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(WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 6:05 am
by phkb
I've been working on an expansion that will allow you to own and operate a Rock Hermit. I'm just in the process of finialising a few details and doing some play-testing to make sure everything works the way I think it should.

But, there are a couple of questions that I'd like to open up for responses, as the answers can have a reasonably large impact on play.

(1) Every station (whether Rock Hermit or anything else) has an "allegiance" property. This essentially defines the sort of ships that will want to dock at a station and is mostly used by the AI routines for decision making. Setting this to "pirate" will make the station a magnet for offenders and fugitives. Setting it to "hunter" will make it attractive to bounty hunters. Setting it to "chaotic" will mean everyone will be able to dock.

My question is, should this setting be visible to the owner of a Rock Hermit? At the moment, I've got it exposed and changeable, and the setting has an impact on the calculation for how much traffic the RH will receive (which then plays into how much stock gets sold and how much profit the player can potentially make). It will also play into how likely it will be for your station to be attacked. If this is seen to be useful, but the way in which it's communicated needs tweaking, what should this setting be called, and what should the equivalent values be? Hopefully that question makes sense - let me know if it doesn't and I'll rephrase.

(2) I've been looking for ways to engage the player in activities outside of shooting rocks for cash, and I thought having a Quirium-powered generator would be a neat idea, forcing the player to scoop fuel to power their station. However, when I played through the starting scenarios I've included (which puts you in a mining-equipped Adder), my first trip to get some fuel ended badly, at the end of a pirate's gun. And with only a mining laser for defense, fighting back was all but impossible (especially as this is a starting position). I switched to powering the unit with radioactives, which means the player shouldn't need to leave the vicinity of their base to get the required resources (I've included a refinery, which operates very similarly to the Ore Processor). But what do you think? Is the Quirium-power option worth pursuing, or should I stick with the radioactives?

(3) Another question about these starting scenarios. At the moment, I haven't done anything to help the player locate their own station. You can purchase a beacon for the station, which would then make it show up on the space compass, but the starting Adder doesn't have the Advanced Space Compass equipment to view the beacon anyway. I could possibly add a waypoint, but again, without the ASC it's difficult to see it. Should I look at some other options for finding your station, or leave it as something the player has to figure out on their own?

(4) Finally (and I do this with some trepidation), for those of you who have imagined what it might be like to own their own Rock Hermit, what sorts of activities have you envisaged being involved in? The reason I'm a little hesitant about asking this question is that some of you might have strong opinions about what should or shouldn't happen on a Rock Hermit, and some things I might not be able to achieve satisfactorily. So, feel free to post your wish-list, but understand not everything is going to possible.

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 9:17 am
by Cody
Nice idea! I'll attempt to put some thoughts together later (still on my first coffee of the day).

(3) You can probably guess my opinion on this though: leave it for the player to figure out.

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:20 am
by GearsNSuch
Thank you! I got hopeful when I saw you asking about the cost of Rock Hermits!

So here are my thoughts (for what they're worth):

a. It should be visible to the owner. Perhaps "Advertising" would be a good setting for this? There may be a better word. Think of it as the sort of imaginary roadside signs you put up or a radio advertisement. You know the sort:
"Smuggling Compartments! Only x credits an hour!"
"Tired of blasting the scum of the system? Relax at Stevenson's Stop! Advanced, GalCop-approved security systems!"
"All are welcome at Reesdice Rock. Whatever you do, we've got you covered."


b. It should not be visible to the owner, but calculated from the owner's current legal status, how much money they put into upkeep, and the status of the Hermit when they bought it. Also, I suppose the owner, by investing in security systems or smuggler holds, could indirectly change the kind of customers they got rather than a direct option.

Why not both? Radioactives could be a good early source of power, while Quirium could be a more efficient, more powerful form for when your craft was stronger. Perhaps, if you are planning on making the Hermits upgradable, there are modules only usable with the greater amount of energy generated by the Quirium generator.
Also, because you definitely aren't doing enough scripting already, perhaps it might be interesting to be able to contract a "delivery service" to power your hermitage, thus exchanging credits directly for energy.

I would say it's probably best to leave this to the player. The ASC isn't too dreadfully expensive, and the player might just have to memorize the location of their hermitage for the first few trips. Alternatively, you could use a piece of equipment that operated in a similar way to the Range Finder from the Bulletin Board Contracts OXP.

Honestly, just owning the thing would be good enough in my opinion.

