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Dwenos

Beyond beacons

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In the Calling All Devs - Robbit Season episode at the end of August, Rob Reininger responded to the question, "Will we be able to place a waypoint on the map, even if there is nothing there, and then quantum travel to it?"  There was a short discussion, but the bottom line answer seemed to be, "We're not ruling it out right now."  Mr. Reininger was also hesitant to state that quantum drive could be activated without a waypoint.  I'm a bit concerned about this answer.

I would understand if the answer was, "That's not currently on the roadmap, so don't look for it anytime soon."  Resources are limited.  But it seems as if they're undecided whether this will ever be a possibility, and I just don't understand that.  This should be a "no-brainer".  The answer should have been, "OF COURSE players will be able to do that, but not yet."  A few points:

1.  Quantum travel is the only effective means of traveling significant distances within a system.  Even on full afterburner, it will take many, many hours to travel even a short distance across the system, and you will likely run out of fuel well before you reach your destination.

2.  One of the selling points of Star Citizen is that the 'verse is huge.  There is so much room in space, it will never feel cramped.  But if players can only quantum travel to certain select points, the 'verse becomes much smaller.  Even if there are dozens or even hundreds of beacons in each system, that would still place only a tiny portion of space within players' reach.

3.  This will have a huge impact on explorers.  How can space be explored, if it's impossible to quantum travel to any location that doesn't already have a beacon?

4.  If a beacon is required to quantum travel anyplace, and a beacon transmits an active signal that can be intercepted by anyone, there will be no such thing as a secret location.  That hidden pirate base?  Not hidden.  The fleet rendezvous point, where we assemble and organize prior to making our final quantum jump to our objective?  Not secret; there goes the element of surprise.

There is a related issue, which is a coordinate system.  This has also been discussed on Calling All Devs and elsewhere.  I understand that this is not a simple system to implement, especially since object orbit (or will eventually orbit) around a star.  I won't go into the coordinate system discussion here, since it's a separate issue.

I will probably post a version of this on the RSI forums, after getting your input.

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Being able to set your own waypoints has its ups and downs. A major up being that it can allow for greater exploration and tactical/strategic depth. But a major down is that bypassing quantum travel points can completely remove the sense of size in the game. It can also potentially break several gameplay boundary mechanics.

There will probably be something that will allow for creating and setting waypoints yourself, but in a game with three dimensional space and full scale solar systems may be too complex for them to have fleshed out mechanic's wise.

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I'm not really seeing any downs. 

As for removing the sense of size, quantum travel takes the same amount of time for a given distance whether or not there's a beacon, so allowing QT without a beacon doesn't really change the speed at which we move, or the sense of scale. 

As for breaking gameplay boundary mechanics, my understanding is that the PU doesn't really have boundaries, nor was it intended to.  Yes, by allowing QT without a beacon, someone could QT to the edge of a star system, and even beyond into interstellar space.  They don't use up any more server resources than they would if they remained in the inner system; less, since there's (probably) nothing out there that needs to be rendered by the engine aside from the player and his ship.  So, their being out there doesn't hurt anyone.

In my view, requiring beacons for QT introduces an unnecessary limitation to players' freedom.  We shouldn't be limited to "known highways", we should be able to "go off-road" and explore every corner, every nook and cranny of this amazing 'verse.  I want to avoid pirate ambushes by avoiding the direct routes between two points; I want to conduct training sessions with my friends and guildies in a remote corner of the outer system, far from prying sensors; I want to travel to any point in the asteroid belt, perhaps where I previously discovered something of value but perhaps just to cache something valuable that I can recover later.  And I don't want a beacon, which can be detected and hacked, directing others to my cache of goodies.  And finally, I want to explore, which is impossible if I can only QT to a beacon.  How can I "go where no man has gone before" if someone had to have been there before to place a beacon?

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