Apropos to all the discussions of encounter frequency, etc, is another observation I was hoping to test further, before reporting on.. but recent demands on my time have prevented me from doing the in-depth testing I was hoping to.. and I'm not sure when I'll have time, so I'll just throw this out here now.
Hopefully, somebody else can check my observations.
I spent three hours just loitering outside Erlaza (G1) station.. Erlaza has 4 reasonably decent neighbouring systems.. so, it's not particularly busy, but not especially quiet, either. In that whole time, not counting a small wing of Vipers, there were only 5 ships launched from the station.. one of which was an escort for another ship. The other 3 ships were all in-system Shuttles and Transporters. There were NO arrivals.
Far from the more usual situation in Oolite, of having major traffic jams build up in a system over the course of time, the system felt utterly empty. The sense of loneliness was almost palpable. The usual feeling of being in a vibrant, busy system was entirely absent.
I've been pondering this apparent lack of station traffic. I suspect there are two distinct factors at work here.
Firstly, on the subject of arrivals. We all know the way NPC traders just tootle along much of the time, at rather less than full speed. It's as if they're in no hurry to reach the station at all. Combine this with the longer spacelane, and it may now literally take hours for inbound ships to get to the station. Perhaps this is behind the complete lack of arriving ships I experienced.
Secondly, departures.. this one has me more puzzled, but I may have come across a clue.
In some recent reading, I was checking out the wiki page for Station Dock Control
. In part, it states:
Previously, the standard populator would randomly launch ships of various types, but some of that randomness was mitigated by some balancing functions. That is, if there was more than a certain number of ships with a particular role, no more of that role would be created. What that did was prevent a system from having more than 3 heavy hunter groups, or 4 medium pirate freighter groups. If there are 3 or more heavy hunter groups, the populator wouldn't create anything.
This got me thinking..
Now, whilst I know that ships exiting the Station will quickly witchjump out of the system, what about those that are outbound in the spacelane? Do they fly all the way to the Witchpoint Beacon before jumping out? Because if so, all roles may be fully populated, and the populator may be waiting for ships to depart, before creating new ships with those same roles. But since it may take hours for outbound ships to depart, in the meantime, the result is that almost no ships are leaving the station, except for traffic down to the planet's surface, which is a much shorter trip, meaning that, relatively quickly (albeit still more slowly than before), the populator gets a chance to remove the ship on "arrival" at its destination, thereby allowing a new one to launch.
It also occurs to me that, given the reduced number of encounters we're seeing, NPC traders are somewhat less likely to encounter NPC pirates. This would mean a reduction in the NPC death-toll as well, which would also help to reduce the number of NPC ships being spawned by the populator.
Thoughts on all the above points would be welcome, and I'd also like to request that all testers spend a few hours just loitering -sitting stationary- outside a Station, taking notes, to try and get a clearer picture of Station traffic frequency and intervals. Things seem to be a LOT quieter than they are in stock Oolite, to the point of feeling lonely, and that doesn't strike me as a good thing.