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"I Order You To..."

GBJackson

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 299

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 3:35 pm

In a game where everyone loves and respects the subject matter and makes roleplaying their primary method of gameplay, having players in command of other players isn't a big deal. But in MMOs, the player base is in fact a melting pot of diverse playstyles and attitudes, and sadly, roleplaying seems to be a minority playstyle.

The question has been raised as to how a chain of command can be enforced among players. I believe I have a solution:

Active Rules
Active Rules are a checklist available to commanding officers, which turns certain flags on or off for the crew members under their command. An example of this is "Hold you fire", a command that prevents crew members from firing their weapons while in range of the commanding officer. This is circumvented if the person receiving the order is fired upon first.

Other examples, pertaining to starship combat, would be "Attack this target" and "Target Weapons Only". These can be active individually or together at the same time. The captain issuing the orders if both are active probably will have learned from experience which ship classes are the most dangerous, and in accordance with Starfleet regulations, wishes to avoid killing if possible. With these orders in effect, the tactical officer will only be able to target a ship specified by the captain, and his attacks against that ship will be limited to those designed to damage weapon systems.

If commands are handled in this way, then a player cannot just say "Do this or else" and expect other players to follow orders. He can make decisions about how to proceed, select the correct orders that make the most strategic sense, and the crew's options are increased or decreased accordingly. The orders are processed through an in-game system, and so the angst that one player may have towards someone he things is being a jerk just because of the 4 rank pips on his collar will not be there.

When taking command of a starship, the captain may establish the standing orders for the ship. These would be the default orders in effect, which any crew member may review at any time. If a player feels that the current ship's rules are too strict, he may request a transfer.

Penalties and Rewards
Penalties are issued against the CAPTAIN of a starship if a mission is failed. Rewards are issued to the entire crew when a mission is successful.

It is the captain who makes the big decisions. The crew carries them out. If the captain makes good decisions, the missions will be successful, and so everyone benefits. If he makes bad decisions, he is responsible for the consequences. So if the ship is in a confrontation with renegade Klingons, and negotiations are clearly impossible, Refusing to go to red alert and thereby enabling full tactical capability while maintaining a "do not return fire" order, then the obvious outcome will be that the Klingons will disable the ship, board it, and leave nobody alive. Bad decision. The captain will receive a -1 on his service record, which may remove certain commands from him. Negatives must be worked off before Positives may be increased. The crew under his command receives no penalty, though they do not gain any rewards.

If the mission is to rescue passengers on a transport that was being attacked by said Klingons, and the captain orders "Shields to Full" and "Ignore oposition", and then tells the helmsman to "get us in transporter range" of the transport, then issues the "Lower shields" command when they get in range, followed by "Transporter Room! Beam the survivors on board!" and then the classic "Helm! Get us out of here!", the mission can be completed in a very dramatic way. The captain receives credit for a successful mission, and so does the rest of the crew.

It should be noted that while the captain is issuing these commands, the players receiving them are responsible for following them. The helmsman will see the disabled transport hilighted on his console, so he will know that is where the captain wants him to go. Engineering officer will see how the captain wants power assigned to shields (full), so he will have to reroute power accordingly. Tactical will raise see when the captain wants shields raised or lowered. The Transporter chief will see which ship to target in order to beam survivors on board. And the Helm officer will see the "Get us out of here!" command and will do his best to comply.

If the crew refuses to follow orders, and the mission fails as a result, then the ones who do not follow orders are penalized instead of the captain.

relieving someone of duty
If a crewmember refuses to follow orders, then the CO may issue a "You are relieved of duty" command. This command is in effect if the offending crewman has pending orders for more than 1 minute. It cannot just arbitrarily be issued. The command takes effect ten seconds after being issued, and is canceled if the crewman acknowledges a pending order and moves to carry it out. This command's true purpose is to kick AFKers from a post to make room for an active player. It also serves to remove bad players who would just sit back and watch everything go to hell in a handbasket.

Relieving a Captain or CO from duty is a little different. The next in command must first issue a "This is not right. Don't make me have to releive you, Sir!" command, directed at the Captain. If a minute passes and the situation does not improve, The second in command may issue a relief of command order against the CO, which will bump him to his quarters if he doesn't comply. None of these options are available unless the mission is in danger of failure in spite of orders issued by the captain. This command serves to remove captains whose orders are putting the crew at risk or are violating Starfleet regulations. It also can be used to bump an AFK captain so that someone with a pulse can sit in the chair and issue orders. The actual relief of command order requires concent of all department heads, or the concent of both the medical officer and counselor.

