'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

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'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Smivs » Thu Sep 05, 2013 5:30 pm

There has been a bit of discussion here on my Battle Damage OXP thread about the status of equipment after ejecting.
Now the silly thing is although both my main Commanders have escape pods, I never use them :roll: So I had not noticed that if a player bails out of a ship which has some equipment damaged the replacement ship has the same damaged equipment.
Now to my mind that is daft. Also the description for the escape capsule says
"A simple emergency capsule with a life-support system, purchase includes comprehensive insurance for your ship and systems."
and this strongly suggests that the ship is replaced in full working order.
I wouldn't describe this as a bug, but I do feel it is an area of the core game that could be improved.
Norby has published a bit of code here which is intended to sort this out, but as I said my instincts are that this issue needs a core-game fix not an OXP solution.
What do you all think?
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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by JazHaz » Thu Sep 05, 2013 5:50 pm

I'm pretty sure that how the escape capsule used to work in Elite was that you got your ship back including all systems bar the escape capsule. And no cargo, you always lost the cargo.

Like Smivs I don't usually use the EC so wouldn't have noticed.

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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Cody » Thu Sep 05, 2013 6:32 pm

JazHaz wrote:I'm pretty sure that how the escape capsule used to work in Elite was that you got your ship back including all systems bar the escape capsule.
You know, I cannot remember exactly how it worked in BBC Elite - but I have a vague feeling it cost more than just lost cargo.
Am I right in thinking that equipment wasn't actually damaged - it was shot-away, gone completely?

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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Diziet Sma » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:24 pm

Further to the above, there was some discussion on this very subject in another thread just before Smivs became aware of the issue.

http://www.aegidian.org/bb/viewtopic.ph ... 04#p206804

In that discussion, the main argument in favour of replacing a damaged ship with another damaged ship was to discourage Commanders from abandoning a badly shot up ship in order to avoid paying massive repair bills. I.E. - "cheating"..

Personally, I feel that argument falls flat, for what else is it, if in real life a car is badly damaged in an accident? Rather than the owner paying for horribly expensive repairs, the vehicle is written off by the insurance company and replaced with one in good working order. Should we regard that as "cheating" too? How would any of us feel if insurance companies replaced smashed up cars with similarly damaged ones, so as to prevent us from escaping our "obligation" to pay for the repairs out of our own pockets? There would be no point in having comprehensive insurance to begin with.

Despite which, some interesting alternatives were brought up in that discussion, and would merit some further deliberation, perhaps.
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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Smivs » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:33 pm

Yes, I'd forgotten about that debate.
Dizzie's RLTM example of car insurance is a good one. Here in the UK at least if a car is written off the owner gets 'book value' for the car. This is what a car trader would pay for it, not the retail cost of the car.
If we took this concept into Oolite, though, the only way it would work is if you received a cash equivalent to say 3/4 of the value of your ship with which to purchase another ship. In other words your ship is not directly replaced.
This is probably too much of a radical departure from 'canon' though.
In-game I feel a better solution would be to replace the ship with only the working equipment it had at the point of destruction. It's a bit of handwavium flavoured fudge, but it avoids the cheating thing and would seem 'sensible' in-game. The justification could be that the ship's transponder broadcast the ship's current spec at the moment of its death and the insurance company could then refuse to replace damaged equipment.
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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Cody » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:36 pm

Smivs wrote:I feel a better solution would be to replace the ship with only the working equipment it had at the point of destruction.
That's what it does now. Or do you mean only the working kit and no damaged kit? So it needs to be bought again?

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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Smivs » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:38 pm

Yes, any kit working at the moment of death is fitted to the new ship, damaged equipment is not either in working or broken form. It must be bought again.
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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Cody » Thu Sep 05, 2013 7:39 pm

That is my vague impression of the original - you only got the kit that was on your ship at time of ejection.
That could be mighty expensive for some commanders - oh yes indeed!

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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by JazHaz » Thu Sep 05, 2013 9:21 pm

As far as I remember, you couldn't get damaged equipment in the original Elite (here we're talking BBC Elite - ie written by Bell/Braben, not some other programming team paid to port it to another system).

