Agreed. I think that's pretty awesome too. Need to ponder it further as it'd have impacts on hull design etc. It could also extend to mothership-proximity-bound flight drones.
Well, being an HTML5 game and all, we almost can't prohibit competent programmers from writing their own scripts to perform functions, especially if they're good at making them look a bit non-automated.
So rather than fight it, we're generally keen on exploring the idea of opening-up the extensibility of the game via data and also APIs for third party tools to interface with - as well as baking some simpler automation options into the game for those who don't wish to install third party plugins and/or write their own scripts in either our scripting language or another's. It's always going to be a balancing act between permitting automation and prohibiting unfair, exploitative advantage; but I rather think that if we're open and accessible about datafeeds, APIs and ingame automation... then we might stay ahead of the curve.
I'd like to talk about this a bit more in the future as we have some quite progressive (and hopefully innovative) ideas about how this might be achieved.
Yes. It's a feature I love the idea of, but I'm always a bit wary of as well. I can absolutely see how it works in a PvE context, but my suspicion is that PvP hacking/hijacking would be super-unsatisifying for the target - much like e-war can be in other titles.
If you haven't read them... I strongly recommend that you read the 6 short stories by our resident Lorekeeper and Backstoryist, Stew. He not only keeps us on-target for the universe setting and world-view, but also keeps us relatively honest in terms of the (few, but necessary) more hand-wavy aspects of AoA's science (as luckily he has a Doctorate in Theoretical Physics).
Ship-hacking definitely gets a concept-check - and these 6 stories are awesome representations of what we're trying to achieve with AoA.
To some extent we need a loyalty / length of service mechanic. Illyriad (our current title) has a skill progression learning system that is simply a function of time, and time to completion accumulates whether you're logged in (or not).
It's a useful braking system that cannot be influenced by ingame currency; so a one-year old player who has never bought our ingame currency has at least one unassailable advantage (amongst many other factors) over a one-day old player with a huge credit card. We hate pay-to-win, and believe it's self-defeating for all involved, and time-based accumulation of at least one factor is a great universal leveler.
Again, this is a topic I'd like to go into in much more detail in a separate thread.
So whilst time-based mechanisms don't have to force you to log in every day, they can (and do) perform useful dampners on new player capabilities, and conversely rewards for longevity. It's one of the main reasons why our non-resetting, persistent world, free-to-play title, Illyriad, still has players playing it 5-years on!
There's quite an interesting article about our payment model (for our earlier title) that you might want have a look at that details this.
Thanks, everyone, for your comments. Please do keep them coming (and give any feedback to my post that you want to). This is a great place to brainsplurge your thoughts without being overly influenced by any of our existing design decisions or precepts!
EDIT: added some clarification