The coming age of the personal space station.

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The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Potential Debris »

Pleb's personal station thread, and the forthcoming ability to mod a "garage" for your ships, got me thinking about the whole "buy a personal space station/ rock hermit" idea that crops up every now and again (and that Pleb is apparently working on.) One of the complaints about such an OXP is that your station becomes a source of free money. You buy it, leave it sitting there and come back every now and again for free fuel and repairs and to collect your dividend.

However it doesn't need to be like that. With the advent of ship-storage, I think these oxps become inevitable. the question then becomes not "can it be done/ should it be done" but "How do I make it a worthwhile addition to the game/ how do I balance it"?

With that in mind, and not wanting to clog up Pleb's fine thread with unrealistic demands and wishlists, I humbly submit the following:

First up, stations need to be vulnerable to attack: Not just when the player is in system, but when he's away too. They can be destroyed, damaged or suborned. Obviously the chance of attack should be variable (how safe is the system it's in? Has the player made any powerful enemies?)

Secondly, any income the station generates should not be guaranteed. I'm thinking a random number generator, which can produce positive or negative income, modified by the local economy of the station's system, its place within the galactic map (on a trade route? Lots of other systems within 7LY?) and by various choices made by the player (below). By making the right choices, you could probably constrain the limits of the RNG to always or nearly-always turn a profit, but at the cost of increased risk of a catastrophic and very expensive space-station destruction.

They key to all this is to force the payer to make choices. So, rather than buy off-the-shelf space stations, the player has to fit out a bare hull in an attempt to balance profitability, defence, location, and the player's desire to have a personal space to store cargo, ships etc. We're heading into EVE/GSB/strategy territory, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

That way you could design your station to run at a profit or a loss: a trade-oriented base that makes you lots of money, but requires constant babysitting, or a heavily-fortified private palace that looks after itself but you have to work like a dog to pay the maintenance on month after month.

You'd have a standard "bare space station" hull, or preferably a choice of several different ones for different prices. The hull would have a certain amount of module spaces that you can fit modules into, each module providing some benefit to the station (profit, ship berths, defensive capabilities). As well as the up-front cost, certain modules would have ongoing costs as well: crew wages, maintenance, fuel/ energy overheads etc. You could also buy ongoing service contracts (defence, refuelling) for your station.

A small selection of the modules and services that might be available: (numbers pulled out of thin air with no respect for balance):

- 2 ship berths: (10kcred upfront, 1 module, 100 cred/month upkeep) Increases your berthing capacity by two ships. Berths can be used by visiting traders, on-station defence ships or as the owner's personal garage. The more free berths available, the greater the potential for trade and profit.

- 5 ship berths: (15kcred upfront, 2 modules, 250 cred/ month upkeep). Increases your berthing capacity by five ships... ... ...

- Large ship docking: (100kcred upfront, -1 ship berth, 0 upkeep). Widen docking tunnel and modify berths to accept unusually large ships.

- Trade facilities: (30kcred upfront, 1 module, 400 cred/ month upkeep) Includes cargo handling and storage, sub-ether market links and recreational / commercial areas for visitors. Depending on the local economy and available ship berths, you can expect each trade module to generate around 1200 cred/ month.

- Hotel: (35kcred upfront, 1 module, 600 cred/ month upkeep) Encourage visitors to stay at your station, either for local tourism or stopping over to await transit to other locations. Will generate up to 1000 cred/ month income depending on local economy & tourist attractions, location within system and number of systems within 7LY. Will also increase availability of passenger missions at your station.

- Warehouses: (8kcred upfront, 1 module, 10 cred/ month upkeep) Increases the cargo capacity of your station by 1500 tons. Increased cargo capacity improves the profitability of your trade facilities. Like berths, players can make a certain amount of station cargo space "private", negating its usefulness to local trade, but allowing long-term protected storage of goods.

- Workshops: (25kcred upfront, 20 cred/month upkeep) By renting industrial or commercial space out to local entrepreneurs, you can not only collect rent, but increase the trade potential of your station. Some workshops might even produce sought-after specialist cargoes, which will appear on the station trade boards. Each workshop module can be subdivided and rented out for a total income of up to 100 cred/ month.

- Plasma turrets: (50kcred upfront, 1 plasma turret mount, 200 cred/ month upkeep). Plasma turrets. 'Nuff said.

- Weaponised navigation buoy: (3kcred upfront, 50 cred/ month upkeep). Replace your navigation buoy with a beam-laser equipped stationary weapons platform. Won't last long in a fight, but it might keep the pirates busy long enough for proper defences to launch.

