Suggestion: More Encounter Information
When a player send s a vehicle/ship between cities and have an encounter the game currently only tells them that they had an encounter and whether they won, lost, or escaped. The Binoculars gadget increases the amount of information to they opposing vehicle type and the owner of the opposing vehicle.
Criticism of Current State
The reason the current state of affairs is bad is because it makes it extremely difficult for new players to determine what they should do. Even if the player invests in Binoculars, they don't really know how to improve their odds of success in traveling. For instance, a player in a green vehicle could be defeated by a single fast red vehicle that attacks their entire Bubble. Or, the player could have been attacked by a large bubble of red vehicles with no weapons but superior base attack. Or the player could have been attacked by several fleets from different players. Should the player invest in scores of green weapons in the hope that they can amass enough to win? Should the player get larger bubbles? Should the player get faster vehicles? Each is a strategy for coping, but without enough information in an encounter it's impossible to make the right choice.
Change the game so that a vehicle reports the following at all times
- Any vehicles passed during travel - just vehicle type
- Any vehicles encountered by some random ID. This allows a player to know if all 5 vehicles in its Bubble encountered the same vehicle or different vehicles of the same type
Alter vehicle combat slightly so that weapons are ordered and used successively. An example is as follows:
- Trader Joe is traveling to Cisna with a Van
- Highwayman Hue is traveling to Burbana with a Bandit
- Joe encounters Hue
- Hue sees that he encountered a Bandit with ID #6789
- Joe sees that he encountered a Van with ID #2345
- Hue attacks with a base attack of 11
- Joe defends with a base defense of 0
- Joe uses a Smoke Screen. His defense goes to 2
- Joe uses a Molotov Cocktail. His defenes goes to 5
- Joe uses another Molotov Cocktail. His defense goes to 8
- Joe uses a Proximity Mine. His defense goes to 13
- Hue uses a Revolver. His attack goes to 14
- Joe uses a Rocket Launcher. His defense goes to 17
- Hue uses a Rifle. His attack goes to 18
- Joe has used all of his weapons and is defeated
This report would be available in a vehicles' status page while the encounter plays out.
Continue to give Binoculars but change them so that instead of listing the opposing vehicle and its owner, they instead list the owner and all cargo the vehicle is carrying. Also, reduce Binoculars effective time so that one would need to buy more to get the same effect to offset their reduced desireability for lower-level players.
This suggestion makes sense from the reality standpoint - why would you not know what your vehicle fought and what weapons were used? This suggestion is also useful from a gameplay standpoint in that it tells a player whether or not their current strategy is working. Are they losing because they use bad vehicles? Slow vehicles? Not enough weapons? Do they have terrible luck encountering high-level players? Should they give up trade or just do something slightly different? The current system is extremely punitive - a new trader will likely lose all cargo and face potential damage when they lose an encounter and they have no idea why they lost except that they were doing something wrong.
This suggestion also adds more dynamic play at high levels. Are you willing to sacrifice a vehicle to find out what weapons your opponent is carrying? Are you willing to potentially lose battles to prevent your opponent from knowing you actually have a Rocket Launcher? Are you willing to pay for Binoculars so you can find out who is harassing you?
This has the added benefit of explaining why encounters take an hour. During that hour a player could conceivably prevent his vehicle from deploying a weapon in a given encounter to prevent the other player from knowing he carries that weapon.
This would make binoculars less useful at lower levels. However, by reducing the time Binoculars are effective, it forces higher-level players to buy more of them to get the same effect. This would also prevent low-level players from having to randomly guess why they are losing and continuing to attempt trade while they figure things out. That may seem like a pro, but that will have the effect of reducing the amount of profit for the Highwayman profession and stabilizing markets.