Pimp My Ride

An area for discussing new ideas and additions to Oolite.

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Pimp My Ride

Post by mossfoot » Sat Jun 07, 2014 8:01 pm

The Millenium Falcon OXP got me thinking about the Star Wars RPG and how you upgrade your ships in that. The idea you start off with a stock model and can increase the stats as much as you like but a) it gets more expensive and b) it is more prone to breaking down.

So while you can already pimp your ship in all kinds of ways, it got me thinking about things like base travel speed, roll and pitch rates, perhaps even hyperspace time (sure you have to keep the 7LY limit for balance, but maybe you can reduce travel time for people interested in doing cargo runs, passenger, packages, etc...).

Just wondering if there was any interest in a way of boosting things like that but with a higher chance of failure attached that would reduce your speed or roll/pitch to below base stats until they got fixed (kind of like how the hyperspace cargo bubble works?).
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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by Disembodied » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:19 am

I think this is a great idea, with some underlying difficulties. The most basic problem is the gameplay inherited from Elite, which puts the player in a pretty much all-round kickass ship right from day 1 (albeit one without all the bells and whistles fitted). Because of the way masslocking works, the player pretty much has to be in one of the fastest ships in the core game - otherwise you'd spend a lot of time stuck in traffic. You'll know this from playing in an Adder! Without injectors to boost past inbound traders, you're in for a long trip.

As long as performance enhancements are kept small, though, I think this has a lot of potential: not least as a way of extending the chain of possible ship enhancements, as a money-sink for rich players, and indeed as a way of making the player's ship feel more personal, more unique.

By "small", I mean something like: level 1 engine tune-up increases the Cobra III's top speed from 0.35 to 0.37; level 2 puts it from 0.37 to 0.38; and level 3 puts it from 0.38 to 0.385. The cost for each upgrade would increase, if not exponentially, then at least dramatically! It might be possible to allow larger step-increases on ships with lower base speeds, to push them, by step 3, into basic Cobra III territory. So a Cobra 1 (standard top speed 0.26) engine tune-up might give you something like: level 1, 0.3; level 2, 0.33; level 3, 0.35; for a Python (standard top speed 0.2), you could get something like 0.26; 0.29; 0.32, maybe.

Having engines degrade over time, between maintenances, is also interesting, but it would need to be handled carefully so that a player's ship didn't become unplayable. Fractional decreases in top speed, as long as they were flagged up on the F5 screen and/or the HUD, would I think be enough to make the point. And sometimes, combat can be a game where fractions count!

Roll and pitch are slightly trickier: very nimble ships can take a bit of getting used to. But again, as long as increments are kept small, that might not be a problem.

I'd leave hyperspace jump times alone, personally: it would make cargo and parcel contracts too easy, I think, and turn what should be fine calculations into routine moneymakers.

One thing I'd suggest, as a further refinement: don't make ship performance upgrades standard items (i.e. don't have them for sale everywhere above tech level X). If they were only available in a handful of locations in each galaxy, from a small number of expert engineers, it would increase their "special" nature and make getting them that much more of an achievement. Perhaps (for level 3 upgrades, at least) they might only be available from chop-shops based in certain rock hermits, from some engineer-savant who's more concerned with expanding possibilities than with standard procedures and manufacturers' recommendations ... there might be a trail of rumours to follow to find such an engineer, and maybe they might not be interested in getting paid in credits alone.

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by Smivs » Sun Jun 08, 2014 10:56 am

Properties such as max_speed and roll, pitch etc are specified in the shipdata.plist and this cannot be changed or edited on the hoof. Many ship properties are adjustable by script, but these are not among them. So for these things to become a possibility the Devs would have to make them read/write. While this would probably be quite easy to do, the Devs would need to be persuaded that this change is a good idea.
I'm not sure it would be. While i see the appeal of the suggestion, I can also see that this could be abused, and personally I do have issues with 'open-ended' improvements to ships. There are far too many examples (around the OXP ships) of a standard ship being enhanced in a way that starts to stretch belief. I tend to assume that the ships (as standard) are probably optimised in terms of engines, cargo space, shields and other equipment. In other words, as they come out of the factory they are already physically full of equipment, and to then squeeze an even bigger engine in (to raise the top speed) is questionable - where does the extra space come from?
Also, if you could just keep infinitely improving your current ship, there would be less incentive to consider a change. As Big D says, you start in (a fairly basic version of) perhaps the best ship there is, the Cobra III. But you have alternatives if it doesn't quite fit your needs. If you want to lug cargo the BCC is huge but has remarkably similar performance to the Cobby. If you fancy a spot of bounty hunting, the Asp is a killer ship. Mining? Well perhaps a Python? Big and stable with a decent hold it would be perfect. And all this without even touching on the OXP ships.
So, no, leave things as they are - it works well and allowing changes to such fundamentals as max_speed is a can of worms I really wouldn't want to see opened.
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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by Disembodied » Sun Jun 08, 2014 1:06 pm