All of the "orders" issued by players shouls be system-supported actions, with those which may affect another player's character directly requiring certain conditions to have been met before the option is available.

What are your thoughts on this?

In Christ,
G. B. Jackson

"DON'T YOU TELL ME WHAT TO DO!!!"
- Picard to Riker, TNG episode "Sarek"

Chaldean

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 726

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 3:50 pm

It maybe seems a little to focused on assigning blame, and the resulting penalties.   I don't know that a command system needs such software-enabled support with time limits and such.  If a team member doesn't pull his weight or refuses to follow orders, he is relieved at the discretion of the command staff- really simple.  Conversely, stupid Captains end up with empty ships.  I don't think that the missions need to have punitive actions automatically assigned by the software.

GBJackson

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 299

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 5:02 pm

The only reason I included the description of blame and penalties is because of the inevitable question, "What happens if Player A decides to do nothing, or if Captain B decides to tie his crew's hands and force them into a no-win scenario?"

By including the time delay and/or conditions, it prevents players from just ganging up on someone, and relieving them just because they think they're lame, or out of a desire to grief each other. It's a checks and balances system that ensures that those who don't do the job can be removed, if it's justifiable.

And you are partially right. Stupid captains will end up with empty ships. Empty of serious-minded players. But misfit players will fit right in. They would be the ones who were penalized for not playing and thus causing failed missions. These misfit ships would give these characters a chance to redeem themselves. The missions would not be any different. They can be just as meaningful, but the ships will have had a reputation of failed missions in the past. Remember the DS9 episode where Worf served as Martok's first officer on the IKS Rotaran? The ship had failed so many missions that it became thought of as cursed. Nobody in his/her right mind WANTED to serve on the Rotaran. And Martok's leadership prior to Worf challenging him for command was not all that great. The challenge reminded Martok of his obligation as a warrior and commanding officer, and so he redeemed himself in the eyes of his crew, and they in his eyes. This ship with very low prestige turned itself around, and from that point on became a ship of heroes.

The punitive actions generally result in a loss of personal prestige for the captain who fails his crew, or the crew who fails its captain. The ship will also take a prestige hit as well. Certain ship assignments should require a certain level of prestige. When a player earns or excedes that level, he may request a transfer to that ship (a positive career move). A high-prestige crew member may choose to serve on a ship with lesser prestige, and contribute his abilities to help it and its crew redeem itself.

This system will also serve as sort of a filter by which players may measure the performance of ship/captain/crew when deciding which ship they want to serve on. A person with a winner mentality is not going to want to serve on a ship full of losers. On the other hand, if there are no positions available on more prestigious ships, and if he really wants to get out there and perform, even on a less prestigious ship, his light can shine. He would get the reputation of someone who can get the job done, and possibly even inspire other players to do the same.

Here's how I see missions being concluded:

- Mission heroically successful - Ship and crew completes all required mission steps and bonus steps. Ship, Captain and Crew all receive 2 prestige points

- Mission successful. Ship and crew completes required mission steps. Ship, Crew and Captain all receive 1 prestige point

- Mission aborted No rewards or penalties

- Mission Failed - Ship and Crew attempt but do not complete required mission steps. Ship, Crew and/or Captain lose one prestige point

- Mission a miserable failure - None of the mission steps are completed. Ship disabled. etc. Ship, Crew and/or Captain lose two prestige points.

What contributes to any of the first or last two of these outcomes is the orders that are issued by the captain, and the crew's ability or willingness to carry them out.

Now that the punishment/penalty issue has been addressed, what would be some good commands captains/ranking officers should have available to them? Give three parts. The order, the effect it has, and the way the game could handle it. Examples from above:

"Hold your fire!" - Causes players grouped with the CO who issued the order unable to fire on enemy targets unless they are fired upon first - The game treats enemies as non-targets unless one of them in their group has fired at the player character under this order's affect.

"Attack this target!" Causes players in away missions grouped with the CO who issued the order, or the tactical officer on the bridge of the CO's ship to see a specific enemy hilighted as a priority target. - The game will present specific target with some sort of modified data in the GUI.

"Target Weapons Only!" Causes players in CO's group or tactical officer on CO's bridge to attempt to disarm the enemy or render their ship's weapons useless. - Game causes all attacks other than the ones related to disarming an opponent or disabling an enemy ship's weapons to be disabled.

"Do not return fire!" Makes it so attacking enemy ship or group cannot be fired upon, even if they have attacked first. - Game will render all enemies as non-targets. This command should only be used if diplomacy has yet to be tried, but would be a mistake to maintain if diplomacy has already failed.

