Buying Ships

How do you like them to be outfited?

Poll: New ship outfits (21 member(s) have cast votes)
How do you like a new ship to come equipped?
Completely empty.
(3 votes [14.29%])
Percentage of vote: 14.29%
A couple outfits. (very under-equiped)
(3 votes [14.29%])
Percentage of vote: 14.29%
A basic configuration. (Nothing fancy, but a viable ship)
(11 votes [52.38%])
Percentage of vote: 52.38%
Completely outfited. (An excellent configuration, ready to fight)
(4 votes [19.05%])
Percentage of vote: 19.05%

I'm trying to decide how ships should be equipped when purchased.
I'm kind of torn between purchasing a ship they way you see NPCs have them equipped in the universe, and buying them completely empty.

Interesting you should ask, since I've been toying with the idea for a few weeks now too (funny how often we seem to do that).

I've pretty much settled on this: you buy a ship, it comes with standard armament and whatever it needs to run (reactors, IFF, jammers, etc), but no "money" outfits (sigma outfits, port & polish, etc.) However, AI would come in several flavors: a few stock ships flying around, more that have had weapon retrofits, and finally most ships which have had some sort of (or quite a few) performance-enhancing upgrade. That's why I never used Sigma outfits; it seemed kinda odd that I was the only person in the galaxy who shelled out a few million credits to have the best ship in the galaxy.

I think it should be like buying a car. Most of the time, when you buy a car, it comes with more than just the shell (unless you are doing something really fancy). You get a car that will run, and will get you around, if not the quickest. However, then you can upgrade it and enhance its looks and performance with aftermarket parts when you have the money. And obviously, some cars are better stock than others, but you can always upgrade them.

The thing that doesn't make sense to me is that you have the variants that are obviously 'tricked out' already, then the player can capture them and put even more upgrades on. I like what Archon did in Anathema, where all variants have the same base mass, just some have better upgrades.

QUOTE (Jalisurr @ Oct 4 2009, 09:31 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The thing that doesn't make sense to me is that you have the variants that are obviously 'tricked out' already, then the player can capture them and put even more upgrades on. I like what Archon did in Anathema, where all variants have the same base mass, just some have better upgrades.

This happens because the AI ignores things like speed, armor, shield upgrades, etc. You have to manually add them into the appropriate fields on the ship resource. As you said, this can result in the player getting those upgrades for 'free' and then going and buying more upgrades beyond the designed limits.
The solution then, is to include invisible outfits that cancel-out the improvements for when a player captures the ship. Of course, this will double your resource usage for any enhancing outfits, so it's a design trade-off.

FWIW, I am employing the canceling outfits, so the player and NPCs have access to the same ship properties/configurations (at least in theory).

I agree with Jalisurr; I even was going to use the same simile. They should come with "the basics" (your computer may have come with a video or sound card, although you can pay to install a better one). IFF, etc should definitely come standard on most not-low-budget ships. Remember, most people (other than the player) use their money for things other than ship mods. I don't want to be forced to buy a top-of-the-line computer every time I want a new desktop (especially if that means taking out half of the RAM and hocking it on ebay), but I don't want to buy a mouse for every new machine, either.

That said, I loved J.T.'s CTC. It was a really nice touch, but I think in general the standard way seems to work well.

Variants shouldn't be "better" than others after you gut it completely. However, it's also reasonable that a "maneuverable variant" may have better speed and acceleration, but less base mass (because there are "bigger engines" installed, although the player cannot do this himself. It's a custom job, and there aren't many people who do it.).

Personally, I think it's fine to give AI "money" outfits, especially if you are using methods like the canceling outfits trick Desperez mentioned. I.e. military corvettes like the Rebel Starbridge should already have "Port and Polish". Mod Starbridge, class E+ Executive Edition should already have the sigma outfits applied. In my mind, the polaris should not be allowed sigma additions, as they're already conceivably doing a better job than sigma could.

However, I think there's a better way than the "canceling outfits": give the modified ships require bits preventing them from acquiring items that are already factored into their stats. Pirate Valk IV can't buy sigma, because the jock who tweaked it to perfection has already made similar modifications.

This post has been edited by n64mon : 04 October 2009 - 10:41 PM

Hmm, that's an interesting way of doing things (the "prevent from buying outfit XYZ," that is). I think that depending on what type of outfit the ship comes with, it could be a better method since it cuts down on öutf usage. However, if a ship comes with some massed outfits (like a layer of Matrix Steel), if/when the player captures that ship, it will actually be less customizable than a standard variant due to having a layer of matrix steel that it can't remove, and not being able to buy more of them. Of course, for performance enhancing upgrades like Sigma, there's no conceivable reason to remove them, so your method would work fine.

A hybrid of the two would probably be best. For reversible modifications, you could use the canceling outfits if you want to ensure customizability of captured ships. For matrix steel, though, you wouldn't be able to sell it, but there isn't any reason you can't buy more of it. Give the ship X less mass, Y more armor, and don't stress over the require bits. It would allow you to put a higher maximum of Matrix steel, but that's no biggie in my book; space was the limiting factor anyway.

