Fleet Carriers are Swiss Army Toolboxes - Feedback Video [PERMISSIONS & COMMUNICATION]

Welcome Commanders and Frontier. I am Arsen Cross. In the below video I cover in extensive detail the mechanics surrounding Fleet Carriers and what I feel needs to be changed to make their potential become fully realized. Most notable within the presentation is my thoughts on the permissions and communication needs of Fleet Carriers. Everything said in the video can be found in the script linked in the reference materials below if you need a text version.

VIDEO CONTENTS
1:19
CRIME & PUNISHMENT
4:12 CARRIER PERMISSIONS
4:35 YES, THIS IS 2 CARRIERS IN THE SAME INSTANCE
7:30 CARRIER TRAVEL 11:52 QUALITY OF LIFE CHANGES
13:20 LEFT ON DECK DURING LOCKDOWN
13:35 COMMUNICATION NEEDS
17:31 SYSTEM CLAIMS PROPOSAL
19:23 HOW I PLAN TO USE CARRIER
22:22 MY EXPERIENCE WITH FLEET CARRIERS
25:00 PLEASE FIX SRV TURRET HEAD TRACKING
26:22 FINAL CONCLUSION & JUMP OUT


Ideal Carrier Stats & Changes Summarized
  • Drop base upkeep to 2.5m.
  • Move commodities to optional service with 2.5m upkeep.
  • Include Restock, Repair & Refuel services for the owner with a stock carrier.
  • Increase Tritium efficiency to 10x, improving Fleet Carrier
    • Maximum 500 Ly jump cost to 100 tons, down from 250 tons.
    • Maximum travel distance per 1,000 ton fuel tank from 2,000 Ly to 10,000 Ly
    • Long range transportation of huge quantities of cargo becomes possible.
    • Refueling experience becomes less of a chore.
  • Allow the storage and sale of Rare Commodities.
  • Drop the upkeep of suspended services to 10% from the current 50%.
  • Change automatic decommissioning from a debt based to inactivity based system.
  • Implement the proposed permissions changes in this document.
  • Implement the proposed quality of life changes in this document.
  • Implement the proposed communication tools in this document.
  • Implement the proposed system claims process in this document. This would justify the need for automatic carrier decommissioning beyond freeing up parking spaces.
Introduction
The text below is the scripted version of the above video. You may choose to watch or read and receive the same information. The video contains footage of the most interesting tests performed. Further videos can be found in this playlist containing over 50 videos focused on Fleet Carrier interaction.

Fleet Carriers have enormous potential and I am very excited about their release. I believe that once available those who do wish to manage them will create gameplay opportunities beyond what was expected by those who find the management aspects of Fleet Carriers unappealing.

Fleet Carriers in Elite can be viewed as a Swiss Army Toolbox with its cargo storage capabilities, bonds and simplicity of travel making it a multi-tool and the ability to dock and store your fleet of ships and modules making it a toolbox.


