Help us make Oolite more immersive!

General discussion for players of Oolite.

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Astrobe
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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Astrobe » Fri Jan 10, 2014 4:53 pm

Clearly no FTL comms in the game. Or else, why can't I look at the market of any system from any system?

I'm not very knowledgeable about Elite lore, but I think it's a core property: ships may move faster than light by going through wormholes, but information can't. A simple way to go around this could be to send a drone ship through a wormhole that would then transmit the information on the other side, but burning that much fuel for a bunch of email is probably a bit too expensive. The alternative would be to have regular ships carry information with them, but there might be reliability/privacy/secrecy/security concerns.

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Ranthe » Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:11 pm

Astrobe wrote:I'm not very knowledgeable about Elite lore, but I think it's a core property: ships may move faster than light by going through wormholes, but information can't. A simple way to go around this could be to send a drone ship through a wormhole that would then transmit the information on the other side, but burning that much fuel for a bunch of email is probably a bit too expensive. The alternative would be to have regular ships carry information with them, but there might be reliability/privacy/secrecy/security concerns.
The use of dedicated "courier ships" for carrying messages, as well as using standard commercial (and/or military) transports for conveying messages is actually pretty close to the way long-distance communications used to be prior to the invention of radio here on Earth. And I've seen what you've described mentioned as being the case in other SF universes, including Larry Niven's "The Mote in God's Eye" (which I really must get a copy of and read one of these days, I've seen enough of it mentioned on Atomic Rockets that it's got me intrigued). So it makes perfect sense to run courier ships / drones as message carriers between systems and galaxies in Oolite - and we've already got stuff built into the game reflecting this in the "Parcel Contracts" screen where you can be hauling mundane items of data like tax returns.

I'd see drone couriers operating in a fashion where they jump from system to system on a scheduled basis, pausing long enough in a system to send and receive message packets (relayed via the witchspace buoy, perhaps?) and to refuel at pre-positioned Fuel Stations. Their prime - in fact, only - defence against being intercepted would be their in-system speed and their near-constant jumping through witchspace. Due to the risk of a drone courier's messages being irrevocably lost if they make a misjump (or do get intercepted), I would see small high-speed crewed courier vessels being used for important business and governmental communications as these (more expensive) ships would be able to avoid interception and recover from witchspace misjumps.
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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Cody » Fri Jan 10, 2014 8:30 pm

Ranthe wrote:... the "Parcel Contracts" screen where you can be hauling mundane items of data like tax returns.
Not always mundane - some items attract unwelcome attention. The life of an interstellar courier is fraught with danger!


The Mote in God's Eye is an absolute must-read, btw. I think it was once voted the 'best sci-fi film never made'.

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by cim » Fri Jan 10, 2014 9:20 pm

Ranthe wrote:So it makes perfect sense to run courier ships / drones as message carriers between systems and galaxies in Oolite
This is roughly how I see comms working, with a little extra partly inspired by a brief paragraph in Imprint and partly inspired by the old Usenet/BBS mechanisms.

So ... inter-system comms can be piled onto any spaceship going that way. It's only data, so you copy it multiple times - all strongly and multiply encrypted, of course, to the extent that you have to be (perhaps justifiably) very cautious to avoid using it at all - and send it on multiple spaceships to avoid loss - perhaps have a deal where the messages are stored in spare space on the computers on cargo canisters, in exchange for Galcop not charging an import duty. Galcop gets a solid inter-system "email" system and doesn't have to pay anywhere near as much for it as the economic benefits it gives.

If you know where your recipient is (at least to the right system), you can stick that on the "envelope" and it'll be delivered only on hops that get closer to that system. If you don't, it gets broadcast, hitting every system in the chart until it's picked up (and perhaps a bit longer: the read receipt takes a while to propagate too) or it gets so old it gets discarded. This can even contact other charts, though I think you'd have to explicitly mark the message for cross-chart distribution, and maybe pay a charge of some sort.

There's scope to anonymise it a bit if you're cautious but not enough (or too poor) to pay for dedicated couriers.

That gets comms going at almost but not quite the quickest theoretical witchspace time across the chart - perhaps a bit slower through dangerous bottlenecks or into or out of systems which don't get much traffic, but not too much. Official high-sensitivity communications you might not trust to it (or perhaps you might send them that way to keep them low-key, sometimes), really big data files might have to be split into several messages and reassembled, and of course anything physical needs a dedicated courier, but it'll do for most messages.

