You know how it is ... you're sitting at the bar enjoying an icy cold lethal lager when the lobstoid next to you spills his mug of fuming nitric acid in your lap. You jump back, and knock over the blue frog who's been standing behind you chatting up a lady frog. Before you can sneeze, fist and paws and claws are flying, the brawl spills out into the docking bays, and people are threatening to launch and settle it with lasers. Then the cops show up and suddenly most of the merrymakers realize they should really be somewhere else, so the festivities move out the docking bay to the front of the station.
That is the Furball OXP in a nutshell: A barroom brawl that's gotten out of hand. A batch of furious fugitives fleeing from a batch of pissed off police, all on the station's doorstep. You might be ignored, or you might get caught up in it, or you could put your knife between your teeth and dive right in.
Furballs can happen any time you launch from a station, or any time you enter the main station's aegis. There are two things you can configure about the OXP, currently only by editing the script.js file in the OXP's Config directory. The configurable values are right near the top and are clearly marked. Once OXPConfig version 2 comes along and allows configuration of numbers, both values will be adjustable from within the game.
- You can control how often a furball erupts by setting the furballProbability in the script. In the distributed OXP it comes set to 0.05, meaning 5%; you'll see a furball about once in every twenty launches or dockings. Setting it to zero turns off furballs entirely, and setting it to 1 means you get one every time you launch and every time you enter the aegis.
- You can set the number of ships by changing the furballSizeFactor: each increment of this doubles the number of ships, half of which are cops and the other half fugitives. The OXP comes with the size factor set to 2, meaning 4 ships total: two fugitives and two cops. Be careful when setting this number; a 4 means you wind up with 16 ships out in front of the station, in addition to the ones that would normally be there. How high you set it should be governed by your combat ability and the computing power of your system.
This OXP requires at least Oolite 1.74. In fact, it was the new launchShip method that appeared in 1.74 that led me to write it in the first place. I wanted to see if a semi-interesting OXP could be created with only a single short script. I couldn't quite do it, since the standard pirate AI isn't really set up for this situation; had to write my own to get them to move after launching. It's still a pretty short script, though. Whether it's semi-interesting I'll leave for your judgment!
Furball is not suited for total beginners, but it can be a good way for new commanders to start getting live fire combat experience. The bad guys in a furball will shoot at you, especially if you shoot at them, but
- They also shoot at each other, and the cops, and any other nearby ships. It's a brawl, remember?
- They don't show up all at once, but must launch one at a time from the station. This limits their ability to gang up on you.
- They're not a coherent group, just some random angry ships, so if you attack one, the rest won't instantly turn on you.
- There will (eventually) be an equal number of cops joining the fray, which helps distract some of the brawlers.
The brawl has the added complication of occurring directly in front of whatever station you just launched from or approached, so you must aim and maneuver carefully. Also, during testing I noticed that some of the cops will occasionally just suddenly turn on you and start firing. I didn't plan that, and as far as I know nothing in the OXP causes it to happen, but it does seem to fit in with the general chaos of the event.
Furball OXP by Caracal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.