Station bound traders are often headed in the same direction as the player and as such can contribute to some of the most time consuming and tedious mass-locks in the game. The basic idea here is to alter the probabilities of the various ships appearing to favour the slower ships without excluding any of the faster ones. Slower traders take less time (and/or fuel) to overtake and therefore result in more tolerable mass-locks.
After considering ship role weighting here, here and here, I came up with couple of slightly controversial ways to skew the figures to suit my purpose.
Firstly, here's a chart to explain the situation as it currently is in the default game:
The green box highlights that there is already a discrepancy between player speed in a cobra mkIII (0.35) and non-player speed (0.3).
The yellow, orange and red boxes highlight the difficulty that many slower ships than the mkIII can have in escaping mass-locks.
For a prototype oxp I have applied 3 different strategies to 'improve' the situation as I see it:
- Alter the weighting to favour the slower ships without removing any from their current roles
- Reduce the non-player Moray's speed to it's elite value (0.25) in a similar manner to the non-player mkIII in the default game
- Include the Transporter in each of the three main trader roles (trader, courier, smuggler)
Although such changes will not remove the most annoying mass-locks altogether they can significantly reduce their occurrance. Like so:
Before I argue the case for some of the changes I'd like to draw attention to a few things on this second table.
- Total Role Weighting for each role has remained unchanged (6.5, 3.1 and 4.45)
- The chance of each ship appearing as a trader in relation to the default game is recorded in the last column
- The Transporter has been added to each group but never as one of the 3 most common ships
- There is a 'saving' of 0.06* to non-player trader speeds - greater than the 0.05 created by the speed boost granted to the player mk III in an effort to solve the same problem
- Some of the slower ships now actually have a chance to overtake most masslocks (e.g. Adder)
- By removing the Transporter and restoring the Moray's speed, a saving of around 0.04 can be achieved depending exactly on how one might choose to rebalance the weightings
A little about the three methods employed:
Role Weighting Adjustments
Central to the whole idea. I've tried to maintain similar proportions for each ship across the roles. Personally I think that some of the more dramatic changes actually make sense; for example, the Asp makes an excellent courier but just because it is one of the best suited doesn't mean it should be the most common - I've recduced it's probability and increased that of the Adder imagining more novice couriers than expert, wealthy ones.
Reduction to the Moray's Speed
This reduction returns the Moray to the speed value it had in elite, in common with all of the other non-player traders. This is no more than has been done with the mk III so I don't see it as particualrly controversial. It also allows me to imagine the Fer de Lance as the luxury passenger courier and the Moray as a more common budget vessel, whilst still getting a speed saving from the change.
The Transporter as a Trader
The big advantage here is that the transporter is very slow, even slower than the Anaconda and so it can really help to lower the average speeds. The obvious question mark over it's suitability however would be the lack of a hyperdrive. Such a disadvantage needn't be crippling however as some ships now advertise their heading or even have wormhole analysers. As a potential cheap option the Transporter has good cargo capacity for its size and despite being slow is otherwise capable.
From the Elite manual and repeated on the oolite wiki:
The only time it's really encountered however is as a miner or as a shuttle. I don't think I've ever seen one headed towards the station (other than from the planet) yet shouldn't miners be doing that sometimes for better profits than from a hermit?The Lakon Spaceways MC15 QuikTransport Shuttle is the most commonly encountered intermediate range shuttle, with a range of 0.1LY and a full HiGrav Loading facility. It can carry up to 100 passengers, and has a cargo capacity of 10 tonnes undefined bulk. Can land on asteroids, space stations, and can skim atmosphere, and touch down on land surfaces and all liquid surfaces except acid.
Some of the original weighting appears to base probability on suitability of ship. Instead, I have justified my changes with a greater emphasis on availability of ship. Besides, if an Anaconda can be a courier (see first table) then I don't see why a Transporter can't be a trader.
Likely coming soon but presented early for constructive critcism...
* whilst it's true that I forgot to account for the three roles having different weightings when calculating this figure, the savings are highest where they are most needed (i.e. an impressive 0.081 vs couriers) with all the data available above, so I don't feel that the figure is sufficiently misleading to justify making another table