"Shields to Full" is a dual order which tells tactical to raise shields and engineering to divert power to shields for maximum effectiveness. - Tactical officer receives a hilight around the shields toggle if they are lowered. Engineer sees an indicator as to where the captain wants shield power to be set.

"Ignore Opposition!" is a risky but potentially rewarding command that causes the ship or group under a CO's command to break through enemy lines. - The game increases movement speed slightly and decreases defensive ratings by the same degree. Ship or person may move faster but will be more vulnerable to heavier damage from successful enemy attacks.

"Lower Shields!" is a command issued to the tactical officer - Game will hilight the tactical officer's shield toggles if they are turned on.

"Get us into transporter range" is a command issued to the helmsman on the CO's bridge. - The game will indicate which object the helm player is to move the ship towards.

"Beam them aboard" is a command issued to the Transporter operator. - The transpoeter operator will receive a hilight on the ship or location the captain designates and the number of life forms on it. He may begin beaming them on board. The more active transporters there are, the faster an evacuation can be carried out.

"Get us out of here!" is a command issued to the helm officer. - Helm will be given freedom to move away from the current location at highest possible speed.

"Form an away team" is a command issued to a targeted player. he may form a group.

"Board that ship" is a command issued to the leader of an away team. They may go over to another ship and explore mission options there.

In the above rescue mission scenario, it is possible to complete the mission quickly, but for less prestige. When the ship gets into transporter range, an away team can go over there and try to stabelize the transport. The Starship could assume a defensive posture between the transport and the attackers, disabling the enemy's weapon systems. If this is successful the enemy will likely try to ram the starship (Klingons do not seek escape). However, engines can also be disabled. Negotiations may be possible at that point.

Depending on what orders are given and how they are carried out, a single mission could have multiple avenues to success.

And now, how about some ideas for orders from you guys?

In Christ,
G. B. Jackson

Riker - "Shut up!"
Admiral Picard - "I beg your pardon?"
Riker - "You heard me! I said 'Shut up' as in close your mouth and stop talking!"
-TNG Episode "Future Imperfect"

Chaldean

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 726

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 6:01 pm

I'd prefer to see groups that are self-correcting as they are in most games.  I think that the above scenarios maybe give captains too much control over the ship - such that the rest of the departments just click the metaphorical accept button on the captain's orders.  Keep in mind, this coming from someone who wants to be a command officer - so I want my crew to follow my orders, but not because the game forces them to.

The speed of a 'Shields up', 'Red Alert' order should be the speed at which they are carried out by the tactical and engineering officers, not just almost automatically completed when the captain pushes the big red button.

Those scenarios will be unique to each ship, and should be planned beforehand.

There should be a benefit to having a tactical officer with quick reflexes and an efficient control panel layout.

I do agree with some other suggestions:

'Form an away team' should give the targeted player authorization to assign players and equipment and beam them over to the area in question.

GBJackson

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 299

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 6:06 pm

How do you propose that orders be carried out, if not through an in-game system that affects the options that are available to the other players?

In Christ,
G. B. Jackson

Captain - "Doctor, can't you see he's in terrible pain? Do something!"
Klingon Doctor - "If he dies, the pain will stop..."

Chaldean

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 726

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 6:09 pm

Quote
How do you propose that orders be carried out, if not through an in-game system that affects the options that are available to the other players?


By having all options available at all times, and the crew using their common sense, training, and practice to carry out the captain's orders in the fastest and best way possible.

In a potentially hostile situation, the tactical officer should have weapons, shields, and a couple plans of attack ready, just waiting for the order to 'raise shields' or 'fire'.

Better crews will just be inherently better, based on the efficacy of their command structure, and the efficiency of the crew.

Freedom to fail also gives freedom to excel, rather than forced regression to the mean of mediocrity.

Ortus_Sapienta

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POSTS: 1468

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 8:22 pm

I like the idea of an area of effect around the command officers where certain actions cannot be taken.

People often ask what happens if you get a lamer on your crew. We say kick em. Lets say before you kick him he tries to shoot up your diplomatic away mission, the do-not-fire effect from the Captain preserves the mission.

However really I see leadership being much like that in Planetside. The Captain will set the goals, its up to the team/crew to fufill them. The Tactical officer shouldnt need to be told to fire upon clearly aggressive enemies, the Navigation officer shouldnt need to be told to maneuver. Just like in Planetside where you dont need to be told to shoot or repair or give aid. You do your job.