Smivs wrote:I do have issues with 'open-ended' improvements to ships.
I definitely wouldn't make things open-ended: a maximum of three levels of small upgrades, with a firm cap and diminishing returns, though, would keep things sane while offering players a longer line of progression to follow.

As you say, making these shipdata properties adjustable would need the backing of the Devs ... but there could be other advantages to the idea: it could create a function for a crew. It doesn't have to be about always making things better, either: a ship operating without a full crew (or at least an engineer) could have a *diminished* performance.

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by Stormrider » Sun Jun 08, 2014 2:24 pm

Disembodied wrote:It doesn't have to be about always making things better, either:
I thought it would be cool to release my oxp ship with frangable engines that would be expensive to replace or maybe even an engine coolant system that could have all kinds of problems leading to engine failure.
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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by mossfoot » Sun Jun 08, 2014 3:23 pm

I think Disembodied's first post is on the right track big time, definitely in synch with what I was going for.

The upgrades should be minute and have a cap. When I talked about unlimited tweaking in the Star Wars RPG that of course had a huge cost/benefit/maintence ratio to balance it out. Want a ship faster than the Millenium Falcon in combat? Sure, but expect to cost a fortune, spend a LOT more time working on it between flights, and expect it to break down at the worst possible times. It was built into the build system that the problem took care of itself that way.

So while I wouldn't suggest using the same system, I did think, if upgrading engines and maneuverability were included, that a similar penalty should apply. Let's build on Disembodied's examples (numbers used are for ease of demonstration only, not suggested increments)...

Tier One might be something just about anyone can do. Like overclocking a PC through a YouTube video. It's easy to do, but not recommended unless you know what you're doing for fear of overheating your system. In terms of your ship it's the safest upgrade, doesn't boost you much, but gives you an edge over those using stock models at least. Random malfunctions would be minimal and rare, but also easily avoided if you get your ship maintenanced. Failure might set your max speed or maneuverability slightly below stock levels. So if your speed was .30 and you upgrade it to .32, a failure might knock you down to .28 till you spent the money to get it fixed (which like the upgrade itself could be anywhere).

Tier 2 could only be done at any high tech level world, and require specialized parts that are hard to get. The penalties for failure would be greater and more frequent unless you pay for maintenance regularly. Again, a .30 speed might go up to .34, but failure would knock you down to .26 until you go to a high tech world to get the specialized parts replaced.

Tier 3 is experimental stuff, the hobbyists and race enthusiasts who look to get the most out of their ships but mostly for racing and showing off rather than long term use. These would be only done at chop shops. Again, possibility of failures are more frequent unless you get maintenanced regularly (say on par with Tier 2), but maybe only another chop shop can do the highly specialized tweaking required (or perhaps maintenance can be done on any high tech world, but repairs only done at a chop shop). Also, diminishing returns apply. It's more expensive and doesn't make the same improvement jump as Tier 1 or 2. In this case your speed might go from .30 to .35 and knock down to .25 if it fails.

Alternatively, failures DOUBLES penalties so Tier 1 knocks down to .26, Tier 2 knocks down to .22 and Tier 3 knocks down to .15... then you'd REALLY feel the problems... and it would be a lot more of a headache in combat (insert Millenium Falcon engine failing to turn over sound from Empire Strikes Back).

That's a simple framework to work with. Let's say your Tier 3 upgrade breaks down and you're four jumps away from the last chop shop you know of. You could knock it back down to Tier 2 on a high tech world, or even Tier 1 or Stock, where they undo all that fancy garbage those crazy kids did to your engine, but it'll still cost you (not like you get a refund for knocking it back down, it's work.)