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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Commander McLane » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:03 pm

Here are my thoughts on the subject, copied verbatim from the other thread:

I can see two potential routes to go:
  1. Make the escape pod a lot more expensive, up to a considerable fraction of your ship's price. Then deliver the replacement ship with full working equipment. Drawback: escape pods would become unaffordable especially for beginner pilots, who may need them the most.
  2. Leave the escape pod as it is, but make it clear that the insurance only covers the hull, not the installed equipment. Only a change in the long text in equipment.plist and the documentation is needed. (By the way: the current text reads "purchase includes comprehensive insurance for your ship and systems", which can easily be construed to mean repaired (or working) systems.)
    1. Alternatively, additionally, the damaged equipment could be repaired, but for the usual repair price, which would be automatically taken from the player's credit balance. Some thought would need to be spent on what happens if there is no sufficient balance.

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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by cim » Thu Sep 05, 2013 10:25 pm

Thoughts:
  • removing damaged equipment from the ship has a specific consequence. If the player loses the cloaking device (permanently!) if they eject in between it getting damaged and finding a TL:15 system, then that's a big incentive to reload rather than use the escape pod. (See the various previous discussions before 1.77 was released about making the cloak repairable at TL:15) There are probably some OXP mission reward items with a similar set up.
  • on that note, how does the insurance company replace the cloaking device anyway? Even if it was still intact when you ejected? Is that more or less suspicious than the cloned passengers?
  • I don't remember BBC Elite having damageable equipment, though I did only have the tape version, so I also don't remember it having suns, Thargoids, missions, etc.
  • even if it just replaced your ship with a factory model, the escape pod is incredibly cheap, especially since it includes the pod hardware and a suitable reward payment to ensure the pirate who scoops you up isn't better off just selling you as a slave.
  • in the context of the meta-game, the player can almost always reload rather than use the pod and not lose much in-game by doing so.
  • for its low price, it would be entirely justifiable in fiction for the pod to keep you alive and not provide any sort of replacement ship at all (and indeed if you look at what happens to some of the people you rescue...). Use it before you have a spare 60k credits for an Adder? Guess it's back to cleaning the station corridors for you.
  • so, it has to be fun to use the escape pod. I think keeping damaged equipment damaged is fair to avoid the escape pod use potentially being profitable - if you like, read the "ECM (n/a)" line as a note from the insurance company that they'll only provide part-payment towards a replacement since you were failing in your duties to keep your ship well-maintained, rather than them actually fitting a broken ECM to your new ship. I think making the losses any more significant than the few thousand credits for the escape pod, replacement cargo, and repairs for any damage in the fight that killed you, is probably too much.
  • obviously those players who find the extra challenge from losing equipment as well to be fun, and wouldn't reload, will prefer a harsher escape pod mechanism. It's probably more straightforward to write an OXP to make the pod harsher than to write one to restore a player's equipment after they eject and get a factory model Adder.
Looking at the proposals that have come up, in broad categories:
All equipment in a repaired state: too exploitable. You get into a fight, but narrowly survive with some expensive damage (let's say the military shield booster for a ~25k repair bill). You should be docking, and then plotting a suitable route to the nearest TL:13 system, not using the escape pod once you get near the station to avoid having to pay. Easy enough to OXP, of course.

Current situation: I think, despite the slight oddities it has, this is pretty good. I'm not yet convinced by the arguments to change away from it.

Lose damaged equipment entirely, keep the rest: This is also workable, I think: the only items of equipment this adds significant cost for are the naval energy unit (by which time you should be rich enough for it not to matter), and the military shield booster (which is the last normal item most players buy, and paying for repairs to it is already expensive but fair), and of course the cloaking device, which you'd just lose: we could say that "transferable" equipment is excluded - maybe the important bit is small enough to be carried on your person - and it just stays damaged (you still need to find a TL:15 shipyard to wire it back into the rest of your ship properly, though). There may be OXP equipment this wouldn't work well with, though, and is the mostly trivial extra cost to the player worth making the change?