A dockable “Swiss Army Toolbox”, image edit by Chen

Crime & Punishment
The Current State of Crime & Punishment
  • The space around a carrier falls under the jurisdiction of whatever faction controls the system it is present in.
  • The carrier owner is subject to fines and bounties for crimes committed in the vicinity of their carrier, along with any players that visit it.
  • The carrier itself is equipped with the same level of weaponry as a full blown starport and will kill fully engineered ships in seconds.
  • The carrier will not fire at its owner when they attack other commanders or NPC's.
  • The carrier will defend the owner when assaulted by another commander however only provides this protection to the owner.
  • The carrier owner must have report crimes ON for the carrier to protect them.
  • The owner can shoot at anyone without the carrier attacking them and anyone that attempts to defend themselves by shooting at the owner will be killed by the carrier.
  • Owner can shoot the body of the carrier without retaliation from the carrier, however if they shoot the landing pad the carrier opens fire on the owner.
  • Re-spawning at a carrier is only possible if it was the last place you docked. This includes being unable to re-spawn at a carrier you own if it isn't your lack dock.
  • If you no longer have permission to land at a carrier you will be unable to re-spawn at it.
  • If you dock at a public carrier that denies permissions to dock for anyone with notoriety and launch, commit murder and then die, you will be able to re-spawn at that carrier.
  • As of the end of beta 2, smart rounds do not function with carriers.
Changes needed with Crime & Punishment
  • Allow the owner to set the carriers defense settings to include not just "Protect Owner" but also "Protect Owner & Squadron", "Protect Owner, Squadron & Friends/Wing", Protect Everyone & "Do Nothing"
  • Delay changes to carrier defense settings by 30 seconds and include horns, radio and text alerts at the time of change and the time it is enacted. Similar to the current method of toggling report crimes.
  • Display who the carrier will defend within the information provided in the navigation panel.
  • Prevent players denied docking due to notoriety from re-spawning at a carrier they previously docked at before gaining their notoriety.
  • Reverse or disable the effect of System Authority kills in proximity to a carrier to prevent offensive exploitation. A reverse causing influence gain could be seen as the populations support for the valiant soldiers defending the system.
  • System Authority at a Fleet Carrier needs their AI tweaked. It was better at the end of beta 2 however NPC's still do silly things like shoot at docked ships they were previously fighting or fail to aggress the player.
Fleet Carrier Permissions
The Current State of Permissions
  • Commanders on the owners Block List are not prevented from docking on the carrier.
  • Prohibiting docking by means of notoriety is only effective after a murder was committed.
  • If a commander can dock they can use all services, including storing ships and modules if the relevant service is installed.
  • Only the owner can perform any administrative tasks, store cargo or jump the carrier.
  • The carrier owner is unable to remove ships and modules stored by people who visit their carrier. This opens up a carrier to permanent tracking via Frontiers API and can be paired with bots for sharing carrier movements.
  • Removing a carriers shipyard & outfitting services does not remove stored ships from the carrier. They will continue to be present on and move with the carrier for its entire lifespan.
  • While not confirmed, I suspect stored ships will still be present on a carrier after decommission and repurchase. I was unable to test this properly due to time constraints.
Permissions Changes Needed
  • Make fleet carriers automatically block docking access to anyone on the owners block list.
  • Allow the owner to see a list of EVERYONE docked on their carrier as well as a count of ships and modules they have stored on the carrier. If a player is not docked but has items stored, they should appear on this list still with an indicator that they are not docked.
  • Allow the owner to eject ANYONE docked from their carrier and when performed send the ejected person to the nearest detention facility along with all of their possessions that happen to be stored on the carrier.
  • Introduce "Managed Lists" which can have commanders or squadrons added to them as well as adding any (or all) of the current presets to the list and with an option "Anyone Docked" to ensure those that don't need the functionality only need to manage one list.
  • Allow the owner to add their own squadrons ranks to the managed lists.
  • When adding a squadron to a managed list allow the owner to choose whether to block anyone currently in the squadron or anyone that has EVER been a member of it.
  • Use a managed list for docking permissions in addition to using a managed list to block docking requests without requiring the owner to put those people on their block list.
  • Allow access for the use of each service to be controlled by a managed list, including the commodities market to ensure owners can use it to trade only with specific individuals if desired.
  • For services with multiple uses such as shipyards and outfitting separate the functions so things like storage of assets is granted separately from purchasing. If you can't store your ship but can buy a ship, you should only be able to TRADE your ship for the new one.
  • Use a managed list to grant access to the carriers storage at minimum for deposits so a carrier can accept deliveries of goods for its owner without a need for purchase orders. It would be nice to allow trusted individuals to withdraw goods from my carriers storage as well.
  • Add "My Private Group" to the carrier permissions and include support for this in the Managed Lists if they are implemented.
  • Allow me to grant "Management" permission to another commander giving them full control of the carrier while excluding access to withdraw from the wallet, decommission, suspend, online, install or remove services.
Fleet Carrier Travel
The travel experience with carriers involves quite a bit of waiting with the current 15 minute timer. My judgements of this experience were based on how useful carriers became to me with my primary ship being the main comparison point. In my normal game play I fly a Python with a 23 light year jump range and often need to travel between 10-15 jumps for most of my normal changes between activities.


