The Oolite NPC ecosystem (and other questions)

General discussion for players of Oolite.

Moderators: winston, another_commander

Post Reply
User avatar
Disembodied
Jedi Spam Assassin
Jedi Spam Assassin
Posts: 6369
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:54 pm
Location: Carter's Snort

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Disembodied » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:59 am

cim wrote:Things I am happy with:
- they won't ask for more than the listed cargo capacity of the ship they're robbing (for convenience, they'll have to magically know whether the player has an LCB)
- they won't ask for more cargo than they can fit in their remaining holds
- they'll make bigger demands in less patrolled systems

However, the exact demand range is tricky. If you blow up a ship, then regardless of size, you'll get no more than 15 surviving canisters, and within that rule you'll usually get about 10% of the cargo surviving.

So (assuming they have hold space left) asking for 10% or 15 canisters, whichever is less, seems about right for robbing a freighter, as an average. Less in safe systems because if you ask for too much the cops are bound to show up before you can collect it all ; maybe a little more in dangerous systems because you're very unlikely to be interrupted, and if you can intimidate a trader into dumping cargo without (much of) a fight, they should be willing to give you more than you could have salvaged from the remains of their ship.

The problem is that those numbers don't work so well for the smaller traders. 10% of a Cobra I is one container. So - what should they settle for there? Should most pirates just leave the lighter trade ships alone as not worth the risk of losing a ship? Or should they have a minimum demand - maybe 5 containers?
Hmm ... I think 10% of the capacity is about right. That's 2 containers for a Cobra III, or 3 for one with a LCB. I think if we define "small trader" as anything where 10% is 1 or lower, they have a minimum demand of 1. 1 is better than 0, and it's all profit, as far as the pirate is concerned. At this level it's like a protection racket, really. It's not in the long-term interest of the pirates to destroy too many ships, as it cuts down on their supply of free stuff. Allowing people to survive, too, encourages them to give up cargo without a fight.

Thinking further: there are likely to be different types of pirate, on a sliding scale from pragmatic to psychotic. The pragmatic ones see it as a business. It's all about risk and reward, profit and loss. There's no sense risking damage or destruction to a very expensive ship for the sake of a couple of canisters in a Cobra I (or maybe even a Cobra III). A smallish pack of pragmatic pirates should maybe be prepared to let something up to a Cobra III pass without attacking, especially in a more heavily patrolled system. They're fishing for tuna, not for sprats. That's a bit of variety, right there: pirates who don't automatically attack you. They *might* make a threat, and demand a pod or two, but if you just leg it they probably won't follow. At the other end, there are the loop-de-loop mental ones, who enjoy killing, take no prisoners, and revel in the slaughter. It's likely that pirate packs will share the same mentality (no use being a pragmatic pirate if one of your wingmen is several sandwiches short of a very bloody picnic ...).

So there would be some factors to plug into an equation: where the pirate(s) fall on the Pragmatic-Psychotic scale (the so-called "Schmigmund Rating", with low being pragmatic and high being psychotic); the strength of the pirate(s) versus the target(s); how much cargo the pirate(s) has/have (hungrier pirates are more aggressive); and perhaps how well-patrolled the system is (although it might be less likely to find psycho-pirates in better-patrolled systems; probably they would spend their time fighting all and sundry in the Anarchy systems, and would lack the planning capabilities to launch regular out-of-system raids).

So something like (Schmigmund Rating) * (Hunger) / (Pirate strength - target strength) might produce a probability? I should stress though that my grasp of numbers is, on a good day, slightly better than the average brush, so ...
Smivs wrote:I'm liking the way this is going, but it would not be easy to translate into a player function
What I'm thinking is that the player cannot communicate with NPCs, so a player acting as Pirate has no way of demanding anything from the NPC, other than opening fire and hoping the trader dumps some cargo. I know it's been mentioned before (and I appreciate the difficulty in making this work) but I'm just saying, you know...
It's true that the player and the NPCs don't enjoy the same capabilities here - but that's always been true. Players have never been able to be dedicated pirates, though, because of the dependence on the main station as a trade and save point. But I still think this is worth developing, as it could be a move towards greater player/NPC interaction in future.