That said I recall mention once from on high that Captains are given some control over the power distribution of the ship, that allows in space scenarios for the possibility of holding fire even though your tactical officer is somewhat... gungho.

There has to be a clear line though between command and enforcement. You can restrict harmful behaviour, in Planetside repeated griefing eventually leaves you unable to fire. Restriction is understanable, forcing players essentially makes them into NPC's.

~Ortus

Chaldean

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 726

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 8:53 pm

One way to do it is to give a main mission to the crew, but give mission sub-objectives to each position.

Tactical can only shoot after all avenues of diplomacy have failed.  Failure to hold fire will result in objective failure.

etc.

The player follows the captain's orders because their XP hinges on it.

Also, some systems work it that until the captain calls 'Red Alert' the weapons systems are offline.  Yellow alert is shields only.

Elric666

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POSTS: 44

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 9:05 pm

Quote
The Tactical officer shouldnt need to be told to fire upon clearly aggressive enemies, the Navigation officer shouldnt need to be told to maneuver. Just like in Planetside where you dont need to be told to shoot or repair or give aid. You do your job

That isnt very star trek, in voyager paris doesnt make a move unless ordered to and tuvok doesnt fire unless ordered to.
Anyone who doesnt follow an order spends an hour in the brig, quite sure that will deture ppl from not following orders

Ortus_Sapienta

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POSTS: 1468

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 9:12 pm

Quote (Elric666 @ July 15 2005, 9:05 pm)
Quote
The Tactical officer shouldnt need to be told to fire upon clearly aggressive enemies, the Navigation officer shouldnt need to be told to maneuver. Just like in Planetside where you dont need to be told to shoot or repair or give aid. You do your job

That isnt very star trek, in voyager paris doesnt make a move unless ordered to and tuvok doesnt fire unless ordered to.
Anyone who doesnt follow an order spends an hour in the brig, quite sure that will deture ppl from not following orders

Similarly Janeway doesnt micro manage every single action those officers undertake.

Often times targetting is left to Tuvoks discretion. Often the evasion pattern is at Toms discretion. Sometimes specific orders are given, other times you are told the aim and you have to make it happen through your own gifts and skills.

Anyone who sits there and waits for micromanagement of exactly where to fire and how much or what evasive pattern to take wont have a brig left to sit in.

~Ortus

Chaldean

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 726

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 9:18 pm

Captains loosely tell you what to do, and give you permission to do it.

It is your responsibility to literally 'Make it so' in the manner that Ortus describes.

Elric666

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 44

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 9:21 pm

im not saying micro manage im saying the CO gives the "big" orders eg. to open fire, the order to warp to system. how that officer deals with that order is up to them, like this guy said
Quote

By having all options available at all times, and the crew using their common sense, training, and practice to carry out the captain's orders in the fastest and best way possible.

In a potentially hostile situation, the tactical officer should have weapons, shields, and a couple plans of attack ready, just waiting for the order to 'raise shields' or 'fire'.

Better crews will just be inherently better, based on the efficacy of their command structure, and the efficiency of the crew.

Freedom to fail also gives freedom to excel, rather than forced regression to the mean of mediocrity.

Ortus_Sapienta

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 1468

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 9:23 pm

Crews are also going to be much like fps clans.

People learn to work together and the best crews wont necessarily need to be told. They just will perform their duties to the best of their abilities and rely on their shipmates to assist.

Also as we know from the show, the Captains way need not always be the best way. A crew that blindly follows orders is not necessarily a good crew.

~Ortus

Chaldean

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 726

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 9:25 pm

:D

I agree that the orders to fire and to warp, should be given by the captain.  The orders can be given in advance too, like "if this happens then you can open fire".  "Run in, and then get us out of here maximum warp".  That would follow under standing orders, and technically would mean that the tactical officer was free to follow his own discretion.

Maintenance and other proactive duties don't need explicit approval.

Elric666

GROUP: Members

POSTS: 44

Report this Jul. 15 2005, 9:28 pm

If the CO doesnt have to tell ppl loosly what to do, what exactly is there purpose on the bridge but diplomatic?
Also the crew should follow there CO 100% if not transfer, the CO doesnt need 30 ppl tellin him how to do his job


Quote
That guy is me!  

I agree that the orders to fire and to warp, should be given by the captain.  The orders can be given in advance too, like "if this happens then you can open fire".  "Run in, and then get us out of here maximum warp".  That would follow under standing orders, and technically would mean that the tactical officer was free to follow his own discretion.

Maintenance and other proactive duties don't need explicit approval.

like the idea

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