In general I found that the Fleet Carriers having their own galaxy map for plotting jumps was frustrating and leaving me repeatedly exiting the normal galaxy map to go to the “correct” map to schedule my jumps.

Jump Cost & Fuel Consumption
  • I performed 49 carrier jumps covering a cumulative distance of 8,224 LY according to my carrier stats in game.
  • I averaged between 80 and 180 tons of fuel per jump.
  • My per-jump cost of moving the carrier averaged between 3.2 - 7.4 million credits.
  • This heavy week of play in beta left me consuming well in excess of 2,000 tons of Tritium.
Refueling the Fleet Carrier
  • Ferrying loads of tritium back and forth from a station is actually fun and immersive for me, however becomes tedious.
  • Mining tritium is painfully slow. I was only able to do 2 actual hours of mining specifically for tritium before it became unbearable, yielding less than 200 tons.
  • The improvements to the yield of Subsurface Displacement Missiles were noticeable however the mini-game was sped up and now has "pauses"/"hiccups" increasing difficulty.
  • Patch notes indicated displacement missiles had an opportunity to yield 2 chunks of ore but I never witnessed this during 3-4 hours of mining.
  • Mining for Tritium in ice rings with no hot spots at all was near unbearable. In the course of an hour I found two asteroids with a laser yield of 18%+ and 12 sub-surface deposits.
  • The mining of Tritium feels like it should be done while collecting everything spotted of value while searching for it.
Desired Travel Changes
  • Increase the chance that a successfully deployed sub-surface displacement missile will yield 2 chunks to 50%.
  • Make every chunk of ore obtained from subsurface deposits 100% of a full ton for all types of ore. Subsurface mining requires the most attention and skill from the player and its use should be heavily rewarded.
  • Change Tritium efficiency from 2x to 10x bringing a 500 Ly jump from 250 tons of Tritium to 100 for an unladen carrier. This drops a max-range jumps cost from 10,250,000 to 4,100,000 and my average cost per jump would move closer to 1.6 million a jump.
  • Keep in system jumps at a minimum cost of 10 tons of Tritium, resulting in the base cost for jumping the carrier being roughly 410,000 in fuel plus the 100,000 credit maintenance cost for jumping the carrier.
  • Drop the charge time for carrier jumps to 5 minutes, announce lock-down at 2 minutes and 30 seconds and initiate lock-down at 2 minutes. The financial cost of jumping these carriers is too high to justify waiting for a jump.
  • Ensure a carrier does not allow someone still in the jump transition from losing their spot in the instance by allowing someone else to dock on their pad.
  • Move jump scheduling to the regular galaxy map.
  • Provide a confirmation dialogue when scheduling a jump in the galaxy map or remove the jump cool-down applied to a carrier when accidentally clicking jump in the map.
Upkeep & Services
My experience and thoughts regarding Upkeep
  • It was difficult to understand what I was actually paying, especially as I was not keeping out of game notes on upkeep.
  • Service upkeep appears to be calculated by a combination of each services time online and suspended, making it impossible to tell how much money you are saving by suspending the service.
  • The debt system seems unlikely to work as expected with the ability to dump large sums of money into a carrier balance.
  • Wing dividends combined with the player controlled market on a carrier provides unlimited money generation at a rate of several billion per hour.
Needed changes to Carrier Upkeep