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13752
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Cody » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:08 am

Pirates might be more inclined to push a victim all the way if they knew it had an escape capsule (often better rewards than cargo pods).
Their dreams a tattered sail in the wind

User avatar
Smivs
Retired Assassin
Retired Assassin
Posts: 8408
Joined: Tue Feb 09, 2010 11:31 am
Location: Disunited Kingdom
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Smivs » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:23 am

Disembodied wrote:...several sandwiches short of a very bloody picnic ...
Remind me to gracefully decline any offer from you to dine out :P
Disembodied wrote: Players have never been able to be dedicated pirates, though, because of the dependence on the main station as a trade and save point. But I still think this is worth developing, as it could be a move towards greater player/NPC interaction in future.
A player can play pirate, so long as he stays clean, so a means of threatening, er communicating with NPCs would enhance this aspect considerably. There are actually just two types of player-to-NPC communication that would be useful, this one (threatening traders to cause them to dump cargo) and a 'Whoops, sorry' for use in friendly-fire situations. Easy to suggest but very hard to build in to the game I do realise.
Commander Smivs, the friendliest Gourd this side of Riedquat.

User avatar
cim
Quite Grand Sub-Admiral
Quite Grand Sub-Admiral
Posts: 4018
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:19 pm

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by cim » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:25 am

Smivs wrote:I'm liking the way this is going, but it would not be easy to translate into a player function :(
What I'm thinking is that the player cannot communicate with NPCs, so a player acting as Pirate has no way of demanding anything from the NPC, other than opening fire and hoping the trader dumps some cargo. I know it's been mentioned before (and I appreciate the difficulty in making this work) but I'm just saying, you know...
Fitting the player into this is a little trickier, yes. There is a comment buried in the depths of the AI library about that very question. Similarly, and a longer-standing discrepancy, NPC traders can send distress calls; player traders can't. (And on the other side of this one: NPC traders can communicate surrender, players can't)

Okay, just throwing ideas around here: "L" in the default keymap is currently a communications key (request/cancel docking clearance). "l" is currently unused, however. So, what about this:
"L" becomes "send communication"
"l" becomes "select communication" (I guess we should have a HUD dial to say what's currently selected)
We then have a communications.plist file which defines communications keys and associates them with labels, communication text, whether it's "to target", "to group" or "broadcast", and equipment requirements. The player then selects a communication from the list, selects a target, and presses send. That triggers a scripting event on the recipient, which the AI can ignore or handle as it desires. OXPs can add extra communications though of course most AIs will just ignore them - still, OXPs which have the player flying as part of a team might find this quite useful.

Possibly also add an F4 screen which lets the player enable and disable comms entirely while docked - someone who isn't going into piracy might want to disable the "hand over your cargo" message rather than risk accidentally selecting it, for instance.
Disembodied wrote:There's no sense risking damage or destruction to a very expensive ship
With the current ship prices in Oolite, any pirate other than the entirely non-pragmatic would realise that the average act of piracy nets them a few hundred credits, selling a ship gets tens or often hundreds of thousands of credits, and the odds of surviving each fight are less than 99%. They therefore all sell their ships and retire in luxury.

(I personally just assume that the player is the subject of a giant practical joke and all the shipyard owners stick three extra zeroes onto the price tags when they see you coming)

Otherwise agreed in principle, though setting up group personalities like that might be trickier in practice. I suppose we could use entityPersonality to randomise individual personalities, but then have the group leader sufficiently in command that the others go along with it.

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13752
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Cody » Wed Jul 31, 2013 11:36 am

Re player to NPC comms - Kaks tried something (very basic) like that a few years ago.
Their dreams a tattered sail in the wind

User avatar
Disembodied
Jedi Spam Assassin
Jedi Spam Assassin
Posts: 6369
Joined: Thu Jul 12, 2007 10:54 pm
Location: Carter's Snort

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Disembodied » Wed Jul 31, 2013 1:21 pm

cim wrote:I suppose we could use entityPersonality to randomise individual personalities, but then have the group leader sufficiently in command that the others go along with it.
Sounds good ... might that mean a potential change in behaviour if, say, the leader gets destroyed - say if the group was commanded by Captain Psycho, but his wingmen were (when left to make up their own minds) rather more discretion-is-the-better-part-of-valour types?

