Surface and Orbit Authority

Draft Proposal: Official Servers

The following is a draft proposal for “official” SOA servers. Conveniently, it reflects the server already running at play.lithobrake.club:28015 - that is, if we pass this, then the existing server can be designated an Official Server.

If you’re having trouble interpreting this proposal, review article 8.

The intent of this proposal is largely to create a framework for official servers. As such, many server settings are left unspecified, to be determined by future proposals. In the interim, anyone who operates an official server is free to pick the values of other settings as they see fit - this is deliberate, and is intended to drive discussion and proposalmaking to determine the community’s preferences. I’ve even left the option of loading additional mods open.


Title: Official Servers
Adoption Index: 2.0

Add a new article to the end of the Charter:

Servers

This article has power 1.

The Operator

The Game Master is an office, responsible for supervising the operation of game services.

The Game Master’s monthly report includes

  1. A list of official servers, with sufficient information for persons to connect to them.

Official Servers

A server is an instance of the dedicated server package for the game Space Engineers, along with all data required to provide persons with a consistent, continuous play experience, including but not limited to all save game data and server configuration files.

The Game Master can announce their intention to designate any game server as an official server by announcement. If no member objects to this intention within seven days, the Operator can designate that server as an official server by announcement. A server designated in this way becomes an official server.

The Game Master can announce their intention to revoke any official server’s official server designation by announcement. If no member objects to this intention within seven days, the Operator can revoke that server’s official server designation by announcement. A server whose designation as an official server is revoked ceases to be an official server.

A server cannot be made an official server without the express or reasonably implied consent of a person who is responsible for that server’s maintenance and operation.

Continuity

A member who operates an official server must take all steps necessary to ensure that the data created by that server is protected from accidental deletion or modification, and may only deliberately modify or delete the server’s data if they publicly announce an intent to do so between three and 14 days earlier, unless the modification is performed through ordinary gameplay.

Official Configuration

A configuration setting for a Space Engineers server is an official setting if it is defined as one by this Charter.

A member who operates an official server must, in a timely fashion after that server becomes an official server and at any time an official setting changes, configure that server so that for each official setting, that server a value for that setting allowed by this Charter.

Official Mods

A mod for the game Space Engineers is an official mod if it is defined as one by this Charter.

A member who operates an official server must, in a timely fashion after that server becomes an official server and at any time an official setting changes, configure that server so that each official mod is loaded.

Access

The following settings are official settings, and must have the following values:

Setting Value
Password (not set)

Survival

The following settings are official settings, and must have the following values:

Setting Value
GameMode Survival

Flight

The following mods are official mods:

Speed

The mod “Midspace’s Configurable Max Ship Speed Mod”, with a ModID of 599536562, is an official mod.

This mod’s official settings are:

Setting Value
LargeShipSpeed 1000
SmallShipSpeed 1000

Appoint @derspiny to the office of Game Master.

I sat on this overnight and realized that I’d overcomplicated things. The system in my last draft requires two participants - someone to run the server, and the officer to call it official. Those could be the same person, but didn’t have to be.

That flexibility has no obvious use right now. This draft, instead, contemplates a single official server, run by the officer directly.

I’ve also added another mod, after discussion with @SurprisingEdge in Discord. From that discussion: “I think it would help push towards ‘smaller ships that do one thing’ rather than ‘all-in-one’.”


Title: Official Servers
Adoption Index: 2.0

Add a new article to the end of the Charter:

Servers

This article has a power of 1.

The Space Master

The Space Master is an office, responsible for operating game services.

The Space Master’s monthly report includes

  1. All information needed for players to connect to the official server.

The Official Server

A server is an instance of the dedicated server package for the game Space Engineers, along with all data required to provide persons with a consistent, continuous play experience, including but not limited to all save game data and server configuration files.

The Space Master can declare a server that they operate to be the official server by announcement, and must do so in a timely fashion whenever there is no official server. When a server becomes an official server, any other official servers cease to be official servers.

Continuity

The Space Master must take all steps necessary to ensure that the data created by the official server is protected from accidental deletion or modification, and may only deliberately modify or delete the official server’s data if they publicly announce an intent to do so between three and 14 days earlier, unless the modification is performed through ordinary gameplay.

Official Configuration

A configuration setting for a Space Engineers server is an official setting if it is defined as one by this Charter.

The Space Master must configure the official server so that for each official setting, that server a value for that setting is a value allowed by this Charter.

Official Mods

A mod for the game Space Engineers is an official mod if it is defined as one by this Charter.

A member who operates an official server must configure that server so that each official mod is loaded.

Access

The following settings are official settings, and must have the following values:

Setting Value
Password (not set)

Survival

The following settings are official settings, and must have the following values:

Setting Value
GameMode Survival

Flight

The following mods are official mods:

Speed

The mod “Midspace’s Configurable Max Ship Speed Mod”, with a ModID of 599536562, is an official mod.