  • The addition of a ledger containing balance changes to the carriers wallet showing all the various types of transactions. This should include a filter.
  • The base upkeep needs to drop to 2.5m where a base carrier will be accessible to people who may only have time to run 1-2 missions a week.
  • Repair & Restock services should be made available to a carrier owner without the need to install the additional services as was done with shipyard & outfitting.
  • Reduce suspended service upkeep dramatically. I would prefer this to sit between 5-10% and have the suspension and onlining of services incur a small fee not to exceed 100k for any service.
  • Change the automated decommissioning of carriers from the debt system to use an inactivity system.
  • Wing dividends need to be disabled at carriers or entirely replaced with a system that allows profit sharing with your wing when completing a transaction that isn't generating money from nothing.
  • Allow carrier owners to buy and sell a commodity at the same time. However do not let a carrier owner sell a commodity for less than they are buying it for to prevent carriers from being used as unattended money pickups.
  • Allow carrier owners to limit how much of a commodity they want to sell so stock of goods can be held in reserve.
  • I personally would like to see the commodity market removed from the carriers stock configuration and be purchasable as an optional service. This would justify the reduction of the base upkeep from 5m to 2.5m.
  • Back in 2015 the cost of refueling and repairing at starports was significantly higher with light damage on high end ships easily hitting 500,000 credits and often being multiple millions.
  • When Elite lost this money sink - for the better - it lost its only passive money sink.
  • Fleet Carriers fill the need for that money sink and I feel the changes to both values and functionality I have proposed would justify that passive money sink.
Needed Quality of Life Improvements
  • Enable visibility of market data for all systems without requiring visiting them.
  • Increase the module storage limit for carrier owners or make it so modules stored on the carrier consume cargo space in the carrier and are only limited by available space.
  • Give users the ability to view module storage with the same view provided when searching a station's stock available for purchase.
  • Add highlight colors specific to carriers that belong to your friends or squadron members similar to how our own carriers are highlighted.
  • Allow carrier owners to pay for their rebuy from their carriers wallet.
  • Allow a carrier owner to rebuy at their carrier from anywhere, even when it is not their last docked location.
  • Allow carrier owners to schedule at least one jump for a specified time and date. If possible, create and allow multi-jump scheduling so players can automate the jump process for carriers being used as ferries or traveling long distances over a prescribed route.
  • Carriers should come with a full tank of fuel.
  • I would like a binding to open the remote carrier management screen.
  • Include chat window access in the Admin OS screen when at the carrier.
  • Allow carrier owners to enable their carrier to accept Tritium donations to cargo that are in excess of their fuel tank.
  • We also need the ability to set tariffs at our carrier per service so that it is simpler to manage what we actually want to use tariffs to profit from.
System Claims Proposal
I caught wind of the idea of Fleet Carriers claiming ownership of a system from Hydlide’s Carrier Feedback video and thought it would be great to see a similar system under the premise of “claims” instead of ownership.