Not all modifications need to be reversible. In my "maneuverable variant" example, it's reasonable that the player would have a hard time buying smaller engines.

It's also reasonable that there are some variants out there that you can't achieve yourself. If I want a motorcycle with the exhaust-burning system removed (a modification that causes marginally more pollution but gives more horsepower), I can't just pay the dealer to do that for me (due to pollution regulations). If I don't have the means to do that modification myself, I still can find a used one on the market. Some of these "unique" variants might be on sale used, with a low chance of appearing.
(the modification I used as an example is actually a relatively simple tweak, but I'm running out of analogies :).)

This post has been edited by n64mon : 05 October 2009 - 11:08 AM

However, in looking at that analogy, there must be some shady dealer (chop shop) that would do it for you. It's like taking your car into a shop to get a re-flash of the ECU. The dealer won't do it, but there are other places that would.

So there may be some 'illegally modded' variants out there, but you may also be able to do a similar mod at a pirate base.

Jalisurr's post brings up an interesting point; outfits are against regulations and permanent would result in a ship being irreversibly illegal. That's a pretty sweet idea.

Actually, for the matrix steel scenario n64mon brings up, you actually would be able to sell the steel if you use reciprocal outfits. Say you have a ship with 500 base armor that adds two 100-armor outfits. You'd have your ship read as 700 armor with the two 100-armor outfits and an invisible -200 armor outfit. Therefore, if the player gets one, they can sell both armors and be back at the standard 500.

For the irreversible ones, yeah the canceling stuff isn't necessary, just a "can't buy if XYZ" string in the outfit's availability.

QUOTE (Desprez @ Oct 4 2009, 10:35 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The solution then, is to include invisible outfits that cancel-out the improvements for when a player captures the ship. Of course, this will double your resource usage for any enhancing outfits, so it's a design trade-off.

You can do better than doubling resources. At least, you can restrict yourself to a single corrective outfit per ModType that needs correction, as long as AI stock outfits won't push you over the maximum outfits per shïp limit. See also: Use creatively-named stock weapons as corrective outfits.

I liked the idea of the old Starship Creator program: you can choose to buy either an outfitted ship, fully loaded, a bare-minimum ship with the essentials to fly, or an empty keel with nothing (not even engines.) I always wanted to have a Nova scenario where you can swap out engines with different ones, or completely replace the thruster quads, ect. The added benefit of this would be that you could simply delete outfits to create a mission failure that results in the player literally dead in the water, instead of trying to add negative outfits. I think it could work really well, but it might consume quite a few extra ship resources.

On a personal level, I'm quite lazy, so I've created an outfit for Nova that simply grants me all the niceties that I'd have to run across the galaxy to get, plus an additional 50 million for gas and such. Things like the IFF decoder, grav sensors, polaron multi-torps, ect.

QUOTE (Qaanol @ Oct 5 2009, 09:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

You can do better than doubling resources. At least, you can restrict yourself to a single corrective outfit per ModType that needs correction, as long as AI stock outfits won't push you over the maximum outfits per shïp limit. See also: Use creatively-named stock weapons as corrective outfits.

Only as long as you prevent those stock outfits from being sold, of course.

krugeruwsp, have you played Colosseum Total Conversion? It's a TC that lets you do just that. Very challenging at the beginning, but absolutely worth it.

I unfortunately have not had time to play with CTC yet, but I've heard amazing things with it. I've been booked up with EV Firefly. I'm glad to hear CTC uses that, though! As soon as I get the time, I do plan to play through it.

I would really like to have the NPCs be equipped with a full load of outfits and weapons that maximize their AI behaviors' strengths, and for the ships to be purchasable with the same equipment the AI has. This way, the player will be able to customize their new ship to fit their style best, but will still be challenged in combat.

Ideally, I'd like an IFF Decoder, Gravimetric Senors, an Auto Recharger, and an appropriate energy generator (Fusion Generator, Solar Panels, Anti Matter Reactor etc.)
Also, some storyline specific items should be included (polaris ships should have cloaking organs and multi jump organs when available, carriers should come with EMPTY fighter bays)
I would also like to see different variants of ship available - for example, ships with different fighter bays, ships which are an empty shell...

Javelin King brings up a good point. Carriers should either have empty bays, or full bays.

One thing I'd watch out for, though: Make sure that the outfits don't affect the resale value of the ship. I.e. a 2 million credit ship that comes with 3 million credits worth of outfits: resale = (2+3)/2 = 2.5 million

Actually that made me think of something. You could make it so that only certain types of ships that were built for it can hold certain weapons. Like only carriers or carrier-class ships can hold bays because of the massive amount of structural work that would need to be done. Or like the Polaris ships that supposedly need to be grown around a CPL. Doesn't make much sense to then be able to toss one on any old ship. So when you buy the ship, it would have whatever special weapons it comes with, and little else.

This post has been edited by Jalisurr : 13 October 2009 - 11:43 AM

Or make non-carrier ships' bays to take up more space because of the restructuring needed.

QUOTE (peko @ Oct 15 2009, 10:18 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Or make non-carrier ships' bays to take up more space because of the restructuring needed.

Love it.

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