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Diziet Sma » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:46 am

Astrobe wrote:Clearly no FTL comms in the game. Or else, why can't I look at the market of any system from any system?
As I recall the generally accepted canon, that's more to do with trading regulations than comms limitations.. it's against GalCop law to transmit market prices outside a system.
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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Astrobe » Sat Jan 11, 2014 12:19 pm

Diziet Sma wrote:
Astrobe wrote:Clearly no FTL comms in the game. Or else, why can't I look at the market of any system from any system?
As I recall the generally accepted canon, that's more to do with trading regulations than comms limitations.. it's against GalCop law to transmit market prices outside a system.
Trading slaves, firearms, narcotics, etc. as well, however... Perhaps an idea for an OXP: what if one could buy that on the black market? For some bunch of credits one could view a snapshot of the market prices in a system BUT no guarantee it is "fresh".

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Zireael » Sat Jan 11, 2014 3:35 pm

Astrobe wrote:
Diziet Sma wrote:
Astrobe wrote:Clearly no FTL comms in the game. Or else, why can't I look at the market of any system from any system?
As I recall the generally accepted canon, that's more to do with trading regulations than comms limitations.. it's against GalCop law to transmit market prices outside a system.
Trading slaves, firearms, narcotics, etc. as well, however... Perhaps an idea for an OXP: what if one could buy that on the black market? For some bunch of credits one could view a snapshot of the market prices in a system BUT no guarantee it is "fresh".
Sounds like a great idea!

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Commander McLane » Sat Jan 11, 2014 8:48 pm

Zireael wrote:
Astrobe wrote:Perhaps an idea for an OXP: what if one could buy that on the black market? For some bunch of credits one could view a snapshot of the market prices in a system BUT no guarantee it is "fresh".
Sounds like a great idea!
Technically, the whole market (which included the prices) is only generated when the player enters a system. Thus it's indeed impossible to take a peek at next system's market—it simply doesn't exist. The hypothetical OXP therefore could only make an educated guess based on the system's economy (which is one factor going into the price calculation). But that's what the experienced player can do all by themselves.

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by cim » Sat Jan 11, 2014 9:06 pm

Commander McLane wrote:Technically, the whole market (which included the prices) is only generated when the player enters a system. Thus it's indeed impossible to take a peek at next system's market—it simply doesn't exist. The hypothetical OXP therefore could only make an educated guess based on the system's economy (which is one factor going into the price calculation). But that's what the experienced player can do all by themselves.
Though the OXP could generate the market in advance - the algorithm is easy enough to duplicate in script - and then change the system prices and quantities to match (some of) what it had pregenerated on witchspace exit.

Furs and Narcotics are probably the only commodities in the standard market with enough price variance to make it worth buying prices out of the system, though. Of course, even if you assume instant intersystem comms, it will still often take several hours or even days to get to the next system, by which time even if the prices were current when you got them, they certainly won't be by the time you get there. If you could get accurate Narcotics prices it would take a lot of the risk out of trading them, though.

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Zireael » Thu May 08, 2014 10:10 am

Funnily enough, we're covering sentence/story generators right now in my computer linguistics course, so I might give you some more comms this weekend!

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by SteveKing » Sat May 10, 2014 4:44 pm

Hi fellow space traders,

I've had a read of this thread (about galactic comms) and want to ask a question about something that I think happens with wormholes. Below is part of what cim wrote, which I think sums it up reasonably well to my mind -
This is roughly how I see comms working, with a little extra partly inspired by a brief paragraph in Imprint and partly inspired by the old Usenet/BBS mechanisms.

So ... inter-system comms can be piled onto any spaceship going that way. It's only data, so you copy it multiple times - all strongly and multiply encrypted, of course, to the extent that you have to be (perhaps justifiably) very cautious to avoid using it at all
At one (or maybe many a) time, my Capt. James was about to follow a python and escorts through a wormhole. He was about a minute behind, having decided to follow on a whim. Anyway, was approaching the wormhole with the scanner activated and there was a message pop up saying "We're currently under attack by pirates, calling for assistance", or whatever the standard phrase is, I think coming from the wormhole as, when Capt. James went through, there was indeed an attack in progress at the witch point.

