Making prison meaningful

One element that frequently comes up in C&P discussions is what to do with detention ships. As things stand currently, they're in a weird place, as all they really do is provide a different respawn point if your ship was destroyed with a bounty. Due to the ease of obtaining credits, bounties meanwhile are mostly meaningless except for the newest or most lawless players. I suggest that they would be far more interesting if detention was itself an opportunity for gameplay. Presented here, an idea for reworking the detention center megaship that relies almost entirely on existing mechanics, and sets up new gameplay around the choice to decide between paying with time, or escaping via skilled piloting.

Without introducing space legs or anything else we don't have yet, here's how I imagine prison might work:
1) You respawn at the prison ship. Unlike previously, your bounties have not been paid off, although you can still lose your ship if you didn't have the rebuy. However, you don't respawn in your ship, but a loaned "prison work" ship, maybe a Hauler or similar.

2) You get a welcome message summarizing the situation - welcome to prison, you are here to work off your bounty of XYZ, you are in a loaned work ship. Perhaps a breakdown of what crimes were committed, which might help new players understand the legal system. The work ship has a disabled hyperdrive (SC works, but no high wake), so you're stuck in the system. Your own ship is stored in the shipyard and you can visit it at any time, but it is a crime and you will be attacked if you take off in it before your "release". But note that megaships have much less firepower than stations - with suitable equipment and piloting, it is quite possible to survive for a time in proximity to a hostile megaship.

3) The mission board offers you prison missions that are viable with the work ship (scan stuff and return data, go scoop stuff and return goods, go mine something, etc). The mission payment is a reduction in your bounty. When your bounty reaches zero, you are legally clear and free to go. For minor things like pad loitering, doing one or two of these would be the optimal way out. As your reputation with the local faction improves, they will give out better missions, so large bounties are also possible to pay off. However, if you owe millions for an epic murder spree, getting out the legal way would probably take unreasonably long.

4) The following details are hidden somewhere, maybe in the station news feed, or at a local beacon: the hyperdrive on your owned ship is also disabled, but only with a software lockout. You can reenable it and escape if you collect the right data. Perhaps a sequence of data points you have to scan on the prison megaship or visit and scan beacons in the system. Obviously this is illegal, and you will be hunted from the moment you take off in your ship. In practice this would mean you are treated as wanted at lawful facilities in the system, and will be interdicted by system authority ships in supercruise. If you fail and are apprehended, the situation resets and the escape attempt is added to your bounties to work off. It's not meant to be easy, although the difficulty is readily adjustable - perhaps it could be easier to escape from remote frontier prisons, but very hard to escape from high security facilities near the core worlds.

5) If you were let go, then you are free. If you escaped, then you are wanted just as before, although probably with a larger bounty. But IF services would continue to work as they do now. So provided you avoided gaining notoriety, it's a simple matter of money to get rid of your legal troubles once back on the outside.
 
Nice ideas, and if we get legs, I hope the prison system will get revamped to accommodate that. Imagine trying to break out of containment so you can free your ship from the impounds dock and escape.
Well yes, that's exactly why I put in that little disclaimer about legs - Braben has specifically mentioned wanting gameplay like sneaking into and stealing a parked ship, and this would be the most obvious case in the world for that sort of thing.
 
I like the idea. Of course, without some randomness introduced to the "escape game" and raising the difficulty of escaping for repeat offenders, this would quickly become barely a nuisance.
 
I like the idea. Of course, without some randomness introduced to the "escape game" and raising the difficulty of escaping for repeat offenders, this would quickly become barely a nuisance.
So right now, the locations of turrets, data points, and other targets seems to be randomized across megaships and installations, but the layout of any given site doesn't seem to change over time. That seems okay to me as an initial implementation, as breaking out of one jail should be different from another one, but if you break out of the same prison over and over, it's particular weaknesses should be learnable.

As for complications beyond that, it would make sense for a given detention center to periodically update its security procedures and require a different sequence of actions to escape. It would also make sense if notorious criminals or repeat escapees were placed under tighter security, requiring a longer or more complex sequence to escape.
 
I really like this idea, although it might be a bit limiting to be stuck inside a single system. Perhaps make it a 20ly radius around the prison system or something.
 
I'd like a comical probation officer as a passenger for a set amount of time.
That would be amazing. :D

Folks have been asking forever for NPC crew to sit in the multicrew seats on the bridge, and if such a feature ever comes the Adder would jump out as the obvious "work crew" ship.
 
One element that frequently comes up in C&P discussions is what to do with detention ships. As things stand currently, they're in a weird place, as all they really do is provide a different respawn point if your ship was destroyed with a bounty. Due to the ease of obtaining credits, bounties meanwhile are mostly meaningless except for the newest or most lawless players. I suggest that they would be far more interesting if detention was itself an opportunity for gameplay. Presented here, an idea for reworking the detention center megaship that relies almost entirely on existing mechanics, and sets up new gameplay around the choice to decide between paying with time, or escaping via skilled piloting.