A possible improvement on my earlier equation:

(Pirate strength - target strength) + (Empty cargo space available) * (Schmigmund Rating) = % chance of demand for cargo (with perhaps a "critical hit" roll producing a direct attack, with no demand)

- although of course a lot depends on how "pirate strength" and "target strength" is calculated.

User avatar
JazHaz
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 2991
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:07 am
Location: Enfield, Middlesex
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by JazHaz » Wed Jul 31, 2013 2:58 pm

cim wrote:Okay, just throwing ideas around here: "L" in the default keymap is currently a communications key (request/cancel docking clearance). "l" is currently unused, however. So, what about this:
"L" becomes "send communication"
"l" becomes "select communication" (I guess we should have a HUD dial to say what's currently selected)
We then have a communications.plist file which defines communications keys and associates them with labels, communication text, whether it's "to target", "to group" or "broadcast", and equipment requirements. The player then selects a communication from the list, selects a target, and presses send. That triggers a scripting event on the recipient, which the AI can ignore or handle as it desires.
Instead of L, I suggest using the primeable equipment keys N and B. Selecting the comms equipment with the Shift-N key, then tapping through the list of comms options with the N key. The B key could be a "General Distress" call which would call for police assistance (perhaps making far away police ships light their injectors towards you?).

I was thinking that the list of comms actions would be different according to the object targetted. EG if a pirate is targetted you would get "I surrender" or "Lets fight" etc. If you targetted a trader you could say "drop your cargo" etc. If it was a station you could request docking clearance, or request docking lights to be turned on etc.
cim wrote:Possibly also add an F4 screen which lets the player enable and disable comms entirely while docked - someone who isn't going into piracy might want to disable the "hand over your cargo" message rather than risk accidentally selecting it, for instance.
Why would you want to use comms when you are docked?

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13752
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Cody » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:03 pm

JazHaz wrote:Why would you want to use comms when you are docked?
You have to be docked to use the F4 interface.
Their dreams a tattered sail in the wind

User avatar
JazHaz
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 2991
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:07 am
Location: Enfield, Middlesex
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by JazHaz » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:05 pm

Cody wrote:
JazHaz wrote:Why would you want to use comms when you are docked?
You have to be docked to use the F4 interface.
Yes but what for example would you want to ask ships outside if you are docked?

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13752
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Cody » Wed Jul 31, 2013 3:19 pm

Not use the comms - use F4 (whilst docked) to disable any messages you ain't gonna use in flight (so I presume, anyway).
Their dreams a tattered sail in the wind

User avatar
Wyvern Mommy
Deadly
Deadly
Posts: 185
Joined: Sat Apr 02, 2011 7:14 pm
Location: Beyond the final Frontier

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Wyvern Mommy » Wed Jul 31, 2013 5:34 pm

This is how Flightsimulator manages messages:

Image


Why not use the redundant numbers keys?

User avatar
Commander McLane
Intergalactic Spam Assassin
Intergalactic Spam Assassin
Posts: 9520
Joined: Thu Dec 14, 2006 9:08 am
Location: a Hacker Outpost in a moderately remote area
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Commander McLane » Wed Jul 31, 2013 6:15 pm

Wyvern Mommy wrote:Why not use the redundant numbers keys?
Because there are none of those?

They're all used on the Mac. We say "F1" for the forward view, or "F8" for the market screen, but what we actually press are the number keys "1" and "8".

User avatar
cim
Quite Grand Sub-Admiral
Quite Grand Sub-Admiral
Posts: 4018
Joined: Fri Nov 11, 2011 6:19 pm

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by cim » Wed Jul 31, 2013 7:18 pm

JazHaz wrote:Instead of L, I suggest using the primeable equipment keys N and B. Selecting the comms equipment with the Shift-N key, then tapping through the list of comms options with the N key.
I think if support for player-sent comms messages is worth adding to the core game - which I'm not yet sure about - it's probably worth giving it a dedicated key or two. "l" and "L" seems fairly logical.

In-universe, I view the primable equipment set up as something which is for "non-standard" pieces of equipment. The big well-known pieces of equipment - missile pylons, injectors, steering - have dedicated interfaces to the control system. Some minor manufacturer in Reesdice doesn't have the clout or market share to convince Faulcon de Lacy to fit a button for their kit to the standard layout - but the pilot demand to be able to fit extra kit in general means that there's a programmable keypad or similar it can be wired up to. (The cloaking device, as I mentioned earlier, will be primable equipment in 1.79, and I think that fits this theme). The main communications system I think would be a built-in.

