After my ramblings here, I went on a trawl through shipdata.plist and found details of interest regarding prevalence of injectors and ship speed.
In an effort to alter how combat is often experienced for the beginner and yet keep it recognisable for the veteran player, I'm considering tweaking the occurance of injectors in non player ships in two ways.
- Reducing their general frequency
- Swapping one ship for another more likely and useful (IMO) candidate
As I suspect most readers are well aware, the mk 3 was one of only two (two and a half if you count the viper pursuit) vessels to be granted a speed boost compared to the original elite. It's the default player ship in oolite and the only player ship in elite.
The mk 3 can reach speeds of 0.3
It can be outrun by mambas, sidewinders, asps and (crucially) police (vipers)
Kraits and the Fer de Lance can also keep pace with it
The player mk 3 can reach 0.35
Only sidewinders and asps can outrun it (and thargoids) using the old elite values, vipers can no longer catch it
No other ships can keep up.
With a larger arena in oolite (i.e. scanner range) combats can take longer, potentially much longer, and so high speed is likely more of a virtue than it was in elite. Once you can outrun all police and nearly all bounty hunters however, then maybe you're so fast that the criminal life it too easy for you.
Enter the viper pursuit at 0.36 (just fast enough to catch the mk 3) and even the viper interceptor at 0.52 (fast enough to catch the mk 3 most of the inevitable 'upgrade from a mk 3' oxp ships that were to follow). The interceptor is also hard as nails to boot!
Injectors complicate the issue somewhat as with them the player can't be caught by the viper pursuit and can also leave the sidewinder behind.
So which core, non player ships have injectors and at what probability?
- Asp - 0.5
- Cobra mk 1 (alt version) - 0.25
- Fer de Lance - 0.75
- Krait - 0.65
- Viper interceptor - 1 (i.e. always)
So none of the big traders have injectors (including the mk 3) and the only ship that has them without also having a hyperdrive is the krait.
In all cases they will likely have more fuel left than the player and so you're likely not escaping from the asp and almost certainly not from the interceptor.
Once the player has injectors, I think that's pretty well balanced. after all, once your tanks empty then you also have the sidewinders and (potentially) viper pursuits to worry about. But if you don't have injectors... running really isn't much of an option. So what can I tweak to maybe improve things here.
Could alter the frequency at which ships have injectors.
Interceptors probably should always have them as they only occur in some systems so the player can avoid the altogether.
The Fer de Lance is meant to be a premium bounty hunter's vessel and at 0.3 it seems a little slow for that role, so I wouldn't want to reduce the probability of injectors by too much.
The Asp is one of the few vessels faster than th mk 3 and s it doesn't need them as much but unlike the FdL it would actually have a higher injector speed than the mk 3. So again, I don't think I want to trim too much here.
The Cobra mk 1 is kind of fun on this list as it's the only real trader/miner here and it's nice that the occasional apparently helpless victim could escape.
The Krait however is the real oddity here.
- It's a common enough pirate so that it has injectors is significant
- Despite being superceeded by the mamba (according to elite lore at least) it has them when the Mamba does not
- It actually has other uncommon advantages such as being found with both shield improvements (but is a fairly large target)
- It's the only one without a hyperdrive and so it's not obvious that it should be carrying fuel in the first place
- Despite the questionable liklihood of having them, that likelyhood is as high as 65%
Interceptor (premier police): 1
Fer de Lance (premier bounty hunter): 0.5
Asp (navy spec vessel): 0.25
Cobra MK 1 (token escaping trader/miner): 0.1
Krait (not sure why it's here...): 0
I think the game needs the Interceptors as they exist for every player to fear (on some level the) law.
Regarding the FdL and the Asp, it makes sense that they might have injectors and so one way to explain the reduction is to consider that they might already have spent their fuel (less likely to happen in game than might be expected due to player's use of the torus drive).
The Krait is a common occurrance however and once the player has injectors then that could be important i.e. there would be a common vessel that might encourage the player to have to use the injectors at least a little. It's not the most obvious ship for the role but it's speed value is about right: slower than the mk 3 but not too slow.
So, how about swapping it for the Mamba? I'd favour much less than the 0.65 probabilty granted to the Krait but it seems apt that there be some trace left of its racing heritage now that the mk 3 is actually faster than it (speeds of 0.35 vs 0.32). Further, if the role of the Krait in all of this was partly to make the player spend a little fuel here and there, then a slightly faster ship (0.32 vs 0.3) may be better able to remain relvant when I'm also reducing injector frequency.
So, I think I might swap the Krait for the Mamba but at something like 0.3 rather than 0.65 chance of having injectors.
A complication to consider is that the Mamba, unlike the Krait, is often an escort. I'm yet to be convinced however that there's a problem there.