- 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.
: 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.