However, if it could function as a:
Trading outpost, generating money from buying and selling goods, or taxing items bought and sold,
Smuggler's den, generating money from renting smuggling compartments,
Bounty Hunter's retreat, generating money from repairs and a bar.
That would provide more than enough options for me.

Some others that might be nice:
GalCop Security office, generating a rent fee and allowing you to take part in certain missions,
Pirate Base, essentially the same as above, but with all the piratey stuff.
Don't know if these are possible, but they might be interesting

A ridiculous option:
Perhaps it could be hyperspace capable, if you wanted to set up shop somewhere else. Massive fuel cost, but hey.

Thank you! I really do appreciate all the work you've put into the game and look forward to this pack's release.

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 11:23 am
by phkb
GearsNSuch wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:20 am
Why not both?
Hmm? That's not a bad idea! Thanks!
GearsNSuch wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:20 am
perhaps it might be interesting to be able to contract a "delivery service" to power your hermitage, thus exchanging credits directly for energy.
Already in. Any of the services you add that require a regular commodity input can be arranged as a scheduled transport (a one-off or regular)
GearsNSuch wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:20 am
Trading outpost...
Smuggler's den...
Bounty Hunter's retreat...
GalCop Security office...
Pirate Base...
This is where being able to change the allegiance would be useful, because each of those is covered by a specific allegiance setting. At least from the point of view of what ships want to dock at least. The services offered at the station are another thing.

Thanks for the feedback. Very helpful!

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 1:09 pm
by Disembodied
Is it worth considering a kind of career/development path for a player-owned Rock Hermit? Beginning with, presumably, mining camp: a basic setup that produces a small trickle of income offset by some basic operational costs. With hard work and a bit of luck (a gems/precious metals strike, say, or even just a higher percentage of radioactives and alloys coming out of the refined ore), the player can start to buy more/better equipment, employ more people/provide them with better food, booze, living quarters, etc. For much of this early stage, the camp is flying under the radar. There might be some problems with claim jumpers, local thugs demanding protection money, and with supply and actually getting the player's gleanings to market.

Once the mining aspect is flourishing, the player can then think about diversifying: making their rock a place where ships can refuel; encouraging passing trade; providing repairs/services. At this point the player could begin to attract the attentions of unions/miners' guilds; organised crime; system officials looking for taxes and permits/bribes. This is where the player might begin to specialise. Mining (like trading in the regular game) will provide an income base, but might begin to lean in one direction or another - i.e. towards black market trading, or being a pirate lair, or a bounty hunter's base, etc.

This kind of setup would lend itself towards the player saving up for, and buying, new facilities and capabilities for the rock. I don't know if this would be possible to do, but perhaps it might even be necessary to "buy" the ability to trade in different sorts of goods. Maybe the basic rock can trade in minerals, radioactives, alloys, gold, platinum, gems, and food; but to trade in other items requires paying for a market expansion. This could be done either on an item-by-item basis, or maybe by some sort of market tier: starting with a Level 1 market, the player can expand it to a Level 2 (where more items can be traded, and eventually a Level 3 (everything can be traded). it would depend on how many steps you want to build in.

Other expansions could include:

Improved Worker Accommodation (adds to worker productivity)
Saloon (ditto)
Improved machinery (increases mining production)
Improved refinery (less minerals, more good stuff)
Dockyard (allows ship repairs)
Shipyard (allows ship sales)
Casino (produces income stream, attracts lowlifes)

The trick will be to maintain balance - to allow the player to gradually improve their position while slowly ramping up the challenges. In the basic game, this is largely achieved by the player choosing to visit more dangerous systems as their skills and ship improves. As the Rock Hermit will be stationary, the challenges will need to be brought to the player.

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 4:13 pm
by cbr
I think it is necessary for a good rock hermit to cope with different allegiances because he is more or less depending on the differences between them to make some deals...
Should be able to 'change' allegiances without lasting 'problems'

What wil be the routine being a rock hermit?

Can he defend the station with his own ship against attackers? perhaps with help from his current ( allegiance ) friends.

Perhaps the hermit station could be some kind of parcel hub, hiding parcels for a particular time a.l.t.

Or een place people can hide/stay a time for a certain amount of credit and depending on the type of person there could be some action around
or on the hermit station. Or nothing happens and after '3 weeks' you cash in...