- Missile racks: (25kcred upfront, 400 cred/ month upkeep+missile replenishment fees). Banks of ECM-hardened missiles will cheerfully blow the crap out of anything that looks at you funny.

- Basic shield generator: (10kcred upfront, 1 module, 50 cred/ month upkeep). Provides your station limited defence against hostile or accidental weapons fire/ collisions.
- Intermediate shield generator... ... ...

- Energy banks: (15kcred upfront, 1 module, 100 cred/ month upkeep). Provides high-capacity energy storage and rapid transfer. Highly recommended if you have anything more than the most basic weaponry or shielding installed. This module will greatly increase your station's fuel requirements.

- Basic Shipyard facilities (10kcred upfront, 1 module, 50 cred/ month upkeep): Offer your visitors basic hull and equipment repairs. Will provide an income of up to 50 credits per month depending on facilities available elsewhere in system and berthing availability
- Intermediate Shipyard facilities (30kcred upfront, 1 module, 100 cred/ month upkeep): Offer your visitors all the service of a tech-level 5 shipyard. Will provide an income of up to 10 credits per month depending on facilities available elsewhere in system and berthing availability
- Advanced Shipy...

- Refuelling service. (1kcred upfront, 0 modules, 40 cred/ month upkeep). Sell fuel to visiting ships for a profit. Obviously you will need a steady supply of fuel and free berths.

- Quirium collection fields: (10kcred upfront, 1 module, 10 creds/ month upkeep) An invisible, kilometres-wide electromagnetic field generated around the station catches space-borne quirium ejected by the local star, and funnels it into the module's advanced fuel processing facilities. Proximity to the star will affect output. Make sure your station always has fuel to offer its customers, as well as energy for its own needs.

- Doughnut shop: (5kcred upfront, 1 module, 2 cred/ month upkeep) By encouraging the local police forces to spend time in your station, you can discourage the wrong kind of visitor, while also earning a little rent (10 cred/ month) from a local fast-food franchise.

- Billboards: (3kcred upfront, 10 cred/ month upkeep) Gigantic electronic screens on the exterior of your station and/ or navigation buoy can display anything you want them to, from your own personalised livery to YAH advertisments.

- Basic Security service: (500 cred/ month)Two sidewinder fighters will reside in your station. 6 pilots work in rotating shifts to provide you with a 24-hour immediate-launch capability in the event of trouble. Occupies 2 ship berths.

- Intermediate security service: (800 cred/ month) Two viper fighters will reside in your station. 6 pilots work in rotating shifts to provide you with a 24-hour immediate-launch capability in the event of trouble. Occupies 2 ship berths.

- Sunskimming service: (50 creds/ month). Keep your station's fuel tanks topped up by having a local contractor perform regular sunskimming missions for you. Make sure your station always has fuel to offer its customers, as well as energy for its own needs.

- YAH franchise: Rent out your billboards and/ or navigation buoy to an advertising firm. Random ads from YAH will provide you with a modest income, depending on the local economy and your station traffic.

- Rent: Local authorities charge exorbitant amounts of rent for nice cosy orbits near the witchpoint or planet. If you're prepared to site your station out in the quieter parts of the system, you can expect to pay less. Some distant locations might be altogether free, but don't expect any help from the authorities when pirates come knocking.

- Police benevolent fund: (250 cred/ month) By making a donation to the local Police Orphans Benevolent fund, you can be sure that the local authorities will prioritise you for patrols and distress calls.

- Protection service: (200 cred/ month) Certain local 'businessmen' have offered you a comprehensive protection service for your nice, shiny station. It would be a shame if something happened to it.

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Commander McLane »

My main problem with the whole concept of a personal space station is that the Ooniverse is simply too big for it.

Let's assume that I have a personal rock hermit or whatever in one system in Galaxy 4. So what? On average 87.5% of the time I'm not in Galaxy 4. And even if I happen to be in Galaxy 4, on average 99.61% of the time I'm not in the system where my station is.

Chances are that after buying the personal station and putting it in some system, I'll never visit that system again. So, what gives?

