Another approach would be to have persistent NPCs
The game Escape Velocity
of fond memory - another space-trade-and-combat game with user-generated expansions (albeit one played in 2D) - had a system for this, and it might be worth thinking about. Most NPCs were randomly generated, but a few were of a special class called "dudes". "Dudes" persisted over time, and had names, and named ships, and faction affiliations. They could, of course, be killed, but only by the player - or at least, only if the player was present to see it happen. This bit of player-centricity was fine in EV
, and I think would be OK in Oolite
too - not least because Oolite
is much bigger and has far more NPCs. This might sound strange but I think that any persistent NPCs in Oolite
would be harder for the player to spot, and wouldn't be quite so obvious as they were in EV
A few player-centric NPCs, used judiciously, could really make the game much more personal, providing partners, acquaintances, allies, and of course enemies. It would also be a great way to bring assassination/bounty-hunting into the core game's contract system.