Or refinery+machinery to make materials on order

For generating energy or cash, building and maintaining a solarpanel field outside the station

Would need a lot of options to make the rock hermit entertaining option...

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 5:32 pm
by Cody
GearsNSuch wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:20 am
Perhaps it could be hyperspace capable...
I expect that'd leave a rather large, and long-lived, wormhole. Will it be possible to own more than one hermit? I once found three in a row, all with the same orientation, and rotating in sync. I'd want to own all three, one of each type.

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:04 pm
by Commander_X
<tosses 0.02 credits on the table>

(1) Considering "own and operate" I guess at least visible should be fair for the property (also maybe a help text/tooltip to indicate what can be done for this to be changed). Making it editable could also be an option (e.g. once the cashing flow exceeds a value -- and maybe for some time) to allow the owner to switch it on a whim.

(2) Yup, having them both, starting with the safer one, and allowing for the other later (which could also be expanded in offering/filling contracts for haulers to bring fuel on a regular basis).

(3) Unless the game is started in the system the rock hermit is in, maybe advertising the system in F7 screen (e.g. "Your rock hermit is here") would be helpful.

(4) <sighs -- I won't fall for this>

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:00 am
by phkb
Commander_X wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 7:04 pm
<sighs -- I won't fall for this>
Aw, come on! You know you want to!

Perhaps some more details on what I have right now might help. Get ready for a super-long post (because I didn't feel like breaking it up into small bits - sorry!)

At the moment, the player can purchase Rock Hermits, some of which are actively trying to sell, while others might be willing to sell if the price was right. The player can also just decide to attack the RH and demand their surrender, although doing it this way will have some flow on effects.

Once you own a RH, new options become available. Firstly, on the F3 equip screen, you can select upgrades for your station. There are a number of areas you can choose to upgrade or install. The list, in general is:
- Life Support
- Structural Reinforcement
- Power generator
- Tech Level
- Market capacity
- Equipment price factor
- Cargo storage
- Nav Beacon
- Shipyard
- Fast dock service
- Energy Units
- Defensive plasma turrets
- Mineral refinery
- Bar
- Restaurant
- Distillery (produces liquor/wines)
- Weapons manufacturing plant (produces firearms)
- Narcotics processing plant (produces narcotics)
- Utility ships (which are stored in your garage)

Most of these items have multiple levels of upgrade, with better performance and/or higher costs/space/energy requirements.

The selection of facilities feeds into calculations designed to emulate trade at the station. With more services to offer, the station becomes more attractive and traffic is higher.

Your RH has a limited amount of space, so decisions need to be made about what you want your RH to do. Also, as each facility draws a certain amount of power, you need to balance your facilities against what the power generator can handle.

Upgrades will take time, although it's not down with a sudden time jump. If an upgrade has an 8hr delivery time, it will go into a schedule and you will be notified when construction is complete. You are free to do other things while construction is underway.

That's most of the upgrade side of things. There are other things to manage on your station, however, and an F4 interface screen provides access to these options.
- View facilities requiring material resources. Some facilities, like the power generator, or the bar, need regular infusions of materials to operation, and the management screen provides an interface on all such facilities, how much they need, whether stock is in place and how long it will last. You can request cargo deliveries to be performed for specific commodities, either as a one-off delivery, or as a regular shipment.
- View any damaged facilities, and the resources required to repair them.
- View current personnel. You can employ contractors (who will mine asteroids for you) and defense pilots (who will get sent out if your base comes under attack). Each pilot has different skill levels, but pilots with higher skills cost more money to employ.
- Adjust market prices. You can set the market price for any of the commodities, to encourage or discourage sales and purchases. If someone sells you their cargo because of the price you set, the sale will be deducted from your account (because you are, in effect, buying the commodity from the trader). Sales of cargo are credited directly to your account. Market data is stored and processing will occur even if you're 10 systems away.
- Rename your station. Just because.
- Select the allegiance, from (at the moment) either "neutral", "chaotic", "pirate" or "hunter". There are other options, but I thought those were the most applicable for a RH.
- View the schedule for any construction activities.

I've implemented a personal ship garagehangar, which can hold a number of ships. At the moment, you can purchase a utility ship from the list of upgrades. There are mining ships, fighters and haulers to choose from. Once you have a ship in your garagehangar, you can swap and go as you please.

You can also own more than one RH. I haven't put a limit on the number yet, as I imaging owning a hundred might create a bit of a performance issue when daily income and expenses are calculated. But you can certainly own a few, and the game will track each one.