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Okti »

+1

Although we are currently working on a similar project, the difference is you do not own the station but you contribute to building it. Storm has done brilliant models for it and we have started to script it but it is a slow going one atm.
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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Smivs »

Commander McLane wrote: Chances are that after buying the personal station and putting it in some system, I'll never visit that system again. So, what gives?
Well it's got a doughnut shop :D Now tell me you won't be back!
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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Commander McLane »

Smivs wrote:
Commander McLane wrote: Chances are that after buying the personal station and putting it in some system, I'll never visit that system again. So, what gives?
Well it's got a doughnut shop :D Now tell me you won't be back!
I would certainly not give up crossing the Ooniverse for a doughnut. And one single galactic jump takes you far, far away from your personal station. Would you really give up galactic jumping?

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Dr.Tripsa »

I'm Director of a Way Station in another RP, so this has it's appeal to me, however it presents certain challenges in Oolite

1. What is a space-station? You can think of a station as a VERY large ship that doesn't move much and supports docking. This means some changes in the way AI's work with Stationary dock-able ships. Firstly they must recognize them as such!

2. Income, apart from fuel and repairs, stations don't make much money (perhaps adding some sort of fee to trades?)

3. Exploration, or as I like to call it "The DS9 Dilemma". As you can only pilot one 'ship' at a time, while amassing moneys for fuel and repairs you can't do much else.

A hybrid approach might be good here, Gargantuan ships which, at the cost of being unable to dock with regular stations, can choose to park temporarily while AI's in various systems dock and trade with you.

EDIT
Features needed for a Dockable Ship-Station
A. Massive cargo bays
B. Massive Fuel tanks
C. A Dock (duh)
D. Scoops or some means of filling those fuel tanks
E. Drones (AI?) of some sort for defense.

Yet More Editing
Also needed would be some means of transferring Cargo from your runaround ship (which presumably you might trade in for the cost of the station) to the station. you've got to have something to sell, right?
Last edited by Dr.Tripsa on Tue May 01, 2012 6:19 pm, edited 3 times in total.

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Smivs »

Commander McLane wrote:
Smivs wrote:
Commander McLane wrote: Chances are that after buying the personal station and putting it in some system, I'll never visit that system again. So, what gives?
Well it's got a doughnut shop :D Now tell me you won't be back!
I would certainly not give up crossing the Ooniverse for a doughnut. And one single galactic jump takes you far, far away from your personal station. Would you really give up galactic jumping?
No, of course not. I'd just stock-up with GalDrivePods :D
<Smivs slaps his wrist for yet more shameless plugging of his OXPs> :roll:
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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Commander McLane »

Dr.Tripsa wrote:I'm Director of a Way Station in another RP, so this has it's appeal to me, however it presents certain challenges in Oolite

1. What is a space-station? You can think of a station as a VERY large ship that doesn't move much and supports docking. This means some changes in the way AI's work with Stationary dock-able ships. Firstly they must recognize them as such!

2. Income, apart from fuel and repairs, stations don't make much money (perhaps adding some sort of fee to trades?)

3. Exploration, or as I like to call it "The DS9 Dilemma". As you can only pilot one 'ship' at a time, while amassing moneys for fuel and repairs you can't do much else.
I think there is a misunderstanding. Owning a station does not mean flying it like a ship. You would stay in your ship, but just own (a share in) a station. This station would give you certain privileges in exchange whenever you dock with it. But it would never become the ship you fly.

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Dr.Tripsa »

Commander McLane wrote: I think there is a misunderstanding. Owning a station does not mean flying it like a ship. You would stay in your ship, but just own (a share in) a station. This station would give you certain privileges in exchange whenever you dock with it. But it would never become the ship you fly.
I was thinking in terms that might involve the least re-write but you have a point...shared ownership may be a good way to do it "Stock" in a station could be held and traded like other commodities perhaps?

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Pleb »

I think that that buying shares in a station would be a better way of doing it, I didn't want to start off a controversial discussion on the subject though so I'm sorry if I've broken the status quo so to speak. I do really love the ideas put forward by Potential Debris, and would be happy to include some of these in my own OXP. I had released it as it was mainly to see what people thought of the idea and to see if I was heading in the right direction. As it turns out it needs a lot of work (which I knew it would) and needs to be much more balanced for the game.