Without introducing space legs or anything else we don't have yet, here's how I imagine prison might work:
1) You respawn at the prison ship. Unlike previously, your bounties have not been paid off, although you can still lose your ship if you didn't have the rebuy. However, you don't respawn in your ship, but a loaned "prison work" ship, maybe a Hauler or similar.

2) You get a welcome message summarizing the situation - welcome to prison, you are here to work off your bounty of XYZ, you are in a loaned work ship. Perhaps a breakdown of what crimes were committed, which might help new players understand the legal system. The work ship has a disabled hyperdrive (SC works, but no high wake), so you're stuck in the system. Your own ship is stored in the shipyard and you can visit it at any time, but it is a crime and you will be attacked if you take off in it before your "release". But note that megaships have much less firepower than stations - with suitable equipment and piloting, it is quite possible to survive for a time in proximity to a hostile megaship.

3) The mission board offers you prison missions that are viable with the work ship (scan stuff and return data, go scoop stuff and return goods, go mine something, etc). The mission payment is a reduction in your bounty. When your bounty reaches zero, you are legally clear and free to go. For minor things like pad loitering, doing one or two of these would be the optimal way out. As your reputation with the local faction improves, they will give out better missions, so large bounties are also possible to pay off. However, if you owe millions for an epic murder spree, getting out the legal way would probably take unreasonably long.

4) The following details are hidden somewhere, maybe in the station news feed, or at a local beacon: the hyperdrive on your owned ship is also disabled, but only with a software lockout. You can reenable it and escape if you collect the right data. Perhaps a sequence of data points you have to scan on the prison megaship or visit and scan beacons in the system. Obviously this is illegal, and you will be hunted from the moment you take off in your ship. In practice this would mean you are treated as wanted at lawful facilities in the system, and will be interdicted by system authority ships in supercruise. If you fail and are apprehended, the situation resets and the escape attempt is added to your bounties to work off. It's not meant to be easy, although the difficulty is readily adjustable - perhaps it could be easier to escape from remote frontier prisons, but very hard to escape from high security facilities near the core worlds.

5) If you were let go, then you are free. If you escaped, then you are wanted just as before, although probably with a larger bounty. But IF services would continue to work as they do now. So provided you avoided gaining notoriety, it's a simple matter of money to get rid of your legal troubles once back on the outside.
I would go as far as saying refit entire systems just for prisons as well. We have some 2,000 inhabited systems so let's start doing something with them.
 
So . . . take the current CP system, and tack on a requirement to spend gaming time doing missions you don't want to do for no reward other than being allowed to enjoy the game again, all so that we can protect RNG NPCs that don't even have persistence and prevent non-consensual PVP.

Sounds fantastic, but why stop the realism there? FD should just apply the death penalty IRL. Less grind, super realistic. Be a murderer, get the death penalty, amirite? Perhaps too realistic? Perhaps FD should just garnish your wages to pay off the bounty, you could probably get back to vidya quicker that way.
 
I would go as far as saying refit entire systems just for prisons as well. We have some 2,000 inhabited systems so let's start doing something with them.
FDev don't need to, though. Prison ships are already located in otherwise-unpopulated systems. All that needs to happen is adding whatever additional assets are desired for the prison missions.

So . . . take the current CP system, and tack on a requirement to spend gaming time doing missions you don't want to do for no reward other than being allowed to enjoy the game again, all so that we can protect RNG NPCs that don't even have persistence and prevent non-consensual PVP.
Oh, but there's an easy solution to that: don't get caught. There's no shortage of low-sec systems providing IF legal services. And if one were to cut things too close and get blown up by the police, well, I think Elite players are probably mature enough to appreciate that playing a game means dealing with occasional setbacks when things don't go their way.
 
Nice ideas!
But it sounds a bit too much like actual gameplay to appear in ED.
Not enough grinding involved?
Like moving your mouse back and forth for 4 hours to simulate the nail file cutting through the prison bar?
And it can only be done at night, as guards might get suspicious.
 
+1 for me this is cool.

I'm envisioning a row of sidewinders sprayed orange mining asteroids!



Maybe you will spawn inside a megaship and have the option to wait if/when we get our space legs. Imagine getting caught in a Thargoid base and captured by them, oh man the probing!

Community service could be a thing:
  • help repair the attacked stations
  • mine and gather resources
  • become a fuel rat
  • enroll in the army and be fodder for Thargoid battles
Although it would probably make me skip any missions that break the law such as data scanning as that gets me a bounty every time. It would have to be reserved for more serious crimes.
 
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I really like this idea, although it might be a bit limiting to be stuck inside a single system. Perhaps make it a 20ly radius around the prison system or something.
Like a reverse permit lock? I could also imagine that, but that might not be limiting enough. If you get sent to prison close to where you were already working, what's to stop you from just going on about your business? Then again, house arrest and supervised work release and imprisonment in jail are all punishments that exist in the real world - as an added layer of complexity you could certainly have different crimes or different governments result in different sentences too. Although that's getting into larger questions about the structure of C&P that I was trying to stay away from.
 
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