There's still a lot to implement, the biggest of which is dealing with threats. My plan is to make player decisions have an impact on how likely your station will be to experience an ambush. Make your station a smugglers den, and you might find a swarm of hunters parked on your doorstep. Get into illegal goods, and you could potentially have GalCop or other pirate groups beating down your door. I've got the code down to orchestrate the attack itself, but I've still got to wire up the decision making process about when such an attack will occur, and by whom.

Another area I'm still toying with is the issue of cartels or protection rackets and such. The realist in me says the only way to do this properly is to create a map of different groups operating in the sector, track their influence, and trigger interactions with the player when it seems appropriate. I'm of two minds here. It would be a cool simulation, but it's hard to communicate the intricacies to the player in a simple manner. More importantly, it doesn't fit with the rest of the game. Oolite operates best, I think, when stories are implied, rather than explicitly described. For instance, the issue of slaves. The game offers no commentary on the moral/ethical issues involved with them. They're just there, and it's left up to the player to decide what to do about it, and any story element is left to the player to invent. Some OXP's have expanded on the stories to some degree, which is fine, but I'm not certain I need to go really deep here. There will be repercussions from your actions, and you might end up facing off against a slew of different groups, but putting names to them, simulating changing borders of influence, that sort of thing, might be too much unnecessary detail.

But as I said, I'm of two minds about this. I certainly haven't backed away from large-scale development projects, so I could probably come up with something. Just not sure I need to. Happy to discuss.

So, that's a summary of where I am right now, which I hope gives you some idea what to expect. There are a few other details, but I think you've got the general idea. I've got some shakedown tests to perform (to make sure, for instance, it's not too easy, or too hard, to make money). But I'm hopeful to have a preliminary version out shortly.

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:25 am
by montana05
phkb wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:00 am
Another area I'm still toying with is the issue of cartels or protection rackets and such. The realist in me says the only way to do this properly is to create a map of different groups operating in the sector, track their influence, and trigger interactions with the player when it seems appropriate
Random Hits and some other OXP's offer more than enough criminal syndicates. The idea to organize and map them is probably worth an additional WIP.
GearsNSuch wrote:
Wed Jul 24, 2019 10:20 am
Perhaps it could be hyperspace capable...
Why not use external engine blocks which could be temporary attached to move them to a new destination ? Of course against a small fee.

However, my respect phkb, this idea is fascinating, offers many possible improvements and, most likely, will influence the way Oolite could be played in future.

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:37 am
by phkb
montana05 wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:25 am
Random Hits and some other OXP's offer more than enough criminal syndicates. The idea to organize and map them is probably worth an additional WIP.
I think Day's "Diplomacy" has something of this in it, although I haven't explored it fully yet.

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 9:03 am
by montana05
phkb wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 8:37 am
[I think Day's "Diplomacy" has something of this in it, although I haven't explored it fully yet.
For now I restrained myself to have a look in it, the chances are just to high that instead of continuing to improve what I got I start to implement new ideas :lol:

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 12:55 pm
by Nite Owl
Really liking what has been presented so far. Looking forward to a working model whenever possible. Please let me know if the following scenario fits in with what you have in mind.

On my third trip around the eight the endless wandering starts to wear a little thin. Time to find a good group of systems to settle down in. The choice of system group is made and a Rock Hermit is purchased in a particularly nice system with the vast amount of credits from my wandering days. The ship in which so much time was spent up to this point is parked in the Rock Hermit's garage. The daily running of the Rock Hermit begins and various choices are made. The vast amount of credits goes towards what upgrades are viable for what is deemed to be goal worthy. After a time there are some "matters" that need to handled in a nearby system. The Iron Ass ship from my wandering days is dusted off and the garage is left behind as these "matters" are dealt with. While gone from my Rock Hermit occasional reports of various types come in about upgrades, prices, construction delays, deliveries, etc. After dealing with the "matters" in the neighboring system my journey home to my Rock Hermit is slightly marred by a recurring thought. "That last system had a good feel to it. Perhaps a second Rock Hermit might be purchased there?"

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 1:55 pm
by Potential Debris
*cough* ----->
(just some further suggestions)

Re: (WIP) Hermitage

Posted: Thu Jul 25, 2019 5:50 pm
by Cody
phkb wrote:
Thu Jul 25, 2019 3:00 am
I've implemented a ship garage...
<coughs> Hangar, please!