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Disembodied »

Pleb wrote:I think that that buying shares in a station would be a better way of doing it, I didn't want to start off a controversial discussion on the subject though so I'm sorry if I've broken the status quo so to speak. I do really love the ideas put forward by Potential Debris, and would be happy to include some of these in my own OXP. I had released it as it was mainly to see what people thought of the idea and to see if I was heading in the right direction. As it turns out it needs a lot of work (which I knew it would) and needs to be much more balanced for the game.
Don't worry about "breaking the status quo" ... I think the last thing we want around here is consensus on OXPs! The beauty of the system is that no-one is forced to download anything they don't like. Please keep on pitching ideas and works-in-progress for people to discuss, criticise, enthuse and argue about! (Otherwise what else will we do with our time? ;))

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Pleb »

Okay well as long as I'm not going to get shunned to the far corner of galaxy 8 and told to stay there! :lol:

I was thinking though, in response to what Commander McLane brought up earlier, about the problem of having shares or owning just one station in one galaxy in one system that you'll probably never visit again...what if you bought shares in a company that owned a number of station, not even necessarilly a high number, maybe only 4 or 5 per galaxy? You could even keep buying shares in certain stations that the more stations you owned shares in the more the shares would be worth and the more likely you could easilly go collect your profits? Also you could get alerted when a station had issues so you'd have to go investigate and if you don't get there in time its been ramsacked by pirates/thargoids/trumbles and you have to pay to fix the damage?

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Disembodied »

Pleb wrote:Okay well as long as I'm not going to get shunned to the far corner of galaxy 8 and told to stay there! :lol:

I was thinking though, in response to what Commander McLane brought up earlier, about the problem of having shares or owning just one station in one galaxy in one system that you'll probably never visit again...what if you bought shares in a company that owned a number of station, not even necessarilly a high number, maybe only 4 or 5 per galaxy? You could even keep buying shares in certain stations that the more stations you owned shares in the more the shares would be worth and the more likely you could easilly go collect your profits? Also you could get alerted when a station had issues so you'd have to go investigate and if you don't get there in time its been ramsacked by pirates/thargoids/trumbles and you have to pay to fix the damage?
I think a lot depends on what you want the OXP to do. I think there are problems with this being a purely utilitarian option for the player, i.e. something that will make them money and provide them with useful resources, not least because it might physically tie the player down. As the game progresses there are more and more ways of making money, and quite quickly it ceases to be a concern for most players. Personally I think a better use for this sort of OXP would be to enable the player to help make a physical change to the galaxy: the reward would be wholly (or almost wholly) psychological.

I don't know if you've ever played a game called Escape Velocity – a fun little 2D space-trading-and-exploration game very much in the spirit of Oolite, which also allowed players to create expansion packs. One early mission in that game involved the player making contact with an alien culture who, amongst other things, became interested in skiing. The player got to help build a ski resort on an alien planet, and although there were some rewards for me the best part of it was that, from that point on, the planet was changed permanently from some windswept backwater to a busy tourist port, full of aliens in ski gear.

I think something like this would be the best way to go: having a station build up slowly over several stages (so there would need to be several models), and eventually creating a trading post which might even change the planetary economy and/or system description. The player might be paid in shares, rather than cash: it might be possible to have these on the F3 equipment screen, with perhaps a fluctuating value related to the company's fortunes. The player can keep the shares, and gain shareholder benefits in other stations owned by the same company (cheaper servicing and repairs, cheap fuel, that sort of thing), or they can sell the shares if they prefer and try to make some money on the deal. But the pleasure for me at any rate would be in helping to make a change to the universe.

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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by SandJ »

Disembodied wrote:... Personally I think a better use for this sort of OXP would be to enable the player to help make a physical change to the galaxy: the reward would be wholly (or almost wholly) psychological.

... I think something like this would be the best way to go: having a station build up slowly over several stages and eventually creating a trading post which might even change the planetary economy and/or system description.
E.g. converting Anarchies into Corporate States?
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Re: The coming age of the personal space station.

Post by Disembodied »

SandJ wrote:
Disembodied wrote:... Personally I think a better use for this sort of OXP would be to enable the player to help make a physical change to the galaxy: the reward would be wholly (or almost wholly) psychological.

... I think something like this would be the best way to go: having a station build up slowly over several stages and eventually creating a trading post which might even change the planetary economy and/or system description.
E.g. converting Anarchies into Corporate States?
I was thinking something less dramatic, myself – like turning a Poor Industrial into a Medium Industrial. I think inducing radical political change on a planetary scale should only be possible after a long series of very specific missions (and ideally should be slightly more heroic in nature, like turning a Feudal system "ravaged by civil war" into a peaceful Confederacy, say).

Actually, thinking about that, it might be preferable to move away from the idea of a trading station towards something like constructing a hospital or medical research station in a system "beset by an evil disease", which eventually – thanks to the player's hard work and dashing efforts – finds a cure.

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