I've returned from my vacation in Australia -- jet-lagged, but a whole lot of experiences richer.
Anyway, I brought my laptop with me, so I did manage to get some work done on the game:
- Conversations with non-mission and non-plot characters on bases are done (you either engage in a short dialogue with them, or they brush you off immediately).
- The Quine4000 is done (except for saving and loading procedures).
- The list of nouns for the random ship name generator is done (the list has more than 3000 hand-picked nouns!).
I'm currently working on the missions for the Merchants' Guild -- these non-plot missions sure take a lot of time!
The fixer missions are (mostly) completed. I just need to do a few things once I've completed everything base-related and begin joining the 'space' and 'base' parts of the game (these have been programmed separately so far). But for now, they're done:
In version 0.1 that I'll release next month, the offences system doesn't really have much effect, except as an overview of just how criminal you are. In one of the next versions I'll probably do just as you speculated; that you can pay your fines to get the confeds and/or militia off your back (paying your fines won't wipe your criminal record clean, but it will turn the confeds and militia neutral towards you). I'm hoping that the fines will be substantial enough for the system not to be abused, though. Also, the "attacking a civilian ship" and "destroying a civilian ship" offences only get registered and fined if there are any confeds or militia around to witness it. So if you want to destroy a merchant vessel, but don't want to get fined, you need to make sure that there aren't any confeds or militia nearby.
I don't know how much of a coding hassle it would be, but you may want to consider making the sighting that gets the fine able to come from anyone who's not hostile to the victim. So, for example, if you run into two transports, and only destroy one of them, the other reports in the offense. At the very least, it's in the survivor's best interests to see that the "bad guy" is captured before he gets around to splashing the survivor, some time in the future.
Hmmm... Interesting idea. There's a lot of things I would have to keep track of though, since each ship doesn't have a "life" of it's own, but is just generated when you enter a system. One way to do it would have the program check if any ships have witnessed a crime, when you leave the system, so that you would have plenty of time to dispose of witnesses, but as soon as you leave the system, the crime is added to your record. But then I would also have to keep track of exactly which crime each ship witnessed, so that each crime is only recorded once if there were multiple witnesses. I'll definitely look further into this for future versions, but for now I'll leave it so that only confeds and militia can be witnesses.
Yeah, if it's possible it'd be nice, but it's hardly "ZOMG THIS IS TEH SUCK!!11!1!!" if you decide to not do it that way. I didn't think of the multiple reports issue, but I can see where it could be an extra bit of a headache, now that you've mentioned it.
Yeah, there are a few headaches involved, but nothing that couldn't be solved. And I really like the idea, so it will probably be implemented at some point. I like that as a pirate you'd have to "take care" of innocent witnesses, if you don't want to get fined and have the offence added to your criminal record.
I've got everything gathered in one working program now and the game is running with only rare crashes. All that's left to do now is test the missions that haven't been tested yet and clean up a few things. I hope to have a beta version available for testing within a weeks time. I would like to have 5-10 beta testers try the game on their systems before I release version 0.1 to the public. If you'd like to be a beta tester, just let me know by writing your system specs here along with your email address (or PM me your email address) and I'll mail the beta version to you when I've finished with it.
The not so good news:
When assembling the final game I had to switch from real mode to protected mode. This meant that some of the code I had been using for sound and music either didn't work or caused a lot of problems. I've decided to wait with implementing sound and music, so version 0.1 of the game won't have sound and music.