Out-of-universe, primable equipment is a hack to deal with us not all having 224-key keyboards to handle all the OXP equipment which is out there. Core game functionality can have its own key, and by doing so leaves more space in the primable equipment list for OXP equipment. (The key freed up by the cloaking device is going straight back into primable equipment as a "fast activation" key)
JazHaz wrote:I was thinking that the list of comms actions would be different according to the object targetted. EG if a pirate is targetted you would get "I surrender" or "Lets fight" etc. If you targetted a trader you could say "drop your cargo" etc. If it was a station you could request docking clearance, or request docking lights to be turned on etc.
Certainly the list of useful comms actions would be different, but I think it might be more trouble than it's worth to have the transmitter system know the details of that. I don't know how many messages there would be that you'd never ever want to send to a particular ship.

(Resetting the system to "request docking clearance" if you targeted a station might be a useful safety feature, though)
JazHaz wrote:The B key could be a "General Distress" call which would call for police assistance (perhaps making far away police ships light their injectors towards you?).
Range of distress calls is an interesting one. Certainly the use of a distress call limited to scanner range is fairly low - anything that would respond to it has almost certainly already received an "offence committed" notification anyway. anyway. Of course, most police ships don't have injectors, except via OXP or in the safer systems ... and in the more dangerous systems, a long range call might be more likely to attract sharks than help.

(There's also a practical limitation in that the simulation time to send a message is proportional to the number of entities receiving it, which is statistically proportional to somewhere between the square and the cube of the transmission range.)

User avatar
JazHaz
---- E L I T E ----
---- E L I T E ----
Posts: 2991
Joined: Tue Sep 22, 2009 11:07 am
Location: Enfield, Middlesex
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by JazHaz » Wed Jul 31, 2013 9:49 pm

cim wrote:
JazHaz wrote:The B key could be a "General Distress" call which would call for police assistance (perhaps making far away police ships light their injectors towards you?).
Range of distress calls is an interesting one.

(There's also a practical limitation in that the simulation time to send a message is proportional to the number of entities receiving it, which is statistically proportional to somewhere between the square and the cube of the transmission range.)
However Elite canon (ie The Dark Wheel) suggests transmissions have a very long range. Consider the RemLok survival system:
And the RemLok screamed through space for help.

It was a standard survival device, an instantly recognisable distress call indicating that it was
being sent out from a small, remotely located, dying body. The alarm screeched out on forty
channels, shifting wavelength within each channel four times a second. One hundred and twenty
chances to catch attention . . .

A cumbersome Boa class cruiser, loaded down with industrial machinery, slowed its departure run
from Leesti and turned to scan space for the source of the signal . . .

Two police vipers came streaking from their patrol sector, near the sun, scanning for the body in
trouble . . .

An adapted Moray Starboat, a vast glowing yellow star on its hull—the sign of a hospital ship—
came chugging out of the darkness . . .

Messages from ships to both the planet and its ring of Coriolis stations were abruptly broken as
the split second message came screaming through. TV programmes were interrupted, the screen
dissolving into a permanently recorded display of the space-grid location of the RemLok. Every
advertising space module changed its garish display to flash, in brilliant green, the same
information.

In the orbit-space around Leesti, a million heads turned starwards. That split second of panic, that
moment's cry of distress, was a sound they knew too well to ignore, and were too frightened of to
take for granted.

Within twenty seconds, two autoremotes, tiny vessels just big enough to carry an hour's oxygen,
one dose each of forty drugs, and a variety of other stimulants, were hovering around Alex Ryder's
spinning body
That quote suggests that the RemLok range goes at least to the planet and the sun!

User avatar
Cody
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Sharp Shooter Spam Assassin
Posts: 13752
Joined: Sat Jul 04, 2009 9:31 pm
Location: Corke's Drift
Contact:

Re: Where do pirates come from?

Post by Cody » Wed Jul 31, 2013 10:01 pm

JazHaz wrote:However Elite canon (ie The Dark Wheel) suggests transmissions have a very long range.
[heresy alert] I don't really see TDW as canon, tbh. [/heresy alert]
Their dreams a tattered sail in the wind

Post Reply