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A lot of you guys have been asking for NPC enemies in space to fight against. I see why you would want that added, but in my opinion they won't be worth the dev time. Here are some counter arguments: Novaquarks intentions with the game is to have a "common, shared virtual world, controlled by the players." Adding a second party of aliens / other humans breaks this rule. Unlike in EvE, movement is (relatively) much slower, which means that escaping danger is a lot harder, especially if you don't have much thrust. That may be good for PvP lovers, but could be an unescapable death sentence for unlucky haulers, which brings me to my next point: Having enemies scattered in space further encourages players to warp to their destination, making pirating (and counter-pirating) even harder since there will be nobody to fight. Even if NPC's are restricted to certain areas like asteroids will be, most haulers would rather warp than risk bumping into one and dying. With the way that PvP works, NPC's would have to match the damage of L cores if they want to have a chance against them, meaning that <L cores will have a hard time fighting , if they don't just simply die in one shot. The cost of running, fueling, and repairing L core constructs can cost in the millions, and so unless every NPC is carrying 10kl of gold nuggets or something it will be a net loss trying to fight them, not to mention the 50-100 million paywall to get a good L core in the first place. Unless you are in a specialised org, you will be mining for many hours to get a good PvE ship in the first place, so what's the point? Thank you for coming to my TED talk.
First off, I just want to say that I hope this comes off as a coherent and easy to understand thread. In this, my goal is to try brainstorm with you guys how NPC pirates might be implemented. I'll put forth my ideas first, of course, but feel free to put your own suggestions and also what you disagree on below. I'm not certain if this has been suggested before, and if it has, sorry... Hopefully, if so, I've at least added something new to the mix. Let's start with the why. I'll be upfront, I don't have a whole lot of experience with pirates or combat in general. But, I'll take an educated guess at the current situation. Space is quite vast and the number of pirates, relatively small. This is my first assumption. If I were to guess, 99.99% of pirates will patrol the pipes to planets since this is the most likely place for people to go. But even then, I doubt every pipe has someone waiting in it 24/7. Therefor, the purpose of NPC pirates is to fill in the gap and add more life to the pretty much lifeless space. Good point, we've just made it more difficult to transport goods around the solar system. However, I'm not saying the threat of NPC pirates appearing should be ever-present. (I'll discuss this a little more later) This comes back to the "Why do we need NPC pirates?", one thing you can say is just an extra source of loot, but the other is to provide a need for other elements of the game. Right now, the lack of a threat, this is purely an assumption, means there isn't a need for escorts, or branches of an organization built around combat. I'll take the example of of the organization I'm in, the Imperial Military, a branch of the Empire. Right now, we're on fairly neutral terms with other organizations, so the military doesn't have much to do aside from designing ships. We advertise our services to the Empire as a whole to assist in hauling escorts, but we haven't had any requests as of yet. It could be because of other reasons, but it could also be because there isn't a need for a service like that because the cost of the one out of 10 times you actually lose a ship—this is another assumption—out weights the cost of hiring us 10 times out. But, if that ratio was more like 1:2, where the chance of a pirate encounter is far higher, the need for a military/contract organization for protection becomes necessary. TL;DR Upside—It will possibly introduce the need for escorts, thus involving more people to participate. Downside—Introduces the necessity to actually have escorts, increasing the cost to the hauler pilot. The nitty-gritty details... First off, there should be a FOB and/or a headquarters of an NPC pirate organization. As to why it should, I'll explain shortly. At these FOBs, they should have stations which act as both storage and a drydock, along with multiple ships used to defend those. These FOBs will act as single entities, producing its own ships using the resources it gathers from miners that it has hunted or as small base income. Optionally, the drydocks can have their own factory. But for the sake of simplicity, the ships can just be spawned in once the AI controlling it has enough resources for it. From the FOBs, ships will be sent out in raiding parties to hunt down miners and get more resources. This is probably the largest thing to tackle programming wise, but is critical nonetheless. Naturally, a FOB will be difficult to find and slowly gain in threat-level. By this, I mean it will gather resources over time; the more resources, the more it will send out raiding parties because it can afford to lose them. It will eventually become a problem, and until it is dealt with completely by attacking the FOB, some of these resources will also be shared to the HQ, where it would deploy more FOBs. The vision of this is that it will create a persistent, but seasonal threat that will require either escorts for haulers, and eventually peaceful alliances or even other pirate organizations could launch an assault on these FOBs for their resources and to reduce the threat of haulers being engaged. Idealistic as it might sound, it could happen like that. Of course, this all relies on the ability of NQ to produce an AI capable of everything I've said. NPCs are classically done poorly in most games, especially when done by a studio who hasn't done it before. But I'll just toss in my ideas here. So, what kind of AI would be any good in this case? For the FOB/HQ, that's simple, the 4X type. Like in the game Stellaris, ships are with a predefined layout will be modified slightly with different weapons and configurations. I won't claim to know AI well at all, but it's been done before, so it could be done here. For the sake of simplicity, the AI will know multiple all ships within a certain area and be able to look at the cargo. A basic threat value could be determined by what guns it has and the size of the ship and the ships close to it. If the AI believes it could raid them, it will send out its own ship or ships to try and attack. Each ship will be controlled by a different AI. This somewhat of a key point I can't imagine myself, but the AI should react to what type of guns, if any, the ship it faces has and, depending on it's own armament, attack differently. In the case that the pirate fleet is heavily damaged, if their warp drives are still operational, they will warp back to their FOB. This would mean, if you know the direction they warped in, you could estimate the position and have a cone to search for the FOB. With that, I think my suggestion for AI is done.