamp> And, if we can achieve everything I'd like, it would sure be a great ride to get there!
<CH_Bot> (Q 23): <MinimumWage> will bitcoins be usable for credits ?
<Lunar_Lamp> We're actively working on it. I hoped it would be in for next round, but that's looking a little bit tight now due to a few external factors.
<CH_Bot> (Q 24): <galla> As a pacifist I feel all the races should be emp, can we introduce this and say a prayer for world peace?
<Appocomaster> I think Ziks would disagree
<Appocomaster> but we do offer the option of Cathaar
<Appocomaster> for those who want to hug most people
<Lunar_Lamp> WE WANT BURNING SPACESHIPS FLUNG ACROSS THE UNIVERSE
<Lunar_Lamp> DESTRUCTION. VIOLENCE. VICTORY!
<Appocomaster> hi mr xan
<Lunar_Lamp> And, well, not everyone is a pacifist ;-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 25): <Hedgie> Can the community do anything to help the team run PA
* Appocomaster nudges Lunar
<Lunar_Lamp> I'm looking at implementing an idea that Paisley had, and raised in a previous CH.
<Lunar_Lamp> This would create an "ideas group" and "Feedback group". Currently, we haven't worked out how to make that work, and what form it should take, but I really do want to do that.
<Lunar_Lamp> As another avenue: graphics. I can't afford to pay much (or anything at all often) in this area, but there is serious opportunity here.
<Appocomaster> honestly, almost any graphics
<Appocomaster> anything above basic paint 101 stickmen
<Lunar_Lamp> As we get a clearer strategy for moving forward, it will be more clear what form this help should take.
<Lunar_Lamp> I've already nudged a few people over the past few months for an odd spot of help here and there, and hope to expand on this.
<Lunar_Lamp> Every single person involved in running PA has come from the community, and it's where I see future innovators and help coming from.
<CH_Bot> (Q 26): <Basilisk> so what is the afore mentioned road map ?
<Lunar_Lamp> That's a tricky one.
<Lunar_Lamp> I would, honestly, prefer not to share this and there is very good reason for it:
<Lunar_Lamp> As a team, we are really poor at hitting deadlines. This is due to the nature of PA being that it cannot sustain full time jobs, and we often find that things get cut or delayed significantly, just because of the real world.
<Lunar_Lamp> (and, I hold myself first and foremost of those who miss)
<Lunar_Lamp> So, if we publish a roadmap that is useful to the community, it would say things like "Feature X for round 55".
<Lunar_Lamp> We develop it, and then in testing, find that we can't make it work, or that the gameplay sucks when we implement it.
<Lunar_Lamp> Now, I would like to be more open about our roadmap, but at the moment, it would just become a rod for the community to beat us with (and that is understandable).
<Lunar_Lamp> Quite frankly, it would be like handing you all loaded guns whilst we're standing in front of a wall and daring you to shoot.
<CH_Bot> (Q 27): <androme> will it be possible - as buddypack creator - to delete someone out of the BP? rather than reset/create a new one?
<Appocomaster> it could be
<Appocomaster> we don't currently store that information explicitly, so we'd have to adjust stuff
<Appocomaster> I know that sometimes this has been an issue
<Appocomaster> will add it to the list :)
<CH_Bot> (Q 28): <androme> what plans are there to address the exile problem? it was briefly mentioned but not talked about
<Appocomaster> currently, I'm not sure that "patches" will work
<Appocomaster> there's now a slight delay between self exiles
<Appocomaster> it's more that the approach needs to change
<Appocomaster> everyone wants to be in the most active galaxy they can be in
<Appocomaster> some people want more friends
<Appocomaster> but there needs to be a way of supporting new players too
<Appocomaster> so it's more a "find a new approach for exiling"
<Appocomaster> than anything else
<Appocomaster> something else for the forums :)
<CH_Bot> (Q 29): <androme> thanks a lot - one final Q. - will the PA-Team ever play seriously? :D
<Lunar_Lamp> How do you know that Appocomaster hasn't won 7 rounds under various carefully constructed alter egos? ;-)
<CH_Bot> (Q 30): What service station are you at, Lunar?
<Lunar_Lamp> I wasn't paying attention when I came in - I'm on the M1 going north...
<CH_Bot> (Q 31): <RichardLionh> if you start having selectable teams (editable buddy packs) is there not a danger a permanent 'superteam' assembles that becomes unbeatable and wins every round - like what happened, for example in Formule 1 racing, where Schumacher/ferrari became unbeatable, and F1 became boring ?
<Appocomaster> no - bps often keep the same people each round
<Appocomaster> and with bps there are still random people
<Appocomaster> we're talking between ticks 0 and 12
<Appocomaster> not between rounds :)
<Lunar_Lamp> Well, unlike Bernie Ecclestone, I do not have billions of pounds in the bank, a serious height issue, and nor dozens of attractive women following me everywhere I go. I also have no problem in making changes just to stop things getting boring.
<CH_Bot> (Q 32): <Basilisk> are there any plans to update the manual so that it is current to the game
<Appocomaster> I think the manual is mostly / completely up to date
<Lunar_Lamp> (trying to rattle through the last few questions so I can get back on the road)
<Appocomaster> if it isn't plaese raise a support ticket
<CH_Bot> (Q 33): <androme> thought about bringing the private gals (ltd no's) and public gals (double the no.) option back?
<Lunar_Lamp> Appocomaster: opinions there?
<Appocomaster> we did this before but with mixed success - public galaxies were uncapped so grew as the round went on, so the priv galaxies disbanded when they felt they couldn't compete any more
<Appocomaster> so we'd need some sort of other structure
<Appocomaster> bps seem best for mixing friends and new people
<CH_Bot> (Q 34): What service station are you at, Lunar?
<Appocomaster> we had this alerady
<CH_Bot> (Q 35): <Bazza> Any plans to get rid of SK's which most people hate? Replace them with the old Cargo Ships perhaps ?
<Appocomaster> why not both?
<Appocomaster> SKs have a purpose
<Appocomaster> this is a war game
<Appocomaster> we can have the cargo ships back though
<Appocomaster> kinda up to the stats creator
<Appocomaster> if you are interseted in making r55 stats, let me kow!
<CH_Bot> (Q 36):
<Appocomaster> did we miss one?
<CH_Bot> (Q 36): <Hedgie> Will you be adding to Merchandise?
<Appocomaster> Lunar_Lamp: ?
<Lunar_Lamp> There's a careful balance to be made here.
<Lunar_Lamp> But, if we develop our graphics portfolio, yes, definitely.
<Lunar_Lamp> However, we wouldn't develop graphics *just* for merchandise, as the margins for us are relatively low there.
<CH_Bot> (Q 37):
<Lunar_Lamp> I think that's our lot!
<Appocomaster> we need to let Lunar get home
<Appocomaster> sorry ;(
<Lunar_Lamp> Right, yes, I shall stick around for 10mins or so, and find myself a highly caffeinated beverage before getting back on the road.
<Lunar_Lamp> Thanks for the questions folks, especially androme :-p