This mod’s official settings are:

Setting Value
LargeShipSpeed 1000
SmallShipSpeed 1000

Docking Ports

The mod “VCZ Airtight Connector”, with a ModID of 1196973062, is an official mod.

Appoint @derspiny to the office of Game Master.

So I had a whole bunch of thoughts this morning and this afternoon. I tried to outline a few of them. I was thinking about all of the different kinds of servers and experiences that one could attempt to create with this game. I realize that most of what I what I offer here is very premature but it was a fun exercise.

If I was looking at a description for a Space Engineers server these are the types of things that I would be interested in. I am still working on what to name these attributes or properties. I am not actually convinced that each of these need to be delineated like this. It might be easier to have all of this grouped together in something called ‘Description:’

Define an attribute of an official server that identifies who is allowed to join and when.
Example 1: Anyone can join at any time.
Example 2: Anyone can join at the beginning of the server cycle upon receipt of payment.

Define an attribute of an official server that describes a working scenario, back story or goal.
Example 1: The Expanse Season 4 - You wake up in a chamber on an earthlike planet. Join the rest of your team. Escape the planet, map the system and locate the jump gate back to your home system.
Example 2: The Expanse Season 2 Faction Race - Join your faction. Create a moon base that can defend a single respawn point. Build an attack platform that can automatically fabricate and launch self-guided missiles. On the appointed day, launch your attack and defend your station.

Define an attribute of an official server that describes a beginning and end condition.
Example 1: Open Ended - No official starting condition. Continues until members reach a consensus to do something different.
Example 2: Three Month Cycle - Starts when enrolment window closes. Closes at the end of a three month cycle.

Define an attribute of an official server that describes how players will cooperate.
Example 1: PvP Free Combat - Players can choose when and with whom to engage in combat without rules or guidelines.
Example 2: Two Faction, Restricted Combat - Players will choose a faction at the start of the server cycle. Players will work closely with their faction toward a specific goal. PvP combat engagements are restricted to specific coordinated events.
Example 3: Single Faction Cooperative - Players will join a single faction and work together toward a specific common goal.
Example 4: PvE No Faction - Players can build and mine freely as they wish.

1 Like

Thanks for this. These are extremely prudent questions about what kinds of games people want to play - questions I did not ask, let alone try to answer. The draft proposals above and the server as it’s set up today is nothing more than my personal preferences. Questions like this are an important step to making it our preferences, instead.

With that in mind, here’s my take on your prompts:

Define an attribute of an official server that identifies who is allowed to join and when.

Right now, I’m strongly in favour of open entry and open exit. I think it’s a lot more conducive to recruiting new players - something I actively want to do and care about doing - if they can start playing immediately, and conversely that it’s very good for initial trust if they’re not beholden to a three-month term up front.

However, that also means the player base is a lot harder to predict from week to week. Right now, there are three members - I think; should we interpret your introduction post as an intent to join as a voting member, as well? If so, there are four - and the server is open to the broader SE community to drop in on at will. We’re at some risk of hostile raids and griefing, and I have absolutely no idea how “sticky” the server will turn out to be. Term commitments are an interesting approach to that, which I hadn’t considered.

Building on this idea a bit, what do you think about a middle ground where there are rolling terms, offset by a week or a month from one another, either coexisting on a single server or on a set of servers? It costs a bit more - I’d want to have a more complete discussion of dues first, personally, or at least clear expectations around how long I’m able to fund this out of my own pocket - and it probably depends on having a somewhat more established group than we have to day, but it might provide the ease of entry and trust I’m aiming for while also providing a more predictable playerbase.

Define an attribute of an official server that describes a working scenario, back story or goal.

I’ve done very little thinking about narrative scenarios, as I find the game’s intrinsic scenario intruiging on its own: you’re a lone castaway, stranded in space/on an uninhabited world with only the most rudimentary tools the game has, and the implied goal is to convert the resources of your environment into personal safety and success. (It’s an intensely colonial and, I think, libertarian narrative, but it’s hardly unique in that and I’m not about to object on that basis alone. I just like to stay aware of that.) The physics of the game’s world are also deeply anomalous, and researching the strange phenomena is a kind of accidental narrative for me.

Having said all of that, I’d be on board with having a narrative, if that helps keep people engaged or gives us a theme to build against. @SurprisingEdge also mentioned The Expanse a fair bit. Thinking about this, Planetes - a manga series about cleaning up micrometeoroid debris in LEO - is another “hard” SF setting that might resonate. I’m also more than happy to do some “narrative setup” work, like building obscure constructs in the depths of space in admin mode to represent things like “the jump gate home,” within whatever constraints we all work out.

Define an attribute of an official server that describes a beginning and end condition.

and

Define an attribute of an official server that describes how players will cooperate.

These are extremely important questions for ensuring that everyone’s bought into the risks and tradeoffs we’re making, and it was imprudent of me not to ask them. Thank you.

