Since regular TC contracts can be as small as 30 TC, even a Cobra 3 might be able to do a couple contracts...though you're unlikely to see them often enough to get your reputation to max.
Well that would suck, because currently (and for the last few releases preceding 1.77) it's entirely possible to get to max rep in a Cobby.. not as easily as in a larger ship, but not that difficult, either..
If you can pull that off with regular Oolite v1.76, then it should be about as easy if not a tiny bit easier to do the same with my mod. Once you get to max reputation, it should be slightly easier to maintain...though it's more fun to let you discover why on your own.
Oh and BTW I have seen more than one >100K cr profit contracts when at top rep. Rare, but I've seen them. Don't know about >200k though. But 20-30k were fairly common and I even managed to get a couple of those, I'd really hate to see those gone or limited.
Absolutely! I've seen >100K contracts several times in 1.76.1. Get rid of those, and I would not be happy.
100k credits is almost exactly the max theoretical profit possible with Platinum with my mod currently. It's a limitation of carrying between 5000-6000 kg Platinum times max profit. Failing such a contract is a disaster even if you can in theory sell them off for slightly more than you paid for them (if you go to Rich Industrial systems that is) because you'll need >50 of system+station visits to sell it all. Your reputation will be ruined by then. Bad, but nowhere near as bad as originally in v1.77...where selling them off is always at a huge loss. Reload from savegame event in either case.
Keep in mind that such contracts will probably be for only about 1/2 the distance traveled as you previous had to do...so you could 2 at once and return to your starting location in the same time as you could do a >100k contract in v1.76.1.
20-30k credit profit Platinum and Gemstones contracts are not rare, and even Gold exceeds 10k credit profit often enough. I've seen many Plat/Gem contracts in my mod for 30-50k, a few for over that -- these are balanced against the originals for being a shorter trip on average...even a Cobra 3 could carry >6 at once, though finding enough lined up in a chain to do that would be tricky but possible.
Another idea is that maybe the reputation / earnings cliff shouldn't be so binary. It can be steep, but perhaps not all or nothing. It would be nice to get a taste of the gems/metals contracts at lower rep levels, just at perhaps way lower profit levels (?).
This is why I made regular TC contracts more profitable as you get higher reputation, with a 100 TC load of computers or furs along the best routes possibly paying 4000 (computers) to 5000 (furs) credits profit. Narcotics and Firearms can also pay well, but the moment you leave the station with them you are super-fugitive-kill-on-sight to pretty much everyone.
1) Given that the contract system is core code (as a combination of ObjC and JS), what should its default reputation decay algorithm be? (At the moment it's a 1/32 chance on witchspace exit, which is controversial)
You can get "hit" with 2 really unlucky jumps in a row and see your apparent reputation drop from 6 to 3, because the "locally perceived reputation" can decrease as well. Considering early contracts (both with and without my mod) often force you to travel >5 jumps (using fewest jumps), the odds of a reputation decrease along the way is painfully high.
OXPs already have an "increase reputation" and "decrease reputation" function. But at the moment they only have read access to the "locally perceived reputation", not to the underlying good/bad/unknown table, so you get the problem Switeck mentions of the reputation appearing to jump about randomly, and it being difficult to change the behaviour. So the first step would probably be to allow read-only access to the reputation table.
Your starting reputation can vary between 0 and 3, with 3 seeming to be about as often as 0! While this "seems good", I think it's too large a range considering the whole reputation scale only goes from -7 to +7.
If instead it was -1 to +2, with both -1 and +2 being really rare and typically only lasting for 1 system visit...then to me it would seem more predictable and balanced.
If above 0 reputation, the random decay clock should start counting when you leave a station or arrive at a new system with less than the full contracted load of goods. This will directly penalize selling and re-buying of contracts as well as represent the slow decay when you quit doing contracts. The decay chance should be LOW...maybe even lower or none if you recently suffered a random decay reputation loss. If you're at negative reputation, it's perfectly fine to have each system jump have a low chance to decay the reputation by 1 back to 0.