Get a factory model ship, limited or no extra equipment: In the late game, paying a hundred thousand or more in replacement costs and having to fly to a high tech system to rebuild your ship is an interesting challenge (and gives the player a chance to see how much their piloting skills have improved and how much is just their ship). However, I think it makes the escape pod far too expensive in the mid game (it's already too expensive for the early game - there are far more cost-effective ways to keep yourself alive) - much of the fun there is in slowly upgrading your ship: getting reset back to near-zero every so often would certainly extend the mid game (which is a good goal) ... or more likely just encourage the player to fight to the death and/or reload their last save. Definitely could be a fun OXP for players looking for more challenge, but I don't think it's for the core game.

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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Gimi » Fri Sep 06, 2013 7:10 am

If I buy insurance I expect to get the insured item back in a similar state including any equipment installed. So I think removing all equipment on the replacement ship is a bit too harsh. It's a game, and there needs to be a balance between realism, game-play and potential exploits. How about this:

Double the price of the escape pod as it is today. (Should still be within reach in the earlier part of the game when you really need it)
Ship is replaced with all equipment intact, but the maintenance cycle of the ship is preserved. So if your ship was due for maintenance, it still is. Equipment however is functional.
There is a deductible that totals to 3% (or X%) of the ships total value. If the player is without funds, equipment is removed starting with the most expensive equipment (the minimum replacement is the ship with a pulse laser and 100Cr regardless of available funds). Special equipment is kept out of the loop (for simplicity).

I think this is closer to real life and seems like a plausible set-up.
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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Diziet Sma » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:40 am

That sounds pretty reasonable..

Further to the issue of "cheating" by simply abandoning a shot-up ship, I've been giving this some thought, and it seems to me this would be very easy to discourage..

If an escape pod has been used as intended, it would always be triggered during a 'condition red' situation. In fact, the player should be actively under attack at the time.

Why not make it so that if a pod was jettisoned when the player was not actively being attacked (thus suggesting a premeditated event), the insurance company regards this as highly suspicious, and refuses to replace damaged equipment? Perhaps even track such events, and if the player makes a habit of it (e.g. 3 times) then instead of a replacement of their original ship, they are only given a basic Cobra MkI or perhaps even an Adder? Not foolproof, to be sure, but it ought to reduce the likelihood of a player trying this stunt.

Heck.. you could even display some kind of 'contract' to the player at the time of purchase, briefly setting out the conditions and limitations of the insurance policy.
Last edited by Diziet Sma on Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Gimi » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:46 am

Diziet Sma wrote:That sounds pretty reasonable..

Further to the issue of "cheating" by simply abandoning a shot-up ship, I've been giving this some thought, and it seems to me this would be very easy to discourage..

If an escape pod has been used as intended, it would always be triggered during a 'condition red' situation.

Why not make it so that if a pod was jettisoned when the player status was condition yellow or green (suggesting a premeditated event), the insurance company regards this as highly suspicious, and refuses to replace damaged equipment? Perhaps even track such events, and if the player makes a habit of it (e.g. 3 times) then instead of a replacement of their original ship, they are only given a basic Cobra MkI or perhaps even an Adder? Not foolproof, to be sure, but it ought to reduce the likelihood of a player trying this stunt.

Heck.. you could even display some kind of 'contract' to the player at the time of purchase, briefly setting out the conditions and limitations of the insurance policy.
I like this. Anyone ever heard of a computer game that has "Anti Insurance Fraud" mechanisms built into it. It must be a first.
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Re: 'Good working order' ship after ejecting.

Post by Diziet Sma » Fri Sep 06, 2013 8:50 am

Gimi wrote:I like this. Anyone ever heard of a computer game that has "Anti Insurance Fraud" mechanisms built into it. It must be a first.
See slight update I made above while you were replying.. so far as I'm aware, it ought to be possible to track if the player was actively being attacked at the time, not merely condition red/yellow/green.
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