This actually fits into the Oolite/Elite world in that there's all kinds of references to people modifying Adders or other ships for the race circuit. Now you can, too! ;)

Personally I'm a fan of more detail rather than less (would love other laser options, for example, but understand keeping it simple) The 3 Tier idea fits in with the simplified nature of Elite as a whole (ie Pulse, Beam, Military laser upgrades).
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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by mossfoot » Tue Jun 10, 2014 4:25 pm

I could see how those upgrades could apply to NPC ships, too. Trading vessels carrying expensive goods might have a first level upgrade (but no more due to associated risks). Pirates and bounty hunters wouldn't have those hesitations. A fugitive with a high bounty on their head might have level 2 souped up ship. Level 3s would be few and far between due to high maintenance/breakdown risks, maybe only part of a chop shop's or hacker asteroid's defenses.

While what was described above would be good enough on its own, if you really wanted to add some flavor to the risk/rewards of upgrades, a breakdown of engines/maneuvering thrusters might do more than just slow you down below standard specs. Maybe a catastrophic engine failure causes an energy drain that could ultimately cause your ship to become a fireball if not docked quickly. Or a failure on the thrusters causes a "drift" (slowly rolling or yawing in one direction) that you have to compensate for - tricky for docking!

Also, if you were to use your escape capsule your ship and parts would be replaced, yes, but it would be set back to factory levels for engines/maneuvering. Perhaps a level 3 upgrade voids most of your insurance and leaves you with a stock ship only with no add ons.
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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by Disembodied » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:44 am

Visually, levels of engine upgrades could be indicated by changes to the engine plume colours ...

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by spara » Wed Jun 11, 2014 11:57 am

What I would like is to be able to jump to the next grade ships faster. I love the idea of building your career up from an Adder or maybe even a Mining Transporter, but the slow crawl to the better ships is quite a tedious one. One solution to this would indeed be the possibility of tuning your ship. Balancing would be quite tricky though.

Another idea I've had around this area, is the possibility to buy an under maintained, stripped down ship for cheap. It would be a risk to buy it and your top priority would be to bring it to top notch shape again, but it would for example allow the transition from Adder to Cobra mk1 to happen earlier. These kind of 'junk' ships would be very rare, usually results of personal misfortunes, forcing the owner to sell all they've got.

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by Norby » Wed Jun 11, 2014 7:56 pm

How about an update (after 6 years) on [EliteWiki] M-Pack (rusties) with increased drawbacks?

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by spara » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:29 pm

Norby wrote:How about an update (after 6 years) on [EliteWiki] M-Pack (rusties) with increased drawbacks?
Some time ago I took a careful look at it and the price vs. drawpacks did not make sense. What I would actually want, would be a ship with degraded specs that would be repairable to the full glory. So in a sense the idea presented here upside down. In my vision, tuning the ship would bring it back to life. That way I could move from the Adder to the Cobra1 gradually. First I could buy a Cobra1 that has a worn engine and only half of it's energy banks working, causing it to be as slow as an Adder and it just might be a good idea to avoid combat, but I would get to use the bigger Cargo. Then, when I have earned some more credits, I could fix the engine and it would fly like the original. Then I could earn some more and fix the energy banks. At this point I would have a fully functional Cobra1 and I might start eyeing the next ship.

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by Cody » Wed Jun 11, 2014 8:35 pm

An old, battered, rust-bucket Python, which is always on the brink of breaking-down - sounds like the Dubious Profit.

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by spara » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:20 pm

Then again, maybe rusties could be updated so that you can upgrade them to the non-rustic version. Now that it's possible with replaceShip. The cost would naturally be the price difference of the mint one versus the rustic one. This might just be an idea. Maybe not using the rusty models though, who would really fly in those anyway? Have to ponder this a bit more.

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by Thargoid » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:31 pm

Perhaps this could be extended a little to merge into the currently existing ship maintenance.

After a certain point, rather than there just being a chance of things breaking and a fuel leak, there could also be a gradual degradation in things like handling and max speed...

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Re: Pimp My Ride

Post by mossfoot » Thu Jun 12, 2014 5:11 am

Thargoid wrote:Perhaps this could be extended a little to merge into the currently existing ship maintenance.

After a certain point, rather than there just being a chance of things breaking and a fuel leak, there could also be a gradual degradation in things like handling and max speed...

Agreed. Definitely a good idea. Any chance the upgrade idea could become a thing?
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