The question is whether this can indeed happen, or can that sort of transmission only happen within 'normal' scanner range?

Here's my take on galactic comms - If ship transmissions can happen through a wormhole, then why can't all transmission. A station could transmit the latest (lets call it) email/internet information through any wormhole to the witchpoint beacon on the other side and be relayed from there to the main station. As cim suggested of using data packages attached to ships or cargo, then why not just transmit direct.

There are ships going everywhere at any time, so the wormholes act as routers. Most wormholes are generated in the aegis around stations, and stations are sure to have the scanning tech to determine a holes destination. A station just sends data through a hole to the next point along the route so that it eventually gets to the recipient. There is still the delay (think snail mail), but with a little more elegance. Comm traffic regularly gets to busy systems, and may take a little more time to get to remote systems as a direct function of trading visits.

Here's hoping it generates a little more discussion.

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Disembodied » Sat May 10, 2014 5:50 pm

SteveKing wrote:If ship transmissions can happen through a wormhole, then why can't all transmission.
Personally, I'd be against it. If we start having information transmitted directly through wormholes, rather than carried by ship, it opens up the "Why can't I get the prices for the neighbouring system?" can of worms. Plus, it would, I think, make the universe seem much smaller. News could travel reliably from one end of the galaxy to another within a few hours, rather than taking days, weeks, or even months, dependent on what ships are going where, and when. It makes things seem more like the current, modern, globalised world: I prefer a more stretched, disconnected universe, full of rumours, and where news from other places is often rare and precious.

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Cody » Sat May 10, 2014 6:43 pm

Witchspace - it works and we use it, but it is little understood. The occasional comms message may leak through, but who knows from where, or from when?

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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by Stormrider » Sat May 10, 2014 11:06 pm

SteveKing wrote:
If ship transmissions can happen through a wormhole, then why can't all transmission.
Personally, I'd be against it. If we start having information transmitted directly through wormholes, rather than carried by ship, it opens up the "Why can't I get the prices for the neighbouring system?" can of worms. Plus, it would, I think, make the universe seem much smaller.
The time compression effects everything that passes through the wormhole, even energy, right? Even directly beaming info through a wormhole would still take the same amount of time as a ship would take to transport the same information. Once the info makes it through witchspace I believe a relay station of some kind would be required to redirect the signal to the station. If this is true a news service or similar entity would certainly be more likely to offer traders reduced rates for access to news services in exchange for ferrying and rebroadcasting info. Galcop could even require it as part of the licensing fees for ships.
At one (or maybe many a) time, my Capt. James was about to follow a python and escorts through a wormhole. He was about a minute behind, having decided to follow on a whim. Anyway, was approaching the wormhole with the scanner activated and there was a message pop up saying "We're currently under attack by pirates, calling for assistance", or whatever the standard phrase is, I think coming from the wormhole as, when Capt. James went through, there was indeed an attack in progress at the witch point.
If this message is really from your python that just jumped through it would be coming from the future :shock: I suppose if you get his message he could also relay the market info back to you. Except that the wormhole seems to be a one way trip you can't go back through...I don't think anyway. I agree with Cody.

This might indicate that any energy flow carrying data might be highly susceptible to coruption. Indeed its a wonder our ships arrive intact. :wink:
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Re: Help us make Oolite more immersive!

Post by SteveKing » Sun May 11, 2014 3:42 pm

I'm quite happy to accept that wormholes are one-way, my example was just a possibility, because at the time I didn't know where the message had come from. Capt James was in aegis space so I had assumed the message was from the wormhole and not from the safe zone.

My reasoning for thinking that data could get through a wormhole is the same as Stormrider, after all it's just "energy" - it would take the same amount of time as a ship. So if data was transmitted say from Lave to Zaonce (31.4hrs), then it would take the same time coming back. Round trip at least 63 hours if there was, say, a 'delivery request' on a message that could be transmitted through another wormhole opened back to Lave shortly after it arrived at Zaonce.

I'm looking for an elegant solution for trader friends and aquaintances to be able to keep in touch or be able to organise to catch up for a brandy at Riinus Prime at a pre-determined time: "Lave graduate class of '84 having a get together, be there or be square." 8) Piggy-backing on cargo or even ship mainframes seems a little clunky.
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