Implementation of a systems claim with simple rules like this would create an entire set of gameplay that is mode agnostic, both social and not, and provides a manner in which carrier owners can profit from their carrier remaining stationary. It also provides a level of symbolic control of an area without directly impacting the gameplay of others within the system or changing the mechanics of the star system.

Rules for System Claims
  • No NPC factions or settlements can be present in the system.
  • The first carrier in the system holds the claim until they leave the system.
  • The carrier with the claim should be able to jump between bodies in the system without losing their claim.
  • Carriers would passively generate resources such as minerals, engineering materials, etc, based on the body they are orbiting.
  • The carrier that holds claim on the system would apply its tariff to the passive resource generation of any other carriers present within the system.
Communication & Fleet Carriers
I feel that Fleet Carriers are an opportunity to provide players with a means in which to communicate objectives with each other more effectively and that this was under-estimated during development.

The game currently provides news articles at stations for Frontier to provide players with information and a Squadron Statements system for players to share information with members of their squadron and the public. I believe that both of these existing systems should be harnessed and used with Fleet Carriers.



An example of the station news panel.



Examples of the existing Squadron Statement system.

Needed Communication Additions
  • Fleet Carriers should have a news panel added as seen at regular starports where you can see things like traffic reports and updates on the local factions along with the occasional Frontier injected story or mystery hunt tips.
  • The owner of a carrier should be able to post articles to their carriers news panel in a similar manner to how squadrons post their Public and Internal statements.
  • A carrier owner should also be able to specify a list of Squadrons whose public statements will appear on their news feed and how far into the past to include to empower groups of people to work together.
  • Visitors to a carrier should be able to click a button to "subscribe" to news alerts that are posted to a carriers news feed and receive these alerts in their inbox similar to mission offers.
  • When subscribed to a carriers news feed we should receive automated alerts from the carrier crew when changes to docking permissions and defense settings occur, in addition to jumps.
  • Any message a player receives from a subscribed carrier should have a "Unsubscribe" button next to the delete button right in the inbox when viewing the message.
  • Players should also be able to individually subscribe to receive public statements in their inbox from squadrons they look up in the squadron interface.
  • The news panel could be handled as a service that the owner can choose to install, uninstall or suspend and could have a communications themed name.
The results of adding Communication Tools
  • Players who spot and visit a carrier in the game could see in-game news and updates about the carriers movements, objectives, etc without ever leaving the game client or googling the owner or their squadron. Simply by docking.
  • The ability for groups of players to share their allies' public news at their carriers allows in-game objective sharing without the need to implement complex user generated mission systems which have been a common request over the games lifespan.
  • Players who wish to live out of someone's carrier without participating in out of game comms can be made aware of its movements in a reliable manner so as not to get left behind without a clue as to where the carrier went or why.
  • Most importantly commanders who stumble across a carrier at a point of interest that aren't participating in out of game communication can be exposed to the activities of other players in a way that maintains immersion and keeps them in the game client.
  • I believe that utilizing the existing technology and infrastructure that enable squadron statements for this purpose justifies the enormous benefits of implementing this system.
My Fleet Carrier Usage
Personal Usage

My Fleet Carrier stats at the end of Beta 2 after testing.

I personally plan to travel pretty much everywhere with my Fleet Carrier that is further than 100 light years from where it is currently parked, unless I am currently sponsoring a community event with my Fleet Carrier. This will remain true even in their current state, despite the expense of travel with them.

I feel that Fleet Carriers effectively shrink the game for those that have them and I believe this is a good thing that will result in a significantly higher level of engagement with the games existing content. Such as enabling me to spend significantly less time traveling and more time in my Scarab and Ship doing what I want to do.

I also find that being able to move my fleet of ships wherever I want dramatically simplifies the process of engineering and outfitting my 30+ starships. A task I have been avoiding because nearly all of those ships are not fun to fly when fit with the travel equipment my particular play style demands.

Group Usage
I have a second account that I plan to purchase and manage a second carrier with that will be treated as my squadrons flagship and enabling me to utilize mine entirely for personal use while still supporting the group as I felt the travel benefits of a carrier were dramatic enough to warrant this.

This desire to operate a Fleet Carrier for use by a group of players had me wanting the ability to delegate command of my carrier to trusted individuals so operations I am donating my carrier to can continue without my presence. Currently the only way to accomplish this is to share your account credentials which is not only risky but against the Frontier Terms of Service.

What I want from Fleet Carriers
I want Fleet Carriers to be cheap to maintain and expensive to use. I however feel that their current figures make them too expensive to use while their upkeep is pretty well in line with what they should be when fully outfitted.

Fleet Carrier services should be approached with the mindset of being focused on providing multiplayer functionality and quality of life improvements beyond the base functionality of allowing the owner to store and maintain their assets as can be performed at any other station.