My observations are that SE survival play tends to go through clear stages - struggling to survive, getting established, becoming successful, and finally, once the player has access to enough resources, becoming decadent, before getting bored and ending play. That’s true in single player for me, certainly, and I’ve seen the cycle in multiplayer enough times to believe that it’s relatively universal. The game’s implied goals - gather resources, increase your reach, build cool ships - don’t really change, and once you’ve checked off those boxes, it’s easy to run out of things to do.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with that: I rather enjoy the gameplay for its own sake, even after I have access to enough resources that I’ll be able to build any ship I want. Designing and decorating spacecraft in the game is a source of Lego-like levels of joy for me, and I’d be sad to have to start from scratch every N months if I had to start from a survival pod each time. However, I’d rather play with others than satisfy myself alone, and if having a clear endgame state helps with that, I’ll generally support it.

Something I’d like to do is rebuild my refinery ship from my last save - it’s a cargo freighter with a classic “flying boat” design aesthetic, designed to handle UCU Containers of ore and ingots. I built it in the previous patch, when Uranium was plentiful, so it needs re-thinking - but if I can get it built, I will happily trade bulk metal for power. This only really makes sense if other players also like the pseudo-freight-logistics aesthetic of UCUs and special-purpose cargo facilities of various sorts, though, and the game does somewhat weigh against it by making it easy to be totally self-sufficient by the time you reach the mid-game.

I very much like the idea of starting scenarios, but I don’t know if I’d like losing all progress every few months or so - it might be cathartic to start from scratch, or it might just be frustrating.

Something that did occur to me (and I have no knowledge of the practicalities of running a server, so please tell me if this isn’t feasible!) would be two have two different “saved games”. One with the standard free play survival with no progress wipes, and the other to be used for specific scenarios. The idea being the free play one is the default, but whenever it’s time for an event or scenario, the other can be loaded to the server and customised for the purpose, with no loss to the default.

I reckon having the capability to host planned events would be worth having, since it could drive discussion and proposals. A free play mode is equally as important, because that’s the nature of Space Engineers!

For a defined closing/ending, there is potential to tie into the narrative of the session, and the starting scenario of the next session. For example, players must amass X amount of resources to build a predefined ship to escape some session-ending catastrophe, with the start conditions of the next session defined by the level of success in escaping the previous.

There’s huge scope for all manner of scenarios, I know I certainly have a few ideas to try, and imagine everyone else does too! It would probably be worth setting up a rota of some sort, so everyone’s ideas have the opportunity to be played out.

In terms of funding, perhaps regular “paying members only” events could promote contributions? That way the server is not locked down most of the time, but there’s also a tangible benefit to donating.

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Lots of interesting thoughts happening here. I love it!

I have some ideas about some of the points. Some I’ve thought about enough to articulate, others will take longer…

In the spirit of this experiment, what if these were both put up to vote?

For ending, there could be a regular (monthly? bi-weekly?) vote to end the scenario. Or rather than regular, it could be called on-demand, but no more frequently than monthly or bi-weekly. If it’s a scenario with defined end criteria (defined by whoever set it up), the vote would be a way of saying “yes, I believe we’ve met the criteria, or I’m totally bored with this.” The latter (bored) would serve as an escape hatch if the defined criteria are proving too hard to meet.

For beginning conditions, we could nominate players (who would have to accept the nomination, or self-nominate and be seconded) to create a starting scenario. We would then vote on which of those players does it. If the selected player chooses to collaborate with others, that’s up to them. If it turns out we all hate the scenario, there’s the escape hatch of calling the end vote.

These could be written up as new articles for the charter. I’d be happy to give a shot at that if anyone generally likes the idea.

On my phone but I wanted to chime in. Right now I am in favor of an open ended, open player server. It makes perfect sense for the time

I agree 100 percent. I wouldn’t want to change anything right now. I will try to write a description that both encapsulates the concepts I brought up and explains what we are doing in-game right now and what I think we should be doing based on the primary goal of welcoming new players.

If I were to incorporate these ideas into an article in the charter about servers, I think I would just make it mandatory that the officer in charge of creating the server consider the prompts but leave the exact description and structure of the server up to their discretion. Maybe we have a list of questions that the creator goes through.

When it comes to start and end conditions they are always implied at least. In the case of an open ended server that is hosted by a single individual the start condition is ‘now because I want to’ and the end condition is ‘I paid for 12 months so at least that long but I might get bored after that’. I think that even when we have a long-running server it helps if the start/end conditions are explicit. Maybe something like this.

Server: Primary Open System
Hosted By: derspiny
Moderators: derspiny
Started On: March 01, 2019
Renew By: August 01, 2019

Description: This hosted server serves as the primary home of the SOA. All players are welcome to join at anytime. We encourage a cooperative play style. While PvP is allowed we encourage diplomacy first. The SOA server moderators reserve the right to ban players based on the published Code of Conduct.

(There were so many more good ideas that I didn’t pick up on but want to soon.)

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