A stock Fleet Carrier should include:
  • Owner access to Shipyard & Outfitting
  • Owner access to Restock, Repair & Refuel Services
My Fleet Carrier Testing Experience
I found myself frustrated with a lack of people to test due to an overwhelmingly negative outlook on Fleet Carriers which I feel was almost entirely driven by their initial costs and travel costs. While improved in Beta 2, most players still felt these costs were far too high and chose to shun the carriers as a result. This issue with finding people to test with and scheduling tests slowed down testing dramatically.

Things I wasn’t able to test properly in beta 2
  • Having multiple people purchase the same commodity stock at the same time in an effort to duplicate goods.
  • Checking if the ability to find and identify a carrier with the Full Spectrum Scanner meant that private carriers you can't access won't show on your navigation panel.
  • I could not commit enough crimes at my carrier to perceive any difference from system authority or my carriers standing.
  • I also tested bookmarks in Beta 1 and they did not move with carriers. However this appeared to change in Beta 2 but I was unable to perform controlled tests to see if you could use bookmarks to track other peoples carrier.
Jumping Carriers & Waiting
I spent 12.5 hours waiting for my carrier to jump in Beta 2 due to the 15 minute charge timer. If this timer had been 5 minutes that time would have only been 4.08 hours (giving me back 8.17 hours). I do feel a 5 minute timer is necessary for carriers open to people other than the owner to ensure they have an option to disembark prior to the jump if they are online and this huge amount of time waiting was based on nearly 40 hours of play during each week of beta 2.

Due to my normal rate of travel being one jump a minute in a normal ship I wound up seeing the carriers 15 minute charge and comparing it to 15 jumps. If I couldn’t get somewhere in my ship in 15 jumps, I’d just use the carrier. In reality though my threshold was closer to 8-10 jumps and I’d spend the extra few minutes I’d be waiting doing other stuff.

Carrier Refueling
I generally found this to be a pain. Mining the minerals, even if yield is increased was something I am simply not interested in as a bubble dweller. I’ll buy fuel before I mine it if I can. Even with my proposed 10x tritium efficiency it would take me an hour to mine enough fuel for a 500 light year jump by myself.

With a 10x efficiency though a full tank would enable up to 10,000 light years of travel making the ~40 million credits it takes to fuel a carrier with purchased fuel stretch quite a bit further. This would also equate to a Fleet Carrier being able to stockpile fuel in Colonia or the Bubble upon purchase and continuously jump to wherever it is going to be stationed without stopping should they want to. That also means they can choose to bring plenty of other cargo as they aren’t stuck using the entire bay for fuel.

Final Conclusion
In spite of what seems like a slew of negative feedback I was left with the impression that Elite is very much heading in a direction towards fulfilling its design goals. Implementation and thought on features are being very carefully thought out and a design simplicity geared towards adding tools to a sandbox is very much being embraced.

I can only hope that this is a sign that the Next Era will indeed bring base building and more complex asset management. If this is the case, player content creation is going to change the face of Elite for the better. You only have to take a moment to stop and think about the fact that players building things in cool places they find means that those assets create opportunities for gameplay. If Frontier chooses this path the implementation indicates that those un-interested in the management aspects will be able to interact with what players build as well as contribute to the goals of others. Using the concept of system claims alongside this potential future content would create amazing opportunities for mode-agnostic player interaction involving territory and politics.

I hope Fleet Carriers and player owned capitals receive iteration with enhanced mechanics in the Next Era and includes the introduction of new capital class ships of various entry level prices. With players limited to one capital ship and having multiple choices on offer that range from "Jump Sleds" featuring only the ability to jump a wing of 4 docked on settlement style landing pads and accept tritium to the mobile stations that are Fleet Carriers. You can even introduce manufacturing specific capitals as well and allow players to process the goods they obtain into things we can use.

Frontiers implementation of Fleet Carriers has truly introduced the ultimate Swiss Army Toolbox. Please make these changes so they fulfill their potential. I look forward to the Next Era and extend my thanks for giving me the nomadic homestead I've always wished for.
 
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